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Friday, May 17, 2019

The Best Things to Do in St. Louis This Week, May 17 to 21

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2019 at 9:09 AM

click to enlarge The Show Me Burlesque Festival celebrates ten years this weekend. - THEO WELLING
  • The Show Me Burlesque Festival celebrates ten years this weekend.

We're between holidays this weekend, so celebrate yourself. Maybe treat yourself to one or more of these fine events, eh?

1. Soundtrack of the Struggle
In recent years, the mainstream media began reassessing the career and impact of musician Nina Simone, with documentaries exploring her personal life and rereleases of her works. Playwright Christina Ham knew there was more to Simone than her musicianship – after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the assassination of Medgar Evers, Simone gave voice to the shared anger and outrage of the black community in her surprisingly jaunty song "Mississippi Goddamn." Ham's play Nina Simone: Four Women (inspired by Simone's namesake song about the plight of black women in a racist society) explores how the arts helped drive and inspire the civil rights moment, as well as the ways women were shunted to the side of that same movement. The Black Rep closes its season with Nina Simone: Four Women. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (May 17 to June 2) at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6465 Forsyth Boulevard; Tickets are $15 to $45.

2. Ears and Hands
The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis' summer exhibitions open at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, and there are some heavy hitters involved. Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a finalist for this year's Turner Prize for his exhibition Earwitness Theatre (which CAM co-commissioned with several other institutions), which incorporates the artist's audio analysis of Saydnaya prison in Syria, site of numerous humanitarian abuses, a soundbooth and groups of objects Abu Hamdan uses as mnemonic devices to facilitate reenactments of crimes. Photographer Paul Mgapi Sepuya receives his first major museum survey thanks to CAM. Sepuya's images jumble and reorder the human body, while also revealing the mechanics of photography. Cameras are often a central figure in his work, while tripods, backdrops and lighting show up in his collages. Avoiding digital manipulation, Sepuya's work is about the importance of touch and contact, both between his subjects and his materials. Both shows remain on display at CAM (3750 Washington Boulevard; through August 18, and admission is free.

3. Delicious Maplewood
We're in the delightfully comfy middle of spring now, which means the festivals come fast and frequently. The Taste of Maplewood is one such street festival that has everything you could possibly require. Neighborhood restaurants Pie Oh My, the Maya Cafe, Blue Duck and the Dubliner are all participating, which means you'll eat well, while Tommy Wasiuta & Friends and Ribtip and Rodgers provide the entertainment. Taste of Maplewood takes place from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 18, along Sutton Boulevard south of Manchester Avenue in Maplewood ( Admission is free.

4. The Perfect Ten
Ten years ago Lola van Ella founded the Show Me Burlesque Festival to showcase the new wave of burlesque and related performances. That same festival has grown to be the largest in the Midwest, and it includes acts from the vaudeville revival, circus and variety entertainment fields, all spread across three nights and multiple venues right here in St. Louis. The tenth Show Me Burlesque Festival kicks off at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at the Ready Room (4195 Manchester Avenue), then moves to the Thaxton Speakeasy (1009 Olive Street) at 10 p.m. Friday, May 17, for the Sordid Speakeasy, and brings down the curtain at 9 p.m. Saturday, May, 18, at with Spectaculaire! at the Casa Loma Ballroom (3354 Iowa Avenue). Featured performers include Bibi Dazzle, Dixie Denier, Abigail Rhys and Eros Sea. Tickets for each event range from $12 to $60, while a three-day pass costs $75. There are several after-parties and VIP options as well, so check out to get the most bang for your buck.

click to enlarge A wedding is planned, but in I Now Pronounce the ceremony keeps getting farther off track. - ERIC WOOLSEY
  • A wedding is planned, but in I Now Pronounce the ceremony keeps getting farther off track.

5. Man and Wife?
Nicole and Adam are finally taking the matrimonial plunge, but it seems like fate – and a friend or two – is against them. When a key member of the wedding party keels over dead, the ceremony is halted before completion. Adam's groomsman Dave uses this respite to convince Adam that monogamy and marriage is a trap that's not worth the trouble. Nicole's bridesmaid Michelle, who's going stag, figures this would be a good time to find a date before the end of the night, while the other bridesmaid tries to get this trainwreck back on schedule. Tasha Gordon-Solmon's I Now Pronounce is a good old-fashioned farce. New Jewish Theatre ends its current season with the comedy. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (May 18 to June 1) in the Jewish Community Center's Wool Studio Theatre (2 Millstone Campus Drive, Creve Coeur; Tickets are $42 to $45.

6. War Redux
Sergei Bondarchuk's ambitious film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace gets another showing courtesy of the Webster Film Series. Bondarchuk spent six years making the four installments of his film adaptation and suffered two heart attacks during the process. He emerged with a truly monumental seven-hour film that employed thousands of actors (12,000 alone in the epic Battle of Borodino set piece), as well as valuable artifacts and props loaned by Russian museums, all of which give the film a sweep and verisimilitude worthy of the source material. War and Peace, Part I, is shown at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, in Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; Parts II through IV will be shown on successive nights through Monday, May 20. Tickets are $5 to $7 per film, and a $15 punch pass good for all four installments is also available.

click to enlarge Nausicaä  lives in an ecological ruined world, but she won't stop fighting to undo the damage it in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. - (C) STUDIO GHIBLI
  • Nausicaä lives in an ecological ruined world, but she won't stop fighting to undo the damage it in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

7. The Hero We Need
Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's concern for the ecology and the future of the planet suffuses all of his films, but is on grand display in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. A thousand years in the future, all living things are slowly being consumed by a vast Sea of Decay. One of the few remaining patches of unspoiled earth is tucked away in the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaä is a young woman who ignores the warnings of the elders and ventures out into the world on her small powered glider so that she can observe the changes happening all over the planet. Threatened by giant insects, warring clans and the slow march of destruction, she learns there may be a way to restart the life cycle of the planet. Nausicaä is a sweeping film about a hero who believes in life more than she fears death. Fathom Events puts it back on the big screen for a limited time. It's shown locally at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday (May 20 and 21) at the Marcus Wehrenberg Ronnies 20 Cine (5320 South Lindbergh Boulevard; Tickets are $13.47.
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