Friday, March 11, at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
The title of comedian David Cross’ tour —“Making America Great Again!” —indicates that jokes tend to write themselves during the current election cycle. The timing of Cross’ first solo stand-up tour in five years is opportune. Cross’ Twitter feed is filled with snide attacks on presidential candidates and jokes about media coverage of their foibles. An Atlanta native, Cross is a haughty pundit who makes his contempt for broad swaths of society a primary part of his act. For instance, he bitterly suggests that religion is “tribal superstitious nonsense.” Many first encountered Cross through his work on the groundbreaking television comedy series “Mr. Show With Bob and David.”
8 p.m. Friday, March 11. Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. 816-283-9921. midlandkc.com. $35.
Lyric Opera, “The Elixir of Love”
Saturday, March 12, Wednesday, March 16, Friday, March 18, and Sunday, March 20, at the Kauffman Center
Even if the state-of-the-art accommodations at the Kauffman Center’s Muriel Kauffman Theatre didn’t offer in-seat subtitles, members of the audiences at the Lyric Opera’s production of “The Elixir of Love” might still get the gist of the comedy’s plot. Composed and performed in Italian, Gaetano Donizetti’s work is filled with robust laughter and vivacious drama that seems contemporary almost 200 years after it premiered in Milan. The modern feel will be accentuated by a set that is “re-imagined as early 20th-century America in a style reminiscent of Kansas City painter Thomas Hart Benton.” The Kansas City Symphony will accompany a cast that includes Susannah Biller in the role of Adina and Norman Reinhardt as Nemorino
7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, Friday, March 18, 2 p.m. Sunday, March 20. Muriel Kauffman Theatre. 816-471-7344. kcopera.org. $39-$184.
“A Whisper of Where It Came From”
Opens Friday, March 11, at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Timed to mark the 50th anniversary conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts in Kansas City, “A Whisper of Where It Came From” features the work of six prominent artists. Curated by Erin Dziedzic, the works “speak to the expanded field of contemporary ceramics.” Pieces by three artists born in the United States — Nicole Cherubini, Mark Cooper and Arlene Shechet —will share space in the Charlotte Crosby Kemper Gallery with works by the South Korean native Jiha Moon, the Pakistani-born Huma Bhabha and Sterling Ruby, a native of West Germany. The exhibition is funded in part by a $40,000 Arts Works award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Friday, March 11-Sunday, July 24. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. 816-753-5784. kemperart.org. Free.
Sporting Kansas City vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps
Saturday, March 12, at Children’s Mercy Park
Kansas City’s MLS team will play the home opener of its 21st season in a renamed stadium. The facility in Kansas City, Kan., officially became Children’s Mercy Park on Jan. 1. The club’s athletes and supporters hope that its winning tradition remains unchanged. Sporting has reached the postseason playoffs for five consecutive years and won the championship of Major League Soccer in 2013. Experts at Sports Illustrated have questioned Sporting’s chances. Suggesting that the club will miss the contributions of Krisztian Németh, the star striker who now plays in Qatar, the publication ranked Sporting as the 11th-best team in Major League Soccer in 2016. Thursday’s opponent, the Vancouver Whitecaps, claimed the sixth spot in the preseason prediction.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12. Children’s Mercy Park. 888-452-4625. sportingkc.com. $22-$280.
Mardi Gras and Irish Festival
Saturday, March 12, in Excelsior Springs
Saturday, March 12, in North Kansas City
St. Patrick’s Warm-Up Parade
Saturday, March 12, in Brookside
Three communities are hosting sizable seasonal parades and celebrations on Saturday. Billed as “the largest Irish Festival in the area,” organizers of Snake Saturday in North Kansas City say that almost 100,000 people participate in the annual philanthropic endeavor. A corresponding festival includes a carnival, children’s activities, car show and live music. The events in Excelsior Springs wrap Mardi Gras into the Irish theme. Dancers, live music and a beer garden are part of the community’s post-parade celebration. The theme of the 36th annual parade in Brookside is “Leapin’ Leprechauns.” Royals mascot Sluggerrr will serve as grand marshal, and the Jackson County Sheriff Mounted Patrol will be on hand.
Mardi Gras and Irish Festival: noon Saturday, March 12. Downtown Excelsior Springs. 816-637-2811. visitexcelsior.com. Free.
Snake Saturday: 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12. North Kansas City. 816-548-3113. snakesaturday.com. Free.
St. Patrick’s Warm-Up Parade: 2 p.m. Saturday, March 12. Brookside. 816-523-5553. brooksidekc.org/st-patricks-parade. Free.
Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe
Sunday, March 13, at Helzberg Hall
A man who once fashioned himself as the “Jesus of Cool” and a woman who has sung the praises of Jesus for decades will pair their talents at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Nick Lowe, a cheeky British musician who titled his 1978 solo debut album “The Jesus of Cool,” is best known for writing “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” His repertoire also includes the pop nugget “Cruel to Be Kind” and harrowing material like “The Beast in Me.” With the possible exception of Aretha Franklin, Staples is the true voice of America. As the most lustrous voice on hits by the family band the Staples Singers, she helped change her country with hits including “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself.”
7 p.m. Sunday, March 13. Helzberg Hall. 816-994-7200. kauffmancenter.org. $29-$79.
Matthew Desmond for “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City”
Monday, March 14, at the Central Library
People interested in the veracity of the assertions made by politicians in the current campaign season as well as observers of the ongoing development of Kansas City’s urban core are likely to take special interest in Matthew Desmond’s new best-seller. The author, a Harvard professor and the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2015, tracks the plight of eight families in Milwaukee who are living paycheck to paycheck. The majority of their income is dedicated to paying rent. Suggesting that Desmond’s work is “a regal hybrid of ethnography and policy reporting,” a reviewer for The New York Times suggested that Desmond’s “sweeping, yearslong project makes us consider inequality and economic justice in ways we previously had not.”
6:30 p.m. Monday, March 14. Central Library. 816-701-3400. kclibrary.org. Free, advance registration is required.
Cassandra Clare for “Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, Book One)”
Tuesday, March 15, at the Plaza Library
The novels written by Cassandra Clare are usually classified as literature for young adults. The best-selling author has suggested that the categorization isn’t entirely accurate. She has noted that “half the people who come to my signings are in their 30s, and they all say the same thing — that they’re not in the right age group for my books.” An inspiring role model for budding authors, Clare honed her craft writing fan fiction based on the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series. Clare’s books in the Shadowhunter Chronicles series have inspired film and television spin-offs. She’ll promote the first novel in a new series at an appearance that’s likely to attract a multigenerational audience.
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15. Plaza Library. 816-701-3400. kclibrary.org. Free, advance registration is required.
The Piano Guys
Wednesday, March 17, at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
“Hello/Lacrimosa,” a song released by the Piano Guys in January, contains many of the characteristics that caused the ensemble’s latest appearance at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland to quickly sell out. Described by the ensemble as “a musical experiment bridging 18th-century spiritualism and 21st-century secularism,” the selection seamlessly melds Adele’s pop hit with Mozart’s Requiem. The clever combination of light pop and classical music have made the Piano Guys a sensation. All five of the Utah-based group’s studio albums have topped Billboard’s New Age chart. The popularity has allowed the quartet to embark on a quest to perform at all seven modern wonders of the world. The Piano Guys played on the Great Wall of China and at the Cristo Redentor statue in Brazil last year.
8 p.m. Wednesday, March 16. Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. 816-283-9921 midlandkc.com. $29.50-$149.50.
In The Mood
Wednesday, March 16, and Thursday, March 17, at Helzberg Hall
Jazz fans in Kansas City are constantly presented with an embarrassment of riches. Several locally based big bands that feature world-class musicians perform in area venues every month. Some of the groups specialize in the Kansas City tradition, and others focus on contemporary sounds. Even so, many people prefer to indulge in straightforward recreations of the popular music of the 1930s and ’40s. East Coast-based big band and dance ensemble In the Mood has been satisfying that demand for more than 20 years. In the Mood’s set list includes popular swing standards “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Moonlight Serenade” and, of course, “In the Mood.”
2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 17. Helzberg Hall. 816-994-7200. kauffmancenter.org. $29-$49.
National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference
Opens Wednesday, March 16, at the Kansas City Convention Center
Joshua Davis, the executive director of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, notes the significance of the site of his organization’s 2016 convention in the event’s program. “The journey to Kansas City is for many of us a return to a spiritual home. The region’s schools, museums, galleries and studios have provided a nurturing medium for the development of ceramic art.” Liz Lerman’s keynote speech, “Making Our Work and Making Our Worlds: How Generative Critique Can Help” at 7 p.m. Wednesday is among the events that are free and open to the public. Her talk will be followed by a performance by experimental Kansas City jazz musician Mark Southerland. Visitors are also welcome to interact with artists at a “projects space” during the convention at Kansas City Convention Center.
Wednesday, March 16-Saturday, March 19. Kansas City Convention Center. 866-266-2322. nceca.net. Several events are free and open to the public.
NAIA men’s and women’s basketball championships
Men’s: Opens Wednesday, March 16, at Municipal Auditorium
Women’s: Opens Wednesday, March 16, at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena
In a blog post that surveyed the college basketball tournaments in the area this month, The Star’s Pete Grathoff noted that “106 teams will be playing 100 games in a 20-day span.” More than half those numbers are represented by teams from NAIA institutions. Kansas City is hosting the NAIA men’s tournament for the 71st time. It opens at Municipal Auditorium on Wednesday. The women’s tournament will be held at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. Athletes and their boosters will congregate in the KC Live Block at 5 p.m. Tuesday for a free Tip-Off Event. A three-point shot and dunk contest will be held at Municipal Auditorium at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Men’s: Wednesday, March 16-Tuesday, March 22. Municipal Auditorium. 816-595-8000. naia.org. Single session tickets: $15, $5 for students 6-21. Tournament passes are $75-$100.
Women’s: Wednesday, March 16-Tuesday, March 22. Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. 816-595-8000. naia.org. Single session tickets: $10.50, $7.50 for students, $5 for children. Tournament passes are $75.