Gather round, kids! The circus is in town. And not just any circus: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a.k.a. "The Greatest Show on Earth." This year's theme is "Bailey's Comet," and the show promises more high-flying hijinks from Bello the Clown, more silver-tongued patter from ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and more fully miked growls from ten Bengal tigers (under the steady hand of Mark Oliver Gebel). The kickoff show begins at 7 p.m. at the Savvis Center (14th Street and Clark Avenue; 314-241-1888), and tickets range from $9.75 to $40. And incidentally, if you're an animal-rights activist and against the use of animals in circuses, you can come down on Saturday, November 20, at 6:30 p.m. for the St. Louis Animal Rights Team's peaceful protest of the circus (call 314-851-0928 for details). See? Both sides can have a good time with this one.
Thursday, November 18
Hey, you! Yeah, you with the not-ironic-because-that-would-be-too-ironic T-shirt on, we're talking to you. How much do you know about rock & roll? Sadly, you probably know a lot less than you think (we won't tell your friends). But don't worry: You have one last chance to get some official schoolin' on the subject. At 7 p.m. Jim Rhodes, lover of all things rock, teaches the final installment of his in-depth eight-week class, the History and Sociology of Rock & Roll: 1950-1975. The class costs as much as most concert tickets ($12) -- money well-spent -- but the lecture isn't held in some dingy, smoky room. Take your carefully tousled hair to the Ethical Society of St. Louis at 9001 Clayton Road (314-991-0955, extension 213, or www.ethicalstl.org) to watch Woodstock. Maybe you will gain some knowledge to back up that aloof attitude (and the ability to teach your friends a thing or two).
Friday, November 19
Like three-bean salad and four-cheese macaroni, foods with an assortment of ingredients really awaken the taste buds and keep you interested in your meal (as if that's difficult). The same theory really applies to events, too: The more variety packed into one event, the greater the chance people will find that happening, well, happening. The Department of Theatre, Dance and Media Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis understands this. That's why it sponsors the Physical Graffiti faculty and student dance concert at 7:30 p.m. both tonight and Saturday, November 20. This $5 to $10 show includes performances in four dance genres: ballet, stylized jazz, rhythm-funk tap and modern dance. What'd we tell you? There's something to stir the dancer inside everyone at the Lee Theater at the Touhill Performing Arts Center (1 University Boulevard at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-4949). Oh, and eat before you go -- the theater's not serving meals.
Saturday, November 20
Jack Benny, who played the role of a notoriously stingy, subpar musician saddled with an unfortunate hairline, bad glasses and a devastating comic delivery, is something of a role model for Mr. Night. So many similarities -- but no match in talent or success. Oh well. It doesn't help matters that Benny was indeed playing a role and was a kind person, generous to friends and competent on his violin; let us charitably say that Mr. Night is not. Jack Benny: Laughter in Bloom, Eddie Carroll's one-man show about the comic legend, reveals the heart-warming truth behind the character Benny created. Mainstage Artists Management presents the show at 8 p.m. at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre (Parker and Waterford roads; 314-921-5678). Tickets are $20 to $22. For one night Mr. Night gets to bask in the reflected glow of greatness. Watch the glare from the forehead, now.
Sunday, November 21
Admit it: You've always fancied yourself the best gift-giver among your friends and family. You always try to be insightful, and you don't think anyone ever returns your pressies -- but you don't know for sure. This holiday season buy some gifts that no one would ever want to return at the 2004 Fair-Trade Market at Manchester United Methodist Church (129 Highway 141, Manchester). Thanks to the nonprofit Plowsharing Crafts, more than 40 countries' handcrafted items are presented here. Not only will the jewelry, toys and art at the bazaar be unique, but here you can make your purchases with a clean conscience, knowing that the artisans enjoy a fair payment for their work, which in turn helps build their varied and developing homelands. That's like giving two gifts in one! The market runs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, November 20, and from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. today. Call for 636-394-7506 for more information.
Monday, November 22
Mr. Night is always up for a wicked sex romp -- even if it's onstage. Fortunately, Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents just such a theatrical romp, in the form of The Lucky Chance, at 8 p.m. at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves; 314-968-7128). Set in England's merchant class in the year 1685, The Lucky Chance tells the story of Leticia Bredwell, who is purchased by Sir Feeble Fainwould for an unfortunate May-December marriage. Fainwould's homie Sir Cautious Fulbank also buys himself a bride, the lovely Julia. Both women are in love with poorer men and must scheme their way out of matrimony to reunite with their young lovers. Wigs, haughty accents and comedy ensue. Incidentally, The Lucky Chance was written by England's first professional female playwright, Aphra Behn, so the story is no gross male fantasy. (Mr. Night will, of course, compensate for that.) Tickets are $3.50 to $8.