Move over, Kelly Clarkson.
We can't think of a better place for an American Idol-type contest than Bar Natasha. Cabaret acts and Broadway sing-alongs are already standards at the trendy nightspot, which, starting Monday, hosts a new show called Natasha Idol. Auditions begin at 8 p.m., but participants (who should come prepared to sing one song -- be it a show tune, pop rocker or country ballad) should be there to sign up by 7. Judges cut the number of aspiring stars each week until only two are left standing; the winner gets his or her own cabaret show at the club (1911 Main) on April 25. Dreams of fame lie not in the hands of Simon Cowell but rather with co-owner Missy Koonce, who presides over a panel of judges that includes actor and former Kansas Senator David Adkins and Pitch writers Steve Walker and Charles Ferruzza. Call 816-472-5300 or see www.barnatasha.com for more information. --Todd Broockerd
Who ever knew that beneath Yakov Smirnoff's tacky Branson schmaltz lurked a sensitive and perhaps even wise soul. Granted, it's hard to believe that the Russian immigrant, who sells laughing-Jesus portraits to the RV enthusiasts he entertains with slapstick-laced patriotic comedy, has more to offer than entertaining kitsch. That's why we were stunned when Will Bowen, director of retreats and events at the fairly sane Unity Village, told us that he was "blown away by the spiritual dimension" of Smirnoff, whom he met at a church in Springfield. Smirnoff's stories from a traumatic divorce so compelled Bowen that he booked the surprisingly profound clown (with preternaturally white teeth) to participate in a weekend retreat at the church. Smirnoff gives a public performance at 7 p.m. Friday in the Silent Unity Chapel (Colburn Road and 350 Highway). Call 816-347-5530 for tickets. -- Jason Harper