Wednesday, May 8, 2013

OffStage has moved

KC Stage's performing arts news blog OffStage has moved to a new website. The new blog can be found here:

The new location gives the blog a facelift and lets you comment on articles or share them on your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more. You can also search the articles by keyword or filter by tag. Articles will also be posted on KC Stage's Facebook and Twitter.

If you are currently receiving email updates you will no longer be able to follow the blog this way, although we hope to offer this feature in the future.

Click here to subscribe to the RSS feed for the new blog. If you aren't currently using a feed reader, try

The OffStage archive here will remain online but will not be updated with new posts.

If you have any questions or comments email

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

KC Ballet "Hey-Hay, Goin to Kansas City" review by Alexia Lang

The Kansas City Ballet’s 55th season is going out with a bang. The final program features three distinct sections that are very different, but have a uniting theme of jazz and sass. 

more at the Vignette

Composer John Chittum interview by Hunter Long

What is your opera about and what is your ritual? My opera is about morning coffee...and what happens when the ritual of morning coffee gets taken way too far.

more at the Black House Collective

Spinning Tree "Hello Again", Living Room "Hurlyburly" previews by Robert Trussell

“Hello Again,” an Obie-winning musical that premiered off Broadway in 1993. Spinning Tree Theatre gets sexy with its production of Michael John LaChiusa’s

more at the KC Star

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KC's jazz origins by kcjazzlark

Saxophonist Ben Webster was born in Kansas City in 1909. He performed here with Bennie Moten’s and Andy Kirk’s orchestras and recorded with both. But he first gained international recognition after moving East, as lead tenor in what was arguably Duke Ellington’s greatest orchestra in the early 1940s.

more at kcjazzlark

"Envision Arts KC" by Kelly Luck

This article is from the March 2013 issue of KC Stage

Character. That’s the word I was looking for.

We were in groups, six of them scattered around the top floor of the ArtsTech building on Holmes Street. The brainstorming was in full swing, and the facilitator asked us to name the things about our town that made it unique. We were a pretty mixed bag: visual artists, musicians, actors, educators, and others, and once the suggestions started flowing they came in all directions: the city’s history as an incubator of artists, the Crossroads district, the unique musical heritage, and new artist communities popping up all over the metro area. All good things, fine things. But I couldn’t help but feel these were all subsets of something larger, something untouched-on. It wasn’t until afterwards that what I had been searching for hit me.

KC Ballet "Hey-Hay, Going to Kansas City" review by kellyluck

Leave The Tutus At Home; KC Ballet Ends Season In A Decidedly Modernist Trip Rating: 4

Hey-Hay, Going to Kansas City
Kansas City Ballet

The Kansas City Ballet is wrapping up another season at the Kauffman, and in grand style. These last couple of years at the new venue have been ones of experiment, and the season closers have been time for the troupe to step out of the ordinary, to present new and interesting ideas. For the programs on display Friday night, they have gone with three fascinating and nicely executed pieces.

First on the program is Energy Made Visible, a performance in six movements by Karole Armitage with music by Bobby Watson. Mr Watson is a busy man just of late, having just come off of a short run of "Kansas City Swing" at the UMKC Theater. There as here he provides the music onstage, accompanying himself in his own compositions. He plays in full jazzman kit, a porkpied piper whose music sends the dancers through their frenzied movements. The transmutation of jazz into other mediums is a tricky business, and one fraught with hazards. Fortunately, there is confident skill at the helm, and the dancers move with the improvised music, seemingly letting it pull them along.

Some interesting business throughout the performance involves a giant "canvas" at which the dancers hurl imaginary "paint", slowly recreating some of the works of Jackson Pollock. The effect was quite interesting, albeit the animated splatter didn't always line up with the throwing movements, hurting the illusion. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experiment and sound and visualization with excellent small and large group choreographies and of course Mr. Watson's wonderful score.

After the first intermission, the mood changed significantly with Common People, Margo Sappington's tour through William Shatner & Ben Folds' 2004 collaboration "Has Been" (this is the same ballet that was featured in the 2009 documentary "William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet", which is entirely recommended). Taking us through seven of the featured songs, Sappington gives us an interesting if occasionally uneven experience, with choreography that matches the eccentric, offbeat yet strangely engrossing nature of the material. Highlights are the title track at the beginning, the surprisingly dreamlike "Together", and the final two parts: a frenzied interpretation of "I Can't Get Behind That" and "Has Been", in both of which the choreography was seasoned with just the right amount of wit, making a good solid finish to the set.

Finally, we had Donald McKayle's Hey-Hay, Going to Kansas City, in which some of the great jazz classics that shaped this city are brought to life. We start off with Euday Bowman's "12th Street Rag" and proceed through the works of Jesse Stone, Charlie Parker, Count Basie and other memorable performers. The dancing here is interesting; something about the looseness of the movement put this reviewer in mind of a Hart Benton painting come to life. Vintage recordings were used of the originals, adding more to the atmosphere and bringing us back to a time and place that looms almost legendary in the annals of our city. Here dancing as storytelling was given its strongest push, each song a vignette. The dancers performed strongly as indeed they had all through the night, and all in all it was a decidedly enjoyable performance.

A few months ago, announcements were made regarding the upcoming 2013-14 season. It will be a solid return to the classics, starting with Jerome Robbins and finishing with Prokofiev's "Cinderella". It should be a good season, but the experimentation of the ballet's first two Kauffman seasons will lie long in this reviewer's memory. And dance aficionados wishing to see and hear something truly creative and interesting are highly recommended to catch this show before its closing night on the 12th.

"Rose Brooks Project SAFE" short film by Stephen Locke

Created by Stephen Locke Film and Video