KC’s top events for April 2019
Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers
Laura Jane Grace has evolved throughout her 20 years in the punk rock scene, most notably when she came out as transgender before her punk band Against Me! released the powerful, personal Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Last year’s solo effort, Bought to Rot, kept her bite but is more upbeat. The Riot Room, 4048 Broadway St., Kansas City, Mo. 7:30 pm. $22 to $25. theriotroom.com
April 4–April 20
The musical adaption of the film by the same name is scored by Elton John and blends his signature piano rock with traditional theater fare. The story follows a boy aspiring to be a ballet dancer during the English miners’ strike of the mid-80s. Just Off Broadway Theatre, 3051 Penn Valley Drive, Kansas City, Mo. Showtimes vary. $15 to $45. spinningtreetheatre.com
April 5–April 7
This worldly symphonic jazz act was formed with the goal of appealing to the crowds you find at black-tie fundraisers, and it has managed to do so on a scale that bowtied founder-mastermind Thomas Lauderdale could hardly have dreamed. These shows find Pink Martini collaborating with the Kansas City Symphony as part of its pops series. Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Showtimes vary. $46.50 to $101.50. kauffmancenter.org
Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival
Native American culture is richly embedded in Lawrence’s history. Tribes like the Kansa and Shawnee call the land home, and Lawrence now houses the nation’s top tribal university. This annual gathering celebrates that history. Lied Center of Kansas, 1600 Stewart Drive, Lawrence, Kan. Noon. Free. lied.ku.edu
The Office Bar Crawl
Six years after the finale of the The Office, the series continues to inspire memes, jokes and bar crawls. There will be a trivia contest during this costumed crawl, as well as themed drinks at each stop. Dundies will be awarded at the end, natch. No Other Pub, 1370 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Check-in 4-6 pm. No cover charge. triviacrawl.com/kc
Frida Kahlo’s Garden
Floral imagery is one of the hallmarks of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s wildly influential work. This exhibit sets out to transport viewers to the garden at her Mexico City home, Casa Azul, which was stocked with native plants, pre-Hispanic artifacts and collected folk art. Powell Gardens, 1609 NW U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, Mo. 6 pm. $50. powellgardens.org
The brother-sister duo made their name with layered electro-pop. Their third release, Don’t Feed the Pop Monster, turns fully toward a breezy and danceable sound. The Truman, 601 E. Truman Road, Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $18 to $20. thetrumankc.com
April 7–April 24
Barbra Streisand’s breakthrough as an actress follows the story of vaudeville star and features some of Broadway’s biggest hits, including “I’m the Greatest Star,” “Don’t Rain On my Parade” and the title song.
Musical Theater Heritage, 2450 Grand Blvd., Suite 301, Kansas City, Mo. Showtimes vary. $29 to $58. musicaltheaterheritage.com
April 10–April 14
Kansas City FilmFest International
The festival takes over five screens at the Cinemark theater on the Country Club Plaza for five days of wildly varied independent films, ranging from high school projects to international documentaries. Cinemark Palace At The Plaza, 526 Nichols Road, Kansas City, Mo. Showtimes vary. Not yet on sale. kcfilmfest.org
Jesmyn Ward works in fiction and dabbles in memoir, but her writing is downright poetic. Her most recent novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, cemented her status as one of the greatest working writers with its piercing look at the ties and struggles affecting a family in her home of Mississippi. Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kan. 7:30 pm. Free with RSVP. libertyhall.net
Record Store Day
It’s hard to remember now, but the inaugural Record Store Day in 2008 was seen as a Hail Mary to save shops fast headed for extinction. Instead, indie record stores specializing in vinyl are multiplying quickly in Kansas City, just as retailers like Barnes & Noble have dramatically expanded their offerings. Your day starts with coffee and doughnuts at Mills Record Company at 7 am (see page 48). Every shop in town is offering special releases, deals and live performances.All day, everywhere. recordstoreday.com
Jessie James Decker
Her country love and breakup songs draw from the traditions of Carrie Underwood and early Taylor Swift. “Boots,” the first taste of Jessie James Decker’s upcoming fourth full-length album, is three minutes of foot-stomping female empowerment, the perfect soundtrack for a girls’ night out. 3700 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 7:30 p.m. $34.50 to $39.50. uptowntheater.com
People across the Midwest know spring has arrived when the crocuses pop up, birds start chirping and baseball returns to the radio.
In Kansas City, there’s an even surer sign: The fountains start flowing again.
The City of Fountains has dozens of statuesque spurts across the metro area, and they’re scheduled to emerge from their winter hibernation on the same day.
Fountain Day is on April 16 this year, later than normal. That’s a good thing after a hard winter, says Patrick Dunn, president of the City of Fountains Foundation.
“A winter like we had is really hard on them,” he says. “Just like you see all the potholes around town, this weather doesn’t do any good for the fountains.”
In fact, the severity of the winter means it’s possible the ceremonial first flow of Fountain Day will need to be moved. The occasion is supposed to be marked at Delbert J. Haff Circle Fountain at Meyer Boulevard and Swope Parkway, but the crews that have spent the winter renovating the fountain were slowed by the snow and frigid temperatures.
The renovation of Haff Fountain, one of 48 Dunn’s foundation manages, cost $1.5 million, one of the more expensive projects the group has tackled. The fountain was installed in 1940, and its pipes had shown their 80-year age.
“The maintenance is extremely expensive,” Dunn says. “Once you get in there and start poking around, there’s always more to do than you expected.”
The renovation of the Dunn fountain is certainly something to celebrate — as is the end of a rough winter that started with a November blizzard and continued with snowfall and single-digit temperatures in March. You’ll know it’s over when you see the fountains flowing.
GO: Fountain Day is Tuesday, April 16. Ceremony scheduled for Delbert J. Haff Circle Fountain at the intersection of Meyer Boulevard and Swope Parkway. 11 am. Check kcfountains.com for updates and possible changes to the schedule.
April 19–May 19
OriginKC: New Works Festival
In its annual festival of rotating new works, the Rep puts on two plays by up-and-coming writers. Frida … A Self-Portrait follows the Mexican painter through her life’s trials while Unreliable explores the intertwined narratives of a lawyer, her mother and her client accused of terrorism navigating their own trial. Copaken Stage, 1 H&R Block Way, Kansas City, Mo. Showtimes vary. $14 to $69. kcrep.org
Known for his reporting and memoir on race in America, including the new classic Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates will discuss his Obama-era retrospective We Were Eight Years In Power. Unity Temple on The Plaza, 707 W. 47th St., Kansas City, Mo. 7 pm. $18. rainydaybooks.com
No one could escape Alice Merton’s bass-inflected breakout single “No Roots” last year. Her anthemic second single, “Lash Out,” erased worries that the German singer might be a one-hit wonder, and she boasts an arsenal of hard-hitting, rock-adjacent dance music on her debut album, Mint. recordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $22. therecordbar.com
April 24–May 19
This story of a friendship between a soldier and his search dog receives its first fully realized run after Iraq veteran-turned-playwright Logan Black first performed it as a one-act during the 2015 Fringe Festival. A newly designed puppet of the dog, Diego, rounds out this one-man show. $47 to Unicorn Theatre, 3828 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. Showtimes vary. On sale April 1. unicorntheatre.org
The Kemper’s showcase of Polly Apfelbaum’s kaleidoscopic prints, textiles and sculptures, Waiting for the UFOs, is subtitled “a space set between a landscape and a bunch of flowers.” It fittingly closes with an Earth Day celebration that includes live performances, talks and a pressed flower jewelry workshop throughout the day. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 11 am. Free. kemperart.org
Cuban-born jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval closes out the Folly Theater’s annual Jazz Series with his varied stylings. He adopts a softer sound on his 2018 record, Ultimate Duets, which showcases his broad influence with features from Stevie Wonder, Josh Groban and Ariana Grande. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $20 to $55. follytheater.org
April 27–May 5
The Pearl Fishers
When Georges Bizet premiered his opera The Pearl Fishers in 1863, critics derided his music as lacking merit. Today, the show’s heartfelt duet “Au fond du temple saint,” sung by two friends pining after the same woman, is one of opera’s most famous.
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Showtimes vary. $46.50 to $101.50. kauffmancenter.org
April 30 – May 5
The rock retelling of the opera La bohème, which translated tuberculosis in 1840s Paris to AIDS in late 1980s New York, tours in honor of its 20th anniversary.
Kansas City Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo. Showtimes vary. $47 to $92. americantheatreguild.com/kansascity