The Best Things to Do in St. Louis This Week, October 5 to 8

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Ferguson Brewing Company is among the breweries offering its wares in Maplewood Saturday. - ROBERT ROHE
  • ROBERT ROHE
  • Ferguson Brewing Company is among the breweries offering its wares in Maplewood Saturday.

The calendar may say it's fall, but the weather outside still sings of summer. How will you celebrate one of the last great weekends before the onset of winter? How about a celebration of local brewing in Maplewood, the return of the Blues to Scottrade Center — or a festival devoted entirely to videos about cats? Your can't go wrong as long as you get out there and enjoy yourself.

1. See a play about young adults becoming adults
Stray Dog Theatre opens its fifteenth season with the crowd-pleasing musical Spring Awakening, which is based on the 1891 play by Frank Wedekind, as adapted by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik. Although well over 100 years old, Wedekind's play about a group of German school children trying to figure out how to make the leap to adulthood still feels fresh. Parents continue to worry about their children growing up too quickly, today's children also see themselves as young adults who are ready to expand their boundaries, and both teens and adults still worry about what the future will hold. The clothes may change, but the bumps and bruises remain the same. Stray Dog Theatre presents Spring Awakening at 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday (October 5 to 21) at the Tower Grove Abbey (2236 Tennessee Avenue; www.straydogtheatre.org). There is an additional performance at 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 18. Tickets are $25 to $30.

2. Who disappeared Cardenio, and what does Shakespeare know?
Of the many mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare — Was that his real name? Did he use a quill or a word processor to write? What were his thoughts on ruffled collars? — one of the more interesting possibilities is the fate of his play Cardenio. Oxford's Bodleian Library has proof it was staged in 1612, but then it seemingly disappeared. A version of it supposedly surfaced in 1727 when an editor was given the play's manuscript by a man who worked in the theater; after reshaping it, the editor presented it under the title The Double Falsehood. What is known for a certainty is that Cardenio was inspired by a story found in Don Quixote about a man who is betrayed in love by a friend, which causes our hero Cardenio to go live in the hollow of a cork tree in the Spanish mountains. Gregory Doran, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, attempted to wrangle all these threads together in a complete version of the play. Some of it is from Shakespeare, some from Shakey's frequent collaborator John Fletcher, some from Cervantes and some of it is written fresh this century to hold the thing together. St. Louis Shakespeare presents the lost and found play Cardenio at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (October 6 to 15) at the Ivory Theatre (7620 Michigan Avenue; www.stlshakespeare.org). Tickets are $15 to $20.

3. Enjoy some of the world's great portraits
Photographer Steve McCurry created an iconic image with his portrait of a young Afghani girl and her haunting, bottomless eyes, which stared down his lens and seemingly into the innermost chamber of your heart. But that photograph isn't the extent of McCurry's work. For almost 40 years he has been traveling the world, photographing people in India, the temples of Angkor Wat, burning oil fields in Kuwait, and indeed, even an entire series on the striking eyes he spots in people's faces the world over. Steve McCurry: The Importance of Elsewhere, the new exhibition of his work at the Sheldon (3648 Washington Boulevard; www.thesheldon.org), features 37 photographs made by McCurry during his journey. The exhibit opens with a free reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, October 6. The show continues through February 3, 2018, and the gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.

4. Revenge is a dish best served on-stage
While his peers grappled with the big ideas that were the work of "great men," Polish writer Aleksander Fredro was concerned with telling a funny story. He liked the folksy humor of the people, wordplay and farce. All of his facility with these underrated tools are used to dazzling effect in his best-known play, Zemsta, or Sweet Revenge. It tells the tale of two men who are in dispute; their struggle consumes them, as each plots to outmaneuver the other and strike the final blow that will win the victory. Revenge is all-consuming, a fact that never occurs to the people engaged in seeking it. Philip Boehm, artistic director of Upstream Theatre and award-winning translator, has written an English edition of the play that maintains Fredro’s rhyming verse and humor. Upstream Theater opens its season with Sweet Revenge at the Kranzberg Arts Center (501 North Grand Boulevard; www.upstreamtheatre.org). The show will be presented as if an immigrant Polish theater company working in St. Louis in the 1930s was staging it. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday (October 6 to 21), with a final 2 p.m. performance on Sunday, October 22. Tickets are $25 to $35.

5. How about a beer (or eighteen)?
The proliferation of high-quality, locally-produced craft beers has been both a blessing and a curse (although the scales tip heavily toward blessing). How can one person, regardless of how thirsty, enjoy a draft from all of them? There's only so much time in a day. Maplewood arranges for you to live your dreams with the inaugural Prost! Eighteen businesses in downtown Maplewood will be selling al a carte examples of local brewers' handiwork from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, October 7. If you have $15, you can buy a VIP pass at Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue) that gets you a commemorative cup and twelve tastings of your choice. But how will you pick between Heavy Riff (at the Muddled Pig) and 4 Hands (at the Crow's Nest)? If you buy two VIP tickets, you can try everything and get seconds on your six favorites. Other local businesses will be selling beer-related goods throughout the day, ranging from beer soap (for you, not to clean your beer) at Maven, Butter Beer at Traveling Tea and beer bread at Great Harvest Bakery. For the full list of participating breweries, visit www.cityofmaplewood.com/beer.

6. Hockey is back
Friends, there’s no easy way to put this: Robby Fabbri aggravated his surgically-repaired knee, and the St. Louis Blues have lost the talented forward for the entire season. This is a bad omen, especially with the solid Alexander Steen and the enigmatic Patrik Berglund already consigned to the scrap heap for chunks of the 2017-18 season. The silver lining? Timeless hockey legend Jaromir Jagr might already be wearing the blue note as you read this. (Update: Nope, it's Scottie Upshall again.) The unlucky-early Blues play the home opener at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 7, at Scottrade Center (1401 Clark Avenue; www.stlblues.com), taking on the Dallas Stars. Remaining tickets are $64 to $215.

7. Check out the teacher's pet
Mitch Albom enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the sports-journalism world, going from recent college grad to feature writer to lead sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press. But sportswriter was not his original dream. As a young man in college, his dream had been to be a jazz pianist. The distance between the two professions loomed large when he happened to see his former college mentor Morrie Schwartz on TV one night. Reminded of his first dream, and his close relationship with Morrie, Mitch decides to pay the old man a visit. Morrie's dying, and Mitch wants to say goodbye. But Morrie is not interested in goodbye; Morrie wants to live happily and productively until death takes him, and then he’ll leave fulfilled and happy. Before he knows it, Mitch falls back into his old relationship with Morrie, flying cross-country every Tuesday to learn at his master’s knee. The play Tuesdays with Morrie, by Jeffrey Hatcher and the real-life Mitch Albom, is based on these meetings, which reminded Mitch what it means to live a full life. Tuesdays with Morrie opens the New Jewish Theatre’s new season. Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (October 5 to 22) in the Wool Studio Theatre at the Jewish Community Center (2 Millstone Campus Drive; www.newjewishtheatre.org). Tickets are $41 to $44.

8. Luxuriate in the brilliant wordplay of an Irish comic
If you've never seen Black Books, the cult comedy co-created by Irish comedian Dylan Moran (it's streaming on both Hulu and Netflix, fyi), Moran's humor is difficult to explain. He’s a voluble talker, capable of beautiful imagery perverted in service of making the worst of any situation. If you have seen it, imagine Bernard Black, but somehow more articulate, more sarcastic and a tinch less grouchy. Because underneath the tangled mop of black hair and the verbal tapestry of anger and disappointment he weaves, there is a man who enjoys a bit of whimsy. Not in the sense of silly gags with punchlines, but more a dark delight in how we venal and ridiculous we are as a species. Moran makes a rare St. Louis appearance at 8 p.m. Saturday, October 7, at the Grandel Theatre (3610 Grandel Square; www.thegrandel.com) for his show Grumbling Mustard. Tickets are $35 to $210 (for a six-person booth).

9. Revisit an American classic
Bob Newhart is atypical even for a comedian. He broke into showbiz by releasing a comedy record on Warner Bros. and then left his job as an accountant to tour his act in clubs across the country. Even stranger, his act involved playing the straight man in a one-man show. Newhart plays off an invisible partner, keeping up his end of the conversation while implying what the other person is saying through calm responses laced with a quiet disbelief at what he's hearing. On paper, it should never work. But on stage, Newhart spins gold out of these mundane set-ups. Bob Newhart's still in the game after 56 years, and he brings his current tour to town at 8 p.m. Saturday, October 7, at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts (2300 West Clay Street, St. Charles; www.lindenwood.edu) on the Lindenwood University campus.

10. Short films about cats
Various computer scientists and engineers, along with a single former vice president, all claim to have created the internet, but everybody knows it was really cats who did it. How else could they attain the worship they're due than by harnessing a mass-media system that's on 24 hours a day? The "human beings" (sure) at CatVideos.com bring the message to the people with the traveling show Cat Videos Live! Hosted by comedienne Carla Rhodes, the show features exclusive videos of cats doing whatever it is they do, as well as clips of local cats submitted by their proud people. The St. Louis stop of Cat Videos Live! takes place at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, October 8, at the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard; www.thepageant.com). If you are owned by a cat and don't attend, you'll be placing your life in the beclawed paws of a cuddly murder machine. Tickets are $31.