Although its story doesn't sound like fun, John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath makes a great play that deserves a second chance. After all, most people formed their first impression of the book when they were high school students confronted with several hundred pages of a story that takes place in the most boring of all possible settings: Oklahoma during the Dustbowl. In the theater adaptation, the story is much shorter, and the trouble that Steinbeck's writing poses for most young readers -- long descriptive passages with neither action nor dialogue -- is absent onstage. In fact, a gripping plot is buried under the page numbers and detailed descriptions. Audience members can watch the likable members of the Joad family as they abandon what they know in pursuit of possibility, learning to discern myth from reality along the way. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry. Tickets cost $6. For more information, call 816-235-6222.
One of the most cleverly titled works in the collection of multimedia pieces by Marco Maggi showing at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick, is called "Micro and Soft on MacIntosh Apples." Maggi's exhibit, Global Myopia, superimposes grids that appear to be made up of computer chips on a variety of objects and details his drawings with grids as well. It's kind of a reality check, both for those who take the omnipresence of computers for granted and for those who hyperbolically claim that technology is everywhere: Produce isn't made of computer chips -- not yet anyway -- and we can be grateful for that when we see Maggi's cyber-apples on display. Maggi's perspective on the information age is neither optimistic nor pessimistic; he seems more interested in how people are adapting to it. "In a few years," he says, "mobile computers will last hours, like Nile mosquitoes.... Buying the fastest computer every eighteen months includes the pleasure of watching it age instantly. By dumping it, we feel noble, modern; we feel like survivors." Anyone inclined to leave a fast-paced workplace Friday evening and start the weekend by slowly taking in the art at the Kemper can hear more of Maggi's insights when he gives an artist's talk at 6:30 p.m. The opening reception for Global Myopia runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 816-753-5784.
Every family has them: the adults who so insistently refuse the tedium of the "grown-up" world that they continue to sit at the kids' table well into middle age. This weekend, a number of kids' events in Kansas City are bound to make this breed of adult insanely jealous of all who can legitimately pass for being children. First, there's Theatre of the Imagination's drama class starting at 10 this morning at Kansas City Academy, 7933 Main, where students begin to stage the new theatrical masterpiece Crouching Cowgirl, Hidden Wagon. The class is for kids in kindergarten through ninth grade (as if the combination of cowboy hats and wire-rigging didn't appeal to people of all ages). Those who meet the age requirement can call 816-756-5728 for more information. Then there's Pond Puddlin' at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center, 1401 N.W. Park Road in Blue Springs, 816-228-3766. Starting at 10:30 a.m., participants trek around ponds and get muddy while finding out what kind of wildlife lives in and near the water. Amphibian-loving adults, be forewarned: Participants must be six years old or younger. Adults are, however, invited to attend an 11 a.m. preview of the Coterie's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at Barnes and Noble, 4751 W. 117th Street in Leawood, which is fitting. After all, expectations of maturity and seriousness in the adult world make it easy for adults to relate to the crummy kind of day Alexander seems to be having, only instead of waking up with gum tangled in their hair, adults wake up to find that they hit "off" instead of "snooze." It's pretty much the same. For more information on the Coterie performance, call 913-491-4535.
On this third and final day of the Argentine Tango Workshop led by Fernanda Ghi and Guillermo Merlo at St. Mark's/CitiArts, 38th and Troost, dancers at an intermediate level finally learn what they've really been waiting for: ganchos, or kicks. Anyone who claims not to want to kick with flair simply isn't telling the truth. Ganchos encompass a wide variety of leg movements, including leg hooks. The danger of injuring a partner with a poorly executed leg hook prevents people from trying it without training. Or if it doesn't, it should. At this workshop, no partner is necessary, so this is the perfect place to learn how to hook and kick without alienating a dear friend or dance partner with repeated beginner's mistakes. Basic gancho technique instruction begins at 2 p.m.; variations and creative ways to improvise begin at 4. Massage therapists are available during breaks. For more information, call 816-931-9545.
Lent is over. Temptation is everybody's newfound best friend. A visit to the Bingham Waggoner Estate, 313 W. Pacific in Independence, is the perfect day trip for anyone who has just gone a whole month without setting foot in a lady's boudoir; the display of vintage items from ladies' bedrooms is subtle and tasteful but, for the abstinent, exciting as hell. Besides, it's often preferable to ease back into the debaucherous lifestyle. For those who wish to make the transition more quickly, Davey's Uptown Ramblers' Club, 3402 Main, hosts S&M nights on Mondays. For more information on the Bingham Waggoner Estate exhibit, call 816-461-3491. For more information on Davey's, call 816-753-1909.
It's a shame so few songwriters recognize the available range of human experiences from which they can draw. Not to take anything away from poignant portrayals of distraught divorcées, laid-off workers and corporate stiffs who secretly long to release their inner hippies, but Steve Owen shines his light in harder-to-reach places and discovers obscure protagonists, such as the alcoholic-clown-turned-priest he immortalizes with "The Ballad of Wendell T. Phillips" or the hero of his first-person tribute to a gravedigger. While Owen's lyrical literacy powers his character studies, he's a gritty country artist at heart, meaning he's not shy about using a song title to query "Who's Gonna Buy Me a Beer?" or cheerily declaring, Hangover? Hell, I'm still drunk. Lance Fahy, a similarly wry Lawrence-based artist who once penned an ode to "Cats on Leashes," opens this acoustic show at Davey's Uptown Rambler's Club, 3402 Main. For more information, call 816-753-1909.
Lost among all the overhyped discoveries and reunions at this year's South by Southwest was a late opening-night set from Swedish guitar great Yngwie Malmsteen, who, The Onion notes in jest, recently changed his middle name to "Fucking" to accommodate his enthusiastic fans. After his overzealous smoke machines shorted out the onstage equipment, forcing Malmsteen and his entourage to do a grand re-entry, it looked as if he had been deservedly overlooked. But Malmsteen was undeterred by these early mishaps (he's a professional, man!), and the guitarist with the hair of Kenny G and the finger speed of, well, no one else ripped through a set of songs that were technically amazing and utterly indistinguishable, much to the appreciation of his audience. Anyone who owns Spinal Tap on DVD and/or longs for the rebirth of the art of shredding should love Malmsteen live at the Beaumont Club, 4050 Pennsylvania. For ticket information, call 816-931-3330.