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6 Heavy Things To Do This Weekend In Kansas City

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Ready to get heavy?

Theatrical and musical choices this weekend invite contact with weighty talents engaged in substantial undertakings. They include a dystopian vision of the future, a look at the dreams and conflicts of an African-American family and a force of rock ’n’ roll so darn debonair it qualifies as daring.

Yes, go on and challenge yourself this weekend. Do it right and you might even have a deep feeling or a stimulating thought. Heavy!

1. ‘Fahrenheit 451’

Although it may seem dated in the internet age, the idea of the state burning all books to keep the somnambulistic citizenry in the intellectual dark still packs a symbolic wallop. Ray Bradbury’s futuristic 1953 novel “Fahrenheit 451” (the temperature at which paper goes up in smoke) is brought to thought-provoking life in this official stage treatment, in which book-burning “firemen” confront outlaw book lovers. If you’re having trouble caring about silly paper tomes – perhaps you believe that print is dead – then try imagining no more smart phones. North Korea here we come ...

Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, 5801 W. 115th St., Overland Park, Kan.; tickets: $11-$21.

2.‘A Raisin in the Sun’

This classic Broadway play examines the emotional spectrum of a mid-20th-century black family caught between two seeming imperatives: wanting to “get ahead” by moving into a middle-class white suburb, but also questioning the impact of such an assimilation on its cultural heritage. Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s production of “A Raisin in the Sun” puts you in the middle of an unavoidable conflict as one family deliberates its fate.

Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m.; Spencer Theatre, 4949 Cherry St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $25-$67

3. Bryan Ferry

Smooth. Seductive. Supremely intoxicating. There you have Bryan Ferry, who served as the ultra-polished, romance-friendly front man of the 1970s English rock band Roxy Music. Ferry still likes to make it happen onstage without a hair or a note out of place, as he serenades those who know a heavyweight music artist when they experience one. Expect a nice supply of Roxy Music hits, from the propulsive “Love is the Drug” to the dreamy “Avalon.” Bring a date.

Friday, 8 p.m.; Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $45.

4. ‘Identify’

When one LGBT person is bullied for being themselves, that’s too many. Enter the Heartland Men’s Chorus and its presentation of “Identify.” The multi-faceted event features a choral performance of Stephen Schwartz’s “Tyler’s Suite,” inspired by the cyber bullying-related suicide of Tyler Clementi, whose mother, Jane Clementi, will be on hand. The elevating bill includes the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, celebrity TED talker Morgana Bailey and Debi Jackson, who is the mother of the first transgender person to make the cover of National Geographic magazine. Here’s a chance to be lifted, learn and grow.

Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 4 p.m.; pre-show panels begin one hour before each performance; Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $18-$43 (students $7).

5. Aaron Neville

Leave it to the remarkably lighter-than-air singing voice of Aaron Neville to take you to heavy pop-rock-and-soul nirvana. Beyond his signature song “Tell It Like It Is,” Neville will no doubt dip into his hefty bag of wonderfully executed cover tunes, which can include Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” the Sylistics’ “Betcha By Golly Wow,” the Main Ingredient’s “Everybody Plays the Fool,” George Jones’ “The Grand Tour” and Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.” With Berry’s passing at age 90 this week, here’s hoping Neville pays tribute.

Saturday, 8 p.m.; Star Pavilion at Ameristar Casino, 3200 Ameristar Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $45-$60.

6. The Oak Ridge Boys

What do they say about oak trees? A lot of things, I guess, but most of them play on the fact that they’re so big and heavy. Granted, the Oak Ridge Boys aren’t as big as they used to be. But the endearing quartet’s decades of country music success can’t be denied. And the songs themselves haven’t lost one bit of appeal to the fans who made them hits in the first place. So go tell “Elvira” and “Bobbie Sue” that they can still “Dream On” to this “American Made” vocal group.

Sunday, 7:30 p.m.; Muriel Kauffman Theatre at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $39-$69.

Brian McTavish is a regular arts and culture contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him at brianmctavish@gmail.com.

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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