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6 Transformational Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

A Monarch butterfly on a zinnia bloom. Powell Gardens is celebrating its Festival of Butterflies this weekend in Kansas City.

Of course, things change. But to truly transform typically takes a plan.

Leave it to the weekend to deliver a convenient blueprint for transformational occasions rooted in music, comedy, fantasy and the natural realm. All you have to do is show up.

Am I making this sound too easy? Gosh, I hope so. Otherwise, you might miss your makeover!

1. Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters

Most of us are happy to just be ourselves, but artists can stretch to express an assortment of personas. Enter acclaimed actor, director and writer Billy Bob Thornton (“Sling Blade,” “Monster’s Ball,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Bad Santa,” TV’s “Fargo”), who’s been a creative force in Hollywood since the 1990s. His musical side expresses itself as the leader of Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters, whose cool country-rock sound will attract fans this weekend at Knuckleheads. Thornton’s screen fame is undeniably a duel draw for this show. But folks who attend strictly for the tunes and without a thought to also being in the presence of a movie star (good luck with that) shouldn’t be disappointed.

Friday, 8:30 p.m.; Knuckleheads Saloon, 2715 Rochester St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $40.

2. That’s No Movie

Transforming an audience’s off-the-wall suggestions into mirth is the business of Kansas City’s That’s No Movie improvisational comedy troupe, which enthusiastically goofs on film genres for laughs. Whether you’re into zombie flicks, sci-fi epics or romantic comedies, That’s No Movie makes “movies” to suit all tastes. How about “The Walking Dead” meets “Star Wars” meets “When Harry Met Sally” meets … who knows? They can do it!

Saturday, 3 p.m.; Westport Coffee House, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo.; Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $10.

3. Andy Gross the Illusionist

Former Southern California racquetball champ Andy Gross transformed himself into a successful stand-up comic, magician and ventriloquist. He’s probably best known for his amazing “Split Man” illusion. Can he pull it off – or, rather, apart – this weekend in Lee’s Summit? Judging by the look of his insane YouTube videos, it might be a good idea to have EMTs standing by.

Saturday, 7 p.m.; Legacy Park Amphitheatre, 897 N.S. Bluestem Dr., Lee’s Summit, Mo.; tickets: $17.

4. ‘The Wind in the Willows’

Toad, Mole, Ratty, Badger, Otter and other endearing animal characters from “The Wind in the Willows” will be portrayed by kids in this theatrical adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s enduring children’s story. Valuable friendships will be made, adventures will be had and lessons will be learned. And if you’re even half as transformed by this production as the young thespians involved, consider yourself wholly improved by the whimsical experience.

Friday-Sunday, 7 p.m.; Alcott Arts Center, 180 S. 18th St., Kansas City, Kan.; tickets: $10, $6 students and seniors.

5. ‘Mamma Mia’

Warning: Those who aren’t ABBA fans before first seeing the internationally popular stage musical “Mamma Mia” may be transformed into dance-floor-jonesing ABBA fanatics after. Fueled by the Swedish pop group’s 1970s and ‘80s hit catalogue (“Dancing Queen,” “The Name of the Game,” “Super Trouper,” “SOS” and “The Winner Takes It All,” for starters), the tale of “Mama Mia” centers on a young woman who invites to her wedding three of her mom’s old ex-lovers, any one of whom might be her father. Who’s the real dad? “Mamma Mia, here we go again!”

Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 12:15 and 6:30 p.m.; New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster St., Overland Park, Kan.; tickets: $41-$67.

6. Festival of Butterflies

Powell Gardens’ Festival of Butterflies would never get off the ground without the dutiful caterpillar, which spins a chrysalis to transform into a delicate yet durable winged wonder. At 10 and 11 a.m. on Saturday, the festival’s opening weekend offers visitors an epicurean “Brunch with the Butterflies.” And at 1 p.m. Sunday, all are invited to participate in the North American Butterfly Association’s 16th annual wild butterfly count. You don’t have to be a butterfly expert to do the math, just open to the wonder of it all.

Friday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Powell Gardens, 1609 NW U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, Mo.; admission: $12, $10 ages 60 and older, $5 ages 5-12 (additional charges for some activities).

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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