That great autumn weather is nothing but myth in St. Louis anymore. Early fall is more like early summer, and late fall is essentially spring, only with the leaves jumping off the trees rather than springing forth. But the fall arts season, well, that remains unchanged by the vagaries of climate or massive weather systems.
By now, the local theater companies are already rehearsing season-opening shows, and the musicians are rosining bows and selecting new reeds in hopes of a flawless opening night. Practices become a little more urgent, and the technical director's first cigarette break of the day is a little bit shorter than yesterday. Because sooner than you think the tickets are getting ripped and the audiences are taking seats with a little buzzy anticipation. Start booking the babysitter now, friend — it's all about to happen, and you'd be a fool to miss any of it.
See you in the lobby.
1. LOVE? ACTUALLY...
If news of Hamilton coming to St. Louis has you aching for a little of that Lin-Manuel Miranda magic, you can get an early fix at the start of September, courtesy of R-S Theatrics. The company opens its season with Love? Actually ... An Evening of Musical One-Acts. The first show is the audience-controlled "Out of A Bowl," and the second is Steven Serpa's short opera "Thyrsis & Amaranth," based on the La Fontaine fable of the same name, about young shepherds in love. The finale is Miranda's "21 Chump Street," a musical about a high school student infatuated with the new kid at school — who is actually an undercover cop. You may have heard both the musical and the real-life story that inspired it on This American Life, but now you can hear and see it live and in person. Westport Playhouse (635 Westport Plaza, Maryland Heights; www.r-stheatrics.com). September 2-18. $15-$25.
2. AMERICAN RENEGADE
Chamber Project St. Louis continues to promote chamber music for a 21st-century audience. The group performs in non-traditional venues (clubs, galleries and the like), collaborating with a wide range of artists to expand the boundaries of what has long been considered classical music. Its season opener is dedicated to the very American idea of going your own way. American Renegade includes performances of the "racing dance" "Zango Badango" by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon, Bryce Dessner's folksy "Murder Ballades" (you might know Dessner as the guitarist for the National, or the guy who scored The Revenant) and big daddy Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring. 560 Music Center (560 Trinity Avenue, University City; www.chamberprojectstl.org). September 9. $5-$15.
3. REAL/RADICAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL: THE COLLECTION ON DISPLAY
Washington University's Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum both celebrate their tenth anniversary this year. The birthday duo share a joint party with the opening of Real/Radical/Psychological: The Collection on Display, an exhibition that showcases work drawn from the museum's deep collection, which was begun in 1881. Three curators have organized the show into three sections that explore how our ideas of what's real, what's radical and what's psychological (artistically speaking) has changed. The opening reception includes live music, food trucks, open studios and demos by Sam Fox School artists and a special commission designed by alumnus Ebon G. Patterson in conjunction with La Patisserie Chouquette. Mildred Lane Kemper Museum (1 Brookings Drive on Washington University's campus; www.kemperartmuseum.org). September 9-January 17. Free.
- Kelley Walker, Black Star Press (rotated 180 degrees), 2006. Digital print and chocolate on canvas, two panels, each 83 x 104 inches; overall 83 x 208 inches. Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz Collection, Miami.
4. KELLEY WALKER: DIRECT DRIVE
American artist Kelley Walker will have his first solo American museum show right here, thanks to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. The museum is throwing wide its doors for Walker, allowing him to take over the entire building with works both old and new. Walker likes to explore the ways an image travels from one culture to the next, and how each culture perceives the image once it is theirs. His new series, Black Star Press, digitally prints chocolate (white, milk and dark) on canvas, depicting images of racial strife in a very unusual medium. As the images in the series are rotated 90 degrees, the power dynamic on display is obscured, altered and eventually reversed. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; www.camstl.org). September 16-December 31. Free.
5. MAKING A SCENE: A ST. LOUIS THEATRE EXPO
St. Louis has an exceptional theater scene. If you haven't partaken of it yet, you can rectify that buffet-style at Making A Scene: A St. Louis Theatre Expo. The event is a deep dive into how theater gets made, with demonstrations in how a show is costumed, the arts of makeup and stage combat, and discussions with Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis artistic director Steven Woolf, actor Joneal Joplin and actor/theater professor Lara Teeter. Making A Scene also gives you a chance to meet and talk with members of Opera Theatre of St. Louis, New Line Theatre, St. Louis Actors Studio, New Jewish Theatre and other companies. The Fox Performing Arts Teens and the Improv Shop round out the day with performances. Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves; www.repstl.org). September 17. Free.
6. VISION: WHERE BALLET + FASHION MEET
Costuming is important for dancers because what they wear tells a visual story, even as it enhances (or hinders) their movements. The nexus of fashion and motion is explored in the Saint Louis Ballet show Vision: Where Ballet + Fashion Meet. Choreographers Emery LeCrone and Tom Gold fuse classical ballet and innovative thinking in two new pieces featuring costumes designed by Jordana Warmflash and Emily Brady Koplar. Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis Campus (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road; www.stlouisballet.org). October 8. $24-$59.Turn the page for more important fall arts events.