In addition to celebrating the movement that brought us the 40-hour workweek and paid vacation (thanks, unions!) Labor Day means taking a break from your labor. And while you could spend the three-day weekend in an alcoholic stupor at one of the city's many fine drinking establishments, may we also recommend squeezing in a little culture — and some good neighborhood fun? From a play inspired by The Simpsons to a seriously cool bike race, the options are as numerous as they are affordable. Make some plans already.
1. Enjoy a Musical Revue
Taking a stroll down memory lane, as they say, is good for the soul, whether your recollections date back a few years or several decades. With music, it's far easier to transport ourselves to the past. The revue Tell Me Somethin' Good dances, swings and moves through the years, from the birth of doo-wop to the ascension of hip-hop. This popular show was conceived by the Black Rep's founder and producing director Ron Himes, and it opens the Black Rep's new season at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; www.theblackrep.org). Performances take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday (September 2 through 20; no Wednesday show on September 16). Tickets are $20 to $30.# — Alison Sieloff
2. Recall the Hilarity of Sideshow Bob
What do people talk about after the end of the world? In the case of Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, the same thing they did when society still existed: The Simpsons. Everything has been destroyed, and in the ruins of civilization, a group of survivors huddle around a fire and talk about the same episode of the show — "Cape Feare," guest-starring Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob. The story is the only one they all know, and so they tell it over and over, eventually deciding to re-create it as a sort of ritual performance to give their lives meaning. R-S Theatrics opens its new season with this bleak and thoughtful comedy about the the power of stories. Mr. Burns is performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday (September 4 to 20) at the Ivory Theatre (7620 Michigan Avenue; 314-252-8812 or www.r-stheatrics.com). Tickets are $20 to $25. — Paul Friswold
3. Listen to the Modern-Day Version of the Andrews Sisters
Some sisters fight and compete with one another, some sisters lift each other up in supporting love, and still other sisters form girl groups and sing together for their enjoyment and yours. This last kind of sister group, the most entertaining kind, is what the Irving Sisters evoke. Although Elise LaBarge, Linden Christ and Sarah Simmons aren't sisters in the familial sense, you'll forget that detail as they harmonize and sing old favorites, such as "Mr. Sandman," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and other '30s and '40s tunes, as well as share stories about the artists who made these songs American gems. The Irving Sisters perform at at 7:20 p.m. tonight at the Kranzberg Arts Center Studio (501 North Grand Boulevard; www.irvingsisters.com). Admission is $20, cash only. # — Alison Sieloff
4. Check Out Some Gorgeous Lanterns
Since 1977 the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-777-5100 or www.mobot.org) has hosted one of the largest Japanese Festivals in the United States. This annual event celebrates Japan's cultural and artistic heritage through art, music and dance. There are martial-arts demonstrations, separate kimono and cosplay fashion shows, displays of bonsai and ikebana floral arrangements and, of course, the Taiko drummers. Guided walking tours of the Japanese Garden and Tea House Island — a gift from our sister city Suwa — are offered daily. This year's Japanese Festival is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday (September 5 to 7). Admission is $5 to $15.— Rob Levy
Turn the page for more weekend fun, including a (free!) tribute to Maurice Sendak.