The Best Things to Do in St. Louis This Week, December 21 to 26

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It's a live-action Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and that's Christmas magic in motion. - © AND™ UNDER LICENSE TO CHARACTER ARTS, LLC
  • © AND™ UNDER LICENSE TO CHARACTER ARTS, LLC
  • It's a live-action Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and that's Christmas magic in motion.
Christmas is now? Christmas is now. Wrap up your last minute gift buying, get the decorations on the tree and buy some batteries on your way home tonight, because the time is nigh. Enjoy your break if you get one, and stay safe.

1. Schastlivogo Rozhdestva
If you believe Cold War propaganda, Soviet Russia was a godless, dreary society that would sacrifice any number of human lives for another tractor. While that may have been true of the ruling powers, Russian artists of all types supported a broadly humanistic worldview, albeit disguised in the Communist trappings. Christ Smentkowski opens a window on the old Russia with an evening of Soviet Era Christmas Animations. The majority of the films are kid-friendly, and the animation is often striking. Sure, St. Nicholas may deliver his gifts via rocket instead of a reindeer-drawn sleigh, but the spirit of the holiday is undimmed. Films start at 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 21, at Flood Plain (3151 Cherokee Street; www.floodplaingallery.org). Admission is free, but if you wish to offer a goodwill donation, the money will go to the gallery.

2. Those Classical Carols
The St. Louis Symphony's main gig is classical music, of course, but the best big band in town dabbles in so-called "popular" music from time to time. Christmas, with its carols and standards, is just such a time. The Mercy Holiday Celebration is a long-standing tradition, complete with the songs of the season, a beautifully decorated Powell Hall and soprano Camille Zamora. Conductor Gemma New leads the combined St. Louis Symphony and Holiday Festival Chorus through the songs of the season at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (December 21 to 23) at Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; www.slso.org). Santa Claus will be in attendance as well; tickets are $28 to $73.

3. Reindeer Games
These last few days before Christmas are the toughest for kids, and their parents. Time slows down for the kids, which makes them more anxious, and louder. The best thing for everyone is usually to get out of the house and do something. In your hour of need, Rudolph will guide you. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the musical adaptation of the long-running TV special, stars all your favorite characters as they come together to make Christmas happen. Performances are at 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday (December 22 to 23) at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; www.fabulousfox.com). Tickets are $25 to $75.



4. Carol On
When BandTogether first began in 1997, it was as a ten-person ensemble. Twenty-one years later, St. Louis' LGBTQA concert band has more than 100 active musicians and is a cultural mainstay. BandTogether's annual holiday concert is the highlight of its season. This year's program is called Together for Christmas, and the group will fill the 560 Center (560 Trinity Avenue, University City; www.bandtogetherstl.com) with the strains of "White Christmas," "Westminster Carol" and "Fantasia on Silent Night," among others. As always, the concert starts at 8 p.m. and admission is free.

Celebrate the season with the St. Louis Symphony. - SCOTT FERGUSON
  • SCOTT FERGUSON
  • Celebrate the season with the St. Louis Symphony.
5. Leave No Nut Uncracked
You're not going to believe it, but we found one last Nutcracker. The Bolshoi Ballet will perform its grandiose version of the Tchaikovsky ballet in Moscow, and Fathom Events will capture the performance live and broadcast it to America at 11:55 a.m. Sunday, December 23, at the Marcus Wehrenberg Des Peres 14 Cine (12701 Manchester Road, Des Peres; www.fathomevents.com). In the Russian version, a little girl named Marie awakes on Christmas Eve to find her dolls have come to life and are threatened by a malevolent Mouse King. But Marie has a friend in this strange world. The Nutcracker Prince saves her and swoops her away to a world of dancing snowflakes and candy. Tickets for the broadcast are $15.

6. Christmas Is Felt
Did all your plans fall through and now you're alone on Christmas? Are you one of the soldiers in the war against Christmas and need a safe haven from the front lines? The Moolah Theatre (3821 Lindell Boulevard; www.stlouiscinemas.com/moolah) has your back. The bar will be playing nothing but Muppets into the night, which might be the best gift of all. Share your loneliness with Gonzo, Fozzie and the rest of the gang; if nothing else, Kermit will give you a soft, sloped shoulder to cry on. Admission is free.

7. Beer Bash
Think back to 1991: Do you remember the beer you were drinking then? Most likely it was the same thing year-round, and it either came from Anheuser-Busch or maybe one of the other big breweries. At the time it was beyond crazy to think a handful of St. Louisans could get together a business plan and open a competing brewery a few blocks from the A-B mothership. Dan Kopman, Tom Schlafly and their staff of fellow visionaries beat the doubters and established the first craft brewery in town. Every year Schlafly celebrates its "anni-beer-versary" by dropping prices down to what they were in 1991 at the Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust Street; www.schlafly.com) and Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood). Admission is free, and both locations will have full menus and live music all day long.
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