Friday, August 19, 2016

7 Terrific Things to Do This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 6:50 AM

click to enlarge Brew Fest: Saturday at Ballpark Village.
  • Brew Fest: Saturday at Ballpark Village.


The weekend in St. Louis promises loads of fun — a bike ramble and a brew fest downtown, an opera at Union Avenue Christian Church and several intriguing plays. Not sure what to do? Maybe see a whole bunch of experimental theater at St. Lou Fringe Fest, which kicks off tonight. As long as you're doing something, you can't go wrong.

Our top seven picks follow.

1. Get a new look at the tribulations of a classic author
Nick Otten's play Mary Shelley Monster Show originates in one straightforward question: Was the novel Frankenstein an autobiography? Like many simple questions, it's not easy to answer. Shelley's father was a liberal political philosopher who raised her to think freely. That free-thinking spirit allowed her to embark on a whirlwind romantic tour with one of dad's cronies, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Their tour included Mary's stepsister but not Percy's wife, oddly enough. Upon their return to England, all three were ostracized for their scandalous behavior and the suicide of the original Mrs. Shelley. Mary and Percy subsequently married, but three of their four children would die before age five. After Percy's early death, Mary devoted herself to raising their surviving son and churning out novels for money. The author and the monster at the heart of her most famous novel (who could both speak and write eloquently, despite what you see in the films) certainly shared a peripatetic lifestyle, and both knew the feeling of being hounded. Both, too, experienced suffering. Otten has a compelling argument at any rate. Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble opens its tenth season with Mary Shelley Monster Show. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (August 18 to 20) at the Chapel (6238 Alexander Drive; www.slightlyoff.org). Tickets are $10.

2. Get to the Fringe Fest
Your long wait is over, St. Louis.
St. Lou Fringe Fest is back in its new late-summer slot with even more performances (109 different shows) spread across seven venues in Grand Center throughout the next two weeks (August 19 to 27). Opening day features thirteen different shows spanning a wide range of performance styles. You could see Rusalka's show The Selkie (8:30 p.m. at Kranzberg Arts Center), which features an acoustic folk group from Asheville, North Carolina, that plays mountain music meant to rekindle an interest in the old ways; you could enjoy St. Louis' own Keith Jozsef (7 p.m. at Kranzberg), an illusionist with dramatic flair (his show includes a variant of Russian roulette, with the audience calling the literal shots); or you could be dazzled by An Accidental Organist (8:30 p.m at Duet Gallery), which is David Boyle's one-man confessional about how filling in as church organist for his deceased father turned into a 25-year mission. Tickets for all shows are available at the Fringe box office (3526 Washington Avenue; www.stlfringe.com) and online. No show costs more than $15 to see, and your best value is one of the super-affordable ticket packages — how does five shows for $37 sound? Great, right?


3. Celebrate 10 years of Mustard Seed Theatre with a new play

England's kindertransport program was a moment of humanity in the run-up to World War II. Close to 10,000 Jewish children were ushered safely to England after Kristallnacht, but what felt like a miracle for the parents must have felt more like rejection to the youngsters who didn't understand why they were being sent away. Eva is one of the transported. At least she gets a soft landing with Lil, a good-natured woman treats her kindly. But Lil is not Jewish, and makes no effort to maintain any of Judaism's laws or tenets. Diane Samuels' drama
Kindertransport is a play about identity and the past — mainly the forgetting of them. Mustard Seed Theatre marks its first decade with the show. Kindertransport is performed at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday (August 19 to September 4) at the Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre (6800 Wydown Boulevard; www.mustardseedtheatre.com). Tickets are $30 to $35.


4. See a Pulitzer Prize-winning play turned opera

Nature abhors a vacuum, and Sister Aloysius abhors uncertainty. As the principal of St. Nicholas School, she demands constant vigilance against any doubt creeping into the lives of her students. That belief leads her into conflict with Father Flynn, whom she suspects of having an improper relationship with a student. Commandeering Sister James, the boy's teacher, to be her witness, Sister Aloysius ambushes Father Flynn with her theory. Can absolute certainty shine a light on the truth, or is Sister Aloysius' rigid thinking blinding her? Union Avenue Opera closes its season with a production of Douglas J. Cuomo's
Doubt, with local heroine Christine Brewer playing the role of Aloysius. The libretto is by John Patrick Shanley, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning play on which the opera is based. Doubt is performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (August 19 to 27) at Union Avenue Christian Church (733 North Union Boulevard; www.unionavenueopera.org). Tickets are $30 to $55.

Turn the page for more great things to do — including a show at the St. Louis Art Museum.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

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