20 Can't-Miss Arts Events to Fill Your Fall Calendar

Seu Jorge pays tribute to David Bowie --
 and The Life Aquatic -- at the Pageant on September 12
Seu Jorge pays tribute to David Bowie -- and The Life Aquatic -- at the Pageant on September 12 PRESS PHOTO

OK, maybe it doesn't feel like fall quite yet — the leaves are still on the trees, and the temperature regularly shoots past 80. But Labor Day weekend's commencement promises we'll soon be feeling that familiar nip in the air, the quickening of spirits that comes with the first sign of autumn.

And fall puts us in the mood to learn something new. Summer is all about pool parties, alcohol, float trips. The months that follow suggest museums, galleries, darkened cinemas. Could there a better time to take the plunge and explore something new?

Here are twenty things to do this fall to expand your artistic and cultural horizons. Plus, we've included a bonus item: something happening in the spring that you may want to start planning for now. (You'll know it when you see it.)

Panoramas of the City

In a year in which the Missouri History Museum exhibition team has given us the stories of St. Louis' greatest civil rights freedom fighters and returned us to the glory days of Route 66, it would take something truly spectacular for the museum to outdo itself — and yet somehow it's done just that. The museum's new exhibition, Panoramas of the City, is as close to time travel as you can get without involving Morlocks. The show comprises seven floor-to-ceiling size images of scenes such as Charles Lindbergh speaking to a crowd of 100,000 people on Art Hill at his "welcome home" party and a 1920 march on Olive Street by the League of Women Voters. These massive photographs are joined by props and interactive media displays that give viewers a better understanding of the historical context of each scene. More than 60 panoramas of various sizes round out the exhibit, which will be on display from September 2 to August 12, 2018, at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; www.mohistory.org).


Dotty is not the woman she once was — and some days, even she can admit that. Gone is the middle-class woman who raised three kids and used to entertain all and sundry during the holidays. In her place is a woman who forgets to take her pills and can't safely prepare her own meals or be trusted alone in her own home. Her daughter Shelly has taken charge of Dotty's care, but Shelly has her own life to get back to. What does Dotty have left? Colman Domingo's play Dot deals with aging, Alzheimer's and the unsettling passing of the baton that happens when children step up to care for their own parents. The Black Rep opens its 41st season with Dot. Performances take place September 6 to 24 at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6465 Forsyth Boulevard; www.theblackrep.org).

Seu Jorge: The Life Aquatic

Seu Jorge turned in one of the most memorable performances in Wes Anderson's film The Life Aquatic without speaking a word. The Brazilian singer played the role of Pele, a sailor who sang Portuguese versions of David Bowie songs throughout the film, acting as both in-story soundtrack and a sort of Greek chorus. Hearing Bowie's '70s-era songs in a foreign language with only Jorge's acoustic guitar as accompaniment made them sound as new and as alien as they did when they first blasted out of your speakers. Jorge is on tour honoring the artistic legacy of David Bowie with Seu Jorge: The Life Aquatic, a Tribute to David Bowie. The show features a recreation of the film's set, with images from the movie projected onto boat sails while Jorge performs those incredible songs in his native tongue. Seu Jorge: The Life Aquatic, a Tribute to David Bowie takes place at 8 p.m. Tuesday, September 12, at the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard; www.thepageant.com).

The Feast

Matt and Anna are by all accounts a happy couple. He's a painter with a burgeoning gallery deal, she's a modern business warrior-woman; really, all they can complain about is the groaning and gnashing of the plumbing, but what do you expect in New York? Matt doesn't really start to worry until the sewers begin talking to him. Then everybody he encounters speaks in the same sonorous voice, extolling him to fulfill his great destiny. Cory Finley's The Feast is an eerie comedy about the tenuous boundary separating reality from madness. St. Louis Actors' Studio opens its eleventh season with the Burroughs grad's play. Performances take place September 22 to October 8 at Gaslight Theatre (358 North Boyle Avenue; www.stlas.org).

BookFest St. Louis

Despite boasting two major library systems, a strong set of municipal libraries, a thriving culture of independent book stores and one of the strongest literary heritages of any city in America, St. Louis has had trouble maintaining an ongoing literary festival, with the notable exception of the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival. BookFest St. Louis aims to right that wrong with a long-lasting celebration of the literary arts. The inaugural BookFest St. Louis, which is organized and supported by the Central West End, Left Bank Books and the Left Bank Books Foundation, will take place September 21 to 23 at multiple locations within the Central West End (www.bookfeststl.com) and will feature panels with authors who write for children, those who write literary fiction, memoir, poetry, science fiction and a celebration in honor of the centenary of T.S. Eliot's Prufrock and Other Observations.

Penn & Teller

Penn & Teller are the kind of magicians who tell you they're going to trick you, show you how they'll do the trick and still manage to trick you anyway. The duo have fired nail-guns into their own hands, dumped hundreds of cockroaches on David Letterman and generally baffled and bewildered audiences for 40 years, all while being supreme showmen. And then there are their card tricks, which at one point required four-foot-high metal playing cards that the pair shuffled using electric forklifts. Penn & Teller perform strange miracles at 8 p.m. Friday, September 29, at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts (2300 West Clay Street, St. Charles; www.lindenwood.edu) on the Lindenwood University campus.

Borgia Infami

The Borgia family has been synonymous with brilliance and the lust for power since the days the fifteenth century. They dominated politics and ecclesiastical roles while remaining cunning warriors and generous patrons of the arts. But they were also slandered and libeled by the people they out-maneuvered. Rodrigo attained the position of pope (he was officially Pope Alexander VI), but was then accused of hosting orgies in the Vatican. His son Cesare was frequently cited as an example of what not to do by Machiavelli in his famous treatise The Prince. Cesare's sister Lucrezia was used as a pawn by the family to gain power through marriage, and she was rumored to be the family executioner, poisoning people who had outlived their usefulness. The Borgias have all the ingredients for a fantastic opera (or soap opera), which is exactly why Harold Blumenfeld wrote Borgia Infami. Blumenfeld's opera weaves together fact and various fictional portrayals of the family to give a full picture of their significance in history. The Washington University Department of Music presents the world premiere of Borgia Infami at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (September 30 and October 1) at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6465 Forsyth Boulevard; www.edison.wustl.edu).

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