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Is That a Light Saber in Your Pocket?

Sending up Star Wars

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A short time from now, in a theater not too far away (8 and 10:30 p.m. May 16, 17, 23 and 24; Artloft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue; $10; 314-361-5664 or for reservations), Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre will add to its list of pop-culture parody performances the ultimate in geek-out space opera, The One-Hour Star Wars Trilogy: Live! (covering Episodes IV-VI). Troupe co-founder Donna Northcott says that choosing from the plethora of pop-culture goodness for these shows is easy because she "watches a lot of crap."

Speaking of crap, don't count on any fancy sets or costumes. As is usual with Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre productions, the audience will get "cheap tickets, cheap production values and cheap laughs," says Northcott. As for the space-battle scenes, she suggests that "you keep your arms and legs out of the aisles."

Each performance begins with an ultracompacted five-minute version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, just to whet the appetite for fast-forwarded fantasy.

The main event features guest appearances from such noteworthies as Admiral Ackbar, Luke Skywalker's childhood friend Biggs Darklighter and Luke's fellow Red Squadron pilot Jek Porkins, who doesn't stick around for long, but you didn't really expect him to, now did you?

As if all this isn't enough, a door prize is awarded at every show. We're not supposed to tell you what it is, but here goes:

Wait a minute.

Something wrong with ... throat.

Can't ... breathe.

Ack. -- Andrew Schubert

Lovely Rita

Educating Rita, for those who missed the film, is a thoroughly charming update to the My Fair Lady storyline. Rita (Julie Walters) is a Liverpudlian hairdresser who feels out of place hanging out at pubs with her narrow-minded husband. She wants something more, so she seeks out Frank (Michael Caine), an English professor at a musty college, for the tutoring that she's confident will free her from her small existence. The problem is, Frank is a jaded alcoholic (who, in the film, hides whiskey bottles on his bookshelf, behind such tomes as The Lost Weekend) whose self-esteem is down to fumes. The Alpha Players give life to this sweet two-person Willy Russell comedy at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through May 24, and at 2 p.m. May 25, at the Florissant Civic Center (Parker and Waterford, 314-921-5678, $8-$10). -- Byron Kerman

Requiem and Reading
World AIDS Day memorials

SUN 5/18

The theme of St. Louis' World AIDS Day commemoration this year could be this: Think globally, act locally. Globally, the city will be participating in a free international candlelight memorial, taking place at 8 p.m. outside Forest Park's Missouri History Museum (314-746-4599,

Locally, a stage reading of a play at 6:30 p.m. in the museum ($6) is unique to St. Louis; no other city is producing As Is, the 1985 William Hoffman play that was one of the first major works of theater to address AIDS. "Each year we've done World AIDS Day here, we've tried to do things like readings to make the festivities more interesting," says event producer Bert Coleman.

The vigil will also feature an interfaith service and Brett Mitchell singing "Love Has a Reason," which was debuted at the world's very first AIDS Walk, in 1986. -- Rose Martelli

Bedtime Blast at Bob's
City Museum at the witching hour

After a long workweek, there's nothing better than going out for a few adult beverages and plummeting down a four-story slide. Unless you want to eat ice cream bars and drink beer. Or maybe strap on the brain bucket and take a few runs on the indoor skatepark. Or just chase some of your closest friends through the Soni-tube maze just outside the skatepark. All of these activities are waiting for you at the City Museum (701 North 15th Street) after hours on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Open until 1:30 a.m. through the rest of the summer, the City Museum at night is not your kid brother's City Museum. Most of the small fry have gone home exhausted, but the adults are just coming out to play. It's a little scarier, a lot emptier and much more fun. Relive the youth you wasted drinkin' and fartin' around with your friends by, uh, drinkin' and fartin' around with your friends. Call 314-321-CITY or visit for more details. -- Paul Friswold

Two Wild and Crazy Geniuses

Steve Martin is tailor-made for theater. Erudite, urbane and cerebral, Martin is exactly the sort of person who should be writing plays, with any luck instilling them with the wit and intelligence that underpins all his work (yes, even The Jerk). Martin's most recognized play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, doesn't disappoint on the witty-intelligence front. His fantasy about Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso meeting in a Parisian dive in 1904 brings together titans of science and art when they were pre-titanic, emphasizing the humor and imagination that fosters genius. The Limelight Players present Martin's play Friday through Sunday, May 16-25, at the Broadway Center of Arts (124 East Main Street in Belleville, Illinois). Tickets cost $6-8, call 618-628-9998 for showtimes. -- Paul Friswold

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