The highlights of last year's St. Louis Builders Home & Garden Show included lawnmowers as big as a bedroom, giant in-ground swimming-pool shells propped against the walls of America's Center, a full-size walk-through log cabin built from a kit and those overpriced but hard-to-resist funnel cakes. Also returning to the vast smorgasbord of all things home improvement is the Mole Hunter, a man who knows 100 different ways to kill a burrowing animal. Meet him amid 600 exhibits on spas, lighting, plumbing, cabinets, furniture, flooring, appliances, windows, closets, pools, lawn equipment and remodeling. Don't forget the showcase gardens with burbling waterfalls, cooking demos, contests, kids' activities and talks by master gardeners, as well as the hosts of the Learning Channel's Hometime show. Plan to spend at least three hours at the show, near the intersection of Broadway and Washington Avenue from 5-10 p.m. today, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, or 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free-$8 with discount coupons at Schnucks markets. Call 314-994-7700 or visit www.stlhba.com for more details.
Thursday, February 27
"Lovely and talented" is about as clichéd a pair of adjectives as you could find, but it's a perfect descriptor for the late Lisa Colbert Bandele. The inspiring and beautiful Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville theater instructor lost a battle with lupus last year, and her students have dedicated this year's Black Theater Workshop production of Joy & Pain to the memory of this brave young woman. It's hard to imagine they'll improve on last year's staging of the audacious satire The Colored Museum, but this year's show is a hodgepodge of scenes from August Wilson dramas, dance pieces, recitations of Harlem Renaissance poetry and other goodies. See the young, black and gifted at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday, or at 2 p.m. Sunday, at SIUE's Metcalf Student Theater, near the intersection of Interstate 270 and Highway 157 in Edwardsville. Call 618-650-2774 to hear more; admission is free.
Friday, February 28
The sporadic cabaret-music events in the Lou have been trumped by a new, ongoing, classy cabaret series that's packing 'em in at Voilà French Café (formerly Richard Perry's Lindell Terrace Café), near the intersection of Lindell Boulevard and Taylor Avenue. Tim Schall's Songs From the Heart allows you dine on appetizers, dessert and drinks while Schall sings and pianist Rocky Tucker works the baby grand in the cabaret room. Schall says it's an "intimate evening of love songs with a lot of humor, some standards, contemporary Broadway ballads, swing, jazzy numbers and surprises." Rumor has it that the 50-minute show will change from time to time, possibly featuring tributes to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in the near future. We know that the Lindell Terrace menu is changing from stick-to-your-ribs American chow to à la carte Continental fare with the addition of Tunisian-born chef Philippe Habassi. To catch the weekly 8:30 p.m. show, call 314-367-4100 for reservations; admission is $12.
Saturday, March 1
So what's Sandra Bernhard up to these days? The full-lipped comedienne/ instigator is making the rounds of TV dramas and talk shows, with upcoming appearances on Law and Order: SVU and the new Dragnet, and a recent stop on BBC America's So Graham Norton. Her five-piece rock band the Love Machine is on hiatus, but she's made time to warm up for her next one-woman Broadway conquest with a pit stop at Washington University's Edison Theatre as part of the Ovations! series. See the spectacle tonight only, near the intersection of Forsyth and Skinker boulevards; call 314-534-1111 for tickets, priced at $30. (For $100-$125 bucks, you can join a preshow fundraising dinner with a Mardi Gras theme and meet Bernhard for dessert after the show.) We have to admit we weren't exactly surprised when we discovered that Bernhard is the daughter of a proctologist and an abstract painter.
Sunday, March 2
The St. Louis Blues just can't seem to make it to the final contest for Lord Stanley's cup, but their fandom is as fierce as any other NHL squad's. The fans meet the forecheckers at Dream Night With the Blues, a children's-charity benefit that will fill Margarita Mama's (910 Westport Plaza) with the faithful from 3-6 p.m. The eighth annual event allows mere mortals to actually play foosball, air hockey and bubble hockey with current and former St. Louis Blues for a small "tip" to support the Dream Factory. A slightly larger tip allows you to snag the autograph or picture of a favorite Blue. Silent and live hockey-memorabilia auctions culminate in a jerseys-off-their-backs auction that promises heavy bidding. Admission is $8-$12. Visit www.stlouisblues.com or call 314-966-9895 for more info.
Monday, March 3
Serious classical-music fans need to look beyond Powell Hall for the whole picture in this town. With such series as Concordia Seminary's "Bach at the Sem," Washington University chamber-music concerts at Graham Chapel, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis Premiere Performances at the Ethical Society of St. Louis (9001 Clayton Road), the scene is flourishing. The $15-$20 admission to tonight's 8 o'clock performance buys you a date with Alon Goldstein, a classical pianist who turns that unique wooden Ethical Society auditorium into a showplace for his world-class interpretations of works by Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven, Debussy and Mark Kopytman. Call 314-516-5818 for tickets to hear this thirtysomething Israeli native get rude with an étude.
Tuesday, March 4
The new exhibit in the Exploradome of the St. Louis Science Center (5050 Oakland Avenue), Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss, is a winner. Kids will get off on the generous number of buttons, switches and joysticks to play with in the re-created deep-sea-submersible cockpits. They'll also enjoy the Lego pit, and the trompe l'oeil photo op involving the hatch of a minisubmarine in front of a mural of the open sea. Older humanoids will dig the spooky mood music and lighting, giant models of sea vessels, retired ocean-exploration ships and video footage of huge, bizarre, neon-glowing, jellylike animals found in the dark depths. Speaking of video footage, the coolest part of the whole exhibit may be the HDTV widescreen showing otherworldly scenes of chalk-white crabs, human-flesh-colored fish and bright-orange tubeworms frolicking next to Davy Jones' locker. Stop by daily through May 11; admission is $2-$3. Call 314-289-4400 for more info.