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Whether it\u2019s sipping on a Cup of Sunshine, Fake Coffee or Calm Yo\u2019 Tummy, Big Heart Tea Co. wants to help start your day in a healthy way.

Since 2012, the St. Louis-based business has been hand-blending herbal and medicinal teas with a goal of making people healthier and happier. \u201cWe\u2019re a tea company founded on promoting [the antioxidant-rich herb] turmeric, educating people about the life-changing benefits of tea and coming up with products that are approachable for people\u2019s everyday lives,\u201d says founder Lisa Govro.

Through her own trial and error and research and development over the past five years, Govro has honed a process of hand-blending all-natural herbs into teas she says are more flavorful and aromatic than other varieties because they\u2019re freshly made in small batches once a month. \u201cWe break the herbs, and that releases essential oils, which is flavor, but also [medicinal],\u201d she says.

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In 2014, Govro stepped away from growing her one-woman operation, then called ReTrailer Tea Co., to focus on the birth of her daughter. This March, the entrepreneur returned to her company full time and relaunched it as Big Heart Tea Co. \u201cI decided to rebrand to bring focus back to our consumers\u2019 self-care and self-love and healing themselves and their loved ones with herbal tea,\u201d she says. \u201cWe\u2019re a softer tea, with a lifestyle application, because you not only can have a cup of our tea [but] there [also] are different food applications you can use with the tea.\u201d

Today, Big Heart offers seven specialty tea blends, most of which include its signature main ingredient, tulsi, or holy basil, along with different organic medicinal herbs and sweet spices for a healthy boost and a pleasing flavor profile. \u201cIf you follow the package instructions on how to make our tea \u2013 at a lower temperature for a shorter time than typical brewing methods \u2013 you\u2019ll enjoy a lot more nuance of flavors, such as the sweetness notes in the rose tea,\u201d she says.

Big Heart\u2019s flagship tea, Cup of Sunshine, features tulsi, turmeric, ginger, peppercorn and cinnamon, and its chai is blended with antioxidant-rich red rooibos tea, tulsi and sweet spices, including ginger, cinnamon and peppercorn. The brand\u2019s Cup of Love is a naturally sweet rose tea, while Royal Treatmint is a refreshing mint-and-lavender blend. Calm Yo\u2019 Tummy is a savory lavender-and-fennel tea to destress and stimulate digestion.

Although most of the company\u2019s teas are decaf, it does have two caffeinated offerings: Fake Coffee, a chocolatey blend of cacao, roasted chicory, dandelion root and sweet cinnamon, and Edith Grey, a citrusy African black tea infused with bergamot and blended with rose. The business also carries caffeinated iced tea sourced from Malawi in southeast Africa.

Since its spring relaunch, Big Heart has grown to four staffers and tripled its business, Govro notes. Its tea blends can be found at bigheartttea.com and in about 30 St. Louis restaurants, including The Mud House, Café Osage and Pastaria, as well as in 12 states across the country.

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Some of the biggest challenges the company has overcome were proving its concept in the market and finding its niche in the local neighborhood, Govro says. Once the business rebranded, it was able to gain more financing to expand its growing operation from a downtown St. Louis culinary incubator to a new location in Gravois Park, at 2615 Winnebago St.

With more space to expand, Big Heart developed its newest product: Sunshine Dust, a stone-ground, hand-blended, water-soluble decaf powder that’s an organic mix of ginger, turmeric, lemongrass and peppercorn. Inspired by matcha (a stone-milled green tea used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony), Sunshine Dust has a fiery flavor from herbs that may help fight inflammation, stimulate digestion and improve your immune system, according to Govro. “It’s also easily applied into your food experience, from smoothies and juices to savory dishes and sweet pastries,” she adds, noting that recipes incorporating Sunshine Dust can be found on the company’s blog, bighearttea.com/blog.

More new products are percolating at Big Heart this year, including a holiday line of tea blends featuring a selection of chocolate teas that is set to launch on Black Friday.

Govro also has a goal of making her company\u2019s herb ingredients 100 percent traceable: She is traveling this fall in India to explore the farms where herbs for teas are grown. \u201cWe currently work with an herbal importer, and we know about the general region, but not about the farms,\u201d Govro says. \u201cOur long-term goal is to be 100 percent traceable and know everything about all of the ingredients in our teas, from the farmers who harvest them to how they are compensated and treated as laborers to their agricultural practices.\u201d

Adding a cup of Big Heart Tea to your daily routine is a simple change you can make in your everyday life to improve your well-being, Govro notes. \u201cIt\u2019s a nice, comforting way to start and end your day.\u201d

Big Heart Tea Co., bighearttea.com

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In St. Louis\u2019 Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood, Pig & Pickle features Southern-inspired small plates in a New American restaurant setting with roots across the Mississippi River.

The establishment, which opened in September, comes from chef Ryan Lewis, who previously owned Driftwood Cocktail & Eatery in Springfield, Illinois. Lewis (a native of Bethalto in the Prairie State) operated that restaurant from September 2014 to July 2017 before retooling it for the St. Louis market.

Pig & Pickle fills roughly 2,000 square feet previously occupied by Atlas Restaurant, with 44 seats in the dining room and an additional seven at the bar.

\u201cWe try to keep things a little rustic, but there\u2019s also a contemporary feel behind it all,\u201d says general manager Carina Flesch. \u201cIt\u2019s a bit of country mixed with industrial.\u201d

Updates to the space include a fresh coat of orange paint, refinished floors and a bar wall made of repurposed wood in varying natural shades. On the bar\u2019s shelves, beside a miniature pig statuette gifted by former regulars, a hunk of driftwood pays homage to the restaurant\u2019s ancestor. To conceptually unite the porcine component of the restaurant\u2019s name to its other half, a row of colorful pickle jars illuminates the dining room.

A few popular items from Driftwood\u2019s menu made the trip from Springfield to Pig & Pickle, among them pretzel-crusted cheese curds, \u201cfried chicken n biscuit,\u201d and one of Lewis\u2019 personal favorites: chicken \u201crinds,\u201d or Cajun-spiced fried chicken skins served with sweet-and-sour sauce and jalape\u00f1o.

Another of Lewis\u2019 top recommendations, charred octopus, incorporates roasted garlic and shallot, edible flowers, lemon zest, chili oil and lime vinaigrette. Additional popular picks include brisket jambalaya, with cured brisket, black-eyed peas, tomato and hoppin\u2019 John, as well as barley risotto with sweet potato, butternut squash, chili oil, fried egg, pickled onion and mushroom \u2013 both of which sound like exquisite bites before catching On Your Feet! at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.

Pig & Pickle offers a brunch menu, and the restaurant\u2019s drinks include various draft beers, a selection of wine and almost three dozen specialty cocktails, among them the self-restorative-sounding Winter Is Coming (Death\u2019s Door gin, Disaronno liqueur and saffron bitters). The restaurant also offers such refreshing boozeless libations as the Lemons & Lavender, with lemon juice, honey, juniper and lavender bud.

\u201cI\u2019m just looking forward to the opportunity to be in a bigger market and really refine what we\u2019re doing,\u201d Lewis says. \u201cWe\u2019re going to be a little more adventurous with what we put on the menu here.\u201d\u00a0

Pig & Pickle, 5513 Pershing Ave., St. Louis, 314-349-1697, pigandpickleeatery.com

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Story: An American production company arrives in County Kerry, Ireland, circa 1996, to film a movie with famous actress Caroline Giovanni. They set up camp in a small village and proceed to hire many of the local residents as \u2018extras\u2019 in the film.

Charlie Conlin and Jake Quinn, two single lads in their 30s, are among the fortunate villagers who are selected for sundry background scenes. They\u2019re delighted with the prospect of making very good money, by their standards, for something different and exciting compared to their own modest existence.

Jake had moved to America for a while but returned to County Kerry out of homesickness as well as a lack of success in The States. Charlie has shuttered his video rental business, hammered down by a chain company which offers its customers more variety. He's written a screenplay about his experiences which he hopes will interest one of the movie company\u2019s producers.

Caroline insists on mingling with the locals in order to attempt an \u201cauthentic\u201d Irish accent for her role. The buttoned-down director just wants to get the film wrapped up within budget, while his harried assistant tries to corral the free-spirited villagers into a cohesive unit.

The extras are led by Mickey, an aged resident who boasts of being the last remaining survivor from the cast of The Quiet Man. He fancies himself a veteran of this sort of thing, but still insists on swilling down his booze regardless of warnings from the producer.

The mood on the set changes abruptly after a troubled young man named Sean, rebuked in a local pub by Caroline one night, kills himself by walking into a lake with his pockets filled with stones. Charlie, Jake and the others are shocked at the Americans\u2019 refusal to let them take time off to attend Sean\u2019s funeral, and vow to make a statement. Will they jeopardize their own flings at fame by doing so?

Highlights: Marie Jones\u2019 whimsical, bittersweet story is given a touching tribute by director Steve Callahan and the talented twosome of Jared Sanz-Agero and Jason Meyers in a sparkling West End Players Guild presentation.

Other Info: Jones\u2019 two-act work, primarily a comedy but interspersed with substantial moments of drama, stipulates that just two actors perform some 15 characters in the course of her story. The beauty in the performances of Sanz-Agero and Meyers is that both are convincing in the myriad parts they play, making it easy for the audience to absorb Jones\u2019 tale.

With the minimal props provided by costumer and scenic designer Tracey Newcomb, such as a scarf or a variety of caps, Callahan\u2019s two players convincingly assay a variety of roles with aplomb amidst the shortest of moments between switching roles.

Newcomb offers a painted backdrop of an Irish countryside with the story\u2019s obligatory cows pictured for effect, nicely underscored by Nathan Schroeder\u2019s lighting. Chuck Lavazzi adds a sound design filled with Irish jigs and spirited folk music, while choreographer Cindy Duggan crafts entertaining moves graciously handled by the pair of actors.

Dialect coach Richard Lewis knows his way around a brogue or two and serves admirably tutoring Sanz-Agero and Meyers in their speech. For his part, Callahan seamlessly moves the story forward with a pacing that is neither forced nor hectic, surely allowing the duo on stage to ply their craft in appealing fashion.

Both Sanz-Agero and Meyers shape their sundry characters with subtle differences, whether a shuffling gait, an affectation or a furrowed brow. They succeed by allowing Jones\u2019 story to play itself out in a casual style which avoids confusion with its simplicity.

Actress/writer Jones has enjoyed substantial success with Stones in His Pockets since its debut in 1996, capturing both the buoyant optimism and the crushing sorrow of its Irish characters. West End Players Guild\u2019s rendition is a charming and affecting foray into the hearts and souls of the tale\u2019s County Kerry denizens.

Play: Stones in His Pockets

Group: West End Players Guild

Venue: Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Blvd.

Dates: November 16, 17, 18, 19

Tickets: $20; contact 367-0025 or WestEndPlayers.org

Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photo courtesy of John Lamb

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Story: Fatherless Prince Karl Franz, heir to the kingdom of Karlsberg, is sent by his grandfather King Ferdinand incognito to the University of Heidelberg to live as an ordinary student and also to improve his social skills. He\u2019s accompanied by his beloved tutor, Dr. Engel, along with his stuffy valet Lutz and Lutz\u2019s own assistant Hubert.

Karl Franz quickly makes friends with a trio of young students who encourage him to join them on their rounds of drinking and carousing. He also becomes smitten with Kathie, a waitress and the niece of Ruder, owner of the rustic Inn of the Three Gold Apples.

Karl Franz and Kathie soon fall in love, but there are complications. After all, Kathie is a commoner. Also, the prince has been engaged since childhood to the Princess Margaret, although he has never met her. Additionally, Kathie says that an older cousin in another village has proposed marriage to her.

When King Ferdinand takes ill, Karl Franz is visited by Princess Margaret and her mother, the Grand Duchess Anastasia, with news that he must go back home for his marriage to Margaret. Karl Franz promises Kathie that he will soon return, but a couple of years go by all too quickly. With his grandfather\u2019s death, Karl Franz is now king and constantly under surveillance.

However, when he hears the news of Dr. Engel\u2019s death in Heidelberg, Karl Franz makes the journey there and soon inquires about Kathie. Before he can catch up with her, Margaret meets Kathie for the first time. Although Margaret also loved another, she now is in love with the king and asks Kathie to refuse any wedding proposal from Karl Franz.

Kathie complies with Margaret\u2019s request. The king then announces his plans to marry Princess Margaret, but not before he and Kathie vow their eternal love to each other, even though they will remain apart.

Highlights: Winter Opera St. Louis opened its 11th anniversary season last weekend with an enchanting rendition of Sigmund Romberg\u2019s operetta, The Student Prince. Strong vocal performances by Caitlin Cisler as Kathie and John Stephens as Dr. Engel enhanced this sprightly production.

Other Info: Stage director Dean Anthony did a fine job keeping this light-hearted, entertaining piece moving at a comfortable pace, aided by a cast that was fully committed to its roles, both musically and as actors. The work\u2019s prologue and four acts, which were composed by Romberg with book and lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly, were performed around a single intermission, crisply done in two and a half hours.

Conductor Scott Schoonover led a spirited reading of the score by the Winter Opera orchestra, bringing an airy interpretation which accented the show\u2019s comic moments while also supporting several fine vocal turns.

Chief among those was Cisler\u2019s performance as Kathie. Soprano Cisler demonstrated a smooth, lovely voice which augmented the operetta\u2019s more intriguing moments, such as the Deep in My Heart, Dear duet with Andrew Marks Maughan as Karl Franz.

Tenor Maughan offered an ingratiating performance as the love-struck prince, who thoroughly enjoys life as a student and then finds his true love with the local waitress Kathie. He blended well, too, with St. Louis native John Stephens as Dr. Engel, whose powerful, persuasive voice worked handsomely on the upbeat piece In Heidelberg Fair and others in the show.

Karla Hughes shined as Kathie\u2019s boisterous colleague Gretchen and Will Macarthy did well in the role of the loyal Hubert. Gary Moss amused in the role of the pompous Lutz, while director Anthony suitably doubled in the part of Count von Mark, the prime minister of Karlsberg. Ellen Hinkle was an understanding Princess Margaret, another character stifled in true love.

Others contributing to the production\u2019s success were Joel Rogier, Zachary Devin and Clark Sturdevant as Karl Franz\u2019s student pals Lucas, Detlef and von Asterberg, respectively. Karen Kanakis capably portrayed Grand Duchess Anastasia and Jacob Lassetter was solid as Ruder. Ryan Keller did well as Tarnitz, the captain who loves Princess Margaret, with Victoria Menke as Countess Leyden, lady in waiting to the princess.

Scott Loebl\u2019s scenic design featured some panoramic background paintings along with an appearance of an old German college town, with Jon Ontiveros providing lighting. JC Krajicek dressed everyone in suitable finery for both upper and lower classes, with a notable assist from wig and makeup designer Jessica Dana.

Winter Opera next offers its traditional Holidays on the Hill in concerts on December 5 and 6 at Dominic’s, 5101 Wilson Avenue. The company then returns to the Viragh Center on the Chaminade campus on January 26 and 28 for performances of Bizet’s Les Pecheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers). Visit www.winteropera.org or call 865-0038 for additional information.

Opera: The Student Prince

Group: Winter Opera St. Louis

Venue: Skip Viragh Center for Performing Arts, Chaminade College Preparatory School, 425 South Lindbergh

Dates: Run concluded

Photos courtesy of Winter Opera

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Story: Itinerant laborers George and Lennie arrive at a new job after a near-brush with disaster in nearby Weed, California. George is smart and Lennie is a gentle giant, well-meaning but mentally challenged. George looks after Lennie, something uncommon in the dog-eat-dog days of the Great Depression.

Lennie\u2019s penchant for touching soft objects resulted in a young woman accusing him of rape when the two laborers worked in Weed. They fled a lynch mob and now are outside Soledad in the Salinas River Valley, where they take jobs on a farm, reporting to the superintendent known as The Boss.

Like the other men at the ranch, The Boss questions why two men would travel together, but he can see that Lennie must be one hell of a laborer judging by his size. George warily opens up a bit to Slim, a mule team driver who is respected by everyone. George also talks with Candy, the crippled farmhand who is reduced to doing chores with his one good hand while also caring for his beloved pet, an old and blind sheepdog.

Lennie constantly asks George to recite his favorite story, about a plot of land where he and George can one day raise their own crops and Lennie can tend the rabbits they\u2019ll keep in a hatch. They hope to save enough money to make a down payment on such property soon. Their dreams, however, are threatened when The Boss\u2019 churlish and jealous son, Curley, picks a fight with Lennie about Curley\u2019s new and flirtatious wife.

When circumstances lead to unforeseen tragedy, George is forced to confront the reality of what he must do to control his kindly but unknowingly dangerous friend.

Highlights: Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble finishes its \u201cSeason of Adaptation\u201d with a powerful and poignant version of John Steinbeck\u2019s classic tale of loneliness and the dreams nurtured by the \u201cragged people\u201d struggling to survive the Great Depression.

Other Info: Steinbeck worked alongside the types of men he describes in Of Mice and Men when he was a young man. His naturalistic style earned him a Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath in 1939 as well as the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962 \u201cfor his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception.\u201d He claimed that even Lennie was based on a real person.

Director Jacqueline Thompson refers to SATE\u2019s adaptation as a \u201cre-imagined journey. We\u2019ve experimented with new given circumstances relating to colorism and gender identity...where George, Lennie and Candy are different from what you read in school.\u201d

Therein lie the few problems in this production, minor though they be. Portraying George as Latino works well enough, and for the most part having Lennie be black is fine, too. However, there\u2019s a disconnect when Lennie meets Crooks, the aging stable-hand who is forced to live in separate quarters because of his skin color. If Crooks is confined to the stable, why is Lennie allowed to live in the bunkhouse?

The other problematic element is having Candy portrayed by Natasha Toro. Candy in the script clearly is an aged man, struggling to live out his days with his equally old and infirm dog. If Thompson wants Toro simply to portray the ranch hand, that\u2019s OK. However, if age is not a factor for the youthful Toro, then why have Omega Jones in makeup that is applied to make him look the age of the older Crooks? That\u2019s an inconsistency in this production.

Thompson\u2019s accomplished cast delivers uniformly excellent performances, anchored by affecting interpretations by Adam Flores as George and Carl Overly Jr. as Lennie. Flores demonstrates the genuine and protective love George has for his feeble-minded companion, someone who helps him ward off the oppressive loneliness that looms large in the lives of nearly all of the characters. It\u2019s a delight hearing Flores tell Overly as Lennie the story of their own place and the rabbits Lenny will care for.

Overly uses his imposing figure to good advantage, yet masks Lennie\u2019s power with slumped shoulders and an innocent look that appears friendly to everyone except the mean-spirited Curley, who\u2019s looking for someone to berate and humiliate. Overly conveys Lennie\u2019s kind heart and simple mind as well as the confusion which can lead to tragic consequences with both his child-like mannerisms and open expresssions.

Joe Hanrahan shows the innate wisdom of the respected mule team driver Slim, puzzled by the unusual friendship between two migrant workers, who tend to travel alone in Slim\u2019s experience, but a man who welcomes the two new employees without prejudice.

There\u2019s fine work, too, by Toro as Candy, whose use of just one good hand reduces the aged worker\u2019s value to the team. When Candy\u2019s beloved dog is killed by the unfeeling Carlson because the pet is old, smelly and blind, Candy sees the writing on the wall. \u201cYou saw what they did to my dog. What do you think they\u2019ll do to me?,\u201d asks Candy of George. Toro etches the dreams of Candy to help purchase that elusive piece of land where he, George and Lennie can live in peace.

Jack Corey has a fine turn as the tough but fair Boss, whose skepticism of George and Lennie is assuaged by George\u2019s reassuring words. Michael Cassidy Flynn conveys the nasty nature of the Boss\u2019s ill-willed son, Curley, highlighted in an arresting scene when he picks on Lennie to his great disadvantage.

Courtney Bailey Parker shows the various sides of Curley\u2019s wife, a character deliberately unnamed by Steinbeck as a \u201csymbol\u201d as much as a real person, revealing her own hopes and dreams as well as an unpleasant streak. Omega Jones is outstanding depicting the bitterness of Crooks at the prejudice directed towards him as well as his own fleeting hopes of joining the new men on their quest for Shangri-La.

Shane Signorino and Ryan Lawson-Maeske capably portray two other farm hands, the former as the indifferent Carlson who can\u2019t understand Candy\u2019s feelings for his declining dog, and the latter as an amiable lad who notices a letter to the editor of a magazine that was written by another migrant.

Thompson\u2019s direction maintains the pathos of the story with nary a dip in pacing throughout its two acts, utilizing the aisles to the stage as well as the elevated platform itself. She\u2019s aided by Chris Ware\u2019s musical accompaniment on guitar, which is effective but unfortunately too intrusive in the first act. Bess Moynihan\u2019s excellent lighting underscores her scenic design, which is malleable to allow for various scenes.

Liz Henning provides the well-appointed costumes, delineating the finery of Curley and his wife from the drab attire of the workers. Rachel Tibbetts provides props, Ellie Schwetye adds the sound design and Lawson-Maeske\u2019s fight choreography accentuates the riveting brawl between Curley and Lennie.

Of Mice and Men has lost none of its poignancy and resonance since its debut more than 75 years ago. In fact, with intolerance in American society currently at such an egregious level, it carries more impact than ever. The final scene in SATE\u2019s endearing adaptation is as astounding as anything you\u2019re likely to see for a long, long time.

Play: Of Mice and Men

Company: Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

Venue: The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive

Dates: November 15, 16, 17, 18

Tickets: $15-$20, plus “Pay What You Can” on Nov. 16; contact 827-5760, info@slightlyoff.org or brownpapertickets.com

Rating: A 4.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Joey Rumpell

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Story: Young Gloria Fajardo enjoys writing music and playing the guitar while she pursues a degree in psychology. Her mother, also named Gloria, wants her daughter to have a career and do better for herself than living in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami as she does now with her mother, sister, grandmother and father, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

One day grandmother Consuelo introduces her granddaughter to Emilio Estefan and his local band, the Miami Latin Boys. Emilio is intrigued by Gloria\u2019s talents to the extent that he offers her a place in his group. Although Gloria\u2019s mother insists that she avoid the allure of performing, Gloria joins Emilio\u2019s ensemble, which eventually becomes known as the Miami Sound Machine.

As their careers soar, Gloria and Emilio fall in love and are married. After achieving considerable success in the Latin music market, they ask their music executive Phil to introduce them to the wider pop music audience with songs they have written in English. Phil adamantly refuses, telling them to enjoy what they have and of the even bigger plans he has for them to dominate the Latin followers.

Emilio and Gloria persist, however, taking small gigs where they can perform their English tunes as well as their Spanish-language hits. When Phil sees how popular the Miami Sound Machine is with other demographics, he changes his mind and helps propel the Estefans to greater success.

That success comes at a price. Gloria is estranged from her mother, learning from her grandmother that the elder Gloria in her youth was offered a contract for a career in Hollywood but was prevented from doing so by her father. While Gloria, Emilio, their son Nayib and the band travel by bus to a performance, they are involved in an accident which leaves Gloria badly injured.

Physicians recommend a risky and lengthy surgery to repair Gloria\u2019s back. Even after surgery, they warn that she faces a considerable rehabilitation before she can even think about resuming her career. Despite that, Emilio accepts an invitation for Gloria and the group to appear at a national music awards telecast, giving Gloria a goal to achieve on her road to recovery.

Highlights: The infectious, feel-good tunes of Emilio and Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine fill this jukebox musical with an energy that, coupled with the story of their rise to stardom and recovery from near tragedy, makes for an evening of delightful songs and vibrant dancing.

Other Info: On Your Feet! opened on Broadway in 2015 and closed in August after 780 performances. Its first national tour began in September and includes a two-week run at The Fox Theatre in St. Louis, which continues through November 19.

Like any good jukebox musical, On Your Feet! is filled with recognizable, popular songs, in this case made famous by the swaying sounds of the brass-infused orchestra directed on this tour by Clay Ostwald.

Several members of the Miami Sound Machine, which is musically directed by Jorge Casas, are involved in the touring production, including MSM\u2019s assistant musical director Ostwald at the keyboards, as well as Casas on bass, trombonist Theodore Mulet and percussionist Edward Bonilla. Associate music director Emmanuel Schvartzman on keyboards, trumpeter Jose Ruiz, Michael Scaglione on reeds, guitarist Stephen Flakus, percussionist Jean-Christophe Leroy and drummer Coin Taylor complete the touring band.

Cuban-American actress Christie Prades delivers a spirited performance in the role of Gloria Estefan, who is the winner of seven Grammy Awards. Prades has an easy chemistry with Mauricio Martinez, who is engaging and likable in the role of the 19-time Grammy Award-winning Emilio Estefan.

The two-act show is filled with familiar tunes from the Estefan/Miami Sound Machine canon, such as the dazzling first-act finale, Conga, as well as other well-known songs including 1-2-3, Anything for You, Don\u2019t Wanna Lose You, Rhythm Is Gonna Get You and nearly two dozen more.

Nancy Ticotin displays ample moves herself as Gloria\u2019s frustrated mother, Gloria Fajardo, who was held back from reaching her own dreams. Alma Cuervo delights the audience as Gloria\u2019s supportive grandmother Consuelo, while Claudia Yanez portrays Gloria\u2019s sister Rebecca. Jason Martinez delivers a strong performance as Gloria\u2019s incapacitated Vietnam veteran father, Jose.

Kevin Tellex and Jordan Vergara take turns in the crowd-pleasing role of energetic and loose-limbed Nayib, while Amaris Sanchez and Carmen Sanchez nicely rotate in the role of Gloria as a young girl. Devon Goffman does well as the Estefan\u2019s music producer, Phil.

Alexander Dinaris wrote the book for this lively show, with music by Emilio & Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. Jerry Mitchell\u2019s direction is fluid and well-paced, bringing the story in under two and a half hours, and benefits immensely from the crackling choreography presented by Sergio Trujillo, which maintains a jaunty style throughout.

Emilio Sosa\u2019s costumes are bright and bedazzling, David Rockwell furnishes a set which fluctuates from a modest home in Little Havana to the bright lights of Las Vegas, all effectively lit by Kenneth Posner and enhanced with Darrel Maloney\u2019s projection design.

With its irresistible melodies and intoxicating sound, On Your Feet! is as much a description of the audience\u2019s enthusiasm as a fitting salute to the irrepressible music and spirit of the Estefans and Miami Sound Machine.

Musical: On Your Feet!

Group: Touring Company

Venue: Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand

Dates: Through November 19

Tickets: From $35-$115; contact 534-1111 or metrotix.com

Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Matthew Murphy

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In a tour de force exhibition, the St. Louis Mercantile Library is now recounting a story of manifold stories \u2013 not dozens of them, not hundreds, not even thousands, but thousands of thousands.

That free exhibition, titled \u201cHeadlines of History,\u201d opened slightly more than a month ago, on Oct. 8. It sprawls through much of that underappreciated local treasure\u2019s lower level in the University of Missouri-St. Louis\u2019 Thomas Jefferson Library and runs till Sept. 3, 2019.

To anyone but so-called digital natives, the exhibition should constitute an Enola Gay-level blast from the past, one that John N. Hoover, the Mercantile\u2019s executive director, conceived, astonishingly, almost three decades ago, notes a press release from the library.

It leverages the Mercantile\u2019s vast holdings \u2013 which include both the archives and printing morgue of the now-defunct St. Louis Globe-Democrat and a complete run of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch \u2013 to illustrate how much newspapering has changed here since the 1808 launch of the Missouri Gazette, probably the proto-state\u2019s first paper, and even since editors might plug stray complainants.

(Seriously. \u201cJohn A. Cockerill, the Post-Dispatch\u2019s managing editor, was confronted by an enraged \u2013 and armed \u2013 Alonzo Slayback, the law partner of a St. Louis politician who had been the target of a series of Cockerill\u2019s scathing editorials,\u201d Lee Ann Sandweiss relates, in her 2000 Seeking St. Louis, of an 1882 incident. \u201cSlayback barged into Cockerill\u2019s office and was shot and killed by the editor.\u201d Nowadays journalists exercise greater patience with irate readers.)

The Mercantile exhibition includes at least one amusing juxtaposition. \u201cTruman Takes Over Burdens of State,\u201d declares The Sun, from New York, in its edition of April 12, 1945, the day Missouri\u2019s Harry S. Truman, then the U.S. vice president, assumed the presidency following the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. All of 4 feet to the left of it, the Post-Dispatch for Aug. 9, 1974, proclaims, \u201cPresident Nixon Resigns, Gerald Ford Takes Over,\u201d because of the Watergate scandal.

Had he lived another two years, the 33rd president might have guffawed over the travails of the 37th because Truman long considered Richard M. Nixon a skunk of the first stripe. (In Plain Speaking, Merle Miller\u2019s extraordinary 1973 \u201coral biography\u201d of Missouri\u2019s most prominent 20th-century statesman, Give \u2019Em Hell Harry remarks of Tricky Dick, \u201cHe not only doesn\u2019t give a damn about the people; he doesn\u2019t know how to tell the truth.\u201d)

Elsewhere on the walls of the William Maffitt Bates Jr. Gallery within the Mercantile, the exhibition less amusingly juxtaposes a Nov. 11, 1918, Globe-Democrat headline, \u201cGermany Has Surrendered/War Ends Officially at 5 a.m. Today,\u201d regarding World War I, and a Dec. 11, 1941, Post-Dispatch headline, \u201cU.S. Declares War on Berlin, Rome,\u201d regarding World War II.

Alongside smaller cases and miscellaneous tables, the exhibition also devotes a quartet of 8-foot-long glass cases, gloriously, to the funnies \u2013 the street-smart artistry of the comic strip. Those cases\u2019 full-color contents long predate the current era of Scott Adams\u2019 Dilbert, which, its satiric graces notwithstanding, could have been visualized four decades ago by a middle schooler \u201coutputting\u201d to a mimeograph. The contents of those cases include a full-page 1941 example from the Post-Dispatch of Prince Valiant, Harold R. Foster\u2019s lush Arthurian saga, long regarded as one of the finest strips ever created.

The walls of the Bates gallery likewise sport a selection of political cartoons, a miniature tribute to the grease pencil, the dip pen and the brush. Among those cartoons appears one that remains a heartbreaker more than half a century after its Nov. 23, 1963, publication in the Chicago Sun-Times: Bill Mauldin\u2019s wordless shot of the marble statue of Honest Abe at Washington, D.C.\u2019s Lincoln Memorial hunched forward, weeping at word of the assassination of then-President John F. Kennedy.

In the final analysis, this exhibition at the Mercantile \u2013 the oldest library west of the Mississippi, according to its institutional brief \u2013 poses the problem of what, in a limited space, to leave unlauded:

The sheer physicality of that hardware, in particular, serves to emphasize the utter weightlessness of electrons, pixels and, by extension, many of today\u2019s modes of communication \u2013 and recalls a caveat from acclaimed essayist/literary critic Sven Birkerts.

\u201cI would urge that we not fall all over ourselves in our haste to filter all of our experience through circuitries,\u201d Birkerts cautions in his indispensable 1994 meditation, The Gutenberg Elegies. \u201cWe are in some danger of believing that the speed and wizardry of our gadgets have freed us from the sometimes arduous work of turning pages in silence.\u201d

St. Louis Mercantile Library, Thomas Jefferson Library Building, 1 University Blvd., St. Louis, 314-516-7240, umsl.edu/mercantile

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Leaves of Glass

Newsprint falls to pieces faster than people do.

Given that sad fact, John N. Hoover, the executive director of the St. Louis Mercantile Library, briefly recounts precautions taken to protect the main components of \u201cHeadlines of History,\u201d the splendid exhibition on display there through Sept. 3, 2019.

\u201cItems too fragile were not exhibited, and some will be shown briefly in other colloquial presentations,\u201d Hoover says. \u201cAll the items are so fragile that this is the first exhibition of its kind in memory in St. Louis. It\u2019s been delayed here for the planning involved, due to fragility concerns, for 25 years. It\u2019s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the public to see these original newspaper editions in an exhibition setting.\u201d

Regarding newsprint, he stresses the necessity of climate-controlled storage and low humidity, adding: \u201cWhen hard copies are exhibited, we monitor humidity and heat levels daily, we shield lighting to protect items from ultraviolet fading, and we use a variety of book supports, Mylar strapping and other nonreactive tools for mounting objects.\u201d

Hoover also characterizes the current exhibition\u2019s cases, many of which incorporate glass fully a quarter of an inch thick, as \u201csecure\u201d and notes they\u2019re \u201cmonitored by security on camera and walk-through inspection.\u201d

In storing materials like those displayed in that exhibition, Hoover says the Mercantile favors a horizontal ideal, noting, \u201cThe older the paper, the flatter it should be shelved.\u201d He also mentions the use of acid-free and Mylar folders for unbound, early issues or treasured editions, with some editions repaired and reboxed.

Finally, for general reading-room use, Hoover says the Mercantile established a \u201crobust microfilm and scanning program\u201d to shield original hard copies, which, past a certain age, can tear at the turn of a page \u2013 and even disintegrate like last autumn\u2019s fallen leaves.

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"}, {"id":"6c724b76-ae0b-51ac-aa97-3b3c5a543f07","type":"article","starttime":"1510250400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-11-09T12:00:00-06:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"columns":"arts-and-culture/columns"},{"nonprofits":"nonprofits"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Ready Readers: Pet Sounds","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/article_6c724b76-ae0b-51ac-aa97-3b3c5a543f07.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/ready-readers-pet-sounds/article_6c724b76-ae0b-51ac-aa97-3b3c5a543f07.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/ready-readers-pet-sounds/article_6c724b76-ae0b-51ac-aa97-3b3c5a543f07.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Sheila Oliveri","prologue":"When kids start asking when they can get a pet, an intergenerational struggle of wills also can start.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["ready readers"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"c8107861-1092-59fe-8ad1-9b324a3806d7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"499","height":"392","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/81/c8107861-1092-59fe-8ad1-9b324a3806d7/5a00945ee9e89.image.jpg?resize=499%2C392"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"79","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/81/c8107861-1092-59fe-8ad1-9b324a3806d7/5a00945ee9e89.image.jpg?resize=100%2C79"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"236","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/81/c8107861-1092-59fe-8ad1-9b324a3806d7/5a00945ee9e89.image.jpg?resize=300%2C236"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"804","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/81/c8107861-1092-59fe-8ad1-9b324a3806d7/5a00945ee9e89.image.jpg"}}},{"id":"fbb46f45-2287-532a-b171-1a66ae87dd9f","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"437","height":"500","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/bb/fbb46f45-2287-532a-b171-1a66ae87dd9f/5a00945f3fac0.image.jpg?resize=437%2C500"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"114","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/bb/fbb46f45-2287-532a-b171-1a66ae87dd9f/5a00945f3fac0.image.jpg?resize=100%2C114"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"343","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/bb/fbb46f45-2287-532a-b171-1a66ae87dd9f/5a00945f3fac0.image.jpg?resize=300%2C343"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1172","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/bb/fbb46f45-2287-532a-b171-1a66ae87dd9f/5a00945f3fac0.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"6c724b76-ae0b-51ac-aa97-3b3c5a543f07","body":"

When kids start asking when they can get a pet, an intergenerational struggle of wills also can start.

Parents may resist adding more responsibility to already-hectic schedules, but children want the close connection with another living creature they can call their own. Also, communicating how much work a pet demands can be difficult.

Luckily, Ready Readers has two books perfect for achieving pet d\u00e9tente.

In Lola Gets a Cat \u2013 the newest title from author Anna McQuinn, with illustrator Rosalind Beardshaw \u2013 the simple, linear story should help readers understand both Lola\u2019s desire for a feline and her mother\u2019s hesitancy to add more work to their lives.

Mother and daughter learn about cats and their care by visiting the library and researching pet adoption on the internet. They also visit an animal shelter, where a tiny gray tabby befriends Lola \u2013 but the story scarcely ends there. Lola and her mom next prepare for the pet\u2019s arrival by shopping for a bed, food bowls and more, then setting up a special corner for the feline in their home. When Lola learns that \u201cmoving is scary for cats,\u201d she gives the critter space to explore and time to adapt to the new surroundings. Then, when settled, the tabby enjoys playing, but enjoys more than anything else snuggling with Lola.

This book should make an excellent introduction to the responsibilities of pet ownership. From McQuinn\u2019s narrative, children should learn elements of pet care, and Beardshaw\u2019s colorful, lively illustrations expertly convey Lola\u2019s eagerness to find and bond with her new friend.

Thanks to a generous donor, by the way, Ready Readers will give 69 children from North Spring Head Start Center in St. Louis Lola Gets a Cat as part of a field trip/reading excursion to the Humane Society of Missouri later this month.

November\u2019s whimsical second book, Cosmo ZOOMS by author/illustrator Arthur Howard, features an assortment of pooches instead of a cat.

Cosmo, a scruffy but enthusiastic terrier mix, numbers among many dogs on Pumpkin Lane, including an Old English sheepdog, an Afghan, a Saint Bernard, a fox terrier and a basset. Cosmo\u2019s friends all excel at something \u2013 herding, running, drooling, catching Frisbees and howling \u2013 but poor Cosmo has yet to discover his own talent. Dejected, he retreats to sulk in the sun, where, quite accidentally, excitement and adventure ensue when Cosmo recognizes his individual ability and elatedly shares it with his canine neighborhood buddies.

Howard\u2019s story touches on the insecurities we all feel, and his emotive illustrations clearly suggest the dogs\u2019 personalities. The subdued background colors allow the characters to stand out, connecting the reader with the creatures\u2019 distinct qualities, movements, and moods.

Purina has generously sponsored the purchase of 10,000 new copies of Cosmo ZOOMS, which will go to at-risk preschool children in classrooms around St. Louis that participate in our program. If you yourself would like to sponsor a book for children in need, please contact Ready Readers! Your involvement could change the lives and futures of our next generation.

At Ready Readers, we know that “Kids Who Read Succeed!” Reading aloud daily provides a strong foundation for early literacy. If you enjoy reading and sharing the magic of books, please consider becoming a volunteer for Ready Readers and reading aloud to a classroom of preschool children in an underserved area of St. Louis. Visit readyreaders.org for more information.

"}, {"id":"a150d501-990a-550d-b036-d738ad905c82","type":"article","starttime":"1510250400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-11-09T12:00:00-06:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"dining":"arts-and-culture/dining"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Dinner & A Show: Taco Buddha","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/article_a150d501-990a-550d-b036-d738ad905c82.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-taco-buddha/article_a150d501-990a-550d-b036-d738ad905c82.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-taco-buddha/article_a150d501-990a-550d-b036-d738ad905c82.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Mabel Suen","prologue":"A new counter-service-style restaurant in University City specializes in tacos \u2013 albeit with a variety of worldly influences.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["dinner & a show","taco buddha","university city"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"cb40ba27-7b54-5435-a025-3f6cd1a4eb9d","description":"","byline":"Photo by Mabel Suen","hireswidth":1763,"hiresheight":1175,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/b4/cb40ba27-7b54-5435-a025-3f6cd1a4eb9d/59fc9e409198e.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"507","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/b4/cb40ba27-7b54-5435-a025-3f6cd1a4eb9d/59fc9e40908fc.image.jpg?resize=760%2C507"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/b4/cb40ba27-7b54-5435-a025-3f6cd1a4eb9d/59fc9e40908fc.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/b4/cb40ba27-7b54-5435-a025-3f6cd1a4eb9d/59fc9e40908fc.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/b4/cb40ba27-7b54-5435-a025-3f6cd1a4eb9d/59fc9e40908fc.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C682"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"a150d501-990a-550d-b036-d738ad905c82","body":"
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A new counter-service-style restaurant in University City specializes in tacos \u2013 albeit with a variety of worldly influences.

Taco Buddha, which debuted in August, features both traditional and inventive tacos inspired by Southwestern and Mexican cuisine as well as the Caribbean, Asia and beyond. The casual eatery comes from owner Kurt Eller and his partner, Erin McCracken. Chef Ben McArthur, formerly of the defunct J McArthur\u2019s in St. Louis\u2019 Lindenwood Park neighborhood, serves as a chef consultant, assisting with the restaurant\u2019s development.

\u201cErin has been [an] awesome support and a major contributor to the aesthetic and spirit of Taco Buddha,\u201d Eller says. \u201cAnd Ben has taken a lot of my ideas and things I\u2019ve done and made them better and more consistent.\u201d

Eller spent much of his hospitality career in Austin, Texas, where he owned and operated several restaurants. Throughout the \u201990s, he also traveled to such cities as Miami, Atlanta and San Antonio to manage various businesses ranging from taco joints to high-end fusion eateries.

A shift to a corporate job then led him to St. Louis, but three years ago, he started his own catering company under the Taco Buddha moniker, with an accompanying food trailer to assist in mobile food preparation for wedding receptions and other events.

\u201cWhen I came up with the name, I was thinking about something that opened up tacos to be inclusive to everything and accepting of every type of food,\u201d Eller says. \u201cWe\u2019re just offering honest, simple ingredients that we layer to create different flavors \u2013 humble street food.\u201d

Taco Buddha fills a 435-square-foot space that previously served as the back of PerJax Americana Kitchen. McCracken designed the space, which features what Eller describes as a French Cambodian or international-style feel, reminiscent of a Brooklyn caf\u00e9. Staghorn ferns mounted on acoustic boards adorn the walls next to a handwritten menu, and the dining area is filled with tables built by Eller himself from refurbished wood. That dining area seats 24, with an additional 24 seats available on a patio.

The kitchen\u2019s ever-expanding recipe portfolio currently contains approximately 18 different tacos, with five to six options available on any given day. \u201cOur menu is always changing as we source fresh ingredients and try out new flavors each day!\u201d states Tacho Buddha\u2019s website listing, which is updated regularly to reflect what\u2019s currently on offer.

One of the most popular menu items has been a tandoori-style chicken taco with grilled, masala-marinated chicken, cabbage slaw, cotija cheese, cilantro, mango chutney and red-chili cream.

\u201cOne of my favorites is the smoked brisket,\u201d McArthur says. \u201cKurt is from Texas, so he does the Texas-style smoke with mesquite wood for that desert taste. It\u2019s smoked 16-plus hours until it\u2019s just right. We also incorporate a lot of New Mexico chilies.\u201d

Depending on weekly menu changes, guests also could find such items as a blackened-salmon taco with New Mexico red chilies and Cajun spices, grilled corn relish, cotija cheese, cabbage slaw and cilantro. Appetizers generally include chips and salsa, guacamole, queso blanco, green-chili queso and ceviche. Quesadillas also may be available, depending on the week\u2019s menu.

Sides customarily include rice and/or beans, street corn-on-the-cob and a fried half avocado. For dessert, weekly menu options could include flan, tres leches cake and Texas pralines \u2013 all of which sound like delectable delights before catching Heisenberg from The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

From the full bar, the beverage list includes specialty cocktails, margaritas, eight canned and bottled beers, and a wine selection that boasts a partnership with Spain\u2019s Torres Vineyards. Nonalcoholic drink options include horchata and hibiscus tea.

In addition to walk-ins, Taco Buddha is available for private-event rentals, with wine-tasting events paired with food potentially forthcoming. Customers also can order ahead online and arrange pickup times.

\u201cOne of our niches is breakfast tacos. Growing up in Texas, that\u2019s what you eat five mornings out of the week,\u201d Eller says. \u201cWhy bring donuts to the office when you could bring breakfast tacos?\u201d

Taco Buddha, 7405 Pershing Ave., University City, 314-502-9951, tacobuddha.com

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\"111017-day-Healthy
111017-day-Healthy Appetite

Soup is a pure comfort food, especially when it\u2019s made with nutrient-dense ingredients. This roasted broccoli and fennel number boasts major antioxidants and phytonutrients, which give your immune system a boost \u2013 exactly what you need when temperatures dip in fall and winter. In addition to all the great things this bowl of comfort can do for your body, it\u2019s also quick and easy to put together and is packed with hearty and herbal flavor.

Although this take on dukkah (a condiment spelled several other ways) is far from traditional, it does technically meet the definition. Native to Egypt and popular throughout the Middle East, dukkah is a dip made with herbs, nuts and spices. Dukkah varies by country and region, but it\u2019s often made with hazelnuts, pistachios, sesame seeds and spices such as coriander and cumin seeds, salt and pepper, and fresh or dried thyme and mint. This version uses celery leaves in place of the herbs and raw sunflower seeds in place of nuts.\u00a0

Roasted Broccoli and Fennel Soup With Celery Dukkah

Sometimes fennel can be hard to source, so you can substitute equal parts celery instead. Raw pumpkin seeds can be used in place of sunflower seeds for the dukkah, which will result in a nuttier, heartier crunch.

Serves 4 to 6

Celery Dukkah

Roasted Broccoli and Fennel Soup

| Preparation \u2013 Celery Dukkah | In the bowl of a food processor, pulse sunflower seeds until roughly chopped. In a saut\u00e9 pan over medium heat, toast roughly chopped seeds until browned. Add celery leaves, salt and pepper, and stir. Saut\u00e9 for 1 minute more. Set aside until completely cool.

| Preparation \u2013 Roasted Broccoli and Fennel Soup | Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread broccoli and fennel evenly on prepared baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast for 20 minutes, flipping broccoli and fennel after 10 minutes.

In a large saucepot over medium-low heat, add minced garlic and sweat for 3 minutes. Add onion and sweat for 5 minutes more. When broccoli and fennel are done roasting, add them to the saucepot with garlic and onion. Then add kale, cashews, water or stock, and lemon juice, and generously season with salt and pepper. Simmer mixture for 5 minutes, and remove from heat. In bowl of a blender, add vegetables and pan juice, and blend until smooth. Garnish soup with celery dukkah and serve.

Sherrie Castellano is a former health coach turned food writer, photographer and pop-up chef based in St. Louis. A collection of Sherrie\u2019s recipes, stories and images can be found on her Saveur Blog Award-nominated website, With Food + Love. Sherrie is currently the marketing director for Midwest-based Big Heart Tea Co.

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Story: It\u2019s going to be the biggest event in the history of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. Renowned opera singer Tito Merelli has journeyed to Cleveland in 1934 to perform the title role in Verdi\u2019s Otello. Already sold out, this performance will put the obscure opera company \u201con the map\u201d in the opinion of its blustery general manager, Henry Saunders.

Henry instructs his loyal assistant Max to see to Tito\u2019s every whim while the star is resting in his hotel suite prior to the evening production. Tito, also known as \u201cIl Stupendo,\u201d arrives with his hot-tempered wife Maria, bringing with him a reputation for pursuing attractive women.

Maggie, Henry\u2019s daughter and Max\u2019s girlfriend, shows up at Tito\u2019s suite to get an autograph from the famed tenor, for whom she admits she has a huge crush. Somehow, Maggie ends up hiding in Tito\u2019s bedroom closet while waiting to meet him and get his autograph. When Maria finds her there, she assumes Tito is having another affair. She angrily writes a note to Tito telling him she is leaving for good and \u201cby the time you read this, I will be gone.\u201d

When Max reveals to Tito that he himself aspires to be an opera singer, the legendary tenor gives his new friend an impromptu lesson. Max surreptitiously slips some sleeping pills into Tito\u2019s drink to help him relax and nap before his big performance, unaware that Max already has taken some.

Tito leaves the living room of the suite and finds Maria\u2019s note in the bedroom. Despairing, he tries to kill himself with a fork but is thwarted by Max, who convinces him to get some sleep. When Max later is unable to awaken Tito, he assumes the worst and gives Henry the bad news.

Agitated over the prospect of returning ticket money to the audience in the sold-out house, Henry convinces Max to assume the role of Othello in the guise of Morelli. Such a ruse can\u2019t possibly work, can it? Or can Henry and Max pull it off, save the night for the Cleveland Grand Opera Company and deal with the Tito situation after the show?

Highlights: Kirkwood Theatre Guild opens its 87th season with a side-splitting, hilarious presentation of Ken Ludwig\u2019s fabulous farce, Lend Me a Tenor. Under Nancy Crouse\u2019s studied and inspired direction, all the elements needed to make a farce effective are employed in this rousing rendition.

Other Info: Ludwig has written an impressive number of plays in his prolific career, including Moon over Buffalo, Fox on the Fairway, Baskerville and the musical Crazy for You, all of which have been performed on local stages in recent years. Lend Me a Tenor, which debuted in London\u2019s West End in 1986 and on Broadway in 1989, remains among his funniest efforts and among the finest examples of the delicate comedic art of farce.

Timing is crucial in delivering the lines for Lend Me a Tenor and pacing is of utmost importance. Crouse keeps this presentation moving at a lively clip, measured enough to set up funny moments yet fast enough to utilize the half-dozen doors on Crouse\u2019s well- appointed scenic design. With the assistance of properties manager Doris Lucy- Goodlow, that set doubles admirably for a pricy hotel suite in a Midwestern city during the Great Depression.

Costume designer Tracey Newcomb decks out her characters in some dazzling displays, slinky evening gowns for the women and a fashionable tuxedo for Henry as well as a finely pressed uniform for the pesky bellhop. Sound designer Deanna Garcia provides some suitable arias that are put to use by Tito and Max.

Todd Micali exhibits an assortment of physical pratfalls and manic movements in the pivotal role of Max. His is an hilarious portrayal which is highlighted in scenes where the character\u2019s glasses are missing, allowing for optimal door-bumping, stumbling, etc. Micali is in high-octane mode throughout.

There\u2019s splendid work as well by Tim Callahan, who seems to improve with each performance. As Tito, his reactions and confusion about mistaken identities make for several hysterical moments in the second act especially.

Scott De Broux is delightful as the imperious Henry, who is stunned to his socks when he realizes what Tito\u2019s absence will mean to the audience. \u201cThey\u2019ll want their money back!,\u201d he says in horror at the possibility. He\u2019s also in fine form exchanging barbs with Isaac Weaver, who is deliciously droll in the role of the annoying bellhop desperate to meet the world-famous opera star.

Annalise Webb is amusing as Tito\u2019s long-suffering and suspicious wife Maria, who puts in motion the series of unexpected events which propel this magnificent comedy. There\u2019s good work as well by Melody Valen Quinn as the starstruck Maggie, who encourages Max to pursue his goals while also looking for opportunities to express her love to Tito.

Kathryn Kent plays to the hilt the lusty ingenue Diana, who plans to use Tito any way she can to cash her ticket to stardom, while Annie Bayer is amusing in the role of Julia, chairwoman of the Cleveland Opera Guild, who decks herself out in a glittering dress which reminds Henry of \u201cthe Chrsyler Building.\u201d

Lend Me a Tenor works so well because Ludwig\u2019s writing is impeccably crafted, seemingly bringing every plot thread back to a common point by the two-act show\u2019s conclusion. Using all of the doors, to bathroom, kitchen, closets, hallways and adjoining rooms on the spacious set, with flair and inspired lunacy make Kirkwood Theatre Guild\u2019s rendition a fitfully funny night to remember.

Play: Lend Me a Tenor

Company: Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Venue: Reim Theatre, Kirkwood Civic Center, 111 South Geyer Road

Dates: November 9, 10, 11, 12

Tickets: $20; contact 821-9956 or ktg-onstage.org

Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.

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Ken Haller, notable pediatrician, actor, writer, singer and performer extraordinaire, unveiled his newest cabaret act last weekend at the 2017 edition of The Presenters Dolan\u2019s Gaslight Cabaret Festival.

He joked during his 75-minute performance that when contacted by Jim Dolan to do a show, he said, \u201cNo problem, I\u2019ll just dust off one of my previous acts.\u201d Nothing doing, replied Jim, I want a new one for this edition.

So, Haller devised Happy Haller Days!, a play on words, of course, but also a deeply felt observance of several holidays throughout the calendar year and what they mean to Dr. Haller, from his childhood in New York to his career as a physician in Omaha, South Carolina and St. Louis for the past 30 or so years.

Haller arrived on stage with a bright Christmas tie and stocking cap and immediately launched into an entertaining version of We Need a Little Christmas, Jerry Herman\u2019s sprightly melody from Mame.

He then showcased a droopy little fir which immediately brought to mind Charlie Brown. Ken reminisced about seeing the original presentation of A Charlie Brown Christmas on CBS-TV in 1965, with Vince Guaraldi\u2019s and Lee Mendelson\u2019s poignant Christmas Time Is Here playing in the background.

Next came a quick-paced rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas from the 1944 film, Meet Me in St. Louis, followed by an amusing turn as a little kid defiantly belting out I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, complete with a raspberry finish.

There was an affecting version of Danny Boy, the traditional and melancholy Irish ballad, for a St. Patrick\u2019s Day reflection about Haller\u2019s own cousin Patrick\u2019s death at a very tender age in the early \u201880s.

Haller frequently complimented the reliable efforts of his musical director, accompanist and pianist Martin Fox. The latter provided persuasive harmony on a number of efforts in the show, including a witty take-off of Frank Loesser\u2019s Christmas tune, Baby It\u2019s Cold Outside, titled Marty, It\u2019s Hot Outside, as Haller cajoled Fox this summer into rehearsing this act.

Dr. Haller, who has served the less fortunate in our community both in East St. Louis and for the last 20 years at Cardinal Glennon Children\u2019s Hospital, offered an affecting reflection on Independence Day with Neil Diamond\u2019s soaring salute, America, to immigrants who have built this nation on their dreams for several centuries.

His heart-on-his-sleeve political beliefs came through additionally with a Labor Day vignette, When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich, by E.Y. \u201cYip\u201d Harburg and Burton Lane, as well as Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?, another Harburg collaboration, this one with Jay Gorney, in Haller\u2019s salute to Memorial Day and Veterans Day and all of the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces through times of war and peace, including his own father.

Haller and Fox merged their musical talents with an amusing tribute to Michael Jackson\u2019s hit Thriller for a paean to Halloween, complete with Fox\u2019s maniacal laugh. A warm-hearted version of Irving Berlin\u2019s I\u2019ve Got Plenty to Be Thankful for/Count Your Blessings medley from the film Holiday Inn followed in observance of the nation\u2019s Thanksgiving celebration.

Although he admitted to missing a lyric or three along the way in his one-act presentation, Haller\u2019s ingratiating personality more than made up for any shortcomings. Exemplifying this was a tender delivery of the anthem Light from Brian Yokey\u2019s and Tom Kitt\u2019s Broadway smash, Next to Normal.

At his request, the packed house then joined Haller and his talented colleague Fox for a charming sing-along of Berlin\u2019s timeless classic, White Christmas. Sitting at center stage was a small Christmas tree which Haller has touchingly brought out every holiday season since he was a resident at Lennox Hill Hospital (I think) for lo these many years.

Thanks goes out not only to Dr. Haller and Fox but also to Jim Dolan, who directed Haller\u2019s performance and who tirelessly puts together these cabaret festivals each year.

Still to come is a performance by Katie McGrath on Friday, November 10 as well as Haller\u2019s encore presentation on Thursday, Nov. 9 and a sold-out performance by Broadway legend Emily Skinner on Nov. 11. Buy a ticket if you can to share in the vibrancy and intimacy of the theater art known as cabaret.

Cabaret: Happy Haller Days!

Company: The Presenters Dolan

Venue: Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle

Dates: November 9

Tickets: $30; contact www.GaslightCabaretFestival.com or 725-4200

Photo courtesy of Presenters Dolan

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As suggested by two related exhibitions opening today at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, art invites and often compels us to view the world in a new light, whether in Ladue \u2013 or in the Land of the Rising Sun.

\u201cLiving Proof: Drawing in 19th-Century Japan\u201d and \u201cRough Cut: Independent Japanese Animation,\u201d the exhibitions in question, both run till March 3, with the former organized by Pulitzer associate curator Tamara H. Schenkenberg and independent curator Kit Brooks and the latter by Pulitzer assistant curator Stephanie Weissberg.

Schenkenberg\u2019s exhibition centers on 70-plus preliminary pen/brush works created for use or potential use in woodblock printmaking during Japan\u2019s Edo and Meiji periods (respectively, 1603 to 1868 and 1868 to 1912). Weissberg\u2019s focuses on a trio of brief pieces of animation \u2013 two 35-millimeter films transferred to video, as well as a third digital offering \u2013 created in 1929, 1961 and 2008.

Both exhibitions illuminate the ways in which creators in their respective media produced or produce art in Japan, with Schenkenberg and Weissberg helpfully distinguishing between them and similar artwork in the Western tradition.

\u201cThese works are not \u2018studies\u2019 in the conventional sense, wherein the artist records observations from life,\u201d says Schenkenberg of \u201cLiving Proof\u201d (whose title puns on the technical art definition of proof, meaning, loosely, a preliminary woodcut or other print to ensure quality before a full run). \u201cRather, many of the works in the show mark interstitial points in the trajectory of the longer woodblock printing process. While some artists in Japan did draw from nature, in order to refine and advance their skills most artists trained by copying the works of a master artist in the studio or from a copybook, often for many years.

\u201cIt\u2019s also important to note that there\u2019s no simple term for drawing in Japanese; instead, a number of words describe the variant products of draftsmanship, based on both the work\u2019s intended function and the circumstances of its production.\u201d

Similarly, Weissberg differentiates between the three works in \u201cRough Cut\u201d \u2013 by title, The Golden Flower by Nobur\u014d \u014cfuji, Stamp Fantasy by Yoji Kuri and Daumenreise #6 Kyoto by Maya Yonosho \u2013 and the products of mainstream anime, Japanese animation ranging from the Americanized 1960s\u2019 Speed Racer to 1997\u2019s Princess Mononoke.

\u201cThese films are divergent from what many might commonly associate with anime,\u201d says Weissberg of her exhibition. \u201cThe exact definition of anime is contested among film scholars, but some would argue that the films included in \u2018Rough Cut\u2019 represent a separate lineage due to a number of factors, including the release date, format and distribution method.

\u201cDespite their differences, the films share many of the same early roots as more commercially oriented animation in Japan, including the influence of manga, or Japanese comic books and graphic novels. The films on view in \u2018Rough Cut\u2019 offer a broadened perspective on Japanese animation, providing insight into how early independent Japanese animation and attention to the material histories of paper paved the way for later experimental films.\u201d

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The two Pulitzer curators likewise provide enlightening commentary on the procedural backgrounds of their exhibitions, early and late, with Schenkenberg explaining the scarcity of prelims like those showcased in \u201cLiving Proof.\u201d The Pulitzer\u2019s brief on them states that such prelims frequently hit the circular file and that \u201csurviving examples have seldom been collected, studied or exhibited\u201d; that brief also positions \u201cLiving Proof\u201d as \u201cthe first U.S. exhibition in three decades to explore work of this kind.\u201d

Schenkenberg adds: \u201cMany of the works were destroyed as a necessary part of the printing process \u2013 a carver pasted the drawing onto a woodblock, dampened the paper to roll the top layer of fibers away and reveal the lines, and then carved into the woodblock through the paper. Other works may have been discarded as unimportant because they were viewed largely as archival rather than artistic material.

\u201cThe drawings that do survive to the present day were largely retained or salvaged by individuals that recognized their value as educational or artistic documents, including students, dealers and family members. It seems likely that some works were saved because students bound them into albums. Many of the drawings by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, for instance, appear to have come from the same album. \u2026 Additionally, some drawings survived because the print series for which they were created were never realized.\u201d

Reflecting the comparative youth of the medium on display in \u201cRough Cut,\u201d Weissberg likewise sketches the milieu in which Stamp Fantasy and Daumenreise #6 Kyoto, at least, arose.

\u201cPost-World War II, many of the production practices in Japan have mirrored those in the United States,\u201d she says. \u201cJapanese animators began using celluloid in the postwar period at the same time the industry saw a rise in major animation studios that produced relatively high-budget, feature-length films. These films employed dozens of designers and artists who helped achieve the overall project, and this practice continues today with digital films.\u201d

Ironically, the subject matter common among the works in \u201cLiving Proof\u201d sounds eerily similar to what might appear in much commercial anime today \u2013 or, for that matter, at the average U.S. cineplex. Beyond the natural environment and everyday happenings, Schenkenberg mentions \u201cscenes from brothels and the Kabuki theater, in addition to supernatural beings, [and] historical and literary figures.\u201d

She also enlarges on the procedural background to Japanese printmaking of the two historic periods involved, further suggesting the rarity of the \u201cLiving Proof\u201d works.

\u201cThe effort and time taken to create them varied by the artist or studio,\u201d Schenkenberg says. \u201cSome artists in the Edo period produced as many as 40,000 designs, while others produced 10,000 or fewer. It also depended on if multiple people were involved in creating a single drawing \u2013 sometimes the master artist would produce a design and pass it to a senior pupil, who would fill in any details left blank.\u201d

Finally, she also partly explains the curious, if fortuitous, way in which some of the exhibition\u2019s art survived \u2013 itself suggestive of an intriguing cultural divergence between the U.S. and its Pacific ally.

\u201cSome of these works were mounted in albums, which gives art historians insight into how they were viewed,\u201d Schenkenberg says. \u201cRather than public spaces such as museums, art in Japan was typically viewed in private spaces. The preservation of works in an album format supports this type of localized and occasion-specific viewing, as albums allow for more intimate interaction with the drawings.\u201d

Now, thanks to the Pulitzer, those works have, in an ironic way, traveled 180 degrees \u2013 from album viewing in Japan to museum viewing here.

Pulitzer Arts Foundation, 3716 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, 314-754-1850, pulitzerarts.org

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"}, {"id":"90c99df2-e22e-5642-b624-272c50a97743","type":"article","starttime":"1509642000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-11-02T12:00:00-05:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"dining":"arts-and-culture/dining"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Dinner & A Show: Salina\u2019s 2","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/article_90c99df2-e22e-5642-b624-272c50a97743.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-salina-s/article_90c99df2-e22e-5642-b624-272c50a97743.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-salina-s/article_90c99df2-e22e-5642-b624-272c50a97743.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Mabel Suen","prologue":"Situated in St. Louis\u2019 Bevo neighborhood since August, Salina\u2019s 2 features an extensive menu of Mexican-American favorites and original dishes.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["salina's 2","mexican restaurant","dinner & a show","bevo"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"413e81f1-d6e3-5df6-811f-13270187b30d","description":"","byline":"Photo by Mabel Suen","hireswidth":1763,"hiresheight":1175,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/13/413e81f1-d6e3-5df6-811f-13270187b30d/59f72d5feb6b4.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"507","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/13/413e81f1-d6e3-5df6-811f-13270187b30d/59f72d5fe9d9c.image.jpg?resize=760%2C507"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/13/413e81f1-d6e3-5df6-811f-13270187b30d/59f72d5fe9d9c.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/13/413e81f1-d6e3-5df6-811f-13270187b30d/59f72d5fe9d9c.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/13/413e81f1-d6e3-5df6-811f-13270187b30d/59f72d5fe9d9c.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C682"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"90c99df2-e22e-5642-b624-272c50a97743","body":"
\"Salinas2HiRes-02.jpg\"
Salinas2HiRes-02.jpg

Situated in St. Louis\u2019 Bevo neighborhood since August, Salina\u2019s 2 features an extensive menu of Mexican-American favorites and original dishes, as well as a host of authentic Mexican fare.

The original Salina\u2019s opened in 1992 in Chesterfield. Since then, a few other siblings have opened and closed \u2013 one in Town and Country and another in St. Peters. Salina\u2019s 2 fills the space once occupied by Bosnia Gold, with an occupancy permit for 128 inside and another 38 on a pet-friendly patio. Inside, wood-paneled ceilings and stone walls are accented with festive decorations.

Joel Castillo and Shirley Walla co-own Salina\u2019s 2, and Castillo (a native of Tamaulipas, Mexico) relates that it sports an entirely new menu distinct from that of its Chesterfield counterpart.

\u201cWe offer taco salads, chimichangas, burritos, enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas and fajitas, and then we have things like tripe, menudo, [tacos al] pastor and barbacoa, tortas and whole fried tilapia that Americans might not be as familiar with,\u201d says Castillo, who creates Salina\u2019s 2 dishes using recipes from his mother and grandmother.

Each meal begins with complimentary chips and house-made bean dip \u2013 a blend of pinto beans, melted cheese, butter and nacho salsa. Castillo prides himself on making everything from scratch, including frying tortilla shells to order for his crispy tacos.

Highlights from the menu include pollo feliz with grilled chicken breast, shrimp, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. Another popular pick, parrillada, incorporates steak and chicken fajita meat, chorizo sausage, avocado, queso fresco, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. Additional specialties include chile relleno and sun devil pork featuring grilled, seasoned pork tenderloin topped with sweet jalape\u00f1o sauce. All of those dishes sound incredibly tempting as gustatory precursors to a viewing of Titus Androgynous from the YoungLiars collective.

From the Salina\u2019s 2 bar, patrons can choose from soft drinks, Mexican and domestic beers, wine, cocktails and more. Specials throughout the week include discounted margaritas and micheladas \u2013 what Castillo claims as the best cure for a hangover \u2013 with beer, spicy and sour sauces, tomato juice, lime and chili powder. Also, a happy hour menu\u2019s coming soon. [LN dingbat]

Salina\u2019s 2, 4601 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-696-8877

"}, {"id":"e5896a56-d344-5939-918e-b2a1d68eff6f","type":"article","starttime":"1509642000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-11-02T12:00:00-05:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"columns":"arts-and-culture/columns"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Art & Soul: Heather Bennett","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/article_e5896a56-d344-5939-918e-b2a1d68eff6f.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/art-soul-heather-bennett/article_e5896a56-d344-5939-918e-b2a1d68eff6f.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/art-soul-heather-bennett/article_e5896a56-d344-5939-918e-b2a1d68eff6f.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Bryan A. Hollerbach","prologue":"At a glance, the beribboned rectangular solid looks less like an enigmatic gift than an outsize ice cube darkened by a black background.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["art & soul","heather bennett"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"fe24e924-4413-505a-8519-aaaed38193ef","description":"","byline":"Image courtesy of Heather Bennett","hireswidth":1762,"hiresheight":1176,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e2/fe24e924-4413-505a-8519-aaaed38193ef/59f8d0a58264e.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"507","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e2/fe24e924-4413-505a-8519-aaaed38193ef/59f8d0a58184a.image.jpg?resize=760%2C507"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e2/fe24e924-4413-505a-8519-aaaed38193ef/59f8d0a58184a.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e2/fe24e924-4413-505a-8519-aaaed38193ef/59f8d0a58184a.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"683","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e2/fe24e924-4413-505a-8519-aaaed38193ef/59f8d0a58184a.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C683"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"e5896a56-d344-5939-918e-b2a1d68eff6f","body":"
\"Ice
Ice Cube Woman

At a glance, the beribboned rectangular solid looks less like an enigmatic gift than an outsize ice cube darkened by a black background.

At more than a glance, though, it looks much, much colder than any mere chunk of frozen\u00a0agua \u2013 degrees-Kelvin cold.

The perplexing present in question forms the focus of a 2015 piece of art by St. Louisan Heather Bennett titled Patron for Stan, a 65- by 44-inch digital photograph printed on treated all-cotton paper. It numbers among an octet of similar works by her in an exhibition entitled \u201cPhotos of Gifts\u201d on display at Clayton\u2019s Bruno David Gallery.

The dreadful frigidity of Patron for Stan derives, ironically enough, from an element of indisputable fire: the visage of a raven-tressed beauty printed, whether actually or virtually, on the gift\u2019s wrapping paper near its base.

The woman\u2019s head rests or appears to rest on the left triceps of a shirtless, bearded rake. (Asleep? Dead? Who knows?) Moreover, her expression conjures that of some mid-20th-century Hollywood film noir diva \u2013 she rather resembles the now-little-known American actress Carol Ohmart \u2013 albeit a diva ready to defenestrate someone. Her heavily lipsticky mouth has congealed into a terrifying scowl, while her kohled feline eyes have become a glare sharp enough to lase a girder.

The woman behind that woman earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking from Washington University in St. Louis; Bennett then earned a Master of Fine Arts in painting from New York City\u2019s Hunter College. She currently serves as a lecturer at Washington University.

Unfortunately, regarding the manifold mysteries posed by Patron for Stan, including its title, Bennett (as is an artist\u2019s prerogative) provides few clues in reflecting on the work and its related works.

\u201cPhotographic images have traditionally depicted space, revealing people and objects,\u201d she states. \u201cThey are the stuff of illusion. They are also things.

\u201cAt the intersection of these identities is a kind of gooey vacillation, as we look at and through a photographic image in contemporary culture. This work seems to depict exactly what the series title, \u2018Photos of Gifts,\u2019 describes.

\u201cHowever, objects are often wrapped with magazine images complicating illusionistic space, as well as obscuring object identities. Women acting as objects for magazine advertisements are subtly transformed here to the focused subjects of the images, only to then be flattened, inextricable from the object portrait, as they are wrapped around that object and tied with a bow. The subject/object reversal of the female form gets a seasickening treatment.

\u201cThe small act of wrapping a gift becomes a potent metaphor, exploding within its supposedly quiet, often assumed-to-be-feminine place.\u201d

It bears noting that those wishing to contemplate Patron for Stan and its seven related pieces at their real size have roughly a week yet to do so. Bennett\u2019s \u201cPhotos of Gifts,\u201d which opened Oct. 14 at the Bruno David Gallery, will continue to run there till Nov. 11.

In the context both of Halloween and of the mysteries implicit in that exhibition, some visitors may have to strain not to pack a deerstalker and a meerschaum.

To learn more about our featured artist, visit heatherbennett.com.

St. Louis-area artists who wish to be considered for future installments of this monthly department of Ladue News should email inquiries to bhollerbach@laduenews.com with “Art and Soul” in the subject line.

"} ]