Supporting the Beacon; Cabaret at the Kranzberg

FIRST NIGHT, St. Louis’s New Year’s Eve festival all over Grand Center, is a perfect event for families. There will be more than 23 musical performances at all the interesting spaces in Grand Center ranging from Saint Louis University’s St. Francis Xavier College Church ballroom to the Sheldon Concert Hall. Entertainment includes blues, jazz, Latin and pop. I was particularly intrigued with The Cadence, a percussion rock group from Springfield, Mo. whose act entails banging out rhythms on 55-gallon oil drums, paint buckets, pipes and hubcaps. These America’s Got Talent finalists will perform at the Countdown Stage at Grand Avenue and Lindell Boulevard. Buy a FIRST NIGHT button, $4 for children and $8 for adults, which will admit you to everything including the cabaret performance by Elise LaBarge and Henry Palkes. Buttons are available at Borders, Dierbergs and select Schnucks or online at

DICK WEISS is an award-winning writer and editor with more than three decades of experience at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He and his wife, Sally Altman, and other veteran journalists created in the spring 2008 the St. Louis Beacon, an online newspaper. The Beacon is a non-profit, online publication “dedicated to news that matters for people in our region,” according to Weiss. The online paper is holding a fundraiser, Shine the Light, Saturday, Jan. 2 at the Sheldon Concert Hall. The 7 p.m. concert will feature the renowned soprano Christine Brewer with Richard Gaddes. The evening will begin with a reception from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. Dinner follows the performance at 8:15 at Bowood Farms, a magical greenhouse-type of building (a former garage in the 30s and 40s) at 4605 Olive Street. Bob Duffy, associate editor of the Beacon, promises that this will be a resplendent evening. Dress? “Dress splendidly!” says Duffy. For reservations, visit


ST. LOUIS IS BECOMING the Cabaret capitol of the world. Well, not really, but I suspect that we in St. Louis have access to more cabaret performances than any other American city. One of the prime movers is Jim Dolan, who has just announced a season of eight new cabarets at the Kranzberg Arts Center in Grand Center, a perfect venue for this intimate and sophisticated type of entertainment. The season begins on Feb. 17 with Robert Breig and continues through March 27 with seven more talented cabaret performers. Although I am not familiar with these artists, their advance press convinces me that they are well worth hearing like Christina Rios in Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover — whose repertoire of breakup songs includes selections from Paul Simon, Stephen Sondheim…and Weird Al Yankovic — and Jeff Wright in The Dance. For a complete schedule of the winter series, visit or call Jim Dolan at 314-725-4200 ext. 11 or email [email protected]

THE JEWISH COMMUNITY’S involvement with the arts is both outstanding and generous. At the Sheldon Galleries alone there are the Nancy Spirtas Kranzberg Gallery and the Lucy and Stanley Lopata sculpture garden. The garden has an ongoing exhibit of Ann Coddington Rast’s boat-like form made from knotted linen, cotton and steel, which appears to float in the Garden. Opening on February 19 and running through May 29 will be The Mahler Suite, abstract paintings by Barry Leibman, who has made music the focus of his work. Mahler’s Ninth Symphony was used by Leibman as a springboard.

MY FRIEND CAROL QUINT COOPER EHRMAN, who died last week, was neither a philanthropist nor an avid community volunteer. No buildings were built bearing her name, but what she did build was a multitude of friendships. Carol truly cared for people, and near the end of her life when she was living at The Cedars, she befriended staff members who also became her friends. I was always amazed by her relationship with her children, step-children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, who were more like buddies than offspring. As an example her triplet great-granddaughters were frequent visitors. Carol’s death will leave a lot of grieving family and friends.