With friends like these…The Fabulous Fox Theatre was aglow with double the star power during the recent opening-night party for Rent. The cast of La bohème, performed by Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and the cast of Rent, performed this month at The Fox, got together to meet their ‘counterparts,’ despite the nearly two centuries that separate their settings. Rent composer Jonathan Larson based his rock musical on the Puccini masterpiece, La bohème (set in 1830).

    Renowned installation artist Allison Smith will serve as the inaugural Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Visiting Artist in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University. Smith is known for creating large-scale works that critically engage popular forms of historical reenactment. She has exhibited in venues throughout the U.S. and abroad, including Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and Arario Gallery in Cheonan, South Korea. Smith will make numerous visits this fall to participate in courses here. Her work will culminate with a solo exhibition at the Kemper Art Museum in spring 2010.

    Hats off to this year’s 2009 Legacy Award honorees: Louise Golman (awarded posthumously) for establishing planned gifts with the Jewish Federation of St. Louis; Boys and Girls Town of Missouri for excellence in its planned giving program; and Maher Group-Merrill Lynch’s Jim Maher, in recognition of his work as a for-profit gift planning adviser. In its second year, the Legacy Awards recognize the interaction between donor, adviser and charity necessary to establish charitable gifts.

    Photographer Rob West rich has unveiled his newest venture: a fine art photography gallery on the upper floor of his Clayton studio. This week’s grand opening also featured the premiere of Westrich’s ‘The Raptor Series,’ black and white photographs of birds of prey taken at the World Bird Sanctuary.

    Youngsters at the Uni versity City Children’s Center (UCCC) are spending the summer watching their garden grow. With ‘seed money’ from the Ladue Garden Club, the kids and their grown-up supervisors are tending to a vegetable and herb garden, that includes lettuce, collard greens, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, basil and dill. During a recent lunch, the children prepared a freshly harvested lettuce salad and cooked fresh collard greens. Also on the menu: broccoli dipped in dill sauce. 

    Claytonians are also a-bloom these days. Land that once housed the Clayton Child Center and Clayton Academy is now the site of the Clayton Com munity Garden, an effort led by residents to beautify land in their neighborhood. Earlier this month, some 60 volunteers planted more than a dozen plots, with seeds and supplies donated by local businesses and expert advice from master gardeners. 

    Dog days of summer, literally…The Manors at Williamsburg Pet Hotel in Ballwin is kicking off summer by opening the area’s first-ever pets-only pool. For a small fee, your four-legged friend can work on his breaststroke or frolic with other patrons (all supervised by people, of course)!

    And for us humans, Hyatt Regency St. Louis River front is taking the ‘stay-cation’ upscale. To celebrate the completion of its $63-million renovation, the luxury chain is offering a nightly rate of $63 on the first 63 rooms booked each night through Sept. 1.

    Ladue author and psychologist Dr. Paul Marin Midden has rolled out his latest thriller, Toxin. The follow-up to Midden’s 2007 fictional debut, Absolution, Toxin attempts to answer the most frightening of post-9/11 questions: Could the U.S. withstand an assault from within?

    Congrats to local entrepreneur Barth Holohan, recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award by Washington Uni versity’s Brown School of Social Work. Holohan, is the founder and president of Continuum and co-founder and co-owner of Family Partners Adult Day Services. He received both master of social work and master of business administration degrees from W.U. in 2001.

    Everything’s coming up roses at Wish Boutique in Ladue, where a new skin line recently debuted to rave reviews. Rose Radiance by Terry uses rosebuds and rose essence in creams, masques and lotions, and the prices are supposed to be pretty rose-y too!