It's a tough challenge: Make a play about slavery, and make it funny. And yet when Larry Gelbart and writing partner Burt Shevelove teamed up with Stephen Sondheim to create A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, they more than met the challenge. Chief slave Pseudolus believes if he can scheme Philia away from the war hero Miles Gloriosus (who has already bought and paid for Philia fair and square), then the play's Hero (named Hero for your convenience) will free Pseudolus in gratitude. Sure, that's an easy plan -- what could go wrong with that? You'd be surprised to find out. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Forum at 8 p.m. on the Browning Mainstage of the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves; call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org for more show times). Tickets are $13 to $61, and you're guaranteed "Comedy Tonight" (because it's in the libretto).
Thursday, October 13
So you're a bit of a pushover, and everything Mr. Night & Ms. Day tell you to do, well, you do it. It's OK! There's nothing to be ashamed about! We've never led you astray, have we? Like tonight, we really think you should head downtown to check out the inaugural open-to-the-public night of Copia Urban Winery (1122 Washington Avenue). There, you'll find food from chef Dave Rook (of Crazy Fish and Aqua Vin fame) and wines from Les Bourgeois winery (go Mizzou, er, Rocheport!). Eventually, some of Les Bourgeois' wines will be fermented on-site (in the city!) and served directly from the vats (in glasses, not poured into your mouth keg-stand style). For more information about the new winery and its wine shop, visit www.copiawine.com or call 314-621-7275.
Friday, October 14
Who knew Houston had a ballet company? Lots of people, apparently; the Houston Ballet is the fifth-largest classical company in the nation. But this isn't the pink-tutu-and-white-slippers ballet of Mr. Night's post-work dinner parties: The Houston Ballet injects a healthy dose of sex and high fashion into its programs, thanks to choreographer Stanton Welch. Welch enjoys revealing the "pain and difficulty" the dancers endure in a performance, which in turn shows the raw athleticism that seethes under ballet's pretty forms. Add to that the polyurethane foam outfits and high-tech special effects, and you have a very fresh take on a very old art. The Houston Ballet opens Dance St. Louis' 40th season with 8 p.m. performances Friday and Saturday (October 14 and 15) at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1111 or www.dancestlouis.org). Tickets are $36 to $63.
Saturdayy, October 15
There are some things you're not lacking for in your life: a healthy fear of ghosts, Fruit Roll-Ups and cracker-and-cheese Combos, and chartreuse velveteen underpants, just to name a few. But despite all your riches, you're in short supply of art-viewing hours. And it is for you that Art EAST (Edwardsville-Alton Studio Tour) was created. This showcase of the talent on the east side (200 artists are included) extends for two weekends and should help you get more than your fair share of free art time. On Saturday and Sunday (October 15 and 16), artists in Alton, Illinois, are highlighted; begin your self-guided tour at the Jacoby Arts Center (627 East Broadway) to pick up a map. Next Saturday and Sunday (October 22 and 23), your first stop should be US Bank (101 North Main Street, Edwardsville, Illinois) for a map and location details. To get more information about this multimedia, multiweekend, multilocation fest d'art, call 618-656-3348 or visit www.madisoncountyartscouncil.org; the tours run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Sunday, October 16
After going to Art EAST, you did something stupid last night, didn't you? Well, lucky for you, we have something smart for you to do today to make up for last night's, erm, indiscretion. As you may know, birds (especially owls) have long been associated with wiseness. Maybe some of that will rub off on you when you attend the World Bird Sanctuary's annual Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. This avian haven is located at 125 Bald Eagle Ridge Road in Valley Park, and the feathered fun is free. So check out raptors and parrots, reptiles and mammals (the last two aren't types of birds, FYI), go on tours, and dress for the weather (we recommend tennis shoes and maybe a jacket, not a skirt; c'mon!). For more information visit www.worldbirdsanctuary.org or call 636-861-3225.
Monday, October 17
"A zombie by any other name would smell as sweet" never quite caught on as a popular saying. But "Zombies, man. They creep me out" -- that one has legs. Gory, rotten, flesh-sliding-off-the-bone legs. Dennis Hopper only utters it in the trailer for George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, but with the director's cut of said film about to burst forth on DVD, you'd better brush up on your quotable zombie lines. Get a head start at 8 p.m. at the St. Louis Mills 18 movie theater (5555 St. Louis Mills Boulevard, Hazelwood; 314-227-5500) with a special screening of the unrated director's cut, complete with tagged-on George Romero interview. Tickets for this gory good time are $10 and available online through www.fangoria.com. Oh, the inhumanity!
Tuesday, October 18
For the well-read juvenile, nothing can be more exhilarating than the announcement of a new book by Lemony Snicket. Actually, quite a few adults are excited by the prospect as well, but adults are easily amused. Snicket's latest account of the misadventures of the Baudelaire orphans does not have a name yet (visit www.thenamelessnovel.com if you believe you know the title), but it is rumored to be the most horrible installment yet of the author's inexplicably popular A Series of Unfortunate Events. So why not share the misery with other like-minded schadenfreude aficionados at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Booksellers (13995 New Halls Ferry Road, Florissant; 314-830-3550)? Some bold soul reads a chapter from the new book, boring games are offered as a diversion from the horror, and lackluster party favors are handed out at the end of the ordeal. Charming. Perhaps the only saving grace in all of this is that admission is free.