David Byrne Was Wrong
There are Angels in America
If "going out on a high note" is indeed a basic principle of show business, then Stray Dog Theatre is ending its season on one of those notes only dogs can hear. The theater's final production for 2004 is Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, Tony Kushner's sprawling tale of life and love and death in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Jumping adroitly from comedy to drama to tragedy to fantasy to harsh reality, Angels in America conveys not just a sense of its time (the Reagan years) but a kaleidoscopic sense of what it is to be mortal. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday (June 10 through June 27), at the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre on Washington University's campus (Forsyth and Skinker boulevards; 314-531-5923). Tickets are $12 to $15. -- Paul Friswold
Early Brain Drain
Remembering Joe Jones
Stuffed-shirt local elites have chased cultural nonconformists out of St. Louis since the days of T.S. Eliot and Tennessee Williams. The Joe Jones: American Painter exhibit, in the Thomas Jefferson School's gallery (4100 South Lindbergh Boulevard; 314-843-4151), examines one such iconoclast. Born here in 1909, the self-taught Jones specialized in Social Realist scenes of farms and factories. Art met reality in Jones' political activism; he organized art classes for the unemployed. Jones also signed on with FDR's Works Progress Administration, painting five public murals across the Midwest. By 1935 his Communist affiliations had alienated his local patrons, and Jones' story took an all-too-familiar turn: He left St. Louis for New York, where he remained until his death in 1963. The exhibit runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Friday, June 11; at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 13, Scott Kerr of McCaughen and Burr Fine Arts will lecture on Jones. To make a reservation for the lecture, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Jason Toon
What Was That Word?
Grease is one of those touchstones for girls of a certain age. Is there a woman younger than 35 who can't sing both parts of "Summer Nights"? Is there a guy who doesn't roll his eyes every time said girl elbows him in the ribs to chime in with the "tell me more, tell me more" pre-chorus? The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Summer Showbiz Mainstage (I-270 and Route 157; 618-650-2774) presents the '50s musical Thursday through Sunday (June 10 through June 20) at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday 2 p.m. matinees. Tickets are $12 to $15. -- Paul Friswold