October 2019’s best Kansas City concerts, festivals and events
Boyz II Men
Before Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” spent 17 weeks atop the Hot 100, Boyz II Men held the record for their Mariah Carey collaboration “One Sweet Day” — and for “I’ll Make Love to You” before that and “End of the Road” before that. The classic R&B hitmakers fittingly play the Kauffman Center. Muriel Kauffman Theatre at Kauffman Center, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 7:30 pm. $59-$129. kauffmancenter.org.
October 3–January 26
Charlotte Street Visual Artist Awards Exhibition
Three boundary-pushing Kansas City artists share this four-month exhibition: performance, plastic and visual artist Boi Boy; photographer Megan Pobywajlo; and technologically inspired multimedia artist Fatima Tuggar. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. Free. kemperart.org.
Clairo at Middle of the Map Fest
The music festival focused on locals and up-and-comers is notably smaller and later than usual, but there’s a gem topping the lineup: Clairo, the 21-year-old breakout lo-fi pop star who makes brilliant, emotive music. See her alongside another breakout in lo-fi rock, Snail Mail, and local standouts like Me Like Bees and The Sluts. Various venues. Clairo plays CrossroadsKC, Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $39.50-$115. middleofthemapfest.com.
First Fridays happen every month, but the prime season in the Crossroads Arts District ends with this brisk October night. Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City, Mo. 5 pm. Free entry. kccrossroads.org.
Kansas City’s largest locally owned brewery puts on the city’s best German beer celebration, which will feature 11 brews, Bavarian-style food and entertainment till 11 pm both nights. Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $8-$175. kcoktoberfest.com.
Cheers to 15 Years with Michael Stern
Michael Stern has conducted the Kansas City Symphony with ambition since he became the orchestra’s music director. His 15th season in the role begins with a celebratory program of revered pieces including “Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius and Robert Schumann’s “Piano Concerto.” Helzberg Hall at Kauffman Center, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $34-$94. kcsymphony.org.
GLOW Silent Disco
The third iteration of this event, put on by The Positive People Posse, promises to be “the largest silent disco KC has seen yet.” Featuring five DJs, food and games, it’s also a party for a cause, with proceeds split between three local nonprofits. Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo. 7:30 pm. $50-$100. 21+. unionstation.org.
It’s not fall in Kansas without a trip to the Louisburg Cider Mill. Visit during this fun-filled weekend to watch the iconic cider and donuts be made, ride ponies with the kids and enjoy live music. Louisburg Cider Mill, 14730 K68 Highway, Louisburg, Kan. 8 am. Free entry. louisburgcidermill.com.
William Kent Krueger
Known as a serial mystery writer with his Cork O’Connor series, William Kent Krueger broke out of the form to wonderful results with his 2013 standalone coming-of-age novel Ordinary Grace. His new standalone, This Tender Land, features a new plot asking the same questions of life, place and faith. Mid-Continent Public Library, 8900 N.E. Flintlock Road, Kansas City, Mo. 7 pm. Free. rainydaybooks.com.
This story following families pursuing the American dream at the outset of the 20th century is well due for a remake a century later, and Musical Theater Heritage has proven with past productions that it’s up to such a task. Musical Theater Heritage at Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. musicaltheaterheritage.com.
Cotton Club Revisited
The Jazz Orchestra brings its popular program of Harlem Renaissance music back, focusing on the musicians who made their names in the legendary New York club, from bandleader Duke Ellington to trumpeter Louis Armstrong. Helzberg Hall at Kauffman Center, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $42-$67. kcjo.org.
Carl Orff, German composer of the cantata “Carmina Burana,” believed that a performance could not separate music from movement. Yet his jubilant opus has historically been performed as a choral work — until now, when the Kansas City Ballet takes on a world premiere performance. Muriel Kauffman Theatre at Kauffman Center, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $41-$131. kcballet.org.
The multi-hyphenate performer returns to his roots in the theater, performing his hits from movie musicals including Les Miserables and The Greatest Showman, with live orchestra accompaniment. His Greatest Showman costar Keala Settle, known for her empowered rendition of “This Is Me,” joins the tour. Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 7:30 pm. $26.50-$222. sprintcenter.com.
Tank and the Bangas
This New Orleans collective draws from all of the city’s best musical traditions — jazz, soul, R&B, spoken word and hip-hop — for an intoxicating sonic melting pot. The Truman, 601 E. Truman Road, Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $20-$25. thetrumankc.com.
Dear Evan Hansen
Yes, 2017’s Tony winner is a teen musical on the surface, but the heart in Dear Evan Hansen’s story of finding a reason to live appeals across generations. See it in Kansas City for the first time. Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $62-$126. americantheatreguild.com.
American Royal Livestock Show
Kansas City’s history as a hub for the cattle trade will be on full display for nearly two weeks as the American Royal puts on its 120th annual show, one of the most competitive in the country. American Royal Complex, 1701 American Royal Court, Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. americanroyal.com.
October 16–November 10
A Doll’s House, Part 2
After watching the Kansas City Actors Theatre’s August production of 19th century Norwegian comedy A Doll’s House, come to the Unicorn for the show’s update. Written in 2017, it follows up with the central women 15 years later — and the jokes still land. Unicorn Theatre, 3828 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $34-$44. unicorntheatre.org.
Garage rocker Jack White moves between his many projects as he pleases and finally returns to The Raconteurs 11 years after the band’s last album. He made it worth the wait with a new, timeless collection of bluesy fare with ever-virtuosic guitar work. Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $49.50-$79.50. arvestbanktheatre.com.
October 18–November 10
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf
First performed in 1974, this experimental choreopoem by Notzake Shange about finding empowerment in a racist and sexist society is no less relevant or poignant today. The Rep’s performance falls around the first anniversary of Shange’s death. Copaken Stage at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, 1 H&R Block Way, Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $35-$63. kcrep.org.
Kansas City Mac & Cheese Festival
Most food festivals give a limited number of samples or feature bites and drinks for purchase. Not the Mac & Cheese Festival, which provides as much cheesy goodness as you can eat, and the drinks to wash it down, within a three-hour window — and, of course, a commemorative spork. Berkley Riverfront Park, 1298 Riverfront Road, Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $49-$79. 21+. 11creative.co.
Hollywood Casino 400
The make-or-break playoff race will be the final in the Round of 12, setting up which eight drivers will compete at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. Kansas Speedway, 400 Speedway Blvd., Kansas City, Kan. 1:30 pm. $29-$139. kansasspeedway.com.
The soulful, rootsy country performer has a hearty voice that can echo through the entire Sprint Center, where he’ll hold his own for the first time. Fans will want to lean in to hear his heartfelt, often sparse country ballads. Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 7 pm. $39.75-$89.75. sprintcenter.com.
’69 Chiefs: A Team, a Season, and the Birth of Modern Kansas City
This stacked presentation of Michael MacCambridge’s new history of Kansas City football’s 1969 season will feature hall-of-fame linebacker Willie Lanier and kicker Jan Stenerud, along with former team photographer Rod Hanna, moderated by Kansas City Star columnist Vahe Gregorian. Unity Temple on The Plaza, 707 W. 47th St., Kansas City, Mo. 1:45 pm. $40 for four with one book. rainydaybooks.com.
Matt and Kim
The annual Halloween celebration put on by 96.5 The Buzz will be a true party this year with pop duo Matt and Kim at the helm, performing their alt-pop masterpiece Grand in its entirety: a perfect soundtrack to any dance party. Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $25-$30. arvestbanktheatre.com.
Bianca Del Rio
With her layered-on, clownlike makeup and loud, nasally voice, drag queen Bianca Del Rio already elicits laughs — but appearance just adds to the clever, insult-driven humor of the RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 winner, touring on new show It’s Jester Joke. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $39.50-$212. follytheater.org.
The Canadian balladeer returns to Kansas City for the first time in a decade on her Courage world tour — named for the theme present in all her soaring, empowered, iconic songs. Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 7:30 pm. $49.50-$229.50. sprintcenter.com.
The Phantom of the Opera
Take a trip back in time to the era of live-scored silent films with the Kansas City Symphony’s presentation of the 1927 version of The Phantom of the Opera, accompanied by groundbreaking organist Dorothy Papadakos, just in time for Halloween. Helzberg Hall at Kauffman Center, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Times vary. $32-$67. kcsymphony.org.