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10 Things Not To Miss In Kansas City In 2016

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You can’t do everything in 2016, but there are probably things that you’d rather not miss.

To decide what those things might be, you first need info – like when will the pennies from heaven be dropped and where’s the best place to stand? As it turns out, I can’t help you with that.

But I can suggest the following candidates for not-to-miss stuff this year. In the end, personal choices will be made. Fun and enrichment will be fashioned. And if I find out anything about the sky raining money, I’ll get back to you.

1. Royals FanFest, Jan. 29, 30; Bartle Hall, Kansas City Convention Center

There’s no better place to relive the Kansas City Royals’ 2015 World Series victory and look ahead to next season than at Royals FanFest. The two-day celebration will give fans the chance to hobnob with the squad and hear what players, coaches and management have to say about past glories and expectations. Besides the diligent pursuit of autographs – may the queue be with you – plenty of fan-friendly programs, contests and other attractions are scheduled to keep the entertainment going, including mini-diamond baseball for kids. While soaking up all of that Royal Blue, don’t even think about not getting whipped up to buy more World Series souvenirs. Are you a fan or what?

2. ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ Jan. 29-Feb. 21, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Spencer Theatre

It doesn’t get any weightier or more inspiring than the true story of Anne Frank, a Jewish teen-ager who for two years hid from the Nazis during World War II, until being discovered and sent to her death in a concentration camp. The inspiring part? Anne’s riveting and heart-lifting story lives on, thanks to her surviving diary and dramatic adaptations like Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s new depiction of one girl’s inner light shining in the darkness of the Holocaust. 

3. One-Minute Play Festival, Jan. 30-Feb. 1, City Stage at Union Station

A bevy of local writers and directors will bring to the stage more than 50 new 60-second plays in Kansas City’s first One-Minute Play Festival. With the idea of supporting “radical inclusion,” the festival aims to imbue ephemeral theatrical experiences with myriad zeitgeists that reflect diverse points of view across communities. The sheer number of works presented makes this event worth your time: If you’re not enjoying the play you’re watching, you only have to wait a minute for the next one.

4. Black Sabbath, Feb. 17, Sprint Center 

 Ozzy! If any more needs to be said, try this: Three original members of the seminal English heavy metal band Black Sabbath – singer and eccentric pop-culture icon Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Geezer Butler and bassist Tony Iommi – will devilishly descend on Kansas City as part of the band’s promised final concert tour, which is dubbed “The End.” In the world of heavy metal, the obvious is always your friend. One more thing: Ozzy!

5. ‘Over the Moon,’ starring Marion Ross and Hal Linden, Feb. 18-April 24, New Theatre Restaurant

The New Theatre Restaurant’s winning formula has been to take a TV sitcom star from yesteryear, cast him or her in a funny dinner theater show and watch the seats fill up. With “Over the Moon,” the New Theatre is doubling down in the best of ways. Instead of one big name from the 1970s, we get two: Marion Ross (Mrs. Cunningham on TV’s “Happy Days”) joins Hal Lindon (the title character of TV’s “Barney Miller”) in this comedy about a pair of declining stars on the verge of a professional split. They have one last chance to revive their stardom, but only if they can manage one more great performance together. Hmm. I won’t say it if you won’t.

6. An Anonymous Art: American Snapshots from the Peter J. Cohen Gift, April 15-Sept. 4, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Old snapshots of family and friends are now being analyzed and appreciated by art experts as part of our “modern visual culture.” Well, it’s about time. Accidental artworks by unidentified photographers run the gamut in this exhibit, from little girls proudly embracing their dolls to a living doll lolling on a bed with a drink in her hand. It’s fascinating how images of ordinary people, who thought they were merely posing for a quick pic, have become part of a larger public aesthetic. So keep shooting those spur-of-the-moment selfies, gang. They might hang in a museum someday. Uh-oh.

7. The Who, April 29, Sprint Center

I was supportive yet slightly suspicious of “The Who Hits 50!” tour when it was scheduled to visit Sprint Center in May 2015. That show wound up being postponed after singer Roger Daltrey developed viral meningitis. Ouch. The rescheduled gig still has me wondering whether the Who’s two surviving original members – Daltrey and guitarist/rock visionary Pete Townshend – can really pull off a killer arena show. Because if they can’t, what’s the point? But count me in again, if only because we’re talking about one of the three greatest rock bands in history. I actually rate the Who ahead of the Stones and, of course, after the Beatles. Just sharing.

8. Jane Lynch, May 6, Yardley Hall, Johnson County Community College

Jane Lynch made instant fans with hilarious roles in such film comedies as Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Her fame increased as a cast member of the hit Fox TV series, Glee, and she went on to play the amusingly villainous Miss Hannigan in a Broadway revival of Annie. Lynch’s substantial musical comedy chops will be on optimum display when she dives into American standards and show tunes for a Yardley Hall audience that should plan to laugh. A lot.

9. Planet Comicon, May 20-22; Kansas City Comic Con, Aug. 12-14; Bartle Hall, Kansas City Convention Center

Cosmic screen stars will be among the guests in attendance at Kansas City’s two biggest comic conventions, both at Bartle Hall. Edward James Olmos, who led the intergalactic good guys as William Adama in a revamped version of TV’s Battlestar Galactica, will appear at Planet Comicon, which remains “Kansas City’s Largest Comic Book Convention.” And Billy Dee Williams of old-school Star Wars fame – he was suave and stalwart Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi – will visit with fans at Kansas City Comic Con.

10. Dixie Chicks, Aug. 30, Sprint Center

The Grammy Award-winning, critically acclaimed female country music trio that openly disagreed with President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq – and was slammed for it by the country music establishment – is on a comeback tour. Time may or may not heal all wounds, but talent will out.

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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