Roll the highlight reel for a spellbinding week in Arts & Entertainment – featuring the Lyric Opera, the return of First Friday festivities, the seasonal return of KC Crossroads at Grinders; Merle Jam at Knuckleheads; and the 20th anniversary of Rent – one of nine theatrical productions in the Big Town – from Monday to Sunday, April 29-May 5:
First Friday – KC’s coolest night of the season – is set for Friday with a sizzling collection of arts and cultural experiences throughout Downtown, including:
- City Market presents Be a Part of the Art, showcasing local artists who will demo their techniques and exhibit their works every First Friday through December from 6-9 p.m. in Pavilion 1 in City Market Square.
- Crossroads Arts District featuring arts organizations, galleries, studios, and a wide variety of local businesses in a celebration of local, regional and national artists and live entertainment from 5-9 p.m.
- 18th & Vine is a cultural experience of music, art, food, and shopping on First Fridays year ’round. Shop local artists and a diverse array of food trucks from 4-9 p.m. in and around the Museums of 18th & Vine Atrium.
- First Friday Film Festival – A free, short film festival that begins after most of the galleries have closed. Doors to the venue and bar open at 6:30 p.m., and the screening begins at 7:30. Seating is first come, first served at the MTH Theater at Crown Center.
- Urbana First Friday – Come eat, drink, hear live music, see public art displays and more during this uniquely Kansas City experience beginning at 5 p.m. Friday in the heart of the Power & Light District
- Warehouse Weekends – one of the finest vintage marketplaces in the country – flourishes every First Friday weekend (Friday through Sunday) in the West Bottoms.
- Mac Powell and The Family Reunion – Come prepared for a foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’ night of musical magic, as the live show features sing-along Gospel, Country, and American Rock songs beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday.
- Rodney Crowell – The two-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter will perform live at 8 p.m. Friday, as part of the Americana Series, presented the Folly and 90.9 The Bridge.
- KC Burlesque Festival – The 9th annual extravaganza will feature the best of the best in variety and performance with Fire, Aerial, Sideshow, and, of course, Burlesque beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
KC Crossroads – The 2019 Downtown outdoor concert season officially gets under way with week with Dolewite in a Free Friday performance at 8 p.m. Friday, and Jon Anderson of YES at 8 p.m. Saturday in the East Crossroads.
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway. This week, featuring 10 transformative performances, including:
- I Could Have Danced All Night – Make plans now for a free happy hour performance of dance-inspired pieces by Kansas City Symphony performers. Cash bars open at 5 p.m. Tuesday; and the one-hour performance begins at 6 p.m. in Helzberg Hall.
- National Geographic Live presents photographer Stephen Wilkes and dramatic five-year mission to raise $6 million toward the restoration of the south side of the island. This remarkable journey will be shared at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.
- The Pearl Fishers – PASSION. BETRAYAL. VENGEANCE. JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE. The Lyric Opera of Kansas City presents the sensuous staging of Bizets exotic pre-Carmen classic that explodes with expressive patterns and extravagant colors created by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Friday and the closing act at 2 p.m. Sunday in Kauffman Theatre.
- UMKC Finale – Conservatory Orchestra and Choirs: This concert celebrates Dr. Robert Olson’s distinguished 50-year career and his contributions to the UMKC Conservatory. Don’t miss it! Join the Conservatory Orchestra and Conservatory choirs, directed by Robert Olson and Robert Bode, respectively. The season-closing performance begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in Helzberg Hall.
- Summer in the City – ‘I heard it through the grapevine’ that the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra is closing the season with a stone cold stunner; great Motown hits pouring out of our sizzling big band. It’s going to be a Heat Wave … beginning 8 p.m. Friday in Helzberg Hall.
- Celebrating 60 Years – The Kansas City Civic Orchestra will return to Helzberg Hall for the final concert of its 60th consecutive season of offering quality orchestral concerts to the Kansas City metro area beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday.
- Youth Symphony of Kansas City celebrates 60 Magical Years with two performances on Sunday, including its intermediate and preparatory ensembles, the Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Michelle Davis and the Debut Orchestra, conducted by Sheri Cain and Amanda Kremer, at 3 p.m., and eatures the advanced ensembles – Symphony Orchestra and Academy Orchestra – and the world premiere of City Beautiful by Ingrid Stölzel (in celebration of the Youth Symphony’s 60th Anniversary) at 7 p.m. in Helzberg Hall.
Knucklehead’s – the hottest honky tonk in greater Downtown features live performances on 9 nights this week, including Merle Jam celebrations on two nights, including Merle Jam Friday featuring Jim Lauderdale, Sara Morgan Band, The Grisly Hand, and Outlaw Jim and the Whiskey Benders at 7:30 p.m. Friday, AND Merle Jam Saturday featuring Tommy Castro & The Painkillers, Amanda Fish, Orphan Jon & The Abandoned, Head Honchos and Donnie Miller at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Power & Light District – This week, Steve Aoki – an electro house musician and DJ will rock the KC Live! Block beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. Aoki broke a world record in 2014 for “most traveled musician in one year” with 161 shows in 41 countries. Opening act is Max Styler.
AND, LIVE MUSIC is on tap most nights at these Downtown clubs and joints: Blue Room Jazz Club, Black Dolphin, The Brick, Green Lady Lounge, Hush, The Majestic Jazz Club, Mutual Musicians Foundation, The Phoenix, Prohibition Hall, The Record Bar, The Ship, and throughout the Power & Light District.
LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, including nine productions this week:
- The Ballad of Lefty and Crabbe – This witty and gleefully ridiculous musical comedy won a Best of Fringe designation in 2015, packed houses in its 2017 run, and last year won several awards including Best of the Fest at the Chicago Musical Theater Festival. Performances run through Sunday, May 12 at The Living Room Theatre in the Crossroads.
- Frida … A Self Portrait – Frida Kahlo’s life is explored in this astonishing play by KCRep Fox Fellowship Resident Actor Vanessa Severo. Through beautiful physicality and raw honesty, the triumphs and challenges of the now-celebrated painter and wife of the equally-renowned artist, Diego Rivera, is unearthed in the brave new work. Frida runs through Sunday, May 19 at the Copaken Stage at H&R Block.
- Funnyhouse of a Negro, a one-act play by Adrienne Kennedy, opened off-Broadway in 1964. The winner of the Obie Award for Distinguished Play opens Friday and runs through May 18 at the Just Off-Broadway Theatre in Penn Valley Park.
- Grand Hotel – Come spend an evening, or a night or two, in the world’s most luxurious and mysterious hotel, a seamless musical that won multiple Tony and Drama Desk Awards. Performed by The Barn Players, performances run through Sunday at The Arts Asylum.
- Go, Dog, Go! – P.D. Eastman’s classic book is the foundation for this Theatre for Young America production that features highly mobile dogs careening around in cars, scooters and anything that rolls fast. The fun rolls on through Saturday, May 11 at City Stage at Union Station.
- Honky – a dark comedy about race, rhetoric and basketball shows. Presented by the Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City, it runs through Sunday, May 12 at the Gem Theater.
- Rent – The Pulitzer Prize and Tony® Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary national touring production. The Kansas City production opens Tuesday for eight performances this week at the Music Hall.
- Songbook of the 60s and 70s – Celebrate the era of Broadway when traditional musicals lived alongside innovative ones, while the jazz world evolved to reflect an eclectic culture. This nostalgic celebration opens Friday and continues through Sunday, May 26 at the Quality Hill Playhouse.
- Unreliable – Playwright Dipika Guha looks at the slippery slope regarding culpability and expectations, using absurdist humor as a powerful tool in this provocative KC Rep production runs through Sunday, May 19 at the Copaken Stage at H&R Block.