"All the world's a stage," Shakespeare once said. For our money, there ain't a set designer in the land who could come up with a better backdrop than the myriad blooms at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or www.mobot.org). Even the guy who built the Muny's stage around those trees has nothing on Mother Nature. To make use of such a spectacular pre-existing set piece, the botanical garden and Classic 99 (KFUO-FM) present Rhapsody in Bloom. The event features classical music and contemporary dance performances by Alexandra Ballet (www.alexandraballet.com), the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (www.slso.org), the St. Louis Academy of Dance (www. stlouisdance.com) and the Laclede Quartet (www.lacledequartet.org), among others. The performances are free with admission ($1.50 to $7) and take place at various locations throughout the garden between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Take a stroll through the Jenkins Daylily Garden (pictured), marveling at the beauty and intricacy of the blossoms while the dulcet tones of performers from Flutes Alive (www.usroute66.net/flutesal/) dance in your head, or enjoy the Heckman Rock Garden while members of the Saint Louis Classical Guitar Society strum the soundtrack for a perfectly lovely Saturday afternoon. Enjoy it while it lasts: Nature's got one mother of a teardown heading this way. -- Mia York
Along Comes a Spider Woman
No, not Peter Parker's mom
Curtain Call Repertory Theatre throws itself into its 2004-2005 season with the electrifying Kiss of the Spider Woman. A romance of sorts set in a god-forsaken South American prison, Spider Woman blends the brutality of incarceration with a tender love story, the fantasy of movies and the ever-present specter of death (in the form of the not-so-metaphorical Spider Woman). All that, and the music and lyrics of Kander & Ebb and a book by Terrence McNally! Kiss of the Spider Woman plays at the Carousel House in Faust Park (15185 Olive Boulevard; 314-346-7707) at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (September 24 through October 2), with a 6 p.m. show on Sunday, September 26, and a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, October 3. Tickets are $13 to $15. -- Paul Friswold
Fall of the Poets
River King in autumn
We're just past the equinox into autumn, when the leaves go Technicolor and drop to the ground, you're finally able to wear a jacket again and, most important (to us, anyway), the arts season begins anew. Poetry readings are upon us, and though there are fine specimens in the city, this weekend you should get to the Broadway Center of Arts (124 East Main Street in Belleville, Illinois) to catch the 7 p.m. River King Supplement's "Autumn Leaves Poetry Reading." It's a free reading by thirteen published poets, most of whom have appeared in the ten-year-old biannual River King Poetry Supplement, including Cheryl D.S. Walker, Phil Miller and Ruth Eschmann. The river here is thick with the blood of old poets, from T.S. Eliot to Miles Davis (yes, that was poetry), and you should cross the Old Man to Illinois to recharge your fall battery.
You can get the fall Poetry Supplement by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, It's free, and you should read more poetry. It isn't bad for you. Call 618-234-5082 for more info on the event. -- Mark Dischinger
Step on It
Stomp, the hyperkinetic broomsticks-and-matchbooks percussive dance-theater experience, returns to St. Louis for five shows in three days (Friday through Sunday, September 24 through 26) at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1111 for times). Oh, you think Stomp is played out? Did you know they worked on the soundtrack for Tank Girl? Yeah, that's right: Tank Girl, with Ice-T. That's O.G., baby. Tickets are $23 to $60. -- Paul Friswold
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