The Best Things to Do This Week, October 27 to November 1


The Central West End Halloween party: Always a good time. - STEVE TRUESDELL
  • The Central West End Halloween party: Always a good time.

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; 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; 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;

4. Win big money at the CWE Halloween Party
There are Halloween parties, and then there is the Central West End Halloween Party. The all-day, outdoor celebration starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, October 28, with the kids' costume party and parade, then becomes a costume parade for dogs and their people at 1 p.m. before evolving into its final form, the adults-only party at 6 p.m. The big event is the costume contest, which always features the most creative and inspired costumes in the city. Of course, first place comes with a $2,500 prize, hence all the creativity. Competing in the adult contest costs $25 for individuals and $50 for groups (cash only), but entry is otherwise free. The CWE Halloween Party is centered on the intersection of Maryland and Euclid avenues ( Pretty much all the neighborhood restaurants and businesses participate in one way or another, so bring your party money to ensure a good time.

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; 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.

David Robertson's swan song includes Beethoven's 5th. - COURTESY OF ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY
  • David Robertson's swan song includes Beethoven's 5th.

7. See the Rep's production of
Alex is sitting quietly by himself as he waits for his train when he is unexpectedly kissed from behind. His gentle assailant is 30 years younger than him, and much louder and brasher than her soft kiss suggested. From the initial moments of their strange encounter a dynamic is established between Alex, a reserved retiree, and Georgie, an impulsive American: The more she talks and pursues him, the more he retreats. But as their relationship progresses, the two find something vital and necessary in the other person. Is it simply that opposites attract, or is it that their loneliness binds them together in a way they recognize? Simon Stephens' drama Heisenberg is about the uncertainty of life, about people and about new, unsought beginnings. The Repertory Theatre St. Louis opens its Studio Series with Heisenberg. Performances take place Tuesday through Sunday (October 25 to November 12) at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves; Tickets are $45 to $69.50.

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; Tickets are $25 to $91.

9. Catch a movie classic on the big screen

Little Shop of Horrors began as a low-budget horror film, became a surprisingly successful Off-Broadway musical and then returned to cinemas as a musical starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Steve Martin. Moranis stars as Seymour Krelborn, a nerdy schmuck who works in a Skid Row florist's shop. When Seymour finds a new type of plant, he names it Audrey II after his co-worker Audrey (Greene), who also happens to be his secret crush. Audrey II has a strange appetite for blood and an even stranger origin, and her rapid growth leads to short-term success for Seymour — professionally and romantically. But as Audrey II grows, its appetite grows as well. The director's cut of Little Shop of Horrors (with its original not-so-happy ending) will be shown locally at 2 p.m. Sunday and 2 and 7 p.m. Tuesday (October 29 and 31) at the Marcus Wehrenberg Ronnies Cine (5320 South Lindbergh Boulevard; Tickets are $12.50.

10. See Creepshow at Schlafly Bottleworks
Stephen King and George Romero decided to combine their talents in a film that would serve as a tribute to their shared love for the EC horror comics of their childhoods. The stories they loved were dark, always had a twist, and most importantly, always exhibited a gruesome sense of black humor. The resulting film, Creepshow, is an anthology that mimics the look of four-color comics through its stylized lighting and Tom Savini's carefully rendered comic book-style effects. The Strange Brew division of the Webster Film Series presents the film at 8 p.m. Wednesday, November 1, at the Schlafly Bottleworks (2760 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; as a slightly late Halloween tribute. Be on the lookout for a pre-Cheers Ted Danson as the other man in a nasty love triangle — and for writer King as a hapless Maine yokel who has a very unfortunate run-in with a meteor. Tickets are $5.

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