Peter Slevin for “Michelle Obama: A Life”
Thursday at Unity Temple on the Plaza
Now that Hillary Clinton is running for president, biographies of current and future first ladies will never be the same. The members of the select group now merit serious consideration as presidential contenders. The new political landscape makes the recent publication of “Michelle Obama: A Life” even more significant. Currently an associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Peter Slevin spent more than a decade as a political correspondent for The Washington Post. The extensive research that went into the biography makes Slevin the foremost independent expert on the fascinating first lady.
7 p.m. Thursday, May 7. Unity Temple on the Plaza. 913-384-3126. rainydaybooks.com. $27.95 plus tax, includes an autographed hardcover copy of “Michelle Obama: A Life.”
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Kansas City Urban Potters Invitational
Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the City Market
Organizers of the Kansas City Urban Potter Invitational are hoping that visitors to their three-day event in the City Market will view the wares on display as ideal Mother’s Day gifts. Functional and decorative items created by six locally based potters and six artists from elsewhere in the Midwest will be available for purchase near the Arabia Steamboat Museum. All 12 potters will be present at Friday’s opening reception. Pottery demonstrations will be held Saturday. Kansas City Urban Potters is “a collective of full-time studio artists making functional pottery with a high standard of craftsmanship.”
6-8 p.m. Friday, May 8, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 9, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, May 10. City Market. kcurbanpotters.com. Free.
Mary Chapin Carpenter with Kansas City Symphony
Friday at Helzberg Hall
Mary Chapin Carpenter reinterpreted songs from her extensive catalog on the 2014 orchestral recording “Songs From the Movie.” Hearing material such as the encouraging title track of her 1992 album “Come On Come On” and the evocative American portrait “I Am a Town” with the lush backing of an orchestra thrills longtime fans and provides an intriguing entry point for people unfamiliar with the singer-songwriter. Under the direction of Vince Mendoza, an acclaimed arranger who has played similar roles for the likes of Björk and Joni Mitchell, the Kansas City Symphony will accompany Carpenter at Helzberg Hall on Friday.
8 p.m. Friday, May 8. Helzberg Hall. 816-994-7200. kauffmancenter.org. $50-$55.
Friday at the Midland theater
Political columnist Kathleen Parker recently suggested that “jest is becoming the only way to express truth.” She might have had Lewis Black in mind as she noted that “Comedians are fast becoming the only people who can lampoon the emperor or call out the idiot without tempting the guillotine.” Black, an apoplectic standup comic, articulates sentiments that politicians and other leaders who rely on the goodwill of the public would never dare to speak aloud. A series of incendiary televised comedy specials made Black a star. His eagerness to speak truth to power will have the audience howling with both rage and laughter at the Midland theater on Friday.
8 p.m. Friday, May 8. Midland. 816-283-9900. midlandkc.com. $39.50-$59.50.
Kansas City Ballet, “Dances Daring (Then and Now)”
Opens Friday at Muriel Kauffman Theatre
Dance aficionados will enjoy the old and the new in the Kansas City Ballet’s program opening Friday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Two pieces representing the illustrious history of the Kansas City Ballet will be balanced by a pair of new works. The Still Point was created by the late Todd Bolender, the former artistic director of the company. The Four Temperaments, a ballet by George Balanchine, was first performed in 1946. The new works are Wunderland, a piece by Edwaard Liang featuring the music of contemporary composer Philip Glass, and the world premiere of Amy Seiwert’s Concertino.
7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9, 2 p.m. Sunday, May 10, 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 15, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16, 2 p.m. Sunday, May 17. Muriel Kauffman Theatre. 816-931-8993. kcballet.org. $25-$109.
Racing at Kansas Speedway
Friday and Saturday at Kansas Speedway
NASCAR has never hesitated to accept sponsorship funds from a wide variety of sources, but the Spongebob Squarepants 400 almost certainly has one of the goofiest names of any major sporting event. Media conglomerate Viacom, the owner of the Spongebob franchise, is promoting the latest movie about the famously “absorbent and yellow and porous” animated character. People attending the weekend’s races will be able to interact with Spongebob and his pals in a Nickelodeon Kids Zone. The gates open at 10 a.m. on Friday. The evening’s Camping World Truck Series race is slated to begin at 7:49 p.m. Country artist Shooter Jennings will perform before Saturday’s Spongebob Squarepants 400 race.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: 7 p.m. Friday, May 8. Spongebob Squarepants 400: 6 p.m. Saturday, May 9. Kansas Speedway. 866-460-7223. kansasspeedway.com. Tickets to Friday’s event range from $15 to $60. Tickets to Saturday’s event range from $29 to $139.
A Planetary Evening
Saturday at the Folly Theater
“We are connected,” one of the taglines of the new documentary “Planetary,” also serves as an apt summation of Saturday’s event at the Folly Theater. Each element of the multimedia presentation conveys the message that all humans are linked to one another and that each of us is a planetary stakeholder. A screening of the film about the new global perspective afforded by space travel will be followed by a panel discussion with commentary from director Guy Reid and astronaut Ronald Garan. The event will conclude with a performance by the Barclay Martin Ensemble that features the sounds and images of the Kansas City folk, rock and jazz ensemble’s collaboration with musicians in Madagascar.
7 p.m. Saturday, May 9. Folly Theater. 816-474-4444. follytheater.org. $20-$75.
Michael Feinstein, “The Sinatra Legacy”
Saturday at Yardley Hall
Eclectic-minded music lovers can attend entirely different concerts by men with Frank Sinatra on their minds on Saturday and Sunday. Bob Dylan, the contrary singer-songwriter who released an album of songs associated with Frank Sinatra a few months ago, will perform at the Music Hall on Sunday. Michael Feinstein, the celebrated practitioner of the Great American Songbook, will treat the repertoire of the Chairman of the Board with reverence on Saturday. During the concert billed as the “Sinatra Project,” Feinstein will be accompanied by a big band consisting of many of Kansas City’s most notable jazz musicians, including trumpeter Stan Kessler and bassist Bob Bowman.
8 p.m. Saturday, May 9. Yardley Hall. 913-469-4445. jccc.edu/theseries. $46-$135.
Sunday at the Music Hall
Few musicians are as consistently confounding as Bob Dylan. The singer-songwriter makes no concessions to audience expectations at his concerts. Rather than playing straightforward renditions of iconic songs that date back to the early 1960s, Dylan’s interpretations of his material are often so convoluted that his appearances resemble performance art. Even so, dedicated fans and people who simply want to be in the presence of the legendary figure continue to buy tickets to concerts on what has been characterized as Dylan’s “never ending tour.” Accordingly, Sunday’s event at the Music Hall is officially sold out.
8 p.m. Sunday, May 10. Music Hall. 800-653-8000. ticketmaster.com. $49.50-$89.50.
Kansas City T-Bones
Tuesday and Wednesday at CommunityAmerica Ballpark
The members of the marketing department of the Kansas City T-Bones find themselves in uncharted territory in 2015. For the first time since the T-Bones’ inception in 2003, the crosstown Kansas City Royals enter the new year as veterans of the post-season playoffs. The T-Bones are no longer competing with a struggling Major League Baseball franchise for the attention and dollars of baseball fans. The Royals’ elevated status makes the T-Bones organization’s proven track record of providing affordable entertainment even more valuable. The T-Bones’ first home games of 2015 are exhibitions against the Wichita Wingnuts on Tuesday and the Lincoln Saltdogs on Wednesday.
Kansas City vs. Wichita at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, May 12. Kansas City vs. Lincoln at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, May 13. CommunityAmerica Ballpark. 913-328-2255. tbonesbaseball.com. $6.50-$16.
Penn Valley Park Plein Air Fest
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Penn Valley Park
The Penn Valley Park Plein Air Fest is dedicated to celebrating the visual arts, but a free concert by one of Kansas City’s most popular ensembles is likely to attract a particularly large crowd to the multiday event. If people arrive a couple hours early to the 7 p.m. Friday performance by the blues-rock trio Katy Guillen and the Girls, they can take in one of the festival’s three two-hour “quick paint” competitions. Other artists will use more time to paint original works in the open air at Penn Valley Park near the Liberty Memorial. The art created at the festival will be displayed at the Buttonwood Art Space in an exhibition that will open June 5.
Thursday, May 14, Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16. Penn Valley Park. pennvalleypark.org. Free.
Bill Brownlee, Special to The Kansas City Star