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6 Laudatory Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Paramount Pictures

It’s important to show appreciation. That includes showing up to laud cherished entertainment heroes and/or concepts when the opportunity arises.

Sometimes, the heroes are able to appear in person to receive their due. Other times, worthy stand-ins embodying the notion of the original’s excellence must suffice.

This weekend offers chances to be laudatory in both categories. Lay it on thick, because when we acknowledge what we admire, we bring out the best in ourselves.

1. Gladys Knight and the O’Jays

For a quarter century, Gladys Knight has continued to perform in the soul music spotlight without her Pips. I don’t know about you, but I miss ’em. Still, the suave backup singers who helped Knight forge such 1970s radio staples as “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” will be there in spirit when she performs on a commendable double bill with the O’Jays, whose vintage r&b chart-busters include the diametrically opposed “Love Train” and “Backstabbers.” Let’s hear it for artistic complexity.

Saturday, 8 p.m.; Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $59-$125.

2. Classic Albums Live: Dark Side of the Moon

Rightly acknowledged as one of the all-time great rock albums, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” remains a towering work that continues to intrigue and inspire. If listening to the record with headphones on – yes, headphones, not earbuds – is no longer enough, fans can reabsorb the band’s 1973 sonic opus as a concert event by Classic Albums Live. The touring group consists of a dozen or so exacting musicians who eschew tribute-laden theatrics (like pretend accents and period costumes) to immerse themselves in the mind-expanding music, including an additional set of the Floyd’s greatest hits. Far out.

Saturday, 8 p.m.; Yardley Hall at Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan. Tickets: $18-$35.

3. Almost Kiss

It’s said that ‘close’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Still, ardent followers of Almost Kiss might argue that the local Kiss tribute band comes more than close enough in capturing the essence of the real rockin’ thing. Experience the faithfully rendered melodies, carefully staged mayhem and authentically applied face makeup of Almost Kiss in an intimate venue that further promises a barbecue buffet and table drink service. Now that’s something to applaud!

7 p.m. Saturday, Paradise Playhouse Dinner Theater and Events Center, 101 Spring St., Excelsior Springs, Mo.; tickets: $32 (includes dinner).

4. Chris Hardwick

Once upon a time, nerds were nerds. Today, they’re heroes, whose penchants for idiosyncratic pop culture entertainments often appear to drive common tastes. Self-acknowledged nerd Chris Hardwick is happy to dish on Nerd World as part of his “Funcomfortable” stand-up comedy tour. What’s the nerdiest thing that Hardwick – also an engaging podcaster and TV personality – has done in show biz? Maybe hosting fan-crazed “Talking Dead” discussion groups immediately following zombie-crazed broadcasts of “The Walking Dead” on AMC. All hail the conquering nerd!

Friday, 8 p.m.; Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $37.50.

5. ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

Timeworn conventions are fascinatingly celebrated even as they’re made expert fun of in this loving satire of the American musical comedy, whose worshipful narrator hangs on every entertainingly punctured cliché of a fictional 1928 musical. Enticingly touted as a “comedy within a musical,” expect “The Drowsy Chaperone” to make your toe tap and your funny bone rattle.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Just Off Broadway Theater, 3051 Central St. in Penn Valley Park, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: 10-$15.

​6. Screenland at the Symphony: Star Trek 2009

The successful reboot of the “Star Trek” movie franchise in recent years has inspired orchestras across the universe to throw in with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. The Kansas City Symphony is part of the trend, performing composer Michael Giacchino’s dynamic score for the 2009 sci-fi blockbuster “Star Trek” in synchronized accompaniment to big-screen showings of the film over two nights.

If you don’t already have a ticket to Saturday’s perhaps sold-out show, you can call the symphony box office to see what they might be able to do. Or you can beam down to the Kauffman Center wearing Spock ears and flashing the split-finger “Live Long and Prosper” Vulcan hand sign (which not everyone can do) in hopes of snagging an extra ticket. If nothing else, your personal commitment will be appreciated.

Thursday and Saturday, 7 p.m.; Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $50-$85 (symphony box office: 816-471-0400).

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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