The Best Things to Do in St. Louis, December 26 to 31

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click to enlarge Lola Van Ella is back in town and throwing a wing-ding of a party. - STEVE TRUESDELL
Lola Van Ella is back in town and throwing a wing-ding of a party.

Christmas is over and 2020 isn't here yet. What are you gonna do until the future arrives? Well, let's see what's going on...

1. Ray of Light
Director/script doctor Nicholas Ray was misunderstood by his American contemporary audience and beloved by the French New Wave during his initial years as a filmmaker. While he eventually was acclaimed for his star-making collaboration with James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, his entire body of work reveals a thoughtful, revolutionary director who understood motion, space and the marginalized underdog better than anyone. That those three key elements apply to most of America's mythology of itself is no coincidence.

The Other St. Nick, a six-film celebration of Nicholas Ray's masterful work in film, is presented by the Webster Film Series from Friday, December 27, to Thursday, January 5. First up is Ray's first film as sole director, They Live by Night. It's a romantic Depression-era couple-on-the-run thriller starring Farley Granger, Howard Da Silva and Jay C. Flippen as a trio of convicts who break out of jail. They plan a robbery to get some quick cash, but it goes wrong and an injured Bowie (Granger) is left in the care of Keechie (Cathy O'Donnell). Love blossoms, Bowie swears off crime and the two flee in order to start over somewhere else but find they can't outrace the past.

They Live by Night screens at 7 p.m. Friday, December 27, at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue;, and tickets are $5 to $7. In a Lonely Place and On Dangerous Ground are shown on Saturday and Sunday (December 28 and 29).

2. Tale as Old as Time
The thing about Disney fanatics is that it's impossible for them to get tired of their favorites. Hundreds of viewings equals hundreds of hours spent with your favorite characters and songs. If you're a Beauty and the Beast family, trade in that TV screen for the big screen. The St. Louis Symphony presents Beauty and the Beast in Concert — a post-Christmas screening of the 1992 film with the symphony performing the soundtrack live. Conductor Norman Huynh leads the symphony through that glorious Academy Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Imagine how buoyant "Be Our Guest" will sound with the mighty SLSO pushing it along. Beauty and the Beast starts at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday (December 27 and 28) at Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; Tickets are $35 to $71.50.

3. The Blue Jets
The St. Louis Blues and the Winnipeg Jets play a home-and-home series this weekend, with Game 1 in Winnipeg on Friday and Game 2 here in St. Louis on Sunday, December 29. The conference rivals are matching each other game-by-game through December, racking up almost identical records. It's no wonder, really: Jets star winger Patrik Laine keeps piling up points, while center Mark Scheifele looks capable of beating his personal best record of 38 goals, which he set last year. The Blues are no slouches either, even with Vladimir Tarasenko still recovering from a left shoulder injury. The two teams meet at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Enterprise Center (1401 Clark Avenue;, and tickets are $89 to $277.

4. An Early Night
Some kids want to stay up to ring in the new year, even if it kills them (or their parents). Save yourself the headache and take them to New Year's Eve at Winterfest. The ice rink in Kiener Plaza (500 Chestnut Street; hosts a family-friendly celebration that starts at 4 p.m. Tuesday, December 31. There will be costumed characters, the Sugarfire Winter Café will be open for business and ice skating, one of the more exhausting physical activities. Even better, New Year's Eve is ushered in at 8 p.m. only in Kiener Plaza, with a huge countdown and fireworks when the new year starts. Then you can ferry your little skaters home and either turn in yourself or wait 'til midnight. Admission is free, and skate rental is $7 to $12.

5. Pop Goes the Year
Are you worried about the years creeping by and dread celebrating the arrival of 2020? Allay those fears at Ballpark Village (601 Clark Avenue; with the Pop 2000 Tour New Year's Eve party. Inside, it's 2000 again and boy bands rule the charts. Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC is your host, O-Town, LFO's Brad Fischetti and Ryan Cabrera reel in the years with musical performances as six different venues inside Ballpark Village welcome revelers. There are a variety of food and drink packages to choose from, and a Champagne toast, confetti and a ball drop will mark the arrival of 2020. The party starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, tickets are $110 to $150 for individuals, and you must be 21 or older to get in the building.

6. A Roman Feast
Lola Van Ella is throwing another New Year's Eve bash, and this time she's going old school. The Bacchanal Carnivale draws inspiration from the booze-and-hedonism-fueled parties of Ancient Rome, which were meant to honor the gods even as they created a night you'd never remember. Bazuka Joe, Jeeze Loueez, Maxi Glamour, the Bon Bons and a whole bunch of Van Ella's burlesque bosom buddies will perform a show of mythological proportions. Grab a costume and join them from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday, December 31, at the Casa Loma Ballroom (3354 Iowa Avenue; There will be live music by The Spectaculaire Orchestra and DJ Elena, a midnight buffet and more surprises along the way. Tickets are $55 to $350.
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