The Best Things to Do in St. Louis, January 17 to 19

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click to enlarge Summer: The Donna Summer Musical runs through January 26. - © MATTHEW MURPHY/MURPHYMADE
Summer: The Donna Summer Musical runs through January 26.
It's gonna be a cold one this weekend, which works out pretty well for the Loop Ice Carnival. There are also some art shows, monster trucks and a musical inspired by the life of Donna Summer.

1. Hot Stuff
In the late 1970s, Donna Summer was the queen of the night with a solid string of disco smash-hits. It was an unexpected place to be for a young black woman who was raised in the church and had to go to Germany to make those same hits. Summer: The Donna Summer Musical tells the story of the Disco Diva through the hits that made her famous. The show uses three different performers to portray Summer and covers her youth, her early successes, her drug abuse and her born-again Christianity in the 1980s. (Her alleged homophobia during this last period is also briefly touched on.) Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is performed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday (January 16 to 26) at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; Tickets are $29 to $89.

2. It's About Soul
For Liz Johnson Artur, the African diaspora was an everyday reality. The Russian-Ghanaian artist grew up in Bulgaria, Germany and Russia, where she was far from people who looked like her. The experience of finding her own community when she came to America in the 1980s galvanized her work, and for the past 30 years she has photographed the survivors of the diaspora in the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Johnson Artur has captured people celebrating in street scenes, nightclubs and private homes, and her keen eye for composition and style reveals a world of fashion and dramatic posture; more than that, her work places her subjects in art galleries and museums. Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha (the Russian word for "soul") is her first solo museum exhibition, and it comprises videos, sketchbooks and photographs. Dusha comes to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Avenue; by way of the Brooklyn Museum, and opens with a free public reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, January 17. It remains on display through April 19.

3. Burlesque Battle
Burlesque's brightest stars converge on the Ready Room (4195 Manchester Avenue; this Friday, January 17, for the tenth annual Shimmy Showdown. Lola Van Ella is your hostess, there will be celebrity judges and special guest stars, but the main event is the real attention-grabber. Twelve burlesque performers compete in a head-to-head competition, death-match style, and only one can emerge victorious. Allura Fette, SinDee Hoo Hoo, Chi Chi Bumuom and Amber Adelaide represent St. Louis, while Montreal's Gigi Marx and Denver's Kerri N'Fuego try to wrest the crown from them. The Shimmy Showdown starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $20 to $30.

4. Submerged Circus
An underwater circus sounds like a real struggle for all involved. Those poor acrobats, trying to tumble with all that water pressure weighing down on them. Fortunately, Circus Harmony's new show is only inspired by water. Fluente, an Undersea Circus, showcases the hardworking young stars of tomorrow as they juggle, perform contortions and have fun on solid ground and in the air above it. Fluente is performed at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (January 18 to 26) at the City Museum (750 North Sixteenth Street; Tickets are $20, and for $7 more you can stay and enjoy the City Museum after the show.

5. Ice to See You
The Loop Ice Carnival returns for another year of frosty fun as well as a few new surprises. All the best parts — the frozen turkey bowling (now with vegetarian turkeys), the ice slides, the zip line and the carnival rides — are back again. (The painted wooden photo stands have been up for most of January, so don't worry, they're also back again.) Most of the local restaurants and businesses will have specials throughout the carnival, which takes place from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (January 18 and 19) in the Delmar Loop (5900 to 6600 blocks of Delmar Boulevard, University City; Admission is free, but some events require a small fee.

6. No Turkey
If no good deed really does go unpunished, then Logan's new play is doomed from the start. Logan is a working director who wishes to stage a completely unproblematic new production inspired by Thanksgiving. Her cast is ready and eager to mindfully do the work, but how do they stay woke and avoid all of the standard landmines (Native Americans vs. Pilgrims, turkeys vs. industrialized factory farming) with a subject as fraught as first contact between colonizers and colonized? Larissa FastHorse's The Thanksgiving Play skewers the characters' pretensions and the nature of some sort of "traditional Thanksgiving." The Repertory Theatre St. Louis Studio Series presents the satire Tuesday through Sunday (January 17 to February 9) at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road; Tickets are $46 to $71.

7. Truckin'
The Dome at America's Center is once again filled with fresh dirt, old tires and immobile cars, because the Monster Jam is back in town. The monster trucks are coming to town to race, jump, do backflips and crush cars, and you can watch them wreak their havoc. Drivers and trucks scheduled to appear include the husband-and-wife team of Jimmy and Dawn Creten driving Bounty Hunter and Scarlet Hunter, respectively, along with Kristen Hope in Wolf's Head, Neil Elliott in Max-D and Morgan Kane behind the wheel of Grave Digger. The trucks fire up the engines at 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (January 18 and 19) at the Dome at America's Center (701 Convention Plaza; Tickets are $15 to $75.
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