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Six Theatrical Things To Do This Weekend In Kansas City

Greg Boege

“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” wrote William Shakespeare, suggesting that life may be a theatrical work in progress.

Whether humanity comprises the cast of a cosmic play – heavy stuff – this weekend does offer genuine opportunities to embrace the drama, both onstage and off.

But wait: If the entire planet is really a proscenium arch, how can anyone ever be truly offstage? Oh, Shakespeare, you rascal!

1. Union Station’s Open House Celebration

The downtown stage is set for a most theatrical bash honoring the 100th anniversary of Union Station. On Saturday, the commemorative mix includes family activities (face painting), history lectures (African American Porters), history and themed films (Union Station Massacre documentary) and live music (the Dave Stephens Band and Lonnie McFadden). On Sunday, what’s being called Kansas City’s Largest Yoga Gathering will start bending as one at 10 a.m., followed by costumed actors telling the Union Station story and a larger-than-life opportunity to witness the Kansas City Chiefs beat the New York Jets (yes, that’s a prediction) on the Union Station Extreme Screen. Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

2. Mysterioso: A Magical Night

Turn up the footlights as high as you like, but there’s nothing brighter than the feeling you’ll get from hearing “Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious” from “Mary Poppins” in this Kansas City Symphony Pops Concert with enchantment as the star attraction. Billed as “part Vegas and part old school variety show,” audiences will be treated to illusions and comedy, as well as the classic TV sitcom themes to “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Bewitched.” Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.; Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; Tickets: $30-$85.

3. The Who & The What

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar offers his take on a family at odds over faith and values in his story of a Pakistani-American writer attempting to finish her novel about connecting one’s modern life with one’s heritage. Would you believe there’s a conservative father? And a sister who discovers the divisive manuscript? Confrontation and comedy ensue. Thursday (8 p.m.), Friday (8 p.m.), Saturday (2 and 8 p.m.), Sunday (2 p.m.); Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Copaken Stage, 1 H and R Block Way, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $20-$59.

4. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson’s cautionary tale of a curious scientist who foolishly unleashes his dark side hits the boards with four different actors (including a female) taking turns portraying the murderous Mr. Hyde. Now that’s a lot of bad behavior. Here’s hoping that there’s enough scenery for everyone to chew on. I kid! Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; City Theatre of Independence, 201 N. Dodgion St., Independence, Mo.; tickets: $11, $12.

5. Going to the Chapel

There’s nothing more dramatic than a teenager falling in love, unless it’s a teenager getting his or her heart stomped on. Call it an over-the-top tie when the nostalgia-loving performers at the Chestnut Fine Arts Theatre present the opening weekend of Going to the Chapel, a musical revue of 1950s and early ’60s rock ’n’ roll hits about the yanked-around heartstrings of the once-upon-a-time high-school crowd, including It’s My Party, My Boyfriend’s Back, Peggy Sue and Venus. Ah, youth. Thursday-Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.); Chestnut Fine Arts Theatre, 234 N. Chestnut St., Olathe, Kan.; tickets: $22, $25.

6. Great Pumpkin Smash

Take pumpkins and add chimpanzees, orangutans, rhinos, elephants, hippos, tigers, Nikita the Polar Bear and other people-pleasing critters at the Kansas City Zoo, and you’ve got the Great Pumpkin Smash – along with hurl, crash, slam and chomp. In case you’re wondering, zoo animals love to eat and play with pumpkins, often at the same time. It’s officially called animal enrichment. But you can call it theater. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Kansas City Zoo in Swope Park, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: regular zoo admission.

Brian McTavish follows popular culture in the belief that the search for significance can lead anywhere. Brian explains, "I've written articles and reviews ... reviewed hundreds of concerts, films and plays. And the thing is, these high arts all sprang from the pop culture of their day. Don't forget: Shakespeare was once Spielberg."
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