Opening Nights

Summer may be the season for the big tours on the pop and rock circuit to come to town, but world-class acts of an entirely different sort blow through the Lou year round, filling venues that are works of art unto themselves with song, dance and laughter.

With its awe-inspiring Byzantine interior and an incredible seven seconds of natural reverb, the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica is easily the grandest performance space in town, so go and hear Evensong sung by the Christ Church Cathedral Choir there on April 8. In existence since 1526, the choir may be the oldest boy band on the planet. Prayer is optional.

If it's another sort of uplifting you prefer, Mel Brooks' The Producersreturns to the Fox Theatre May 10 through 22. It's only the funniest, most successful song-and-dance production in Broadway history, and when was the last time you saw a full-blown musical performed live? Just be sure to get in line for tickets in early March.

Not enough dance for you? Quit your ballet aching. The world-renowned Virsky Ukrainian National Dance Companyprances onto the stage at the Blanche Touhill Performing Arts Center October 7 and 8. It's been six years since Dance St. Louis last welcomed the troupe, so see the dancers before they say do svidanja for another six.

And while you're focused on the radiant brilliance of the Blanche, consider indulging in the music of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Monastic Choirthere on October 30. The group delivers the message of Siddhartha Gautama in an elegantly contemporary form of the fan-bei style of Buddhist music, complete with video projections and subtitles to enhance your absorption of the nectar of spiritual bliss.

Buddhist monks certainly don't have a monopoly on soul. Give a hallelujah for the return of the Blind Boys of Alabama, who'll sing in the perfect acoustics of the Sheldon on December 17. Since forming over 60 years ago, the Boys have transcended the dogma of gospel with their heavenly a cappella harmonies. A well-lived life will include hearing them live among its highlights.

But even the fullest of lives can end without warning, and what's a funeral without music? Before finalizing the set list for your obsequies, you'll want to consider Berlioz's Requiem, an opus so huge and grand that it's seldom performed. Your opportunity to audition the deeply emotional composition will be granted by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Hall, November 12 through 14.

This is but a short list of the coming year's highlights. If the numerous opportunities you'll have to put some variety in your life while getting acquainted with St. Louis' world-class venues aren't evident here, they'll be fully demonstrated in the listings that follow.

Theater
Act II Theater CompanySt. Peters Community & Arts Center, 1035 St. Peters Howell, St. Peters, 636-397-6903.

A Bad Year for Tomatoes: Starting Nov. 12, Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 14, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 20

Nunsense: Starting Feb. 11, Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Feb. 20

Cemetary Club: Starting May 6, Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through May 15

Everybody Loves Opal: Starting Aug. 5, Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Aug. 14. Act, Inc. Theater CompanyFontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown, St. Louis. Call 314-725-9108 for info, www.act-inc-stlouis.org.

Diana of Dobson's: Starting Sept. 24, Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 3. Alpha Players Theatre CompanyFlorissant Civic Center, Parker & Waterford, Florissant, 314-921-5678.

Twelve Angry Jurors: Starting Feb. 4, Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 13, 2 p.m. Continues through Feb. 12

The Boys From Syracuse: Starting May 20, Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through May 29

Nunsense: Starting July 8, Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 17.

Alton Little TheaterAlton Little Theatre, 2450 N. Henry, Alton. Call 618-462-6562, www.altonlittletheater.org.

Harvey: Starting Sept. 10, Fri.-Sun. Continues through Sept. 19

The Laramie Project: Starting Oct. 29, Fri.-Sun. Continues through Nov. 7

Fences: Starting Jan. 28, Fri.-Sun. Continues through Feb. 6

Picasso at the Lapin Agile: Starting April 1, Fri.-Sun. Continues through April 10

Funny Money: Starting May 13, Fri.-Sun. Continues through May 21

The Celestial Theatre:Call 314-772-1190, www.ctheatre.homestead.com/ctindex.html.

Crisis of the SOL: Sat., Sept. 18. Artica Fairgrounds, St. Louis Riverfront, Between Mullanphy and Biddle, St. Louis.

Center of Creative Arts-Family Theatre SeriesCenter of Creative Arts, 524 Trinity, University City. Call 314-725-6555, www.cocastl.org.

Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co.: Oct. 1-3

Very Eric Carle: Oct. 22-24

The Velveteen Rabbit: Nov. 12-14

Amahl and the Night Visitors: Dec. 10-12

COCAdance: All Together Now: Jan. 7-9

Asphalt Jungle: Jan. 21-23

Dance Cuba: Feb. 11-13

Tom Chapin: Feb. 25-27

Color Me Dark: April 8-10.

Center of Creative Arts-Women Centerstage Series:

Tea for Three: Lady Bird, Pat and Betty: Sat., Oct. 9; Sun., Oct. 10

Facts and Fiction: A Mother and Daughter Talk About the Writing Life: Sat., Jan. 29

Sister Helen Prejean: Fri., Feb. 4

Margie Gillis: Dancing From the Inside Out: Sat., March 12

Diva Diction with Nikki Giovanni and Ishle Park: Sat., April 2.

CITY ImprovCITY Improv, 2nd floor, St. Louis Union Station, St. Louis. Call 314-241-1527, www.cityimprov.com.

Jimmie Tambourine's Thursday Night Social:features a wide variety of improv and sketch comedy. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 31, call for prices.

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