Wednesday, March 16, through Saturday, March 19, at Kansas City Improv
Luenell instigated a ruckus on Instagram last year. The candid comedian captioned a photo with her head resting on Bill Cosby’s shoulder with a problematic joke: “Bill ... I’m getting sleepy, I’d better go ho … zzz zzz.” Luenell has stated that she hopes the charges against Cosby aren’t true, but she continues to insist that her gag is amusing. Much like the equally acerbic Kathy Griffin, Luenell doesn’t hesitate to call out the questionable behavior of celebrities. In addition to mercilessly dishing dirt and dispensing graphic tips for the bedroom as a standup comic, Luenell has appeared in movies and television programs including “Think Like a Man” and “A Christmas Blessing.”
8 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, 8 p.m. Thursday, March 17, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, March 18, 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Kansas City Improv. 816-759-5233. improvkc.com. $20.
Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Thursday, March 17, in midtown Kansas City
Although the tricolored Irish flags that are common sights throughout the area reflect the size and the passion of Kansas City’s substantial Irish contingent, the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade may be the most visible sign of the metropolis’ strong connection to Ireland. Bolstered by this year’s “Blarney on Broadway” theme, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade will launch the celebration of the holiday as it winds south on Broadway from Linwood Boulevard to 43rd Street. Viewers will cheer for the procession of floats and for the parade’s dignitaries. Pat O’Neill Jr., the author of “From the Bottom Up: A History of the Irish in Kansas City,” will serve as the parade’s grand marshal. Restaurateur James Westphal is the event’s honorary Irishman.
11 a.m. Thursday, March 17. midtown. kcirishparade.com. Free.
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Pinchas Zukerman
Friday at Helzberg Hall
Friday’s concert at Helzberg Hall offers a bracing combination of convention and innovation as well as an illuminating contrast of the old and the new. The New York-based Orpheus Chamber Orchestra re-invented tradition by performing classical masterworks without a conductor. Violinist Pinchas Zukerman, its collaborator on Friday, is the recipient of two Grammys. Friday’s program includes works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Ravel as well as the world premiere of Harold Meltzer’s “Vision Machine.”
8 p.m. Friday, March 18. Helzberg Hall. 816-561-9999. chambermusic.org. $15-$79.
“The Fantasticks,” Kansas City Repertory Theatre
Opens Friday, March 18, at Spencer Theatre
“Try to Remember,” the signature song of “The Fantasticks,” was one of the most recognizable tunes of the 1960s and ’70s. The first version of the musical played in New York for 42 consecutive years. Although once almost ubiquitous, “The Fantasticks” isn’t known by many people under the age of 40. The Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s staging of the show, consequently, may be more daring than it initially seems to jaded theatergoers. Audiences experiencing “The Fantasticks” for the first time will be charmed by sturdy songs including “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” and the timeless theme of young love. The cast includes Gary Neal Johnson, Larry Marshall and Peggy Friesen.
Friday, March 18-Sunday, April 10. Spencer Theatre. 816-235-2700. kcrep.org. $25-$65.
William L. Fambrough Jr. on the life and work of his father, a staff photographer of The Call
Saturday, March 19, at Second Baptist Church
The insistence on photographic documentation of experiences is a product of the Internet era. Much of history of the previous century lacks what’s now seen as an essential element of the historic record. The work of William L. Fambrough Sr. consequently is invaluable. As a freelance photographer and staff member of The Call newspaper, which serves the African-American community, Fambrough’s work captured a range of social, political and cultural elements of life in Kansas City in the 1950s and ’60s. His son will discuss Fambrough’s work at Saturday’s free event.
4 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Second Baptist Church, 3620 E. 39th St. 816-235-1549. shs.umsystem.edu. Free, reservations requested but not required.
Matthew Morrison with the Kansas City Symphony
Saturday, March 19, at Helzberg Hall
Handsome and charismatic Matthew Morrison is the sort of multifaceted entertainer who seems to be the product of an earlier era. Morrison, 37, is a veteran of musical theater who achieved widespread fame for his role on the television series “Glee.” He completed a turn in a production of “Neverland” on Broadway in January. Morrison’s current tour is based on his 2013 album “Where It All Began.” The recording features Morrison’s interpretations of standards and favorites from musicals. Accompanied by the Kansas City Symphony, Morrison will belt out songs like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Send in the Clowns” and “Luck Be a Lady.”
8 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Helzberg Hall. 816-471-0400. kcsymphony.org. $45-$95.
Owen/Cox Dance, “A Soldier’s Tale”
Saturday, March 19, at Polsky Theatre
Owen/Cox Dance’s staging of Igor Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale” will showcase the formidable strengths of the ensemble. The adventurous work is squarely in the wheelhouse of the forward-thinking collective. Owen/Cox has showcased the cutting edge of ballet for Kansas City audiences over the course of nine seasons. The troupe won’t go it alone on Saturday. Shokhrukh Sadikov, an assistant professor at Fort Hays State University in Kansas, will direct musicians from NAVO, the National Symphony in Tashkent. Actor Robert Gibby Brand will help the group enact the Russian folk tale. The production is choreographed by Jennifer Owen.
8 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Polsky Theatre at Johnson County Community College. 913-469-4445. owencoxdance.org. $26.
Heartland Men’s Chorus, “Pitch Perfect”
Saturday and Sunday at the Folly Theater
As the pre-eminent gay men’s chorus in the area, the Heartland Men’s Chorus represents more than merely fine singing. The a cappella theme of the ensemble’s “Pitch Perfect” spring concerts balances classic material such as “Ave Maria,” “Home on the Range, and “Loch Lomond” with arrangements of contemporary pop hits including OneRepublic’s “Good Life,” Shawn Mendes’ “Stitches” and Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive.”
8 p.m. Saturday, March 19, 4 p.m. Sunday, March 20. Folly Theater. 816-931-3338. hmckc.org. $15-$67.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Toronto
Sunday, March 20, at Children’s Mercy Park
A new Major League Soccer star may have emerged in the opening contest of Sporting KC’s season. After playing for clubs in Turkey, Belgium and his native Portugal, Nuno André Coelho scored the only goal in a match against the Seattle Sounders in his MLS debut. Coelho recently solidified his status as a new fan favorite in a question-and-answer session on Twitter. He confessed that the goal surprised him, writing that “when I kicked the ball, I had no idea it would go in.” Coelho is one of a handful of recent additions to the team’s roster, an indication that Sporting KC intends to continue building on its successes.
6 p.m. Sunday, March 20. Children’s Mercy Park. 913-387-3400. sportingkc.com. $22-$280.
Sunday at Helzberg Hall
Like deft rehab artists, the members of Pink Martini salvage pop culture detritus and refashion the discarded sounds into stylish music. The self-styled “little orchestra” from Portland, Ore., plays a fusion of lounge music, cocktail jazz, prerock American pop and light classical music. In a counterintuitive twist, Pink Martini’s reclamation of neglected music has made it one of the most lauded ensembles of the past few years. Since its humble origins in the 1990s, Pink Martini has thrived under the unconventional oversight of bandleader Thomas Lauderdale. In addition to receiving extensive media coverage, Pink Martini has expanded its base of support through prominent song placements in movies and television programs.
7 p.m. Sunday, March 20. Helzberg Hall. 816-994-7200. kauffmancenter.org. $29-$69.
“A Night With Janis Joplin”
Opens Tuesday, March 22, at Kauffman Center
Most people purchase tickets to the traveling production of “A Night With Janis Joplin” to bask in the music of the late rock icon. A portion of the audiences who take in the eight shows at Muriel Kauffman Theatre, however, will be just as interested in seeing Mary Bridget Davies. Before she forged a career in musical theater, Davies was a prominent musician in Kansas City. Davies’ powerhouse vocals made her a favorite attraction in area blues clubs. She’ll return to Kansas City with the show that has transformed her life. Davies was nominated for a Tony Award as best lead actress for her convincing turn in “A Night With Janis Joplin.” Her fans, friends and family will watch Davies with pride as she channels Joplin on songs like “Piece of My Heart.”
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, through Friday, March 25, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 26, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 27. Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-994-7222. theaterleague.com/kansascity. $19-$85.
William Anderson for “The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder”
Wednesday, March 23, at Woodneath Library Center
For readers who feel a strong connection to the author of the beloved Little House on the Prairie books, “The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder” is an essential volume. Preeminent Wilders authority William Anderson has collected much of Wilders’ illuminating correspondence in the latest addition to her canon. In his introduction to the collection of more than 400 letters written from 1894 to 1956, Anderson suggests that Wilders’ documents “are a window into her philosophy and her experiences as a farmer’s wife, a mother, a journalist and an author of classic books.” At Wednesday’s presentation, Anderson will discuss how he compiled the letters.
7 p.m. Wednesday, March 23. Woodneath Library Center, 8900 NE Flintlock Road. 816-883-4900. rainydaybooks.com. Free, registration is required.
Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star