Sugarbaker's Surprise

ReDesigning Women as men

If ever there was a television program crying out to be remade as a tour de force drag-queen show, that show was Designing Women. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's sitcom is the intermediate evolutionary step between Chick Lit and Chick Flick. Ostensibly a program about an Atlanta-based interior-design firm run by the Sugarbaker sisters, Designing Women rarely had anything to do with interior-design quandaries. Instead, the show was a platform for the four main characters to fire off snappy dialogue, make trenchant insights about the state of male-female relationships and generally run roughshod over the idea that women are the gentler sex. Divorce, cancer, sexism, faithless men and yo-yo diets could not faze these ladies. Tough, sassy and, above all, intelligent, the women of Sugarbaker's were so popular with their core audience that the show was cancelled by the network and resurrected because of a grassroots letter-writing campaign.

The Olympus Theatre finally takes the bold step of bringing the show to the stage as ReDesigning Women, and yes, Julia, Suzanne, Charlene and Mary Jo are all played to the hilt by men in drag. Olympus has adapted three scripts to make one long stage show, but the company has altered nothing else about the program. And while Olympus has announced that this is the last drag revision they intend to do in the near future, here's hoping that at some point they tackle The Golden Girls.

ReDesigning Women plays at 8 p.m. Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday (June 23 through 25) at SPOT nightclub (4146 Manchester Avenue; 314-371-1330 or www.spotbar.net). Tickets are $15, and you must be at least 21 years old to enter. -- Paul Friswold

Nice Ring, Lady

If you ever trembled with impotent rage at the sight of the Fabulous Moolah cheapshotting the beauteous Sunny in the ring, then you owe it to yourself to see Moolah reflect on her wild and triumphant life as a female wrestler in Ruth Leitman's documentary, Lipstick & Dynamite: The First Ladies of Wrestling (if you trembled with something else when Moolah pounded another woman, put down your Crumb comic book and get to the theater early). Leitman has gathered the legends of the ring to discuss their lives, and Moolah plays a justifiably large role in the film. Lipstick & Dynamite screens at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (June 23 through 25) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487). Tickets are $5 to $6. -- Paul Friswold

Mazel Tov, Baby

The St. Louis Jewish Film Festival returns for its tenth year with another stellar program of films exploring the Jewish experience. A full schedule of films is available at www.stljewishfilmfestival.org, and almost all of the films screen at the Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema (Lindbergh Boulevard and Clayton Road, Frontenac; $9 to $10 per film) beginning Monday, June 27, at 2 p.m. But if you just can't wait till Monday, head to the Jewish Community Center (2 Millstone Campus Drive, Creve Coeur) for the Elliott Gould retrospective on Sunday, June 26. Gould is the festival's guest of honor, and his performance in Robert Altman's brilliant update of the Chandler novel The Long Goodbye is not to be missed. It screens at 3 p.m., and admission is only $4. -- Paul Friswold

In from the Outdoors

Laumeier Sculpture Park (12580 Rott Road, Sunset Hills; 314-821-1209 or www.laumeier.org) is renowned for its outdoor sculpture, but don't forget about the main gallery, which is entirely inside. That gallery is transformed by Christina Shmigel's new show, Chinese Garden for the Delights of Roaming Afar, which opens with a special reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 24. The site-specific installation is Shmigel's attempt to re-create the feeling visitors experience when walking through a classical Chinese garden, which were themselves an attempt to capture all of the world in one contained space. So we have an outdoor museum's indoor gallery simulating an outdoor exhibit encapsulating all of the world. Shmigel's art remains up through August 30. -- Paul Friswold

 
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