Live, from Canada

It's the Big Show at the Commonspace

It seems as if half of the two-thirds of life not spent asleep is spent in the coffeehouse. But it's purely by choice; we can quit chasing the bean anytime we want. If, however, you'd like to spend a little more time enjoying the roasted ambiance of the coffeehouse, the Commonspace (615 North Grand Boulevard; 314-368-7306) hosts a unique theatrical collaboration at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (July 23 and 24) and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 25. Local players in the Blue Lemon Theatre Group make their debut with Eavesdropping, a series of scenes that take place in a coffeehouse. Then Vancouver's Storytellers present their long-form improv, a 30-minute theatrical excursion generated from a single suggestion from the audience. For variety's sake, maybe no one should throw out "sexy barista" as that initial suggestion. Tickets are $5, and the show is practically guaranteed to be different every time. -- Paul Friswold

Triumph over Tragedy
Done with Dignity
THUR 7/22

Missourians are an odd bunch. We grieved mightily in 2000 when our beloved governor Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash, and less than a month later, we elected him to the U.S. Senate. Confusing, yes, but fortunate also, because in actuality we ended up with our first woman senator, Jean Carnahan. Read about how the late governor's wife overcame tragedy, about her appointed Senate service and about her life in her book Don't Let the Fire Go Out! And after you read and enjoy, meet Carnahan at her book signing: She'll be at Barnes & Noble (13995 New Halls Ferry Road; 314-830-3550) at 6 p.m. -- Alison Sieloff

Give It to Mama

SAT 7/24

In our lifetime, Vicki Lawrence has been involved in every field of popular entertainment: as a singer ("The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"), as a television star (The Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family), on Broadway, and as both a talk-show host and a game-show host (Win, Lose or Draw). Not bad for a woman whose first big break came because she resembled Carol Burnett.

Now Lawrence combines all her past entertainment experiences into a stage spectacular: Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show. The first half of the program stars Ms. Lawrence as herself, while the second portion of the show showcases her alter ego, Mama, the irascible matriarch of a slightly dimwitted family. Both Ms. Lawrence and Mama promise a program of comedy, music and observations about real life (albeit from a fictional character half of the time) at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Argosy Alton Belle Casino (219 Piasa Street, Alton, Illinois; 800-711-4263). Tickets are $20. -- Paul Friswold

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