Abridged over Troubled Waters

Reduced Shakespeare Company crams it for you

College students, rejoice: Even though finals loom on your horizon and you've frittered away the past month shtupping hookers (vicariously, vicariously!) in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, there's still a chance you could pass the English exam. You're going to need to put down the Dual Shock, scrape together $18 to $28, and block out either Friday or Saturday evening (November 19 or 20) starting at 8 p.m. so you can be at the Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-534-1111) for the Reduced Shakespeare Company's performance of All the Great Books.

Yes, the self-proclaimed "bad boys of abridgement" have the ultimate in Cliffs Notes for sorry students. Through the age-old teaching device of Theatre, the Reduced Shakespeare Company reviews the plots (sort of) and characters of 83 books in 98 minutes. Don't bother taking notes (it's not your strong suit, anyway); just sit back and let the classics of literature wash over you as entertainment you don't have to read. The RSC has enhanced your chances of retaining this information by translating the stories into settings you understand. Little Women is now told in terms of a football game, The Brothers Karamozov is transformed into the more-familiar juggling story of the other Brothers Karamozov, and the works of pioneering female authors Jane Austen, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf have been turned into a dating game show. If you can remember who won the Super Bowl and can predict the winner on any episode of elimiDate, you can at last understand the complexities of great literature. Or not. At the very least, you can tell your parents you attended a rigorous cram session in a last-ditch attempt to salvage your semester. -- Paul Friswold

Oh, L'amour!

FRI 11/19

Hola, St. Louis. If there is anything more beautiful than a piano, it is Woman. And what, if anything, is more beautiful than Woman? Here is your answer: Without a doubt, the sight of a woman dominating the piano shames every star in the black night sky. Do you desire an evening of such visions?

An evening involving classical pianist Cecile Licad's musical fingers promises a happy ending. She makes good on the promise at 8 p.m. at the Touhill Performing Arts Center (1 University Boulevard at Natural Bridge Road). Tickets are $16 to $32. Do call 314-516-4949 or visit www.touhill.org to reserve tickets or demand more information. -- Juan "The International" Goddard

We Double-Dog Dare You

Of all the divisions in the world (Beatles or Stones, Ford or Chevy, etc.), the most important is your choice of holiday movie: It's a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story? Keep your schmaltzy bells and angels -- we'll take the stark humanity of the old man's swearing and the dream of a Red Rider BB gun any Christmas. Curtain's Up Theatre Company presents the stage adaptation of Jean Shepherd's classic tale at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (November 19 through 27) at Miner's Theater (204 West Main Street, Collinsville, Illinois; 618-392-9934). There's a special 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, November 21, and all tickets are $5 to $7. -- Paul Friswold

One Last Look Back

SAT 11/20

Apparently, the only thing to ever happen in St. Louis occurred a long time ago in Forest Park, when the 1904 World's Fair gave the city an identity. (OK, it's the centennial, and we're all very proud, but these tie-ins can't end soon enough.) Here's one more nod to 1904, courtesy of Charis, the St. Louis Women's Chorus. Charis' last show of 2004, "Postcards: Journeys of the Heart," features an international selection of songs, and so, through music, the world is once again meeting in St. Louis. You too are invited. Tickets are $10 and are available by calling 314-822-7580. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the New City School Auditorium (5209 Waterman Boulevard). -- Jedidiah Ayres

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