The Weekend Starts Today

April Foolin' Edition

A man sitting. Calvin Arsenia performs a quartet of entirely different shows, two each night, this weekend at Outburst KC. (Contributed | Jenny Wheat)

Saturday is April Fool’s Day, meaning your social media feed will be filled with all sorts of ridiculous lies. Don’t believe any of them. Do believe, however, that there’s a ton of fun stuff to do around town this weekend.

Unless, that is, you like sports. Beyond rooting for former K-State basketball coaches in the Final Four, it’s a thin week for fans. You can can watch the Missouri Mavericks play hockey, with a game against the Wichita Thunder on Sunday. Beyond that, though, you’ll just wait around for the Royals season to begin on Monday in Minnesota.

Hockey, weirdly enough, also plays a role in the week’s biggest family event, Disney on Ice at the Sprint Center. In the show, Joy, Sadness, and the rest of the personified emotions from Pixar’s “Inside Out” try to help young Riley win a big hockey game. Spoiler alert: You should wear a sweater because it will be chilly inside the arena. Also, Riley will probably win. It is Disney, after all.

“The Sleeping Beauty,” being a fairly tale, would also be great for kids, albeit those of a certain age. The Tchaikovsky classic, among the world’s most-loved ballets, opens Friday night at the Kauffman Center for an eight-performance run. Expect to enjoy KCB’s now-signature sparkle and spectacle, albeit in a subtler form.

Another cool event for kids, the KU Powwow & Indigenous Culture Festival, happens on Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas. The educational event features a full slate of speakers for grown-ups, including Elizabeth Kronk Warner on tribal water quality and Adrienne Keene-Wild on cultural appropriation and stereotypes. But there will be plenty of less weighty stuff for kids, too. Child-friendly activities include all-day crafts, beading classes, storytelling by Ron Brave, and “wilderness” treks around the Lied Center to teach the young ones about the local flora and fauna.

This week we have a pair of interesting musical hybrids. “The Kansas City Chorale: Sacred Choral Works of Duke Ellington” on Friday night, for instance. The chorale will join with The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra for an unusual performance of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts, a series of rarely-performed works blending jazz and gospel. Check out this video to get a sense of what the show will sound like.

Another uniquely American blend, this time of ragtime and showtunes, is happening on Friday night at JCCC when the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra performs “You’re a Grand Old Rag: George M. Cohan’s Broadway.” Conducted by Rick Benjamin, the 11-piece PRO will mix strings, woodwinds and brass to recreate “America’s Original Music” live on stage. Paragon has appeared on NPR and the BBC, and their recordings serve as the outdoor theme music played at the Main Street, U.S.A. feature at Disneyland and Disneyworld. It doesn’t get any more American than that.

It’s a spectacular week for classical music in KC. Appropriately enough for an April Fool’s weekend, The Folly is your place to be. Friday night, thanks to the Harriman-Jewell Series, you can see violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter in recital. One of the world’s most acclaimed virtuosos, the recital will mark her third appearance in KC, her second with longtime collaborator, pianist Lambert Orkis. Their performance of Mozart’s sonata for violin and piano in A major is sure to be a highlight.

The next night, also at The Folly, you can catch one of the world’s great pianists, Fabio Bidini, presented by The Friends of Chamber Music. Bidini, winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and famed for a fiery, florid style, will perform a program including Beethoven and Debussy. Only a fool would miss it.

Or, for a bigger, brassier classical sound, catch the globetrotting American Brass Quintet at the Lied Center. The Ensemble-in-Residence at The Juilliard School since 1987, winners of lots of prestigious awards, ABQ offers a big, regal sound with impeccable chops. Here’s a sample of what to expect.

Of course, the pop audience is more interested in virtuosity on guitar. We’ve got a pair of six-string virtuosos coming to town this week. George Thorogood and the Destroyers always put on a raucous show. They’ll do that tonight, Wednesday, at The Uptown.

Tomorrow night, Adrian Belew, famed for profoundly experimental guitar work performs at Knuckleheads. He’s played with the likes of King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Talking Heads and David Bowie. There’s more rock on Thursday night, too, when Obama-era, pop-punk stars Blink 182 play Silverstein arena. The Naked and Famous, likely to be neither, open the show. Christians who love rap, a niche market if ever there was one, will enjoy NF at The Granada in Lawrence.

If you like your music live and local, check out the Homegrown Buzz Showcase on Saturday, no fooling, featuring more than thirty bands performing live at various small venues around Power & Light. The Philistines and Various Blonde will be highlights of the day-long event.

To enjoy more local talent – and a guy who may not stay strictly local for long – catch young harpist and vocalist Calvin Arsenia. He’ll perform a quartet of entirely different shows, two each night, this weekend at Outburst KC.

If you’re a fool for live theater, this week is packed. The musical “She Loves Me”  is still at MTH. As is “Drunks” by local playwright Pete Bakely, which closes Friday night. “Eclipsed,” at The Unicorn closes on Sunday. Likewise it’s your last weekend to see The KC Rep’s “Constellations.”

You have a couple of more weeks to see The Rep’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” though. That one is on the UMKC campus. “Avenue Q,” the wildly popular musical puppet show, is being presented by MTKC in Shawnee. “Tennessee Playboy,” a redneck retelling of “Playboy of the Western World” opens at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. This week’s biggest theater event, though, is probably “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” starting its highly anticipated week-long run at the Music Hall.

Nothing makes more sense on April Fool’s weekend than comedy. Eleanor Kerrigan, an Andrew Dice Clay protégée, performs at Stanford’s. She comes from a big family in South Philly and jokes about it. You might know Jon Reep from his brief, but memorable role as Raymus, the weed-loving hick farmer in “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” or his winning stint on season five of “Last Comic Standing.” The biggest comedy name, though, is Paula Poundstone, laughter stalwart, author and frequent panelist on NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.” She’ll be at The Midland on Friday night. That should be enough April foolin’ for anyone.

—Hampton Stevens writes about the arts and entertainment for regional and national publications. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with his pit bull, Ginger. Follow him @HamptonStevens.


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