Cats, schmats. If you think that Broadway stalwart exhibited some mighty legs on its dance to worldwide fame, consider The Fantasticks, the longest-running show of any kind in United States history -- and the longest-running musical in the world. In case you aren't among the millions who've had the pleasure of attending, the plot involves young lovers Matt and Louisa, who meet secretly to avoid the wrath of their disapproving fathers. Only the fathers don't really disapprove, and what the two lovers feel for each other may be a charade. But, as the narrator reminds the audience, the play is never done until we've all been burnt and burnished by the sun, and night becomes day soon enough. New Line Theatre opens its fifteenth season with The Fantasticks at the ArtLoft Theatre (1529 Washington Avenue; 314-241-1517 or www.newlinetheatre.com), with shows at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday (October 13 through November 5). Tickets are $15 to $18. On "Bargain Thursdays," tickets are $10 to $15. -- Alex Weir
Some famous monsters: Frankenstein, Wolfman, Cookie. Not a famous monster, but perhaps a soon-to-be-famous playwright: Margeau Baue Steinau. Her debut play (written in collaboration with B. Weller and Rachel Jackson), Famous Monsters, is a twelve-year labor of love, conceived in our beloved Lou and coddled to the point of delicious derangement. Steinau plays Morgan, a recovering alcoholic with a talent for slam poetry who wrangles monsters both real and imaginary as she dodges and weaves her way through a web of execration and salvation. Edgy theater is always welcome (but heads up on the play's NC-17 rating). HotCity Theatre Company presents Famous Monsters at the Theatre at St. John's (5000 Washington Place at Kingshighway; 314-482-9125 or www.hotcitytheatre.org) with performances at 8 p. m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (October 13 through 23). With the decidedly unmonstrous ticket price of $10 to $12, make sure you brave this show before it devours the nation. -- Kristyn Pomranz
Pack Your Trunk
So this play's not really about an elephant; the creature is a metaphor for the fantastic things our hearts tell us hide just over the horizon. And if you're a sodbuster in frontier Kansas, beset by wolves and disease, it's not hard to imagine that what's over the horizon is better than what you got. Ma Wheeler, the sodbuster in question, fights the lure of the elephant for the sake of her family, but how long can she hold out? Find out when the Orange Girls Theatre Company presents Going to See the Elephant at 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday (October 15 through 23) and 8 p.m. October 20 at the Jewish Community Center Theatre (2 Millstone Campus Drive, Creve Coeur; 314-520-9557 or www.orangegirls.org). Tickets are $12 to $15. -- Paul Friswold
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