SLSO Party of Note; Circus Flora; Stages offers ‘Big River’

Columnist Lois Caplan


PICK A PARTY! PARTY on Tuesday, June 15 is exactly what it says. Presented by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) Volunteer Association, it launches “Parties of Note,” the second annual fundraiser benefiting the SLSO’s education and community programs for children and adults. The Pick a Party! Party on June 15 features the opportunity to buy reservations for one (or more) of 34 parties generously donated by its hosts. These “Parties of Note” will take place from July 2010 through May 2011 and are mostly held in venues not generally accessible to the public. Party prices range from $20 per person to $300 per person, and guests may purchase any number, up to that party’s space limitation.

Among the great parties is one with SLSO Music Director David Robertson, who will cook his divine chili or a behind-the-scenes tour and private lunch at the St. Louis Zoo.

Phyllis Traub, chair of “Parties of Note” explained that the June 15th sign-up party takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Interior Design Center of St. Louis, 11660 Page Service Drive and costs $15 per person. It will feature food by six outstanding St. Louis caterers, delectable drinks and music by Diane Ceccarini, the pianist for the Muny, Fox and the Rep. Send your check for $15 per person to SVA Parties of Note, Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, Mo., 63103 or call the “Parties of Note” hotline at 314-286-4468.

SETTING THE MOOD: THE ARTFUL TABLE is an exhibit at Craft Alliance, 6640 Delmar Boulevard, which features everything for the table. These very beautiful objects represent a variety of media – clay, fiber, metal and glass.  Among the many artists is St. Louisan Renee Deall whose ceramic in the show is a wonderful terra cotta platter. You can visit this exhibit through July 11.

CIRCUS FLORA, our city’s outstanding one-ring, European-style circus, opens June 4 at 7 p.m., and continues through June 27 under the big tent in Grand Center adjacent to Powell Hall. The theme of this year’s production is the impossible dream of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. With its usual large cast of clowns, trapeze artists, high wire artists, animals and acrobats, including Jessica Hentoff’s spectacular St. Louis Arches, Circus Flora promises to be a treat for young and old. For times of performances including a special one-hour morning performance for very young kids, call 314-289-4040 or visit

“BIG RIVER: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” STAGES’ opening show of the season, was St. Louis native Rocco Landesman’s first big hit. Landesman is now the head of the National Endowment for the Arts. I remember when he was looking for financial help to get the show on the road and a lot of his friends kicked in some considerable bucks. It opened on Broadway 25 years ago and ran for over 1,000 performances. “Big River’ won a bunch of Tony Awards including the Tony for Best Musical, best Original Score, best Book of a Musical as well as several Drama Desk Awards. In 1985 it was the hottest ticket in the Big Apple and Landesman’s St. Louis friends were busting their buttons. Don’t miss it at Stages in the Robert G. Reim Theatre, Kirkwood Civic Center, 111 S. Geyer Road. For tickets call the box office at 314-821-2407 or visit

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, a non-profit restaurant opened in downtown Clayton on Central Avenue.  Panera Bread Company has launched this new store here that has the same menu as the other 1,400 locations but the prices are a little different – in fact there aren’t any. Customers are told to donate what they want for a meal, whether it is the full, suggested price, a penny or $100. The new Clayton store is what Panera hopes will be its first of many around the country in every community where it operates.

The pilot restaurant is run by a nonprofit foundation which will pay the bills, including staff salaries, rent and food costs.  At the end of each month the foundation will tally donations to see if they cover food costs. If the experiment fails the Panera Company will not bear losses in the experiment.

Appropriately the first of the experimental Panera non-profit stores is named the St. Louis Bread Company Cares.