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6 Strange Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend


Whether you choose to refute it or thrive in it, the world is indeed a strange place.

Even relatively common leisure-time activities can’t evade the peculiar wonder of it all, as with this weekend’s oddly tinged excursions into comedy, theatrics, music and more.

If only for the next few days, wherever it may lead, just go with the strange flow. Anyway, you can deny it all later. Well, except for that. Nice try, though.

1. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Live!

The comedy/sci-fi cult TV series about a man and his robot friends trapped in outer space and forced to watch tacky B movies (and make hilarious fun of them) is finally getting its first national tour. The Peabody Award-winning “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” began in 1988 on a Minneapolis TV station, leading to many successful years of silliness on the Comedy Channel and the Sci-Fi Channel. This year, “MST3K” was rebooted with 14 new episodes on Netflix.

The touring version of the show is called “Watch Out for Snakes!” and encourages audience participation as the bizarre cast of characters makes continuous wisecracks while screening the 1962 cinematic stinker, “Eegah,” in which teenagers discover a prehistoric cave man with an attitude problem. A strange time is guaranteed for all!

Thursday, 8 p.m.; Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $39.50-$49.50.

2. Young the Giant

Ultra-melodic California rock quintet Young the Giant offers one earworm after another on its latest album and likewise-named tour, “Home of the Strange.” It’s good to know they understand what’s going on out there! The group’s alternative rock hits since 2011 include “My Body,” “Cough Syrup,” “Amerika,” “Something to Believe In” and “Silvertongue.” Indie rock bands Cold War Kids and Joywave open the show.

Saturday, 7 p.m.; Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $29.50, $39.50.

3. Festival of Butterflies

Stroll among native butterfly species, touch caterpillars and be exposed to wild dragonflies at Powell Gardens’ annual Festival of Butterflies. Extraordinarily curious butterfly admirers may also want to register for Saturday’s Butterfly University Mini-Symposium offering training in butterfly identification and landscaping for butterflies, as well as caterpillar hunting and rearing taught by none other than a practicing “caterpillar rancher.” And you thought cat herding was strange!

Friday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Butterfly symposium 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; Powell Gardens, 1609 N.W. U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, Mo.; admission: $5-$12 (ages 4 and younger free); $75 for butterfly seminar.

4. ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’

Making a change is good, but you’ve got to work for it. Which doesn’t sound all that strange, except when the individual who wants to change is a big, furry man-beast in need of the love that will save him. Leave it to the musical stage version of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” to deliver an appropriately warm-and-fuzzy outcome suitable for the whole family. That’s right, the whole family. 

Thursday-Saturday, 8:30 p.m.; Theatre in the Park at Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee, Kan.; admission: $6-$8 (ages 3 and younger free).

5. Play Dead

As the Grateful Dead used to sing: “What a long strange trip it’s been.” While the Dead are no longer really around as a live band to sing it themselves, there are tribute bands aplenty to do it for them. That includes Play Dead – great name! – made up of diverse members of the Lawrence music scene, whose individual specialties encompass jazz, blues, alt-country and afro-beat. The varied disciplines of the players can also be heard in their treatment of Dead music, which doesn’t try to totally copy the original. It’s worth the drive to Lawrence, unless you’re already there and then you’d have to leave to drive there, which would definitely be a strange trip.

Friday, 9 p.m.; the Bottleneck, 737 New Hampshire St., Lawrence, Kan.; admission: minimal cover.

6. Elephant Baths

Watching someone else take a bath might normally qualify as an unusual activity – unless it’s the Kansas City Fire Department hosing down the elephants for the pleasure of spectators at the Kansas City Zoo. Strange or not, the jumbos will also have a great time!

Saturday and Sunday, 1-1:30 p.m.; Kansas City Zoo, 6800 Zoo Dr., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $11.50-$14.50 (ages 2 and younger free).

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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