Halloween is this Tuesday, which means St. Louis will get the party started on Friday night and then keep it going through November 1. Why so long? It's the only holiday that doesn't come with the expectation that you spend time with your family, so no one becomes enraged and leaves right after the meal. Also, that meal is candy, and who wants to storm off when people are handing out free candy?
Here are the best things to do during this extended holiday weekend.
1. See Titus Androgynous
William Shakespeare's tragedy Titus Andronicus is by far his bloodiest play, full of mutilations, rape, revenge killing, casual murder and cannibalism. Yet the YoungLiars theater company is certain it could be a comedy if only viewed through the proper lens. That lens is Italian commedia, which the company combines with vaudeville's slapstick violence to create a Titus that has a smattering of perversion and a splattering of fake gore. YoungLiars presents its Titus Androgynous at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (October 27 to November 11) at the Centene Center for the Arts (3547 Olive Street; www.yltitus.brownpapertickets.com). Tickets are $20.
2. Check out the Book House's Halloween bash
Before films, TV and the monster mash, if people wanted to be frightened they needed to find a good storyteller. An accomplished teller of tales amplifies the horror of a story through intimacy; eye contact and inflection personalize the experience: It's just you and the storyteller. At the Book House's annual Halloween event Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai ("A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales"), another old weapon is added to the storyteller's quiver: darkness. Volunteers recite creepy stories one by one in a room filled with candles; at the end of each recitation, a candle is extinguished. The deeper you go into the night, the darker it gets — and what happens when the last candle dies is a mystery that can only be uncovered by surviving the experience. Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai takes place at 7 p.m. Friday, October 27, at the Book House (7352 Manchester Road, Maplewood; www.bookhousestl.com). Admission is free.
3. Pay homage to the Spirits in the Garden
The kids may think Halloween is all about the candy, but adults know that you can't call it a party without distilled beverages and pulled pork sandwiches. Spirits in the Garden, the Missouri Botanical Garden's annual Halloween party, has both of those necessities, plus warm churros. Your $30 ticket ($20 for members) gets you access to a haunted tram tour, murder mystery scavenger hunt and dancing, plus tastings from local breweries, distilleries and wineries. Food is available for purchase as well. Spirits in the Garden takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, October 27, at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; www.mobot.org).
5. Or party downtown at Ballpark Village
Halloween is on a Tuesday this year, so most parties will take place on Saturday, October 28, to guarantee the required recovery day before the workweek begins. Ballpark Village has teamed up with Johnnie Brock's Dungeon to throw a doozie, the Halloween Party That Shall Not Be Named. True fans of the nerdiest boy wizard in fiction know what that phrase means and are already deciding on their wizarding costume. But don't limit yourself — this year's costume contest has a $5,000 cash prize, so dream big, little muggles. The celebration takes place throughout four different venues within Ballpark Village (601 Clark Avenue; www.stlballparkvillage.com) and includes DJs, roaming characters and a specialty drink menu. The party gets going at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 28, and general admission is $10 to $20 (there are VIP options available). This is a 21 and older event.
8. Thrill to Beethoven's Fifth
If you know nothing about classical music, there's a good chance you're familiar with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, which begins with the most famous four notes in music history. That "da-da-da—duh" is only the beginning of a spiritual journey that begins in a sorrowful minor key and ends in a joyous major key, all built upon the bedrock of that quartet of opening notes. The mighty, majestic Fifth is the main course of this weekend's St. Louis Symphony performances. Richard Strauss' Horn Concerto No. 2 and Alban Berg's Seven Early Songs (largely influenced by Strauss) are also on the program. David Robertson and the symphony embark on the great journey at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (October 27 to 29) at Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; www.slso.org). Tickets are $25 to $91.