The wild, wild West brings lots of images to mind: dirty saloons, itchy trigger fingers, chuck wagons, tumbleweeds, vast buffalo herds and Nino the clown with his big red nose. Wait a minute, there weren't any clowns in the wild West -- were there? In Circus Flora's version of the wild West, there are clowns, trapeze artists and daredevil horse riders, all under one roof, er, big top. Since 1985 Circus Flora has combined a traditional one-ring European circus with actors, dancers, musicians and animals. Although the circus' namesake, an African elephant named Flora, has retired (visit www.africanelephants.org for a Flora update), the show must go on! This year's production, Kawayo: Nino and the Wild West, will defy gravity and your imagination Thursday, June 10, through Sunday, June 27, at Grand Center (Grand Boulevard and Samuel Shepard Drive). The show runs two hours (with a fifteen-minute intermission) Tuesday through Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $30 and can be purchased through MetroTix, by phone at 314-531-6800 or at the box office in front of the big-top tent. Visit www.circusflora.org for more info. -- Amy Helms
Nino the clown adds a lot of Wild West style to Circus
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
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 email@example.com. -- 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