Opens 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre
Jane Anderson’s “Defying Gravity” focuses on events surrounding the 1986 Challenger shuttle tragedy, but the playwright describes it as her “most non-realistic play yet.” Its seven characters include a Christa McAuliffe figure called “Teacher” as well as a retired couple who go to see the launch and French impressionist painter Claude Monet. Runs through Jan. 28. 816-569-3226. Tickets are $15-$49 through metkc.org.
Arctic Cat Nitro Arenacross Tour
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7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 12-13, at Hale Arena
Professional riders battling for more than $100,000 in season purses will race on motorcycles and ATVs, soaring up to 60 feet on the jump-filled course on the arena floor. Motorcycle classes will run both nights, with ATV classes Saturday only. Free pit parties, with music, lasers and more, will precede the arenacross action both nights. Tickets are $12-$23 through nitroaxtour.com.
7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12; 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13; 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14; at Kansas City Improv
Beginning with TV appearances on “The Incredible Hulk” and “Barnaby Jones” in the 1970s, John Witherspoon has built an acting career that has spanned more than 50 years. He is best known for playing Willie Jones in “Friday” and its two sequels, though he has had dozens of other roles on sitcoms and in movie comedies — all the while continuing to tour the country with his stand-up act. 816-759-5233. Tickets are $22-$55 through improvkc.com.
KC Restaurant Week
Friday, Jan. 12, through Jan. 21 at multiple venues
This annual event allows diners to enjoy multicourse lunches and dinners for $15 and $33, respectively, at dozens of restaurants ranging from Affäre in the Crossroads and Bo Lings on the Plaza to Ophelia’s in Independence and Story in Prairie Village. Lists of restaurants (including a search engine with categories for specialty diets, cuisine and location) and menus are available online, as is a Restaurant Week app. Lunch, $15; dinner, $33. kcrestaurantweek.com.
Kansas City Symphony, “Geller and Grossman Play Mozart plus Sibelius’ Fifth”
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 12-13, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, at Helzberg Hall
The Symphony will shine the spotlight on its own stars when Noah Geller, concertmaster and first violin, and Christine Grossman, principal viola, perform as soloists for Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante. Under the direction of conductor Michael Stern, the Symphony will also present Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s LA Variations. Kauffman Center. 816-471-0400. Tickets are $25-$87 through kcsymphony.org.
7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12; 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13; 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14; at Sprint Center
With names such as Alien Invasion, Blue Thunder, El Toro Loco, Grave Digger and Monster Mutt Ruttweiler, the high-powered vehicles that take part in the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series could be confused with professional wrestlers. But this is serious business for the drivers of the speedsters, ATVs and trucks competing, with spots at stake in the Monster Jam World Finals XVIII March 23-25 in Las Vegas. 816-949-7100. Tickets are $17-$62 through sprintcenter.com.
7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, at Folly
Four siblings from Winnetka, Ill., founded the Ying Quartet nearly 30 years ago when they were music students. The quartet — with three founding members still included — has since become an international force, performing in venues including Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House and releasing multiple recordings. Pianist Alon Goldstein and bassist Rachel Calin will join the quartet at the Friends of Chamber Music event. 816-561-9999. Tickets are $25-$35 through chambermusic.org.
American Spiritual Ensemble
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at Folly
The Harriman-Jewell Series will present the American Spiritual Ensemble, a 22-member group based in Lexington, Ky., that is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Negro spiritual. The ensemble will perform spirituals such as “Ride on King Jesus,” “Wade in the Water,” “Elijah Rock” and “Deep River,” as well as Broadway songs such as “Circle of Life.” 816-415-5025. Tickets are $20-$70 through hjseries.org.
2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at Yardley Hall
After winning eight Tony Awards (including best musical) when it premiered on Broadway in 1966, “Cabaret” spawned an Oscar-winning movie and three Broadway revivals, most recently in 2014-15. A national touring company will present the popular musical set at the Kit Kat Klub during the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Berlin. Among the familiar tunes are “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time.” Johnson County Community College. 913-469-4445. Tickets are $32-$65 through jccc.edu/theseries.
8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at Music Hall
Brian Regan has a nearly unique niche among the nation’s top comedians. When he tours, which is most of the time, he typically performs at theaters and performing arts centers rather than in comedy clubs or big arenas. His stand-up act is family-friendly, centering on self-deprecating humor, sarcastic takes on daily life and physical comedy. Tickets are $47.50-$57.50 through ticketmaster.com.
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
The illusionist who brought us “Criss Angel Mindfreak” on the A&E Network from 2005 to 2010 and who performs regularly in Las Vegas is taking his show on the road. “Criss Angel Raw — The Mindfreak Unplugged” will present sleight-of-hand street magic, mentalism and illusions that Angel’s website promises to have “stripped-down purity that’s in-your-face and guaranteed to blow your mind.” 816-283-9921. Tickets are $45-$125 through midlandkc.com.
“The Color Purple”
Opens 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, at Muriel Kauffman Theatre
Alice Walker’s epic story about a young woman’s journey to love and triumph in the South, which director Steven Spielberg transformed into a classic 1985 movie, also was turned into a musical in 2004. With jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues music and lyrics by Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell and Allee Willis, it won the 2016 Tony Award for best musical revival. Kauffman Center. Also, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17-19, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21. 816-421-7500. Tickets are $44.50-$101.50 through broadwayinkc.com.
Also this week
Classical music and dance
Kansas City Symphony, “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy,” Jan. 17-18, Kauffman Center. kcsymphony.org
Arx Duo, Jan. 18, 1900 Building. 1900bldg.com
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Barn Players, Jan. 17-19, St. Pius X School. thebarnplayers.org
Adrian “Adee” McCovy, Jan. 11, Kansas City Improv. improvkc.com
Music (rock, pop, jazz)
Cody Johnson, Jan. 11, The Truman. thetrumankc.com
Krizz Kaliko, Jan. 11, Riot Room. theriotroom.com
Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria with Crown the Empire, Jan. 12, Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. midlandkc.com
Chris Young with Kane Brown and Lanco, Jan. 12, Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. silversteineyecentersarena.com
Hairball, Jan. 12, VooDoo. voodookc.com
John McEuen Duo with Matt Cartsonis and Porter Union, Jan. 13, Knuckleheads. knuckleheadskc.com
Tony Sands, Jan. 13, Ameristar. ameristar.com
Brett Young, Jan. 14, Granada. thegranada.com
The Wailers, Jan. 16, Riot Room. theriotroom.com
Destroyer with Mega Bog, Jan. 17, RecordBar. therecordbar.com
Mid-America RV Show, Jan. 11-14, Bartle Hall. midamericarvshow.com
Olathe’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, Jan. 14, Bell Cultural Arts Center. olatheks.org
Kansas City Comets (indoor soccer) vs. Harrisburg, Jan. 13. Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. cometsindoorsoccer.com