The Best Thing to Do in St. Louis This Week, November 16 to 21

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This is a rink with an unparalleled view. - COURTESY GATEWAY ARCH PARK FOUNDATION
  • COURTESY GATEWAY ARCH PARK FOUNDATION
  • This is a rink with an unparalleled view.

Thanksgiving is one week away, which means this is your last chance to enjoy a weekend unencumbered by out-of-town guests, family obligations and all the other folderol that the holiday season requires. Take advantage of this last respite to enjoy the best Christmas musical the world has ever produced, the Botanical Garden's annual light display or just settle in and get a new tattoo.

1. Peace on Earth
On November 11, 1918, World War I ended after four exhausting years of destruction and unimaginable horrors. But even in the worst of times, humanity's innate decency can shine through the darkness on occasion. During the first year of the war, Christmas morning was marked by an official cease-fire on both sides. On the front lines troops from both sides of the conflict crossed No Man's Land to celebrate the holiday with their erstwhile enemies. Carols were sung, gifts were exchanged and a spontaneous game of soccer kicked off. All Is Calm, the Peter Rothstein, Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach a cappella musical about that quiet morning when brotherhood won out, has been a favorite with Mustard Seed Theatre audiences since the company first presented it in 2014. It's back again at Mustard Seed to mark the centenary of the last day of the War to End All Wars. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday (November 16 to December 16; no show on Thursday, November 22) at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre (6800 Wydown Boulevard; www.mustardseedtheatre.com). Tickets are $15 to $35.

2. A New Classic
Tattoo fans, there's a new convention in town. The St. Louis Old School Tattoo Convention is taking a break this year, so the St. Louis Classic Tattoo Expo has stepped up. The inaugural classic features three days of tattooing and contests at the Downtown Holiday Inn (811 North Ninth Street; www.stlclassictattoo.com). A ton of artists will be there ready to ink, including the local crews from Self Inflicted Studios, the Alchemy Tattoo Collective and Inkwell Tattoos. Noah Moore, Joshua Bowers, Timmytats and Brad Fink are all among the show's featured artists. Hours for the St. Louis Classic are 2 to 9 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday (November 16 to 18), and tickets are $20 for one-day entry, $30 for two days or $40 for the weekend pass.

3. The Long Nap
Every year Dances of India presents a fully scripted and narrated dance concert based on a beloved Indian tale or an adapted Western story. This year's performance is something slightly different. The Forgotten Ramayana: The Tale of Urmila, the Sleeping Princess is based on an obscure story from the Hindu epic The Ramayana. In it Princess Urmila willingly sacrifices herself to save her beloved husband, her brother Prince Rama and sister-in-law Princess Sita. Urmila's sacrifice takes the form of a fourteen-year slumber, and it's almost for naught. While she slips deeper into the realm of dreams, the ten-headed demon king Ravana abducts Sita. Can Urmila escape her endless dreaming? Can she even tell the difference between the real world and the dream realm after so long abed? Dances of India recreates the story at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday (November 16 to 18) at the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts (425 South Lindbergh Boulevard; www.dancesofindiastlouis.org). Sunday's show will feature the student dancers and kids in the first half and The Forgotten Ramayana in the second half. Tickets are $15 to $20.



The Garden is illuminated and ready for visitors. - COURTESY OF MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
  • COURTESY OF MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
  • The Garden is illuminated and ready for visitors.

4. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
One of the most popular holiday traditions in St. Louis returns this weekend, when the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; www.mobot.org) officially opens Garden Glow. More than one million lights wrap the trees and buildings of the garden, creating a seasonal spectacle. In keeping with the garden's mission, many of the lights are solar powered, and electrical use for the event has been offset with Renewable Energy Certificates, making this one of the few guilt-free Christmas treats. The 1.3-mile path through the park has a few concession areas serving hot chocolate, s'mores and the like, and both the Sassafras Cafe and Cafe Flora (Friday and Saturday nights only until December) will be serving food until 9 p.m. Garden Glow takes place from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly (November 17 to January 1; closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Tickets are $3 to $18 and are sold for specific start times; you can't get in before the time on your ticket.

5. Rules for Living
The unnamed child at the center of Duncan Macmillan's one-person show Every Brilliant Thing is only seven when her mother first attempts suicide. She takes it upon herself to create a list of worthwhile things in life, hoping her mother will find comfort in them and stop trying to die. She writes her favorites on numbered slips of paper ("1654. Christopher Walken's voice." "2001. Films that are better than the books they are adapted from"), and leaves them around the house for Mom to find. She grows to realize the list can help herself as well; depression is hereditary, after all. R-S Theatrics presents the life-affirming Every Brilliant Thing at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday (November 16 to December 2) at the Kranzberg Arts Center (501 North Grand Boulevard; www.r-stheatrics.com). Tickets are $18 to $20.

All Is Calm is the world's best musical about the true spirit of Christmas. - COURTESY OF MUSTARD SEED THEATRE
  • COURTESY OF MUSTARD SEED THEATRE
  • All Is Calm is the world's best musical about the true spirit of Christmas.

6. Think Rink
It's not officially winter yet, but that won't stop the outdoor ice rink at Kiener Plaza (500 Chestnut Street; www.archpark.org/events/winterfest) from opening. The Winterfest Ice Rink, to use its full name, officially opens at noon on Saturday, November 17, with some fanfare, a little hoopla and the Festival of Lights from 4 to 8 p.m. The rink is then open from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (November 17 to December 23) and noon to 8 p.m. daily December 24 to January 1. Skating is a full-body workout and a lot of fun, especially when you have a great view of the Arch. The new Kiener Plaza has a playground if you need more exertion, or you can take a break and enjoy a hot chocolate al fresco. Admission is free. While skate rentals are $7 to $13, they're free for kids ages three to fifteen on Thursday and Friday, courtesy of the St. Louis Blues.

7. The Ghost Dance
It's no exaggeration to say that the Lemp family shaped St. Louis. Adam Lemp not only introduced lager to the city but began a brewery to produce the great quantities of it demanded by St. Louisans of the mid-nineteenth century. The Lemp Brewery's Falstaff beer outsold Budweiser near the dawn of the twentieth century. The next generation of Lemps married into both the Pabst brewing family and a railroad supply family, further concentrating their wealth. But the family is mostly remembered today for its slow destruction, which was brought about by Prohibition and a series of suicides. Big Muddy Dance Company explores the Lemps in the dance concert Lemp Legends: A Ghost Story. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (November 16 and 17) at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; www.thebigmuddydanceco.org). Tickets are $25 to $35.

8. A Bout of Charity
Tonight, Budweiser's Guns 'n' Hoses celebrates its 32nd anniversary by once again pitting city and county firefighters and police officers against each other in three-round boxing matches. There's no malice here — the combatants are fighting for a good cause, after all. Proceeds from Guns 'n' Hoses go to the St. Louis BackStoppers, the group that provides financial support to the families of police officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty. Bouts start at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 21, at the Enterprise Center (1401 Clark Avenue; www.stlgunsnhoses.com). Tickets are $12, and 90 cents of every dollar goes to Backstoppers. 
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