The best events in KC: November 2023

Photography by Darrien Case.
LEE SAMSON

Music is in Lee Samson’s blood. “Music has been in my family before I was walking—before I was even thought of, really,” says Lee Samson, the grandchild of Lee Williams, lead singer of Tupelo, Mississippi gospel quartet Lee Williams & the Spiritual QC’s. 

Samson is part of a burgeoning group of hip-hop and R&B musicians making their mark on KC’s music scene. He is dropping his first EP in a four-part series titled Philophobia: Season 1 on Nov. 3.

Philophobia means a fear of falling in love, and Samson has turned his experiences of love and heartbreak into lyrical songs for the EP. His live shows feature a bassist, lead guitarist, drummer and DJ.

Samson considers his music style to be alternative R&B, which he describes as a blend as a blend of several influences, including contemporary hip-hop and crooning. He says Philophobia sounds like two of his favorite projects, Free 6lack by 6lack and Blonde by Frank Ocean—“but if Drake was in the studio helping direct it.” 

Samson isn’t worried about the album living up to those high expectations. “I think it’s definitely going to resonate,” he says. “I’ve captured stories of my life with dating and having trouble connecting while just trying to learn how to express myself emotionally. I’m getting raw and vulnerable. Philophobia will finally be a piece that will represent who Lee Samson is as an artist and sound.”

GO: For upcoming shows, follow Lee Samson on Instagram @theleesamson. Philophobia: Season 1 drops Nov. 3, available wherever you stream music.

Del Water Gap

November 4. 8 pm. 

Samuel Jaffe, known as Del Water Gap, is an alternative-indie musician and producer based in Brooklyn who was originally in a band with folk-indie star Maggie Rogers. Del Water Gap is now a solo project that has slowly gained popularity with songs like “Ode to a Conversation Stuck in Your Throat.” His I Miss You Already Tour is in support of his newest album released in late September, I Miss You Already + I Haven’t Left Yet. November 4. 8 pm. The Truman.

The Sound of Music

November 4, 8, 10, 11 & 12.

The Lyric Opera’s second show this season will be the beloved Broadway classic The Sound of Music, which was famously adapted into a movie starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in 1965. While free-spirited governess Maria falls in love with her new family, the Nazi regime comes crashing in around them, forcing the family to make unthinkable decisions and sacrifices for love in the face of adversity. November 4, 8, 10, 11 & 12. Times vary. Kauffman Center.

Día de los Muertos Festival 
Photography provided by Día de los Muertos Festival.

November 5. 10 am–4 pm.

Celebrate Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, and Mexican culture at Nelson-Atkins. Guests will have the chance to learn more about this colorful, culturally significant holiday through dance and music demonstrations, poetry readings and artist performances, as well as traditional food and beverages available for purchase. November 5. 10 am–4 pm. Nelson-Atkins Museum

Buddy Guy

November 6. 7:30 pm.

Now in his mid-eighties, Chicago blues pioneer Buddy Guy has been singing and playing blues guitar for decades, influencing generations of musicians from Jimi Hendrix to John Mayer. Now a legend in his own right, Guy is touring one last time for his well-deserved Damn Right Farewell Tour with special guest Ally Venable. November 6. 7:30 pm. Lied Center.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 

Various dates from November 7–December 31.

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but now audiences get to experience the most famous reindeer of all—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This live musical will be performed at the Coterie Theatre this holiday season, inspiring everyone to be true to themselves and find strength in their perceived flaws. Various dates from November 7–December 31. Times vary. Coterie Theatre.

An Evening with the Late John Cleese

November 9. 7:30 pm.

Be forward-thinking and pay your respects to iconic, beloved comedian John Cleese before he dies by seeing him in his new live touring show, which features both comedy and conversation. The show is a hilarious and insightful look at the life and work of living legend Cleese, best known as the co-founder of Monty Python and for his subsequent acting in the James Bond and Harry Potter franchises. November 9. 7:30 pm. Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

John Cameron Mitchell & Amber Martin in Cassette Roulette

November 10. 8 pm. 

Tony Award-winning writer, director and star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch John Cameron Mitchell joins Broadway music director Justin Craig and international cabaret star Amber Martin for a unique evening of songs, stories and characters all chosen by fate from the cassette roulette. November 10. 8 pm. Yardley Hall.

Nelson-Atkins at 90: A Progressive Party

November 11. 6 pm. 

The Nelson-Atkins is celebrating 90 years of art with a “progressive party.” The festivities begin with a tour of the original galleries, featuring curated highlights from its collections, live music and entertainment. Thematic cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served to partygoers as they stroll through the galleries. The evening culminates in Kirkwood Hall with more food and dancing. November 11. 6 pm. Kirkwood Hall, Nelson-Atkins galleries

Thundergong! Hosted by Jason Sudekis

November 11. 7 pm.

Proceeds from this seventh-annual celebrity benefit concert featuring comedy and music performances helps amputees get the prosthetics they need. KC’s sweetheart and Emmy-winning funnyman Jason Sudekis will be hosting, with performances from fellow SNL alum Will Forte and co-creator of Ted Lasso, Brendan Hunt. November 11. 7 pm. Uptown Theater. Definitely one of the best events in KC.

Mark Morris Dance Group: The Look of Love
Photography provided by Mark Morris Dance Group.

November 17. 7:30 pm. 

Harriman-Jewell Series presents the Mark Morris Dance Group: The Look of Love. After the success of his Beatles tribute, Pepperland, Morris is again teaming up with collaborator Ethan Iverson. The Look of Love is a heartfelt homage to the chart-topping songs of Burt Bacharach, who’s best known for his melodies and unique orchestrations influenced by jazz, rock and Brazilian music. November 17. 7:30 pm. Muriel Kauffman Theatre. 

Yeehaw: A Benefit Show for KC Tenants

November 17. 9 pm.

Yeehaw, a night of music and comedy benefitting KC Tenants—KC’s citywide tenant union—returns for its second year. Alternative-indie bands like Snail Mail and Waxahatchee, comedian Caleb Hearon and more surprise guests will be performing in support of KC Tenants. November 17. 9 pm. The Truman.

Music Illuminates the Soul

November 17–19.

Kansas City Symphony Chorus director Charles Bruffy and guest conductor Eduardo Strausser present this emotive show of instrumental and vocal music. Music Illuminates the Soul is filled with seemingly contradicting pieces, ones of dark and light, tragedy and triumph, sunshine and shadow. In addition to the music program, there will also be an opportunity to participate in an inspirational experience in the lobby featuring elegant visions of the night sky and enlightening entertainment. November 17–19. Times vary. Helzberg Hall. Definitely makes the cut as one of the best events in KC.

The Screwtape Letters

November 18. 4 pm & 8:15 pm.

Fellowship for Performing Arts Presents The Screwtape Letters, a provocative and funny adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ novel of the same name about spiritual warfare from a demon’s point of view. The show stars Brent Harris as Screwtape, who played Scar in the national tour of The Lion King. November 18. 4 pm & 8:15 pm. Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

Gladys Knight

November 19. 7 pm.

The Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight has been regarded as one of the most legendary performers of all time. Knight is taking the Midnight Train to KC to perform songs from her illustrious fifty-plus-year career. November 19. 7 pm. Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

A Christmas Carol

Various dates from November 21–December 24.

One of the holiday season’s most beloved plays, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been performed by The Kansas City Repertory Theatre for more than 40 years. Experience this holiday tradition focused on redemption and goodwill through Ebenezer Scrooge’s ghostly encounters with Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Various dates from November 21–December 24. Times vary. Spencer Theatre

Through the Lens

November 24–26.

Through the Lens is a showcase of KC’s symphony musicians. They’ll play various works throughout the night, including Chilean composer Miguel Farias’ captivating music, an interpretation of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 played by Chinese pianist Zhu Wang, and Antonín Dvorak’s brooding Symphony No. 7. This evening of music will be led by the Chilean-Italian conductor Paolo Bortolameolli in his return to KC.  November 24–26. Times vary. Helzberg Hall.

Alt-J

November 27. 8 pm. 

If you’ve listened to 96.5 Not-The-Buzz in the last decade, you’ve definitely heard English indie-rock band Alt-J on the airwaves. Formed in 2007 in Leeds, they reached their peak fame with 2012’s hit album, An Awesome Wave. They’ll hit KC on tour in support of the 10-year anniversary of that album, with opener Meagre Martin. November 27. 8 pm. The Midland.

DVSN

November 29. 8 pm.

Toronto duo DVSN consists of producer Nineteen85 and vocalist Daniel Daley, who reached stardom after being featured in Drake’s 2016 album Views. The fellow Canadians, signed to Drake’s OVO label, are best known for their melodic slow jams, smooth R&B sound and surprisingly technical production. November 29. 8 pm. The Truman.

Fortune Feimster

November 30. 7 pm.

Comedian, writer and actor Fortune Feimster made her TV debut on Last Comic Standing over a decade ago and had her big break starring as Colette on The Mindy Project. Since then, Feimster has secured recurring roles on uber-popular reality series like Chelsea Lately and RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as comedy specials and tours. Feimster makes a stop in KC for this year’s Live Laugh Love! Tour. November 30. 7 pm. The Midland. Definitely one of the best events in KC.

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