6 Historical Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Dec 21, 2017

The Kansas City Chiefs could make history this weekend if they beat the Miami Dolphins and make their way to the playoffs.
Credit Senior Airman Carlin Leslie / U.S. Air Force

History may not actually repeat, but it absolutely echoes.

Catch some worthwhile reverberations this weekend at happenings focused on five millennia of Chinese history, the Russian source of a 19th century ballet classic, a 1970s punk rock icon, the past importance of playing marbles, the splendid tradition of being an entertaining married couple and, perhaps most important of all, our historical victory-seeking Kansas City Chiefs.

Be part of history – or at least the nifty ripples!

 

​1. Shen Yun Performing Arts

Summoning 5,000 years of classic Chinese dance and cultural history in a single evening might seem an inconceivable feat. But it apparently happens all the time, as long as Shen Yun Performing Arts is leading the way. The critically hailed touring stage extravaganza was conceived in 2006 by Chinese artists in New York who wanted to share China’s ancient “lost civilization” with audiences, if only one night at a time. The litany of positive reviews for the spectacle include a rave from Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett, who calls the show “exquisitely beautiful” and “an extraordinary experience for us and the children.” Thanks for the reminder, Cate – yes, indeed, bring the kids.  

Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 1:30 p.m.; Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $69.35-$88.90.

2. Moscow Ballet’s ‘Great Russian Nutcracker’

It was only a couple of weeks ago in this space that we addressed a couple of diverse “Nutcrackers,” but now comes the taproot of the toe-tapping Christmastime classic as performed by the Moscow Ballet. This 25th anniversary tour of the “Great Russian Nutcracker” seeks to stir up its old-fashioned fantasy by authentically tying into the original ballet’s potent premiere in 1892 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Some of Russia’s leading ballet soloists will be dancing in dazzling duds crafted in a three-century-old costume shop in the mother country. Impressive? Da!

Friday, 7 p.m.; Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $28-$175.

 

3. Rude and Reckless – A Tribute to Joe Strummer

British proto-punker Joe Strummer gets his due from a bevy of local musicians in a benefit concert for the Midwest Music Foundation. The furiously appealing front man of the Clash in the 1970s and ’80s, Strummer pressed on as an unpredictable but always interesting solo artist and diverse collaborator until his untimely passing in 2002. But if you had to boil down Strummer’s legacy, it can be found in the grooves of the Clash’s 1979 double-album, “London Calling,” which no doubt will be amply dived into by members of such Kansas City bands as the Alexanders, Drop a Grand, the Architects, the Grisly Hand and Hi-Lux.

Wait, there’s more: Hard-core folk-music twosome Betse and Clark (former Wilders fiddler Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt) are expected to tackle “Straight to Hell” off the Clash’s “Combat Rock” album. Don’t be surprised if the kitchen sink also makes an appearance.

Saturday, 8 p.m.; recordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $10.

4. Playing for Keeps: The VFW Marble Tournaments 1947-1962

Here’s a family friendly exhibit about the importance of playing marbles to young people for much of the 20th century, and how the Veterans of Foreign Wars leveraged it in a national marble tournament designed to instill pride in kids and returning WWII and Korean War vets. Marble games may mainly be a thing of the past, but some of their nomenclature is still part of modern parlance, such as “knuckling down” (to work hard at something) and “playing for keeps” (playing to win). Visitors to the exhibit are also invited to test their marble skills in a regulation-size marble ring, where “playing for fair” – purely for fun and not to win marbles – would be my recommended approach. But, hey, I’m a nice guy … and you know where they finish!

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed Sunday); National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, 5235 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $5 for ages 5 and older.

5. Victor & Penny Holiday Party

We all know folks who make their marriages not only entertaining to themselves, but also to others. Newlyweds Victor & Penny (a.k.a. Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane) take the concept a giant step further by sharing their obvious bliss by way of the joyfully jazzy music they sing and play together. The high-profile local show-biz couple will perform songs of the season, but here’s hoping they also offer up a few tunes from their regular catalogue of swinging goodies, including Nat King Cole’s “I’ll Never Say Never Again,” because how else can you find true love if you curtail your heart? These two could make it their theme song.

Friday, 7 p.m.; Vinyl Renaissance & Audio, 7932 Sante Fe Drive, Overland Park, Kan.; admission: free.

 

6. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Miami Dolphins

With a win on Sunday, the Chiefs will have claimed back-to-back AFC West Championships for the first time in team history. If that happens, no matter what happens in the playoffs, that’s a reason to cheer. Thank you, history!

Sunday, noon; Arrowhead Stadium, 1 Arrowhead Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $20-$177.

Brian McTavish is a regular arts and culture contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him at brianmctavish@gmail.com