Downtown A&E scene to roar into March like a lion

‘Rigoletto’ will be presented by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for four performances beginning Saturday at the Kauffman Center. (Photo courtesy of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.)

As we round the corner from February into March, Downtown KC will welcome an eclectic week of arts and entertainment that features the Auto Show, the Broadway tour of Finding Neverland; diva Kathleen Battle; First Friday, Lorde, the Lyric Opera and Rigoletto; the MIAA and the start of March Madness; and, well, the return of Tanya Tucker … and those are just for starters during this thrilling week ahead, Monday to Sunday, Feb. 26-March 4, including:

Auto Show – Hundreds of new vehicles all in one place, classic cars, food trucks, a beer & wine garage, and an opening night concert by Blue Oyster Cult and John Michael Montgomery will rock Kansas City this week. The Auto Show is set for Wednesday through Sunday at Bartle Hall.

First Friday – one of the KC’s hottest events of the winter – returns this Friday with a sizzling collection arts and cultural experiences throughout the Crossroads Arts District and the 18th & Vine Jazz District, PLUS at a special Bricks, Brews & Blues event – featuring live blues performed by Jason Vivone & The Billy Bats beginning at 5 p.m. Friday at Union Station, and a First Friday (Short) Film Festival that begins at 6:30 p.m. at the MTH Theater in Crown Center. In addition, check out one country’s most complete vintage marketplaces – First Friday Warehouse Weekends – in the West Bottoms on Friday through Sunday.

Hallmark Visitors Center presents Pop Art – Then & Nowa free exhibit that features artists who were key figures in the 1960s, along with artists who were influenced by them, including works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Keith Haring, now through June 16.

KC Public Library is featuring the popular exhibit Cattle, Cowboys and Culture for just three more weeks. It explores a time, roughly a century and a half ago, as trains hauling cattle and cowboys brought the real west from Amarillo, Texas, to Kansas City. Return trips carried a trove of materials to Amarillo – canned and dry goods, chemicals, furniture, and fashionable clothing – and Kansas City’s influence there ultimately extended to banking, education, architecture, and art. The exhibit – which has attracted nearly 25,000 visitors since its opening in September – continues through March 18 at the Central Library.

Kathleen Battle, one of the great divas of our time, returns to Downtown KC for a spiritual journey aboard the Underground Railroad on Friday at the Kauffman Center.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will feature three stunning performances this week, including:

  • Kathleen Battle makes a long-awaited return to Kansas City, courtesy of the Harriman-Jewell Series, to perform Underground Railroad—A Spiritual Journey, a moving program of traditional spirituals with choir and piano, with narration drawn from the writings of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. The journey will begin at 7 p.m. Friday in Helzberg Hall.
  • Rigoletto – Lyric Opera of Kansas City presents this masterpiece by Giuseppe Verdi, which is regarded as possibly the most beautiful; definitely the most tragic of operatic stories. Sung in Italian with English subtitles, Rigoletto opens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Kauffman Theatre for the first of four performances.
  • Science of Sound – Explore the exciting world of sound with the Kansas City Symphony and members of Science City’s STEAM Team! How is sound made? How is it heard? Learn all of this and more as the Symphony fills Helzberg Hall – at 2 p.m. Sunday – with vibrations, soundwaves and decibels.

Knuckleheads Saloon – the hottest honky tonk in town – features a eight shows this week, including Gaelic Storm at 8 p.m. Wednesday; Tanya Tucker at 8:30 p.m. Friday; and Outlaw Jim & The Whiskey Benders at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

MIAA Men’s Basketball Championship returns this weekend to the friendly confines of Municipal Auditorium. The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association tournament begins its first round on Tuesday at four campus sites. MIAA action moves to Downtown KC for quarter-final action starting at noon Friday; continuing with the semi-finals beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday; and peaking with the championship game at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Midland will feature two hot tickets this week, including:

  • Ganja White Night featuring Subtronics and Dirt Monkey at 8 p.m. Friday
  • AWOL Nation with Nothing But Thieves and Irontom at 7 p.m. Sunday

Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City will present a Family & Friends Concert of orchestral favorites at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church, 205 E. 9th St.

Lorde will be in Downtown this Saturday for her North American tour stop at the Sprint Center.

Sprint Center will feature GRAMMY® Award-winning, multi-platinum chart-dominating artist Lorde at 7 p.m. Saturday with special guests Run the Jewels and Tove Styrke.

Stanfords Comedy Club brings the laughs to Downtown from its new location at 831 Walnut. Comedian JD Rowland will headline an 18 & older show this week – beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. And, Open Mic is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sundays. For ticket information, visit Stanfords.

The Truman will be rocking this week with two HUGE shows, including Coin on its North American Tour at 8 p.m. Wednesday; and The Dollop for a sold-out performance at 7 p.m. Friday.

John Singer Sargent’s masterpiece ‘Gassed’ is on exhibit now June 3 at the National WWI Museum.

WWI Museum – John Singer Sargent’s incredible masterpiece Gassed is truly one of the giants of the art world at more than nine feet tall by 21 feet long. The landmark painting is the focal point in this special centennial exhibition – that is on exhibition through June 3 in the Wylie Gallery – that also includes reproductions of many of his study drawings and historical and contemporary objects on detection and protection from chemical warfare.

The Kansas City premiere of this touring Broadway sensation will unfold Tuesday through Sunday at the Music Hall.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which feature four productions this week, including:

  • Finding Neverland – The Broadway touring production of the film and stage sensation will light up the Downtown theater scene from Tuesday to Sunday at the Music Hall.
  • Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt’s popular novel comes to life on stage contemplating the benefits and burdens of never growing older will open Tuesday at The Coterie at Crown Center.
  • Broadway’s Golden Age – Beginning with Oklahoma and ending with The Sound of Music, the 1940s & 50’s was Broadway’s Golden Age. Never was there a time when so many great composers contributed to the American Musical, and they will be celebrated in this special presentation that opens Thursday at the MTH Theater at Crown Center.
  • It’s Delovely – De-Lightful, De-Licious, De-Lovely lyrics abound in this original cabaret tribute to two of the wittiest songwriters of all time – Cole Porter and Noel Coward – which opens Friday at the Quality Hill Playhouse.

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at