Oh, God!

It's Jamie Farr as George Burns

SAT 11/13

For the "trainspotting"-type fan of celebrity, the production of Say Goodnight, Gracie that plays at the Touhill Performing Arts Center (1 University Boulevard at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-4949; $19 to $42) at 2 and 8 p.m. is a veritable bonanza of celebrity footnotes, asides and obscurities. This Tony-nominated solo show stars Jamie Farr as showbiz powerhouse George Burns, star of vaudeville, film, radio, television and film (again), who is attempting to win his way to a happy afterlife with his beloved wife Gracie by wowing God with one last boffo performance. It is the sort of celebrity-empowering fantasy that makes for excellent theater. Farr, you may remember, portrayed the cross-dressing Max Klinger on TV's M*A*S*H (the truly devoted will remember him as the non-cross-dressing civilian Max Klinger on the less-successful AfterM*A*S*H). Incidentally, Farr assumes the Burns role originated by Frank Gorshin, a.k.a. "The Riddler" from the old Batman and Robin TV show. Didi Conn, the irrepressible Frenchy from Grease, provides the offstage voice of Gracie Allen (and again, the devoted already know that Conn was the star of the epic easy-listening film You Light Up My Life). And the man responsible for this show is none other than Rupert Holmes, the musical talent behind the FM-pop staple "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" (and, to be honest, the much-better Broadway musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood). True, none of the principals' past missteps have any direct bearing on this show, but the juxtaposition of showbiz success and showbiz failure that litters the résumés of the cast and creator is the sort of awesome that defies easy description. It is, in short, pure entertainment -- just like Mr. Burns himself. -- Paul Friswold

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes 
Jamie Farr is George Burns -- but not in this photo.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes Jamie Farr is George Burns -- but not in this photo.

Death, Etruscan-style

FRI 11/12

The Etruscans built an epic civilization between the eleventh and fifth centuries B.C. So sturdy were the foundations of Etruscan society that the great cultural hijackers of history, the Romans, took a large chunk and fashioned their own grandiose empire out of it. Unfortunately, the Romans effectively stamped out the Etruscans themselves, and the Etruscan written record is minimal. Consequently, much of what is known about them comes from their religious funerary art, which often depicts the demons Vanth, Charun and Tuchulcha. The Archaeology Institute of America (314-432-3900) presents "Demons of the Etruscan Underworld," a free lecture by Professor Helen Nagy on the ideologies represented by these demons at 7 p.m. at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. -- Erik Alan Carlson

This Train Is Bound for Glory

Most people ride trains out of necessity, but not those riding the rails on RailCruise America, an eight-car passenger train housed at St. Louis Union Station (20th and Market streets). The luxury train serves food and drinks on a variety of return trips around the St. Louis area, and this weekend two excursions are offered. On Saturday, November 13, Children's Hope International's "Orphan Train of Hope" departs the station at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $175 to $225 (call 314-890-0086 or visit www.chifoundation.org) -- the fundraiser includes dinner, and tickets are buy one, get one free (if purchased by Friday, November 12). If paying $39 is more your speed, consider the train's Sunday, November 14, Cocktail Club tour from 3 to 7 p.m. (314-231-9500 or www.railcruiseamerica.com for reservations). -- Alison Sieloff

Fashion with Compassion

SUN 11/14

How bad is the fashion sense here at the RFT? We borrowed Unreal's BeDazzler to rig up a special Halloween thong and ended up in the emergency room (it seems one should not wear the thong while BeDazzling it). But Marcel, fashion designer for entertainment luminaries Keith Sweat and Whitney Houston, knows about fashion. He shows his private-label designs of sportswear and evening attire for men and women at 6 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Cathedral (3633 Lindell Boulevard; 314-533-0092). Tickets for Marcel's So Fresh, So Clean Spring 2005 Spectacular Fashion Showcase, as it's known, are $25 for general admission or $60 for the VIP treatment. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Bob Costas Cancer Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. -- Paul Friswold

 
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