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Kansas City Public Library, Plaza Branch

Public readings at the Kansas City Public Library's spiffy Plaza Branch offer a cosmopolitan night on the town for cheap. With just a little furniture rearranging, the northwest corner of the building accommodates more than 300 people for readings, lectures and "script in hand" performances by the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. Wine and snacks are served (how adult!), and the view of the Country Club Plaza alleviates any boredom the grape doesn't cure. People have responded, turning out for readings by locals such as sports broadcaster Max Falkenstien (the "voice of the Jayhawks") and singer-songwriter Connie Dover, and visitors including spoken-word hip-hop poet Tomas Riley. Travel writer and radio host Rudy Maxa attracted a standing-room-only crowd. Events at the Plaza Branch should only get better: In 2008, an auditorium opens.

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