Sunday, January 31, 2010

"KC theatre reflects the American mainstream" by Robert Trussell

Professional theater in Kansas City appears to be firmly positioned in the American mainstream.

Upgrades to the downtown library's film vault

Since opening in 2007, the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault in the basement of the Kansas City Central Library has been one of the classiest hot spots on the local movie scene.

"Winter's Bone" wins grand jury prize at Sundance

Director Debra Granik's "Winter's Bone," the story of a 17-year-old trying to uncover the fate of her father among the criminal clans of the Ozarks, earned the grand jury prize for American dramas at Sundance, Robert Redford's showcase for independent cinema.

Actor Training Studio offers workshop for teens

The Actor Training Studio announces a workshop for actors ages 12 to 15. The weekend workshop intensive "The Truth!" is a six hour workshop held Feb 13-14 from 2-5pm. This workshop will focus on foundations of acting techniques, using exercises and sides from scripts, we will explore how to be more truthful on stage. Mateusz Lewczenko returns to teach this popular section for young actors at ATS.

"Winter's Bone" review in Variety

A teenage girl's resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable physical and emotional obstacles just barely wards off the icy chill that cuts through "Winter's Bone," director Debra Granik's bleak and exemplary sophomore feature. Following its brave heroine (an outstanding Jennifer Lawrence) as she seeks to uncover the truth behind her father's disappearance, the film employs the structure of a whodunit to take a tough, unflinching look at an impoverished Ozarks community ruled by the local drug trade. Raw but utterly enveloping, "Bone" more than merits the patient distrib attention that's become an increasingly rare commodity in the indie marketplace.

more at Variety

Preview of Theatre for Young America's "Nate the Great"

Playing on Union Station's City Stage February 2-20 presented by Theatre for Young America. Nate the Great is the sharpest kid detective ever to solve his neighborhoods mysteries. With his trench coat, Sherlock Holmes hat, his trusty dog Sludge, and his friend Rosamond, he sets out to investigate important cases—important to a youngster, that is.

watch it at Youtube

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Arts Council hosting Benevon Orientation

The Arts Council is hosting a free Benevon Orientation February 11 from 10:00 - 12:00 pm at the Kauffman Foundation. This special Benevon Introductory Session is specifically designed for local arts organizations and features Terry Axelrod, founder and CEO who has worked in the fund development field for over 30 years.

The Arts Council received a capacity building grant from the Kresge Foundation to provide assistance to local nonprofit arts organizations to participate in this extraordinary sustainable funding model. Organizations that are interested in learning more about the Benevon Model and how to participate in the upcoming summer workshop are invited to attend this free introductory session.

Benevon trains and coaches nonprofit organizations to implement a mission-based system for raising sustainable funding from individual donors. This system ends the suffering over fundraising and builds passionate and committed lifelong donors. The session will feature Ms. Axelrod presenting her funding model as well as members of the Arts Council staff presenting the opportunity for local arts groups to participate in the special two-day training scheduled for July 28 - 29. Applications will be available at this session for those organizations wishing to participate in the summer session.

The Arts Council participated in the Benevon two-day training in October and as a result of that experience felt strongly about making this innovative training more affordable and available to local arts organizations and constituents.

They encourage all arts organizations who are interested in learning more about this exciting model to attend the introductory session and meet Terry Axelrod. This is a unique opportunity to meet the CEO and learn about the Benevon Model. We want to help Kansas City arts organizations to prepare for the future by considering more diverse forms of fundraising. To learn more about this model go to For questions regarding this session contact Kelly Ellison, Director of Development at 816 994-9232 or

Coterie's digital guide to "Life on the Mississippi"

watch it at Youtube

"Count Basie takes on Jim Crow" by John Simonson

I was standing in the middle of Highland Avenue last Saturday afternoon, admiring the pink-stucco façade of an old union hall, when I heard the voice of Count Basie. “I am a union man,” the Count said, speaking across time from late January 1947. “I will never cross a picket line to play for anyone.”

more at the KC Free Press

Belly Dance Coalition photo album

Sunday, Jan 24 saw belly dancers from around the area (some as far as Wichita and Topeka) converge on Cafe Cedar in Parkville. Organized by Nicole English (Nikoria Dance Troupe), this is designed to promote Middle Eastern dance and dancers and to offer a place for beginners to experienced performers to show off and to gather with mutual interests.

photos at KC Dance

"Around the World in 80 Days" review by Robert Trussell

I had certain expectations of "Around the World in 80 Days" as I took my seat on opening night, but I never expected a love story.But that's what I got. And it was among the most affecting love stories I've ever seen on stage.

KU Filmworks article by Taylor Brown

KU Filmworks is an organization made up mostly of students student that meets at 7 p.m. on Sunday nights in Oldfather Studios. Becoming a member by attending meetings and paying $20 dues allows you to use their equipment. KU Filmworks has access to high-quality cameras, lighting equipment, grip equipment and other helpful tools.

more at the University Daily Kansan

Quick look at the Granada in Lawrence

With many available venues, the Lawrence music scene is thriving. Places such as the Bottleneck, the Replay Lounge and Liberty Hall all contribute to the music scene but none have a storied history as long as the Granada.

more at The University Daily Kansan

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kathleen Warfel, Kathy Barnett interview by Steve Walker

With the Unicorn Theatre’s mounting of the Tony Award-winning musical “Grey Gardens,” the cast and production team faced a formidable task. The lead actresses are recreating two of the most beloved and iconic figures in the history of documentary filmmaking and it’s their notoriety that has called forth a platoon of hair and make-up artists to ensure that the actors’ transformations ring true.

more at KCUR

ArtsKC Fund launches Feb. 1

The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City will launch its 2010 ArtsKC Fund Campaign on February 1. This year marks the fourth annual campaign for the ArtsKC Fund which benefits more than 100 arts organizations, arts programs and artists combined in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The ArtsKC Fund is a united arts fund in the Kansas City metropolitan area that raises new money to support the wide range of arts in the community. Diane Barker of Paul Mesner Puppets, a 2009 Grant Recipient, remarks, "The addition of the ArtsKC Fund grant makes a huge difference in our ability to continue to bring quality programming to the children and families of the greater Kansas City area."

Kathleen Warfel, Kathy Barnett interview by Rachel Murphy

If you’ve been awake and gone to the theatre in Kansas City in the last 15 years, you’ve seen Kathleen Warfel and Cathy Barnett. In commercials, jingles, and the best of KC’s theatres, the pair have played nearly anything imaginable and are now working together at the Unicorn Theatre on their newest show, a musical called Grey Gardens.

more at Present Magazine

Kansas Arts Advocacy Day

This year's Kansas Arts Advocacy's Day, Arts Day at the Capitol, will be held March 11, 2010, 11:00 am - 2:30 pm, hosted by Kansas Citizens for the Arts in partnership with the Kansas Arts Commission. At 11:00 am, gather at the Dillon House, 404 SW 9th Street, directly across from the Capitol, to register and receive current legislative information. The meet with your elected officials to share with them the important news about the value of the arts in Kansas. We encourage you to make appointments with your legislators to you can be sure to speak with them personally.

For more information, contact Ann Evans at (785) 841-5653.

Trey McIntyre Project interview by Daniel Johnson

Balloons, high-definition video and music from Paul Simon might not be commonly associated with a ballet performance, but these were all present for Trey McIntyre’s contemporary dance troupe’s Friday night performance at the Lied Center.

more at The University Daily Kansan

Kansas Arts Commission 2010 grants

The Kansas Arts Commission has awarded 298 organizations, communities and artists throughout the state with grants and awards totaling $1,650,536 during Fiscal Year 2010.

more at Infozine

Unicorn gives reading of "Super"

Lia Romeo’s newest play Super will be read at the next In-Progress New Play Reading Series event will be 7:30pm, February 7 at the Unicorn Theatre.

more at The Unicorn Theatre

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Rodgers and Hart and Hammerstein" review by Robert Trussell

Certain songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II have haunted me since the first time I heard them.

Another take on Tafelmusik's "Galileo Project"

If 2009 was the year to make an outdated sci-fi television show like Star Trek hot again, then 2010 is the year to make the musical musings of one of the architects of modern astronomy sexy. On Sunday, January 31, The Folly Theatre will be the blast pad for a convergence of science and music as the Friends of Chamber Music presents Tafelmusik’s "The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres."

more at KC Free Press 


Gil Shaham, KC Symphony review by Gayle Hathorne

Shaham is Shazam! in the world of violin virtuosi

more at KC Free Press  

Lawrence pub faces ASCAP

The day the music died came earlier than expected at Dempsey's Pub. For a too-short year, the Pub Sessions brought bluegrass cheer to the fledgling bar at 623 Vermont. Young pickers jammed alongside the older generation who came of age at the Walnut Valley Festival in the 1970s. Frequent guests included members of JR & the Juniors, The Calamity Cubes, The Prairie Acre and The Alferd Packer Memorial String Band. The event was free, and the beer flowed freely, especially for the musicians who accepted pints as payment. Then, last fall, it all came to a crashing halt.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

Preview of "Life on the Mississippi"

Present Magazine has a nice preview of the Coterie's Life on the Mississippi with lots of videos.

"Boston Marriage" review by Russ Simmons

Critics often complained that playwright David Mamet, the king of theatrical testosterone (“Glengarry, Glen Ross,” “American Buffalo”), never wrote any good parts for women. In 1999, Mamet responded by concocting an uncharacteristic period piece called “Boston Marriage.” An opus that plays a bit like a caustic reworking of an Oscar Wilde comedy, “Boston Marriage” features only three characters, all of them women.

more at Sun Publications

Top Rated Shows: Jan 25-Feb 1

Ratings - Current Performances
  • 2.00 Glorious! - American Heartland Theatre (1 Vote)
Ratings - Top Ten Rated Shows of the Last 3 Months
  • 5.00 Dreamgirls - Ruskin High School Theatre (4 Votes)
  • 5.00 Palomino - Kansas City Repertory Theatre (2 Votes)
  • 5.00 Madeline's Christmas - Theatre for Young America (2 Votes)
  • 4.75 The Wiz - The Barn Players, Inc (4 Votes)
  • 4.67 King O' the Moon - City Theatre of Independence (3 Votes)
  • 4.00 It's A Wonderful Life:  A Live Radio Play - American Heartland Theatre (3 Votes)
  • 4.00 Maul of the Dead - The Coterie Theatre (2 Votes)
  • 4.00 Martin City Melodrama's 25th Season! - Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Company (2 Votes)
  • 3.67 Altar Boyz - Sonlight Productions (21 Votes)
Reviews - Five Most Recent of Past Performances
  • 5.00 HMS Pinafore - Lyric Opera of Kansas City (1 Vote)
  • 4.00 It's A Wonderful Life:  A Live Radio Play - American Heartland Theatre (3 Votes)
  • 3.67 Little House on the Prairie - The Coterie Theatre (3 Votes)
  • 3.42 Cabaret - The Barn Players, Inc. (19 Votes)
  • 2.00 The Laramie Project - UMKC Theatre (1 Vote)
Rate or review events at KC Stage.

Background on Tafelmusik's "Galileo Project"

This idea that heavenly bodies make beautiful music will be explored and celebrated by the Baroque orchestra Tafelmusik, led by Jeanne Lamon, when it presents “The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres” at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Folly Theater.

Trussell previews this weekend's premieres

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Kansas City’s a great theater town. Granted, we don’t have as many stage companies and actors as Chicago, but the professional theater scene here beats those of St. Louis, Denver or Dallas. Some folks call Kansas City’s cultural life a well-kept secret for good reason.

more at

Gil Shaham's master class

Three talented violin students performed on the stage of the Lyric Theatre Thursday, Jan. 21st for world-renowned violinist, Gil Shaham and an audience of about 250 people, as Shaham coached a free Violin Masterclass.

more at KC Free Press

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Preview of Cirque de la Symphonie

Cirque de la Symphonie is performing Jan 30-31 with the Kansas City Symphony.

watch it at Youtube

"Boston Marriage" review by Alan Scherstuhl

Staged by Kansas City Actors Theatre as a sort of all-female counterweight to last summer's shouting-boys epic Glengarry Glen Ross, Boston Marriage at first resembles no other Mamet show.

more at The Pitch

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Preview of KC Rep's "Around the World in 80 Days"

This is a video preview of Around the World in 80 Days at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, adapted and directed by Laura Eason of the Lookingglass Theatre Company. The show runs Jan 22-Feb 14 and it is appropriate for the whole family.

watch it at Youtube

IFC Seminar: Bill Gilbert from the Gilbert Group

The first Independent Filmmaker's Coalition Seminar Series speaker of 2010 will be Bill Gilbert. Gilbert will speak following the meeting at 7:30pm, Jan 28, at the Westport Coffeehouse. Free for IFC members, $5 for non-members.

Bill Gilbert, owner of The Gilbert Group, is a graduate of the University of Missouri – Rolla. He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Renowned as a lighting director for film and video production he is also an accomplished editor, musician and stock car driver. Gilbert holds memberships with The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, The Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers, the Electrical Generating System Association, and the American Society of Lighting Designers.

The Gilbert Group, Inc. is the Kansas City area’s premier motion picture lighting and grip equipment supplier.

Since 1972, The Gilbert Group has been supplying the finest equipment and technical services to producers of film and television programming throughout the United States and the world. From regional and national commercials, documentary films, corporate presentations, national television network shows, news, sports and feature film productions, the Gilbert Group has earned a reputation for high quality equipment and expert professional services.

Arts ripple effect

The Fine Arts Fund of Cincinnati has created a beautifully crafted and well researched report that reveals key findings on how a stronger rationale for supporting the arts can be framed. This discussion resonates at a time when support for the arts is dwindling — not because the arts are any less important now (they are arguably more important than ever) -- but because those who care about the arts have not developed a coherent way of expressing the value of the arts to the public. See how the phrase "the arts ripple effect" has meaning for both those engaged in the arts and those who are not as the report's authors test out different commonly used arguments for arts support. Begin to use the concepts in your local communities and see if they work. Click here to download the report.

Kansas leads nation in artistic creation

The Kansas Arts Commission has long known the love Kansans feel for the arts, but with results from a study of nationwide arts participation, the numbers are clear: Kansas leads the way nationally in artistic creation.

"Spotlight on Jeff List" by Laura Payne

from the December 2009 issue of KC Stage.

Great art comes from true inspiration. Moments that reveal real passion and interest breed the most rewarding of artistic experiences, and to reveal what touches your soul in a way that is vital and shared is what makes people return time and again to theatres worldwide. Most actors can recount their first “real” role with dreamy eyes and lilting tone, artists show their first polished piece with a joy that seems palpable, and a director facing his first full length production shows promise of a tomorrow filled with pride. Jeff List found the right play at the right time for the right theatre, and this December it is his turn to join the ranks of directors who can look back with glee at their first directorial endeavor and say, “I was inspired.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Grey Gardens" behind the scenes

We take you behind the scenes of the Unicorn's latest production, Grey Gardens. This 2007 Tony Nominated musical is based on the 1975 documentary about Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, the eccentric aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. The show plays January 29th-February 28th. Tickets available at or 816-531-PLAY.

watch it at Youtube

Curtis Grigsby interview by Adrianne DeWeese

Those who watch Curtis Grigsby dance might think to themselves, “Now there’s a man with a story to tell.” When Grigsby dances, his whole body speaks. His hips move to the music. His tap shoes click in time, on beat. His arms rotate fluidly with the rest of his frame. It’s the storytelling of a dream.

more at The Examiner

A look at the KC Symphony's next season

The Kansas City Symphony’s next season of music, presumably its last at the Lyric Theatre, will include a now-familiar mix of marquee and rising-star soloists, plus a blend of concert favorites and up-to-the-minute pieces.

more at

Tafelmusik interview by Gina Kaufmann

The critically acclaimed Tafelmusik concept is coming to Kansas City in a big way with the U.S. premiere of “The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres,” presented by the Friends of Chamber Music on Jan. 31 at the Folly Theater.

more at

Week-on-Stage: Jan 25-Feb 1

Events for this week

  • Around The World In 80 Days - Kansas City Repertory Theatre
  • Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández - Lied Center
  • Boston Marriage - Kansas City Actors Theatre
  • The Dixie Swim Club - Lawrence Community Theatre
  • The Drowsy Chaperone - Lied Center of Kansas
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd - Paul Mesner Puppets*
  • Glorious! - American Heartland Theatre
  • Grey Gardens - Unicorn Theatre
  • The Last Night of Ballyhoo - Sonlight Productions
  • Life On The Mississippi - The Coterie Theatre
  • Nobody's Perfect - Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy
  • Rodgers and Hart and Hammerstein - Quality Hill Playhouse
  • Run for Your Wife - New Theatre Restaurant 
Classes for this week
  • Spring Drama Classes at Avila - Theatre for Young America*
  • Spring Drama Classes at Wonderscope - Theatre for Young America*

Auditions for this week
  • MTH's 2010 Season - Musical Theater Heritage
  • Celebration in Song: The Wizard of Wicked, the Music of Stephen Schwartz - CenterSeason Theatre 
*Members of KC Stage receive a discount to these affiliate organizations with their KC Stage membership card.

Visit KC Stage for event details. 

Raytown Arts Council seeks director for "Annie"

Raytown Arts Council is currently seeking a director for their 2010 summer musical Annie. Performance dates are July 16-18 and July 23-24, 2010. Auditions dates are late April.

In order to be considered as a director, please submit an application with a resume of your theatre experience by February 15. Director's interviews will be held will be held on late Febuary-early March. Selected applicants will be contacted to set up an interview date and time.

Please mail applications to Raytown Arts Council, Attention: Alyse Stoll, President, 6825 Lakeshore Drive, Raytown, MO 64133. Directors may also submit their application and resume via email to Don Forsythe. Please visit the official Raytown Arts Council web site to obtain an application and more information about the production and other opportunities with Raytown Arts Council.

For more information call (816) 353-3593 or visit their web site at

Gil Shaham, KC Symphony review by Timothy McDonald

Time stood still Saturday night at the Lyric Theatre when violinist Gil Shaham performed with the Kansas City Symphony. As Shaham drew his bow across the strings to begin the melancholy opening theme of Samuel Barber’s “Violin Concerto,” he produced one of the most opulent string sounds I’ve ever heard in that space.

more at

Django Reinhardt tribute review by Bill Brownlee

Saturday marked the 100th birthday of Django Reinhardt. Had he not died in 1953, the legendary guitarist might have found no finer place to celebrate his centennial milestone than the Folly Theater.

more at

Sasha Cooke review by Timothy McDonald

It’s always exciting to observe a young artist like mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke on an upward career trajectory. Her Sunday afternoon recital at the Lied Center suggests she’ll be on our radar screen for years to come.

more at

"King O' the Moon" cast interviewed

In one of the first gatherings of the Independence cast of “King o’ the Moon,” members of the fictional Pazinski family looked around at each other. Those portraying three brothers, a sister and a mother, well, they actually looked alike with their dark hair and wide smiles.

more at The Examiner

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Arts Council honors businesses and individuals

The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City will honor six area workplaces and two individuals at its annual ArtsKC Awards luncheon in March.

more at

Katherine McNamara interview by Robert Trussell

Katherine McNamara does college-level math, reads the Wall Street Journal, subscribes to the Economist and at one point announced that she wanted to be the next Alan Greenspan. She just turned 14.

more at 

Rosen says "A Christmas Story" was a hit

Eric Rosen makes no bones about it.The world premiere of “A Christmas Story, the Musical!” at Kansas City Repertory Theatre exceeded any reasonable expectation.“By a lot,” Rosen said. “We were 95 percent capacity, which was the highest percentage in the Rep’s history for a holiday show — or any show.”

more at

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kansas Arts on Tour Roster

The Kansas Arts Commission has named 31 new and returning artists and groups to its 2010-2011 Kansas Arts on Tour Roster. This roster of Kansas performing, visual and literary artists are available to tour venues throughout the state during fiscal year 2011. Artists were reviewed and recommended by expert panelists and are available to present performances, workshops, master classes, exhibitions and other events in Kansas communities.

more at Infozine

"Boston Marriage" introduction

watch at Youtube

"Boston Marriage" review by Robert Trussell

Audacity and reckless courage are always admirable qualities in theater artists, and both are in ample supply in the Actors Theatre KC production of David Mamet's Boston Marriage.

more at

Erin McGrane's essentials

Erin McGrane just might be the luckiest woman in Kansas City. The actress recently appeared in “Up in the Air,” a film that has generated tons of award-season buzz since its December release. Her screen time totaled, oh, approximately 40 seconds, but her role as George Clooney’s former flame is nothing short of enviable.

more at Ink

Friday, January 22, 2010

Audience Q&A with pianist Boris Giltburg

The Harriman-Jewell Series presented Boris Giltburg on Thursday, December 10, 2009, at the Folly Theater in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Following his free Discover Concert, he answered questions from the audience. Series Executive Director Clark Morris moderated the conversation. Visit for information about the Harriman-Jewell Series.

watch it at Youtube

Lyric singer makes MET debut

Michael Fabiano, who debuted at the Lyric Opera in La bohéme in September 2008, recently made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Verdi’s Stiffelio

more at the Lyric Opera

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Musical Theatre Heritage 2010 Season

Kiss Me Kate Mar 11-28
Kiss Me Kate was a comeback triumph for an aging Cole Porter. In 1948 Kiss Me Kate exceeded his Anything Goes as a sucessful musical with cohesive book and score, and proved to be his biggest hit. Great songs include: "Why Can't You Behave," "Tom, Dick or Harry," "So In Love, Wunderbar," "Too Darn Hot." This masterpiece won the first Tony Award presented for Best Musical.

1776 Aug 12-29
Starring Deb Bluford & an all-girl cast! MTH breaks new ground. Sometimes a new voice can bring new meanings to old stories. This story is about how much work and courage it took to get everyone off their "arses" to break it off with England. Sherman Edwards, developed lyrics and libretto for this insightful musical on the real struggle to write our Declaration of Independence.

A Spectacular Christmas Dec 2-23
Now in its third year, A Spectacular Christmas will feature a sackful of classic holiday songs. It's funny, it's heartfelt, it's sentimental and it's Christmastime. This is an original show written by MTH that has a lot of fun with our best-loved local performers. " turns wacky and poignant...serious fun" - Robert Trussell

Musical Mondays 7:30pm
Mar 1 / May 3 / July 5 / Aug 2 / Sep 20 / Nov 22
An impromptu evening of musical theater hosted by Tim Scott, featuring KC's finest actors and singers. You never know who will show up, and you never know what songs will be sung, but it's a guaranteed great time. Included in season ticket holder package. $15 for general public. Reservations required (816) 221-6987.

For tickets and more information, please visit

Coterie's "Life on the Mississippi" on KCUR

It is Clemens' early years that is the subject of Life on the Mississippi, a new musical at The Coterie Theatre that chronicles his time as a steamboat pilot, and how his later characters were inspired by people he met during his travels up and down the fabled river. 

listen at KCUR

Interviews with Gil Shaham and Sasha Cooke

Barber’s violin concerto is definitely in the lyrical, romantic mold. Shaham calls it “the great American violin concerto. I first performed it 20 years ago with the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by my good friend Michael Stern,” he said. “Every page is gold. It sounds so American. You can almost see the skyscrapers being constructed.”

more at

Bob Paisley interview by Robert Trussell

Bob Paisley doesn’t mince words at the prospect of performing a one-man show. “There’s no way to describe the panic I feel putting this thing together,” Paisley said. “My only thought is, ‘I can’t suck.’”

more at