If you're trying to make plans for the weekend and beyond, you've come to the right place. Art openings, theater that rails against the system, ballet, fashion — St. Louis really is the Paris of the Midwest.
1. A savage take on a savage play
Shakespeare's Richard III
is not a comedy. It's the tale of an egocentric, awful man who kills relatives, women, children and the marginalized to gain and then keep absolute power. As such, it seems an unusual choice for a crowd pleasing, choose-your-own-adventure romp.
Nonetheless, the history play is the inspiration for Or What You Will, The Third
, the new production from the Poor Monsters theater company. As director Katy Keating explains, it was the obvious choice for the company's entry in this year's Shake-38 festivities.
"We chose Richard III partly for the pun of the name; this is our third time doing a choose-your-own-adventure show," Keating offers. "And in this political climate, with a leader who doesn't always have his constituents best interests at heart, we felt this one was a great allegory. Our Richard will be very familiar, with recognizable tendencies and phrases," she hints.
Or What You Will, The Third
is performed at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (April 12 to 14) and Wednesday through Saturday (April 18 to 21) at the Chapel (6238 Alexander Drive; www.poormonsters.com
). Tickets are $9, but the Thursday, April 12, show is free as part of this year's Shake-38 Festival (www.sfstl.com
2. Work relationships can be tough
Sir spends his waning years traipsing around the English countryside managing, producing and starring in Shakespeare's eternal dramas. He's worn out as the air raid sirens keep sounding in the distance. Yet the show must go on, and tonight he plays King Lear, his signature role. It falls to Norman, Sir's longtime dresser, to get the legend dressed, made up and ready for the curtain. But Sir can't recall his opening line, and time is pressing. Ronald Harwood's play The Dresser
is a testament to the last of the "grand" actors who were larger than the roles they played, and a cunning examination of King Lear's relationship with his Fool, as played out by two consummate professionals who care for one another as much as they resent one another. St. Louis Actors' Studio presents The Dresser
at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (April 13 to 29) at the Gaslight Theater (358 North Boyle Avenue; www.stlas.org
). Tickets are $30 to $35.
3. Chess adds some color to its palette
The standard chess set has been reimagined in multiple formats, using everything from Simpsons characters to loaded shot glasses. The new exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame sees regulation Staunton sets done up with a fresh coat of paint, which doesn't sound all that impressive. But when it's artists such as Caio Locke, Sophie Matisse and Thierry Noir wielding the brushes, the results are dazzling. Painted Pieces: Art Chess from Purling London
features vibrant, hand-painted chess sets exploding with color and invention. Painted Pieces
opens with a free reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the World Chess Hall of Fame (4652 Maryland Avenue; www.worldchesshof.org
). The show remains up through September 16.
4. A rags-to-riches story
Sergei Prokofiev's ballet Cinderella
remains one of the most popular pieces in the Saint Louis Ballet repertoire, for a number of reasons: Artistic Director Gen Horiuchi's choreography incorporates light touches of physical comedy as well as beauty, the story is familiar to children and the company uses lavish costumes and scenery. The Saint Louis Ballet presents Cinderella
at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (April 13 to 15) at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus (1 University Drive and Natural Bridge Road; www.stlouisballet.org
). Tickets are $25 to $69.
5. A heavenly musical
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jesus Christ Superstar
is having a bit of a moment, thanks to the well-received Easter Sunday live broadcast on NBC. If you want to see it again live and in a more intimate setting, Stray Dog Theatre has you covered. The story depicts the last week of Jesus' earthly life and his rapidly fraying relationship with his disciple Judas Iscariot. Stray Dog Theatre performs the show at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (April 12 to 28) at the Tower Grove Abbey (2336 Tennessee Avenue; www.straydogtheatre.org
). There are additional shows at 2 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Wednesday (April 22 and 25). Tickets are $25 to $30.
6. Will someone remember us when we can't remember anything?
Lenny has a problem with strangers showing up at his house and peppering him with personal questions. The retired physician is fed up with the interruptions, completely unaware that it's the same person every time — Lola is a social worker assigned to check up on the old man, a fact he never remembers. For Lenny the past is gone and the future is unknowable; all he has is right now. The reality of his dementia soon affects Lola as well. If we can't remember the joys and sorrows of our lives, are we really alive at all? Ron Elisha's quiet tragicomedy A Tree, Falling
explores the value of memory and life itself. Upstream Theater presents A Tree, Falling
at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday (April 13 to 28), and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at the Kranzberg Arts Center (501 North Grand Boulevard; www.upstreamtheater.org
). Tickets are $25 to $35.
7. Tomorrow's fashions today
Washington University fashion design majors spend their senior year working on one major undertaking: the six distinct looks that each will see displayed in the Washington University Fashion Show
. It's their capstone project, and unlike most final exams, the public is welcome to come and check out their work. Sunday at 5 p.m. at Third Degree Glass Factory (5200 Delmar Boulevard; www.edison.wustl.edu
), professional models will walk the runway wearing scores of these finals outfits. Tickets are $20 to $150.
8. The city of the future failed in the past
Futurist Athelstan Spilhaus was both a visionary and an inventor. As pollution increased and urban decay accelerated, he began planning a new kind of city for the future — but first a working prototype was needed. Working with Buckminster Fuller and other idealists, Spilhaus envisioned a pedestrian- and ecologically friendly city for 250,000 people in the Minnesota woods. Five-sixths of the city would be open space, with modular buildings, an air-cleaning plant and underground corridors for service vehicles and trains. But farmers, environmentalists and citizens jointly protested the plan (they thought it was unfeasible) and it never got off the ground. Documentarian Chad Freidrichs (The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
) uses the project's archives and more than 60 hours of audio tapes of Spilhaus discussing his grand idea to look back at what might have been. His film The Experimental City
screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; www.webster.edu/film-series
). Admission is free.