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6 Dramatic Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

National Screen Service

Wherefore art thou, drama?

From timeless Shakespeare on formal stages to fleeting but affecting tunes on residential front porches, opportunities to dramatically connect with your fellow human beings abound this weekend.

Need a nudge? Consider this your script!

1. Kansas City Ballet: ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Romeo and Juliet, the world’s most famous ill-fated young lovers, kick up their heels before (spoiler warning) kicking off in this dance version of the romantically tragic tale choreographed by Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney. If Shakespeare’s thrilling, but sad, story becomes too much to bear and you have to close your eyes, if only for a moment, there’s still the accompanying music of Sergei Prokofiev performed by the Kansas City Symphony to push the dramatic buttons. Will there be no relief from the intense feelings of two mixed-up kids who need each other more than life itself? Well, there’s always the lobby.

Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets; $35.50-$135.50.

2. ‘Godspell’

Long before Stephen Schwartz was “Wicked,” the popular lyricist/composer of Broadway musicals had a biblically-inspired hit with “Godspell,” whose dramatic narrative attempted no less than relating the amazing story of Jesus and his disciples. In 1971, “Godspell” joined a growing number of religious or otherwise spiritually affirming entertainments aimed at young people that encompassed the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” and ex-Beatle George Harrison’s No. 1 single, “My Sweet Lord.” Godspell also produced the popular folk-rock ditty, “Day By Day.” This weekend, experience “Godspell” performed in the round by a cast of local actors presented by Theatre in the Park. For theatergoers seeking some nostalgia as well as the inner light, here’s hoping the son of God is still wearing his rainbow suspenders.

Thursday and Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, Kan.; $15-$20.

3. Fed Up Fest

This “hunger-fighting music festival” benefiting Harvesters Community Food Network addresses a dramatic problem for far too many families in need. Be part of the solution while enjoying national and local bands on two stages led by the Strumbellas, Cowboy Mouth, Me Like Bees, the Phantastics, Old Salt Union, the Philistines and Noah Kahan. Surprise guests have also been promised by organizers. Stave off the suspense by helping to assemble food packages for area donation and sampling pop-up beverage tastings, yard games and arcade attractions.

Saturday, 2:30 to 11 p.m.; CrossroadsKC, 417 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $20-$60.

4. PorchFestKC

Hundreds of acoustic musicians will take turns playing on nearly 50 front porches during the annual Saturday afternoon in midtown Kansas City known as PorchFest. Now in its fourth year, the event offers roaming sidewalk audiences the diverse artistry of sincere pickers and singers guaranteed to elicit grins. The Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site – anyway, the proscenium portico – will host several bands at 3616 Belleview Ave., including Hammerhedd, the drama-friendly heavy metal kid band specializing in Metallica covers, which I've happily mentioned in this space before and probably will again. OK, so it’s not all acoustic!

Saturday, noon-6 p.m.; Roanoke, Valentine and Volker neighborhoods in midtown Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free (tips encouraged for porch musicians).

5. Mondo Bava Film Festival

There are settings where drama goes over the top purposely, with simultaneously cheesy and electrifying results. Belonging to that intriguing realm of melodramatic wonderment is the work of legendary Italian horror movie director Mario Bava. The UMKC Department of Film and Media Studies is teaming with the Tivoli Cinema to present and ponder four of Bava’s B-movie triumphs in a new Thursday night film fest, beginning this week with “Black Sunday” (1960), starring Barbara Steel as a fetching witch who doesn’t like being burned at the stake one little bit. Upcoming films in the series: “The Whip and the Body,” “Black Sabbath" and “Kill Baby Kill.” Consider yourself duly advised, or perhaps warned.

Thursday, 7 p.m.; Tivoli Cinema, 4050 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $9 ($7 seniors).

6. ‘King Lear’

When the king’s world falls apart, it’s never pretty. That goes double for the self-destructive title character of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in this Kansas City Actors Theatre/UMKC Theatre production, which showcases the most profoundly poetic downward spiral in the history of downward spirals. The good news: Lear learns invaluable lessons about life, maybe too late for him, but not for us. Thank you, drama.

Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Spencer Theatre at James Olson Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $15-$30.

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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