Blues, Brother

8/5-8/6
Cold beer, hot barbecue, Kansas City blues: three great things that taste great together, right? The Sherwood Center, a nonprofit organization that helps people with autism and related disabilities, sure thinks so. The 15th annual Blues and Bar-B-Q benefit party, in the parking lot at B.B.’s Lawnside Bar-B-Que (1205 East 85th Street, 816-822-7427), begins at 6 p.m. Friday, when Shinetop Jr. takes the stage, and continues Saturday afternoon at 3 with performances by Jellyroll, Neon Blue and John Paul’s Flying Circus. Adults pay $5 to get in; small blues lovers (kids under 12) don’t have to pay a thing. — Rebecca Braverman

Short and Sweet
The Actor’s Equity Showcase is a true variety show.

8/4-8/7
The Actor’s Equity Showcase is a coming-out party for Kansas City theater’s young bucks, a chance to check out who might matter next. Like 2004’s standing-room-only showcase, this year’s quintet of short works promises more variety on one stage than you’d find hopping from venue to venue all weekend long. Cynthia L. Cooper’s Sentences and Words sketches a lawyer’s struggle to save her client from a death sentence. Romulus Linney’s Juliet covers behind-the-scenes drama at a staging of Ibsen’s Ghosts. Is it possible, the leading lady wonders, to skip the Scandinavian gloom and land a happy ending? Find out at 7 p.m. Thursday at Studio 116 at UMKC’s Helen F. Spencer Performing Arts Center (4949 Cherry). A $10 donation is encouraged. We dare you to go without ponying up; you wouldn’t let a bunch of skinny theater people browbeat you out of ten bucks, would you? Plays are staged this weekend and next. Call 816-756-0308 for information. — Alan Scherstuhl

Pinter Wonderland

8/4-8/6
Like life on a molecular level or an argument with Scott McClellan, Harold Pinter’s Betrayal ends where it starts and starts where it ends. He distinguished his 1980 exegesis of a love triangle by staging it backward, kicking off with the breakup and climaxing with the hook-up. This puts demands on the audience but also frees us: We worry not how things will wind up but why they go wrong. Further complicating matters for this Down Every Street production is director Beate Pettigrew’s decision to make this a “splash” show: She’ll rotate fresh actors into the lead parts, and each weekend one actor will not have rehearsed with the others. Provocative stuff for Johnson County — and for a mere five bucks. The play, which runs the next two weekends, premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday at Johnson County Community College’s Black Box Theatre in the Carlsen Center (12345 College Boulevard in Overland Park, 913-271-3189). — Scherstuhl

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