One of the best ways to deal with "the absurdities of contemporary life" is to make art about it. Choreographer Jacques Heim knows this, and that's one of the qualities that led Buzz Magazine to proclaim him one of the "100 Coolest People in L.A." (The Los Angeles Times was a bit more cautious, calling him simply one of the "Faces to Watch in the Arts.") Heim earned the accolades with his Diavolo Dance Theatre company, whose members are athletes and performance artists as much as they are dancers. The troupe finds its way around surrealistic sets made up of such mundane obstacles as doors, chairs and stairways -- which, in this context, make perfect metaphors for the seemingly endless emotional, social and technological hazards we have to navigate around every day. Heim brings his "daredevil dancing without a net" to Lawrence's Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive, tonight at 8. Tickets range from $22 to $27, with breaks for students, children and seniors; for more information, call the Lied Center box office at 785-864-ARTS.
Maureen McGovern made a name for herself singing on behalf of disasters in the 1970s. Back when The Poseidon Adventure was a state-of-the-art sinking-ship movie, "The Morning After" went the opposite direction of the boat -- straight up the charts, earning McGovern a number-one hit. Her "We May Never Love Like This Again," from The Towering Inferno, wasn't a hit -- but it did win her an Academy Award. McGovern's talents, however, are much more diverse than these pop-culture references suggest, and she'll prove it tonight and tomorrow night at 8, when she appears with jazz guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, along with the John Pizzarelli Trio and the fifteen-piece Big Band Swing Orchestra at Johnson County Community College's Carlsen Center, 12345 College Boulevard in Overland Park. Their combined effort is headlined The Great American Songbook, and it promises "standards" from the likes of Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers, Sondheim and Sinatra -- music much more timeless than McGovern's hits. For tickets, $34 to $40, or more information, call 913-469-4445.
Our town needs lots of help fighting the various dark forces seeking to undermine the city, and plenty of potential saviors arrive today for the nineteenth annual Kansas City Comic Book Convention at the Jack Reardon Civic Center, at Fifth and Minnesota in Kansas City, Kansas. Lurking among dozens of tables where comic-book and collectibles dealers ply their inky trades will be such industry superheroes as Hellboy artist Mike Mignola; Kevin Nowlan, creator of Jack B. Quick and Batman Black & White and character designer for Batman: The Animated Series; Mike Kaluta, who knows the Shadow like no one else; Steve Lightle, responsible for Wolverine, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Flash and Red Sonja; and the Kansas City Art Institute's own Rick Stasi, publisher, writer and artist for Night Street Comics. The colorful confab lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow; admission is $5 per day. For more information, call the 24-hour information line at 913-451-4805.
The day's traditional hero is obviously St. Patrick, and the festivities in his honor inevitably inspire thousands of Kansas Citians to display their own brand of comic behavior. The St. Patrick's Day parade begins at 11:30 this morning at Admiral and Grand in the River Market and proceeds south on Grand Avenue, ending up in front of Crown Center at Pershing and Grand. For more information, call 816-931-7373.
For many people, cotton candy may bring to mind images of childlike sweetness and innocence. For New York artist Adriana Arenas Ilian, however, the easily dissoluble substance is the perfect medium with which to explore more adult concerns. Ilian's DVD installation, Sweet Illusion, opens today at the Gallery of Art at Johnson County Community College. The work uses video of cotton candy, and its degradation when exposed to the elements, to comment on the way our own false ideas, given time and distance, evaporate like wisps of sugary thought. The accompanying karaoke love songs, sung in Spanish with English translations on a nearby monitor, can't help but reinforce the theme. Ilian's opening lasts from 3 to 5 p.m., and she'll give a lecture on her work at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free; the JCCC Gallery of Art is located at 12345 College Boulevard in Overland Park. For more information, call 913-469-8500.
Modern audiences can be forgiven for immediately seeing the similarities between Tom Rakewell, the title character in Igor Stravinsky's 1951 opera, The Rake's Progress, and Rick Rockwell, the alleged multimillionaire Darva Conger married on national TV last year. Besides sharing similarly roguish names, both men apparently had no reservations about consorting with various sorts of prostitutes, and both clearly sold their souls to the devil. A night watching the Lyric Opera's presentation of Stravinsky's work, however, makes the viewer an appreciator of high art, while a night watching Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire? turned out to be much less dignified. The Lyric's performances continue through March 25; tonight's spectacle is at 7:30. Tickets range from $10 to $55. The Lyric Opera is located at 1029 Central; for more information, call 816-471-7344.
Lee's Summit native Josh George, a 1997 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, recently left town for New York -- but not before creating an energetic, intriguing body of work depicting urban landscapes and multicultural scenesters (and quite a few Pitch covers) suggesting his love for this city. His new work, which is on display through the end of this month at the Jayne Gallery, 4540 Main Street, indicates that New York has been equally inspiring. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; for more information, call 816-561-5333.
Tonight's showing of Orlando adds a layer of irony to the Rockhurst Film Series' "Reel Women" tag. Sally Potter's 1993 film is based on a Virginia Woolf novel whose title character is neither a woman nor a man. In addition to being able to change genders at will, s/he, even more impressively, stays young and vital for several centuries. Along the way, Orlando (played by Tilda Swinton) consorts with the likes of Queen Elizabeth (Quentin Crisp), the daughter of a Russian diplomat and a handsome American (Billy Zane). The mesmerizing confusion begins at 7 p.m. at the Mabee Theater on the Rockhurst campus, 5225 Tracy. Tickets are $3; for more information, call 816-501-4607.