Many people with a fear of insects think the only thing worse than a bug is a giant bug. They are advised to steer clear of the Xtreme Bugs exhibit now open at Union Station. They should also avert their eyes from the massive Japanese hornet that promotes the new show at the corner of Pershing Road and Main Street. Children and adults with a penchant for creepy-crawlers will be delighted by the exhibit’s oversized Madagascar hissing cockroach and giant tarantula. Though designed to be entertaining, Xtreme Bugs has an underlying educational theme that highlights the ecological, medical and agricultural importance of insects.
Through April 12. Union Station. 816-460-2020. unionstation.org. $12.50 for adults and $9.50 for children 3-12.
Battle of Westport 150 Commemoration and Re-enactment
Fought 150 years ago, the Battle of Westport resulted in the deaths of 3,000 Civil War combatants. The bloody victory for the Union will be commemorated during two days of activities in Swope Park. Many of Friday’s “education day” functions take place at the Battle of Westport Visitor Center and Museum. Artifacts from the battle will be displayed and living historians will play the parts of figures including Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. Reenactments of the combat between troops led by the Union’s Samuel R. Curtis and the Confederacy’s Sterling Price are the primary attraction on Saturday.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Swope Park. kcparks.org. Free.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The enormous value of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s longstanding association with Kansas City is immediately apparent to anyone who walks past the company’s studio in the Jazz District during business hours. Watching dedicated young dancers practicing in the studio is inspiring. The performances at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. Matthew Rushing’s “Odetta,” a work set to the music of the late folk singer, is one of four pieces that will be given their Kansas City premieres.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. Muriel Kauffman Theater. 816-994-7200. kauffmancenter.org. $29-$99.
The most remarkable component of Susan Boyle’s unlikely rise to stardom isn’t her unusual backstory. In 2009, viewers of the television competition “Britain’s Got Talent” became enamored with the socially awkward Scottish woman with a powerful voice. After becoming a bestselling recording artist, Boyle was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Yet it’s the enormous appeal of her decidedly old-fashioned music that’s even more surprising. With a sensibility that evokes the early 1950s, Boyle’s straightforward renditions of familiar material like “Cry Me a River” and “Unchained Melody” tapped into a neglected, long-overlooked segment of the marketplace.
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23. Midland theater. 816-283-9921. axs.com. $37.50-$119.50.
A native of San Francisco, Rob Schneider is an avid fan of the Giants. The comedian will likely engage in a war of words with locally based partisans of the Royals during his appearances at Kansas City Improv. Yet Schneider, a naturally funny man, is capable of transforming the split allegiances between the World Series contenders into a topic of mirth. Although Schneider may still be best known for the Richard “The Richmeister” Laymer character he played on “Saturday Night Live” in the 1990s, he’s since appeared in a seemingly constant stream of movies, television shows and advertising campaigns.
7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. Kansas City Improv. 816-759-5233. improvkc.com. $27-$32.
Senegal St. Joseph Gospel Choir
The awful news emanating from West Africa leaves many Westerners with a skewed perception of the region’s people. A sublime combination of the Catholic choir repertoire of Europe and the Muslim songs of Senegal, the unique sound of the Senegal St. Joseph Gospel Choir has been delivering a message of joyous optimism since 1950. Anyone who’s ever swooned to South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo or who enjoys the energetic efforts of a rousing gospel choir on a Sunday morning is likely to be captivated by Friday’s concert.
8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24. Folly Theater. 816-415-5025. hjseries.org. $25-$70.
“English Royal Funeral Music” is an absurdly unappealing title for an album. The enchanting music contained on the most recent release by Vox Luminis, however, is tantalizingly gorgeous. The recording is a re-reation of Henry Purcell’s compositions for the 1695 funeral of Mary II, but the Belgian ensemble will perform works by Heinrich Schütz and several members of the Bach family during its Kansas City debut on Friday. Vox Luminis’ 12 vocalists will be accompanied by organ and viola da gamba. Dr. William Everett will deliver a lecture titled “The German Baroque” an hour before the concert.
8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral. 816-561-9999. chambermusic.org. $35, free for youth 18 and under.
Homegrown Reads: Local Author Fair
Saturday’s Homegrown Reads event in Kansas City, Kan., will resemble a modest, literary version of a TED conference. Even without dramatic lighting or stylish surroundings, the variety of ideas expressed by Saturday’s participants may be just as riveting as those aired at more fashionable forums. About two dozen locally based authors will give nine-minute presentations and interact with curious readers. Participants include Fanny Dunfee, a poet and widow of the jazz musician Ahmad Alaadeen; Pete Dulin, the editor of “Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City’s Best Chefs and Cooks;” and Dr. Evelyn Hill, the author of “Women Under Construction.”
1-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. South Branch of the Kansas City Kansas Public Library. 913-722-7400. kckpl.org. Free.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. St. Louis Rams
Parity in the National Football League doesn’t allow for guaranteed outcomes, but Chiefs fans eager to witness another victory have reason to feel confident about Sunday’s game. The St. Louis Rams have played like one of professional football’s weakest teams during the first few weeks of the 2014 season. While the outcome of the Chiefs’ current campaign is uncertain, the Rams’ prospects for making the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2004 appear dim. With the Ram’s injury-prone star quarterback Sam Bradford out for the season, Arrowhead Stadium promises to be filled with tens of thousands of satisfied Chiefs fans on Sunday.
Noon Sunday, Oct. 26. Arrowhead Stadium. 816-920-9400. kcchiefs.com. $50-$285.
A skit on a recent episode of the television comedy series “Portlandia” affectionately mocked devotees of “A Prairie Home Companion” as they engaged in a comically mild tailgating party before a taping of the public radio program. A few similar scenarios are likely to play out in downtown parking lots prior to Garrison Keillor’s appearance at the Midland theater on Tuesday. Keillor, the creator and host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” will likely draw on material from the beloved radio show and from his work as a poet and author to entertain fans with his distinctive sense of Midwestern humor.
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28. Midland theater. 816-283-9921. midlandkc.com. $35-$75.
One of Hannibal Buress’ running gags is that he’s an unknown comedian. The facts belie his assertion. Buress plays large venues, has almost 300,000 followers on Twitter and is a regular on television talk shows. Buress worked as a writer for television programs including “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” and has collaborated with Chance the Rapper on an amusing $5,000 music video for the song “NaNa.” The disparate talents reflect the comedian’s eclectic sensibility. His deadpan delivery of jokes about Barack Obama’s “cool job,” the fashion choices of rappers and attending art openings in order to indulge in free wine make Buress one of today’s top humorists.
8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. Folly Theater. 816-474-4444. follytheater.org. $29.