You can be this weekend, thanks to an assortment of scary, powerful and daring things to behold – unless you’re already into such things as blood drinking, towering rescues and a singularly operatic clown.
Now that would be a surprise!
Sure, he’s a little odd. Seems to take an inordinate interest in avoiding mirrors. And the way he looks at you? Sure, it can be uncomfortably mind-altering. But a blood-guzzling prince of the undead who slumbers in his earth-laden coffin by day and craftily satisfies his hellish appetite by night? Sooner or later, that’s the distinctly unpleasant surprise for those who encounter the suave vampire protagonist of Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror novel, “Dracula.” See the infamous character’s lasting influence on pop culture imaginatively adapted for the stage by screenwriter, playwright and University of Missouri-Kansas City associate professor of film Mitch Brian in this creepy world-premiere co-production of Kansas City Actors Theatre and UMKC Theatre. Garlic necklaces encouraged.
Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Spencer Theatre at UMKC Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $35 (discounts available for students and young professionals).
2. Foo Fighters
When alt-rock idol Kurt Cobain died in 1994, the amazingly influential band he spearheaded, Nirvana, went with him. No big surprise there. But only a gifted soothsayer could have predicted that the band’s drummer, Dave Grohl, would’ve gone on to front his own wildly successful rock group, Foo Fighters, switching to center-stage guitar and bashing out heavy-duty hits of his own. The unanticipated results continue with blistering songs bolstered by underlying melodicism comparable to the catchiest Nirvana odes. Proof that anyone can “Learn to Fly.”
Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $46-$96.
3. Ed Sheeran
It's possible to rock an outdoor stadium show all by your lonesome. Which is actually quite surprising, even if you happen to be mega-popular English tunesmith Ed Sheeran, who’s sold a jillion or so records over the last few years. Sheeran’s modus operandi on his 2018 North American stadium tour is to do it all by himself. It’s just him, his guitars and a smidge of self-operated high-tech electronic gadgetry that allows the singular singer/songwriter of “Thinking Out Loud,” “Shape of You” and “Photograph” to fixate tens of thousands of fans at a time on him and him alone. What, no tedious drum solo while the star attraction takes a break? Now there’s a pleasant surprise.
Saturday, 7 p.m.; Arrowhead Stadium, 1 Arrowhead Dr., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $35-$115.
The more you learn about your friendly neighborhood lineman – a person who maintains overhead electricity power lines – the more surprising it is that anyone is plucky enough to take on the job. The risk of serious injury or death is ever present, so every lineman must be well practiced in their profession. Attendant skill sets will be tested in a competitive way at the 35th annual International Lineman’s Rodeo, including the scaling of electrical poles and execution of the “hurtman rescue,” simulating the rescue of a hurt lineman (in this case, a mannequin) by another lineman. Ready … set … sweaty palms!
Saturday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame grounds, I-70 and Route 7, Bonner Springs, Kan.; admission: Free
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised when a local talent goes wide. But I’m slightly astonished whenever anyone breaks through the barriers to make it to the bigtime – especially on their own terms – and that’s the deal with Janelle Monáe, who grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. The Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter (“Many Moons,” “Tightrope,” “We Are Young”) and Hollywood actress (“Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight” and the upcoming “Harriet”) will be back home as the headliner of the “Open Spaces KC” concert on Saturday at Starlight Theatre. Monáe is scheduled to perform at 9:15 p.m., but the music gets started at 4:30 p.m. with Sankofa Danzafro, the McFadden Brothers and the Marcus Lewis Big Band.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.; Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $39.50-$150.
The sad-looking whiteface clown meanders onstage. When he opens his mouth to sing, the powerful sound that comes out is surprising to say the least. Welcome to the pleasingly puzzling world of Puddles Pity Party as personified by extraordinary baritone vocalist Mike Geier. Puddles (Geier) doesn’t speak in performance, but his moving covers of popular songs through the decades speak for him, including David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” ELO’s “Telephone Line” and Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Puddles is also a fan of the inspired musical mashup, such as his surprisingly seamless combo of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and the Who’s “Pinball Wizard.” Don’t tell me you saw that coming!
Thursday, 8 p.m.; Folly Theater, 300 W. 12 th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $30-$100.
Brian McTavish is a regular arts and culture contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him at email@example.com.