After 2008, the year of “change we can believe in,” 2009 has been relatively unchanging, with non-profits still struggling to raise funds in our tenuous economy. Perhaps the biggest change people have noticed is that the Kansas City Rep is not performing A Christmas Carol for the first time in decades.
Instead of being tarred and feathered, Kansas City Rep artistic director finished up his first season of “adventurous” new theatre and the Wall Street Journal chose The Rep’s The Glass Menagerie as one of the two best plays in the country.
A few new theatre companies arrived on the scene, including Steven Eubank’s Egads Theatre and Alex Espy’s Bellenwhissle Productions. A few new performance spaces opened as well—The Fishtank, The Hemingway Gallery, and the Urban Culture Project’s Project Space.
On the business side of things, the Charlotte Street/Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City’s offspring LINC initiated the new website, KCArtistLink.com, and offered a series of business workshops for artists. Also, several prominent seats have shuffled over the year, beginning with the dismissal of a few arts and entertainment reporters from the Kansas City Star. Martin English became director of Kansas City Young Audiences. Denton Yockey became president of Starlight Theatre. Harlan Brownlee was chosen as president of the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, and Nola Ruth was appointed to head the Missouri Arts Council. At the national level, St. Louis native Rocco Landesman was nominated as chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts.
A few international celebrities visited the area, including Christopher Durang’s appearance at the Inge Festival and George Clooney filming Up in the Air in St. Louis. KKFI brought celebrities to the air with LA Theatre Works, and The Steve and Kathy Show and UnReal Housewives of Kansas City both won regional Emmys.
The Theatre in the Park celebrated its 40th anniversary and Gorilla Theatre celebrated its 20th. The Just Off Broadway Theatre opened their black box ten years ago, which coincidentally was when KC Stage started publication.
This year KC Stage launched a new blog and raised subscription rates for the first time since its introduction. The website was significantly overhauled to make it more stable and flexible for future improvements, although few of the changes are visible right now.
There was sad news in the community this year as well. Longtime music director Molly Jessup, who worked at professional theatres throughout the area, died from cancer on Mar. 15. KC Filmfest (formerly the KC Jubliee) president Fred Andrews was diagnosed with cancer. Actor-director Paul Burns was assaulted in November and left with 150 stitches and substantial medical bills. Ending up the year, Full Frontal Comedy will be giving its final performance this month after eleven years of improvisation.
That’s the year in review. We’re looking forward to 2010 and hope you are too.