This week in Kansas City: Big Slick, Eddie Izzard, Fiesta Kansas City and Art of the Car Concours

06/18/2014 7:00 AM

06/17/2014 11:58 PM

Big Slick Celebrity Weekend

Professional athletes and locally based television personalities including news anchors and weathermen once passed as the biggest celebrities Kansas City had to offer. The recent wave of accomplished actors with area roots has been a godsend for locally based star-watchers. It has also been a boon for Children’s Mercy Cancer Center. Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis dedicate the proceeds of their Big Slick Celebrity Weekend to the local health center. Along with fellow host Eric Stonestreet and friends including David Koechner, the actors will oversee a sponge ball outing at the Little K prior to a Royals’ game, a bowling tournament at Pinstripes Bowling Bocce Bistro and a party at the Midland theater.

Friday and Saturday. 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Little K at Kauffman Stadium; free with admission to the game. Saturday’s Celebrity Bowl, and party and auction at the Midland theater are officially sold out.

Kansas City Symphony: The Music of Adam Schoenberg

Many of the Kansas City Symphony’s most commendable attributes will be encapsulated in Thursday’s event at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. At its recording preview concert, the Symphony will perform works by young composer Adam Schoenberg that will soon be documented in recording sessions. The price of admission — a mere $9 — is in keeping with the Symphony’s commitment to accessibility. The Symphony’s ongoing collaboration with Schoenberg reflects its progressive artistic reach and ongoing vitality.

7 p.m. Thursday. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-471-0400. $9.

Hear Now: The Audio Fiction & Arts Festival

Thanks in part to programs like Public Radio International’s “This American Life” and American Public Media’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” the art of storytelling through spoken word has made an enormous resurgence in popularity. Hear Now: The Audio Fiction & Arts Festival reflects this unlikely renaissance. Podcasters, voice actors and spoken word enthusiasts will be among the hundreds of people converging on Kansas City to take part in four days of clinics, performances and an awards ceremony. Highlights include a showing of the documentary “I Know That Voice,” a session on sound design for video games, and an appearance by Barbara Rosenblat, Miss Rosa on “Orange Is the New Black.”

Thursday-Sunday . Multiple venues. Festival passes range from $180 to $295. Tickets to individual events are also available. Some events are free.

Kansas City Wide Open Professional Disc Golf Tournament

While it’s not as mainstream as traditional golf, disc golf is hiding in plain view in the Kansas City area. Diners who have stood in long lines at the Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kan., have almost certainly noticed the disc golf supplies on display in the adjacent convenience store. The nearby Rosedale Park is one of five area courses that will feature play in the 32nd annual Kansas City Wide Open. Several of the world’s elite professional players will compete for the event’s $20,000 tour purse. Amateurs will vie for merchandise prizes. Food trucks and vendors will supply spectators with food and goods during the finals at Swope Park on Sunday.

Thursday-Sunday. Several locations. 816-471-3472. Admission is free, participants must pay registration fees.

Kansas City Pride Fest

The organizers of Kansas City Pride Fest claim that the annual event is Kansas City’s second-largest festival. Acting as the master of ceremonies, Belle Starr will introduce a wide variety of performers to celebratory crowds. Sophia Lin, Chef Nguyen and Remix will be among the DJs providing dance beats. Folk and rock musicians include the Clementines and Big Bad Gina. Chicago’s Cyon Flare, a performer who bills himself as “Chicago’s top drag queen,” is one of the festival’s many gender-bending entertainers. On Saturday afternoon, fest-goers will participate in an installation by crop art specialist Stan Herd. Pride Fest exhibitors range from Macy’s to the KC Coalition for Welcoming Ministries.

Friday - Sunday. West Bottoms. 816-960-3400. $5 per day on Friday and Saturday and $8 for a two-day pass. Sunday is free. Wristbands provide free entry to Missie B’s on Friday and Saturday.

Eddie Izzard

A powerful personality can take a person a long way. Eddie Izzard is a talented actor, comedian and performance artist, but his most valuable asset is his outlandish, charismatic persona. A true eccentric, Izzard loves to talk. He’ll entertain Friday’s audience at the Midland theater with manic tales about beginning his career as a street performer in London, his skeptical views on religion and his experiences rubbing shoulders with movie stars on the sets of hit films and television shows. He’s also renowned for his ambiguous sexuality, a stance Izzard has characterized as “penis nonchalance.”

8 p.m. Friday. Midland, 1228 Main St. 816-283-9921. Tickets to the sold-out show were $49-$69.

Fiesta Kansas City

Three popular Mexican-based acts serve as the headliners of Fiesta Kansas City. Performances by Rogelio Martinez (Friday), Grupo Palomo (Saturday) and Conjunto Primavera (Sunday) conclude each day’s activities at one of Kansas City’s most exhilarating parties. The annual festival has a range of activities for young and old. Participants in a jalapeño-eating contest can cool their taste buds with their choice of five flavors of margaritas. Children can play in inflatables while everyone is encouraged to participate in a “live art” sculpture. A low-rider car show will add to the festive atmosphere on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday-Sunday. Crown Center Square. 816-472-6767. $10 per day or $20 for a three-day pass; kids 12 and under free with a paid admission. Admission is free before 4 p.m.

Tour of Kansas City Cycling Festival

Athletes who long to be greeted as conquering heroes at the conclusion of an event will have their dreams fulfilled in the gran fondo portion of this weekend’s Tour of Kansas City Cycling Festival. Long a staple of European cycling competitions, gran fondo races treat participants as guests of honor at riotous finish line parties. The weekend’s gran fondo routes range from 15 to 101 miles, allowing both serious cyclists and casual enthusiasts to partake of the experience. Organizers suggest that the three-day event, featuring lighthearted diversions such as a cask ale celebration with live music on Saturday, is the Missouri-based equivalent of the Tour de France.

Friday-Sunday. New Longview Area, Lee’s Summit. 913-568-3055. The advance registration fee for most races is $35.

Art of the Car Concours

Gearheads have long held that fine automobiles are a form of art. The Art of the Car Concours channels that passion into a fundraiser for the Kansas City Art Institute scholarship fund. Rare and vintage cars will be parked on the KCAI’s campus Sunday. A 1957 Troutman-Barnes Special race car, a 1927 Pierce-Arrow Model 36, an Allard J2X and a Doane Spencer 1932 Ford Roadster are among the rare vehicles with illustrious histories that will be on display. Noted hot rod experts Pete Chapouris and Ken Gross will participate in a “Meet the Legends” panel discussion Saturday.

Saturdayand Sunday. The Kansas City Art Institute, 4415 Warwick Blvd., and the Miller Nichols Library, 800 E. 51st St. 816-561-4999. Sunday’s show is $18 in advance for adults. Saturday’s forum is $25 in advance.

Night of the Proms

Americans might be understandably confused by the title of Saturday’s event at the Sprint Center. Night of the Proms has nothing to do with excitable teenagers in formal attire. Instead, Night of the Proms has been presenting pop stars in orchestral settings throughout Europe since 1985. Kansas City is one of four American cities that will host a tour starring Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, the Pointer Sisters and Nile Rodgers & Chic. A classical orchestra, a 24-member choir and an eight-piece electric band will contribute to lavish arrangements of several of the biggest hits of the ’70s and ’80s such as McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited” and Chic’s “Good Times.”

7:30 p.m. Saturday. Sprint Center. Tickets range from $25 to $125 in advance at

Right Between the Ears

Aficionados of cult television programs know Barbara Rosenblat as a member of the cast of “Orange Is the New Black.” In Rosenblat’s primary occupation, however, she toils as an audiobook reader. As a master of dialects, accents and emotive nuance, she employs her malleable voice on hundreds of audiobooks. Acting in films including Warren Beatty’s “Reds” and on television programs like “Law & Order Special Victims Unit” is a mere sideline. Rosenblat will contribute her formidable talent to Saturday’s presentation of “Right Between the Ears,” a sketch comedy show that airs on Kansas Public Radio. The event is part of Hear Now: The Audio Fiction & Arts Festival.

7:30 p.m. Saturday. Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St. $15.

Hillary Rodham Clinton for ‘Hard Choices’

Most observers view Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book tour for “Hard Choices” as a dry run for her seemingly inevitable 2016 presidential campaign. In spite of her polarizing status in the court of public opinion and her contentious work as secretary of state, there’s an air of inevitability about Clinton’s prospects. Then again, the same was true eight years ago before an upstart candidate named Barack Obama upended her ambitions. Clinton’s discussion with Vivien Jennings of Rainy Day Books at Sunday’s sold-out event will be carefully parsed by Clinton’s critics and supporters.

5 p.m. Sunday. Midland, 1228 Main St. 816-283-9921. Tickets to the sold-out event were $40.50.

Don Williams

Don Williams is a master of simplicity. Most of Williams’ 17 chart-topping country songs are slow shuffles that express straightforward sentiments. On “You’re My Best Friend,” a 1975 hit about marital bliss, he notes that “you gave life to our children and to me, a reason to go on.” Rather than seeming sappy, however, Williams’ low-key approach on gentle inducements like “(Turn Out the Light and) Love Me Tonight” is endearing. Williams, 75, may not seem like a pioneer, but his version of “Tulsa Time” preceded Eric Clapton’s interpretation of the song, while Waylon Jennings’ famous rendition of “Amanda” mimics the reading Don Williams recorded a year earlier.

7 p.m. Sunday. Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway. 816-753-8665. $33-$63.

Free State Festival

A “five-day celebration of film, music, art and ideas,” the Lawrence Arts Center’s Free State Festival will highlight an array of national and locally based talent in a variety of disciplines. Featured films include a free outdoor screening of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid.” The musical presentations range from a performance by veteran blues man Johnny Winter to a production of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals” featuring the Kansas University Symphony Orchestra and the dance company of the Lawrence Arts Center. Comic books and regional history are among the topics that will be addressed in the panel discussions.

June 25-29. Lawrence Cultural District. 785-843-2787. Many events are free. Others range in price. An all access VIP pass is $200.

Lisa See for ‘China Dolls’

Kansas City wasn’t the only American city awash in decadence in the late 1930s. The seamy side of 1938 San Francisco provides the setting of Lisa See’s new novel, “China Dolls.” The plot tracks the interactions of three dissimilar Asian-American women in the California metropolis. See, a Chinese-American, is the author of best-selling works including “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” a novel that was made into a 2011 film, and the acclaimed companion novels “Shanghai Girls” and “Dreams of Joy.” A multifaceted writer, See will almost certainly offer a multitude of weighty ideas and interesting anecdotes during her discussion on Wednesday.

7 p.m. June 25. Unity on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St. 913-384-3126. $27 (plus tax) purchases one hardcover book, one stamped autograph admission ticket and two passes to the talk.

Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star

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