The Best Things to Do in St. Louis This Weekend, October 11 to 15

The Who's Tommy brings the rock opera to the stage with a live band at Stray Dog Theatre.
The Who's Tommy brings the rock opera to the stage with a live band at Stray Dog Theatre. COURTESY OF STRAY DOG THEATRE
click to enlarge The Who's Tommy brings the rock opera to the stage with a live band at Stray Dog Theatre. - COURTESY OF STRAY DOG THEATRE
The Who's Tommy brings the rock opera to the stage with a live band at Stray Dog Theatre.

It's a weekend packed with pinball wizards, Jersey jabronis, Shakespeare and the return of the maestro, Leonard Slatkin. The weather may be cooler, but the events remain scorching.

1. Can You Hear the Music?
Eight years ago, Stray Dog Theatre unleashed its glorious production of The Who's Tommy. It was a knock out. Associate artistic director Justin Been took the lead on staging the production, revealing his prodigious talents for arranging actors in ever-shifting tableaux. The result was a beautifully kinetic production that made pinball an exuberant celebration of life. At long last, Stray Dog will once again present Tommy in all his deaf, dumb and blind glory, with Been overseeing the production. The show is performed with a live band, as it should be, at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (October 10 to 26) at the Tower Grove Abbey (2336 Tennessee Avenue; Tickets are $25 to $30.

2. More Cakes and Ale
Fraternal twins Viola and Sebastian have gone overboard in a terrible storm off the coast of Illyria, and when Viola alone crawls onto shore, she assumes her brother has drowned. She sets about rebuilding her life, disguising herself as a young man named Cesario and entering the employ of the handsome Duke Orsino. When Orsino uses Cesario as a messenger to win the love of the reclusive Olivia, the noblewoman instead falls for the well-made messenger. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is rife with romance, mistaken identities and laughs, thanks to Olivia's hard-partying uncle Sir Toby Belch and his ne'er-do-well friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. The Saint Louis University Theatre opens its season with the multilayered romantic comedy. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (October 10 to 13) at the Grandel Theatre (3610 Grandel Square; Tickets are $6 to $9.

3. A Close Family
All Eugene Jerome wants to do is eat ice cream and see a naked woman, preferably at the same time. At the moment, all he has to do is go get another quarter pound of butter from the store every morning and afternoon because of his mother's strange shopping habits and keep the noise down (there's a cake in the oven). The Depression is dragging on in 1937, and his aunt and her two daughters — one of them the beautiful Nora, who's close to Eugene's age — have moved in out of necessity. Eugene's dad is working two jobs to support everyone, his older brother faces a moral dilemma at his own job, and poor Eugene gets buffeted about by the whims of his mother and the various intra-family squabbles. Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical play Brighton Beach Memoirs is a trip back to the simpler days, when a family could drive each other crazy and no one tweeted about it. The New Jewish Theatre opens its new season with Brighton Beach Memoirs. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (October 10 to 27) in the Wool Studio Theatre at the Jewish Community Center (2 Millstone Campus Drive; Tickets are $47 to $54.

4. The Hero Returned
Leonard Slatkin remains a beloved figure in St. Louis for his work with the St. Louis Symphony, of which he is the conductor laureate. Slatkin returns to town to celebrate his 75th birthday by — what else? — leading the orchestra through a selection of music that finishes with Richard Strauss' tone poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life). Despite the piece's modern popularity, it was originally greeted with critical approbation, which Strauss was very familiar with. It's a musical journey through the life of a stylized hero (often presumed to be Strauss himself), who appears, then fights his adversaries and retreats to the comforts of home and his unnamed companion. He returns to battle, earns a hard-fought piece and then retires. The piece is performed at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (October 12 and 13) at Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; Tickets are $15 to $85.

5. Hail to Haig
Rob Zombie's deranged Firefly family returned to the big screen this past September with the highly anticipated 3 From Hell, and the fans came out in droves. So large were those droves that the horror film will be rereleased to select theaters this October. The screening was planned before the passing of prolific actor Sid Haig, who plays Captain Spaulding in the series. The rerelease gives you one more chance to see Haig on the big screen in one of his final roles. 3 From Hell is shown at 7 p.m. Monday, October 14, at the Marcus Ronnies 20 Cine (5320 South Lindbergh Boulevard; Tickets are $16.31.

6. Jersey Boys Redux
Writer/director Kevin Smith is newly slimmed down after a serious heart attack and re-energized. After lo these many years, he returns to his stoned-bozo version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with Jay & Silent Bob Reboot. Jay is Jason Mewes, Smith's heterosexual life partner who does all the talking, swearing and snoochy-booching. Silent Bob is Smith, the enigmatic man in the trenchcoat who acts as balance to the energetic Jay. When the two Jersey boys learn Hollywood has reached the point in the reboot cycle where their film is next to be recast and remade, the two hightail it to the West Coast to either break it up or horn in on the action. Will the pairing still work if Jay can't crack jokes about Bob's girth? Only one way to find out. Jay & Silent Bob Reboot gets a special screening thanks to Fathom Events at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 15, at the Marcus Ronnies Cine (5320 South Lindbergh Boulevard;, with a special introduction from Kevin Smith. The film plays again at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 17, at the same theater as the back half of a double feature with the original Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Tickets are $16.16.
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