Celebrating theater and performing arts in St. Louis, members of Dance St. Louis strike a pose.

Your Fall Guide to Theater and Performing Arts in St. Louis

Friday August 25, 2023

By Rachel Huffman

As significant parts of our culture, theater and performing arts dazzle audiences while promoting growth, learning and social change, offering new perspectives on life, encouraging empathy, developing community connections and reminding us that we’re not alone. In an increasingly virtual and impersonal world, shared experiences such as live performances are more important, more impactful and more powerful than ever.

This season, on stages across St. Louis, an impromptu recording session at Sun Records will have you tapping your toes, a demon with a thing for stripes will teach you to make the most of every Day-O, a nurse-turned-comedian will make you laugh until it hurts and an Irish step dance company will reinvent the ancient and beloved art form.

That’s only the first act, though. Here’s your – extensive! – fall guide to theater and performing arts in St. Louis.

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People gather on Art Hill in Forest Park to hear a free concert from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Annual Forest Park Concert

September 7 to 17

“I don’t want realism; I want magic!” Tennessee Williams wrote in A Streetcar Named Desire. And magic is what you’ll find at the Tennessee Williams Festival. Delighting fans from across the country, the eighth annual event will feature a production of Suddenly Last Summer, readings of Something Unspoken, film screenings of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, walking tours of University City, panel discussions, book signings, poetry slams and more.

September 8 to October 8

The music industry stars aligned by pure happenstance when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins came together for an impromptu recording session at Sun Records in Memphis in 1956. The legendary session, known as the Million Dollar Quartet, is the setting for this wildly entertaining jukebox musical. Filled with classic tunes such as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “I Walk the Line,” “Hound Dog” and “Great Balls of Fire,” Million Dollar Quartet is sure to have you dancing in the aisles. STAGES St. Louis will perform the Broadway show at the Kirkwood Performing Arts Center.

September 14 to 16

Oh my goal! Shakespeare in the Streets will step outside its traditional neighborhood setting to celebrate the uniting force of soccer in the St. Louis region and across the globe. Written by Ben Hochman, award-winning St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist, the world-premiere play Shakespeare in the Streets: The Game’s Afoot will take local stories and weave them into a brand-new adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Henriad. The performances will take place on Olive Street near the intersection of 22nd Street in downtown St. Louis.

September 14 to 17

Set in The Gateway City in 1899, The St. Louis Attitude spotlights Black life and music in the Chestnut Valley. Legends were born here, and the original play – with original music – tells the true stories of two. Writer and producer Angela da Silva is bringing the production back after 32 years. “There are new generations who know nothing about this Black history,” she said in a recent press release. “[They] don’t know the important role that St. Louis played in music, American folklore and early Black prosperity.” She hopes to change that with The St. Louis Attitude.

September 21

At this annual concert in Forest Park, you can experience the sounds of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra under the stars. Find a spot on Art Hill, sit back and enjoy the music, from classical tunes to modern scores. The event also includes fare from local food trucks for purchase and a stunning fireworks show.


Actors perform Beetlejuice, part of this year's lineup of theater and performing arts in St. Louis.

October 5 to 7

Saint Louis University Theatre & Dance presents Alabama Story. Inspired by true events, the play by Kenneth Jones explores themes of censorship and Civil Rights issues in a veritable love letter to readers. Set in Montgomery, Alabama, as the Civil Rights movement brews, Alabama Story features a segregationist senator and a no-nonsense librarian who clash over the content of a children’s book about bunnies. The Rabbits’ Wedding, which was published in 1958, depicts a black rabbit marrying a white rabbit. Meanwhile, a reunion of childhood friends – a Black man and a white woman – provides a private counterpoint to the public events swirling in the state capital.

Political foes, star-crossed lovers and one feisty children’s book author inhabit a Deep South of the imagination that brims with humor, heartbreak and hope. Characterized by Jones as a political thriller, a memory play, a workplace drama, a romance, a history, a tearjerker and a comedy all at once, Alabama Story has national relevance, inspiring new conversations about race, censorship and political will. Most importantly, it’s a play about how we behave when we face terrible circumstances and how character is revealed in times of transition, change and crisis. “At a time when intolerance is on the upswing and empathy is under siege, Alabama Story is just the play we need,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote in 2019. See it for yourself at The Grandel.

October 6 and 8

“This is Halloween!” This spine-tingling experience will revisit one of Tim Burton’s most adored films, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Feel new thrills as the film unfolds on the big screen with dialogue, singing and effects accompanied by Danny Elfman’s hauntingly charming score, brought to life by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Bring your friends and family, don your most frightful costume and immerse yourself in the macabre beauty of Halloween. Remember, every day is Halloween in our world!

October 10 to 22

He earned his stripes on Broadway. Now, the ghost with the most is coming to St. Louis. Based on Tim Burton’s dearly beloved film, this hilarious musical tells the story of Lydia Deetz, an unusual teenager whose whole life changes when she meets a recently deceased couple and a demon with a thing for stripes. With an astonishing set, an irreverent book and a score that’s out of this netherworld, Beetlejuice is “screamingly good fun,” according to Variety. Under its uproarious surface (six feet under, to be exact), it’s also a remarkably touching show about family, love and making the most of every Day-O!

October 12

Sashay into The Twilight Zone with the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race. During the 12th annual Night of the Living Drag Tour, you’ll witness the mysterious fates of Angeria Paris VanMicheals, Denali Foxx, Icesis Couture, Jaida Essence Hall, Jorgeous, Plastique Tiara, Rosé, Tayce Szura-Radix and host Yvie Oddly as the infamous Rod Serling.

October 14

Mary Meachum and her husband, Reverend John Berry Meachum, were staunch abolitionists who dedicated their lives to educating and freeing enslaved people. On the night of May 21, 1855, Mary attempted to help a small group of enslaved people cross the Mississippi River, from St. Louis to Illinois, where slavery was outlawed. At least five enslaved people were caught, and Mary was arrested and charged in criminal court for assisting the “fugitives.” In 2001, the National Park Service recognized the site of the escape as part of the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Every year, the Great Rivers Greenway celebrates the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing with a reenactment at the site. The free community event also includes food, drinks, children’s activities, local artists and makers, live music from various eras and skits that showcase historical scenes from Black communities in St. Louis. This year’s theme, From Field Hollas to Hip-Hop, recognizes the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop, as well.

October 29

The Carp Who Would Not Quit, a traveling production by Honolulu Theatre for Youth, brings traditional fables from Japan and Okinawa to life, teaching important lessons of persistence, respect and kindness. Introducing original music, language and performance traditions from these cultures, the interactive performance is specifically developed for the youngest audiences of COCA (Center of Creative Arts). Founded in 1955, Honolulu Theatre for Youth is one of the oldest and most respected children’s theaters in the country. Utilizing theater as a unique, socially based form of education, it has served more than five million people through its performances and programs, which help participants and audiences walk in the shoes of others, expand their imaginations, enrich their lives and discover the infinite possibilities in the world.


A man breakdances during Cirque du Soleil's ‘Twas the Night Before.
‘Twas the Night Before… by Cirque du Soleil

November 3 and 5

Ash to ash, dust to dust, fade to black… Heavy metal band Metallica will bring their M72 World Tour to The Dome at America’s Center for two separate – and completely different – concerts. The tour is supporting the band’s 11th studio album, 72 Seasons, and it features an upgraded stage design that relocates the Snake Pit to center stage. Metallica will perform two different sets at their concerts in St. Louis, preceded by special guests Pantera and Mammoth WVH on Nov. 3 and Five Finger Death Punch and Ice Nine Kills on Nov. 5.

November 3 to 5

On Sept. 11, 2001, the world stopped. On Sept. 12, 2001, stories of survival moved us all. Come From Away, the New York Times Critics’ Pick, takes audiences into the heart of the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland and Labrador that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night and gratitude grew into enduring friendships. This moving musical will take you to a place that you won’t want to leave.

November 5

As a professional ballroom and Latin dancer and choreographer – plus, an actor and singer – Derek Hough knows how to dazzle an audience. On Dancing with the Stars, he won the dance competition with his celebrity partners a record-breaking six times. Now, he’s taking his skills on tour. A Symphony of Dance, featuring Hough and dancer Hayley Erbert, will twirl into Stifel Theatre this fall.

November 8

Hailed as a “genuine phenomenon” by The New York Times, Blake Lynch (a.k.a. Nurse Blake) worked in trauma centers around the country before starting his comedy career. As a way to cope with stress, he began posting original comedy videos aimed at his profession. The lighthearted videos connected with nurses, nursing students and healthcare workers, gaining @NurseBlake 3.5 million followers on social media and more than 300 million views. Everyone delights in Nurse Blake’s comedy, though, so get your tickets to the show at Stifel Theatre today.

November 9 to 11

All joking aside, the Flyover Comedy Festival will return to The Grove from Nov. 9 to 11. The annual comedy invasion features various stand-up comedians, including headliners Jeff Ross, Janelle James and Sheng Wang. That’s only the beginning, though – this year’s festival includes more than 100 comedians and 30 events over the course of three days. Every event aims to showcase local and national comedic talent at some of the best venues in St. Louis.

November 11

Let your feet lead the way to the Trinity Irish Dance Company performance presented by Dance St. Louis at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. Founded in 1990 by creative force and renowned choreographer Mark Howard, the uniquely Irish American company was the birthplace of progressive Irish dance, an innovative movement genre that “ushered in a new era for Irish step dance,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Through a blend of percussive power and aerial grace, Trinity Irish Dance Company sends a consistent message of female empowerment with a repertory that has elevated the art form for almost three decades. With inventive drive and a strong vision, the dance company has been revitalized in recent years, and it continues to carve new traditions for an ancient and beloved art form to this day.

November 14 to 26

A comeback story like no other, Tina – The Tina Turner Musical is the inspiring journey of a woman who broke barriers and became the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Set to the pulse-pounding soundtrack of her most beloved hits, this electrifying sensation will send you soaring to the ornate ceiling of The Fabulous Fox. One of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, Tina Turner has won 12 Grammy Awards and her live shows have been seen by millions, with more concert tickets sold than any other solo performer in music history. Featuring her greatest tunes, Tina – The Tina Turner Musical is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall and directed by the internationally acclaimed Phyllida Lloyd.

November 29 to December 10

‘Twas the Night Before… is Cirque du Soleil’s first Christmas show. Inspired by lines from the classic poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore, the production tells the story of a jaded young girl who rediscovers the magic of Christmas. A festive flurry created especially for families, ‘Twas the Night Before… features thrilling acrobatics, lovable characters and a soundtrack of Christmas favorites reinvented by Cirque du Soleil.

November 30 to December 17

What happens after happily ever after? Stephen Sondheim’s beloved musical Into the Woods revisits all your favorite fairy tale characters, including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood, as they work to make their wishes come true, only to realize that sometimes getting what you want isn’t all you dreamed. The Tony Award-winning musical adventure is at turns delightful and haunting, but always enchanting. Presented by The New Jewish Theatre, Into the Woods runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 17.


Straight No Chaser will perform at The Fabulous Fox as part of its lineup of theater and performing arts experiences in 2023.
Straight No Chaser

December 8 to 10

MOTheR, a new work by choreographer Kirven Douthit-Boyd, centers on a family who uses the power of dance to elevate their existence. Mother and her four sisters – magical agents of change – will lead their family on a journey, which is both worldly and ethereal. This original production encompasses alchemy, robust sound, vibrant imagery inspired by the cultural aesthetic of Afrofuturism and movement vocabulary that blends cultural and contemporary dance to tell the story of these five women who will stop at nothing to protect the prosperity of their children.

MOTheR is inspired by the strength and power of the women in my family,” Douthit-Boyd says. “I refer to my mother and her sisters as super“she”roes – my original figures of inspiration and wonder. I’ve developed the narrative from the perspective of my younger self, though I still look up to them in constant awe of their strength and resilience.”

December 9 and 10

The Greatest Show On Earth comes to Enterprise Center on Dec. 9 and 10. The reimagined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey invites people of all ages to a spectacle of superhuman feats, which push the limits of possibility and thrill multigenerational audiences. Get closer to the action with an immersive, 360-degree environment and new technology that creates real connections between you and performers from all over the world. Witness daring, never-before-seen acts on a high-wire, trapeze, bicycle and more, share the laughter and awe-inspiring spirit of the circus and ignite your family’s spark of fun right here in St. Louis.

December 12 to 17

Discover a whole new world at Aladdin, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and spectacle. In the extraordinary theatrical event at The Fabulous Fox, one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite. Hailed by USA Today as “pure genie-us,” the hit Broadway musical features the best songs from the Disney film alongside new music by Tony Award winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tony Award winner Tim Rice and a book by Chad Beguelin.

December 19

If the phrase “male a cappella group” conjures up an image of students in blue blazers, ties and khakis singing traditional college songs on ivied campuses, think again! Straight No Chaser are neither strait-laced nor straight-faced, and they’re far from vaudeville-style kitsch. The group has emerged as a phenomenon with a massive fanbase and a long list of accomplishments, including two RIAA gold-certified albums, more than 1.5 million concert tickets sold, more than 1 billion streams on Pandora and more than 2 million albums sold worldwide. Straight No Chaser is the real deal – the captivating sound of nine unadulterated human voices coming together to make extraordinary music, which moves people in a fundamental sense…and with a sense of humor.