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6 Brilliant Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3

Squinting? This weekend’s brilliant entertainment possibilities are arguably blinding.

There’s a vivid touring production of one of the most popular Broadway musicals in history, two differently dazzling takes on a Christmastime dance classic, gifted singer/songwriters with names as glittery as their talents and a family friendly rock band consisting of guys with exceptional gleams in their eyes.

To protect your own peepers, maybe don’t look directly at the brilliant things. Of course, you’ll want to eyeball the details before heading into the glare. No one said brilliant was easy!


1. ‘Les Miserables’

Most of the time, the characters in “Les Miserables” don’t appear to be having much fun. Not a shocker, I suppose, since the English-language translations of the title of Victor Hugo’s 19th-century historical novel, upon which the 1980 French stage musical of the same name is based, include “The Miserable Ones,” “The Wretched Poor” and “The Dispossessed.” No wonder the show is typically referred to as merely “Le Miz,” which doesn’t sound so awful. But even as lives are being ruined all around in the tumultuous decades following the French Revolution, the brilliant beacon of liberty shows the affected citizenry a path to possible salvation. Many fall. And some are left standing – including audiences in ovation. Vive le France!

Thursday and Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1 and 6:30 p.m.; Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $53-$108.

2. Jewel

The celebrated singer/songwriter with the brilliant moniker is on her Handmade Holiday Tour, and she’s bringing along her father and other family members to help perform secular and spiritual favorites of the season, from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to “Ave Maria.” But fans can also expect to get a few of Jewel’s greatest hits, such as “You Were Meant for Me,” “Intuition” and “Who Will Save Your Soul.” Plus homestead yodeling, which is always a treat, yes?

Friday, 8 p.m.; Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $35-$69.50.

3. The Nutcracker

The Kansas City Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” recently visited the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., with The Washington Post proclaiming that the show “positively oozes charm.” And now the ballet’s take on the holiday classic is back in KC, featuring the same brilliant mix of timeless music by Tchaikovsky, truly twinkling production values and spotlight-worthy choreography by Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney. It all amounts to a phantasmagorical yuletide attraction, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse King and the Nutcracker himself vie to ooze the most charm. Keep it coming, fairy-tale characters, we can take it.

Thursday and Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1 and 5 p.m.; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $34-$134.


4. Hip Hop Nutcracker

Break it down, Tchaikovsky! Here’s something brilliantly different: A dozen hip hop dancers, a DJ and a violinist transport “The Nutcracker” to 1980s Brooklyn, where our young female protagonist magically spies her parents’ very first encounter in a nightclub. The show is masterminded by Jennifer Weber, artistic director of Brooklyn’s hip-hop happy Decadancetheatre, who obviously also seen “Back to the Future.”

Sunday, 6 p.m.; Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $25-$65.


5. Sunny Sweeney

Sassy country singer/songwriter Sunny Sweeney brings her Hard Candy Christmas tour to town, with fellow wayfaring warblers Brennen Leigh, Courtney Patton and Jamie Lin Wilson. Sweeney is the real deal, equally capable of covering Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” with brilliant results and kicking you-know-what with her own attitude-drenched songs, including “One More Christmas Beer.” Only one?

Saturday, 8 p.m.; Knuckleheads Saloon, 2415 Rochester St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $20.

6. The Doo-Dads

Families can have a brilliant time with these Kansas City area dads singing rock ’n’ roll songs for little kids. The band’s material can be instructional (“Please and Thank You,” “Brush Your Teeth,” “Let’s Potty”), adventurous (“Walkin’ Through the Zoo”) or just silly for the sake of it (“Peanut Butter in My Ear”). Hey, if a kiddo only gets a little Jif stuck in his ear canal, that’s pretty good.

Friday, 6 p.m.; recordBar, 1529 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $5.

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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