The Best Things to Do in St. Louis This Week, August 9 to 14

Aug 9, 2019 at 6:03 am
click to enlarge You can't have a production of Guys and Dolls without the Dolls. - COURTESY OF STRAY DOG THEATRE
You can't have a production of Guys and Dolls without the Dolls.

As summer grinds on, the curtain comes down on several theater companies' seasons. (Don't worry, more shows are coming soon.)

1. The Wilde Life
Alfie lives a quiet life in Dublin with his sister, Lily. She postpones her marriage to take care of her brother, while he's entirely focused on the plays he directs with his amateur theater troupe, which is based out of a church. Alfie's new dream is a production of Oscar Wilde's play Salome, which the church authorities are adamantly against — the play is blasphemous in their view. When Alfie spots his Salome on the bus, he plans to go forward with the production against everybody's wishes. Adele, the woman in question, is unsure about acting, but is swayed by Alfie's passion and belief. At night, Alfie isn't so sure of himself. He questions who he is and why he always feels out of place, and he has visions of Wilde, who advises Alfie to fight temptation by giving in to it. Stephen Flaherty and Lynne Ahrens' musical A Man of No Importance is about art, identity and dreams, with a little Wilde thrown in for good measure. R-S Theatrics presents A Man of No Importance at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday (August 9 to 25) at the Marcelle Theater (3310 Samuel Shepard Drive; Tickets are $20 to $25.

2. Badass Bobbies
The joys of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Hot Fuzz are many. The film is an English twist on the American buddy cop thriller, with Pegg's Nicholas Angel the dedicated and efficient super cop, while partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) is a sloppy, overgrown child who thinks the job should be all action all the time. Nothing ever happens in the sleepy village of Sandringham, or so everyone keeps telling Angel. Then why do citizens keep ending up dead in terrible accidents? Angel and Butterman get investigating and uncover a conspiracy that goes to the very top. The film co-stars a small galaxy of U.K. comedians and great dramatic actors, from Bill Bailey to Adam Buxton to Olivia Coleman, and rewards careful viewers. Hot Fuzz is shown at 11:55 p.m. Friday and Saturday (August 9 and 10) at the Landmark Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard; Tickets are $8.

3. Detroit in St. Louis
Nathan Detroit is a gambler without a location for his big craps game and no money to secure one. It's killing him, until he realizes that Sky Masterson could be his big investor. Masterson would bet on the sun coming up in the west, and so Detroit bets him a grand that Masterson can't get the woman of Detroit's choice to have dinner with him in Havana. Masterson agrees, and then Detroit plays his ace in the hole: The lady has to be Sarah Brown, the pious missionary who loathes gamblers and drinkers and other such reprobates. Masterson goes to work, and promises Brown a dozen genuine sinners will repent at the mission if she has dinner in Havana with him. In a bid to save her beloved mission, she reluctantly accepts. Guys really will do anything for dolls, as the song says. Frank Loesser's musical Guys and Dolls, with book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, is based on Damon Runyon's stories about the New York underworld of the 1930s. Stray Dog Theatre closes its current season with Guys and Dolls, which is often held up as the greatest musical of the Golden Age. It's performed at the Tower Grove Abbey (2336 Tennessee Avenue; at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (August 8 to 24), with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, August 18, and at 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 21. Tickets are $25 to $30.

click to enlarge The cast of A Man of No Importance. - MICHAEL YOUNG
The cast of A Man of No Importance.
4. Treasure Trove
You can take your e-readers and cram 'em with walnuts — the real purpose of life is to amass a large and varied library of books, and then read as many of them as you can before you die. The JCC used book sale is your summertime stockup and a valuable aid in your quest. Scads of gently used books are organized by category, as well as CDs and DVDs (pro tip: the film is never as good as the book). The JCC used book sale takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday (August 11 to 15) at the Jewish Community Center (2 Millstone Campus Drive, Creve Coeur; Admission is $10 on Sunday and free all other days, and Thursday you can buy an entire bag of books for just $5.

5. Race the Park
Bicycle racing returns to Tower Grove Park this weekend, with the St. Louis Classic. The course is a 1.5-mile circuit that incorporates speed humps (they're less abrupt than speed bumps) and a roundabout. Races are divide into classes, with cash prizes for the pro men's and women's riders. Races run from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, August 11, with the always entertaining kids' race at 3:50 p.m. Admission for competitors is $20 to $40, and registration will be available on race day. Spectators are free.

6. Berlin Days
Englishman Brian is living in a Berlin boarding house while finishing his studies and occasionally teaching German for a little money. Sally Bowles, his fellow boarder, is like no one he's ever met; she lives only for good times and dreams of being a star. To that end, Sally sings in a cabaret, where she hones her flamboyant act. Brian discovers that inside the cabaret is a nocturnal dream world, where cross-dressing and gender-bending are allowed and nothing matters but the moment. Outside, the Nazi party grows in popularity and strength, but that has no impact on the cabaret performers — until it's far too late for them to fight back. Bob Fosse's film version of the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret won eight Academy Awards, including a best actress statue for Liza Minelli's performance as Sally Bowles. You can enjoy Cabaret once again on the big screen thanks to the Classics in the Loop series at the Landmark Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard; The film is shown at 4 and 7 p.m. Monday, August 12. Tickets are $7 to $9.

7. Crime and Punishment
Sophocles' classic tragedy Antigone has survived more than two millennia because of the undeniable truth at its core: When a person's faith is pitted against the demands of the state, faith will win, even if that means more punishment. Antigone is the daughter of the deceased king Oedipus, who has placed his kingdom in his brother Creon's hands. Creon rules that everyone who fought on the losing side of the recent civil war remain unburied and unmourned on pain of death. (In Greek culture, doing so damns the unburied to a hellish afterlife rather than the paradise of Elysium.) Antigone's brother, Polyneices, is one of those unburied, and she goes to bury him and is caught in the act. Her Uncle Creon demands to know why she did it, and Antigone tells him divine laws supersede his laws and will continue to defy him. For this, she's entombed alive, which sets off a string of horrible tragedies for Creon. ERA and Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble present a new version of Antigone that was workshopped and updated by Prison Performing Arts and Saint Louis University Theatre. The tragedy is performed at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (August 14 to 31) at the Chapel (6328 Alexander Drive; Tickets are $20.
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