Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tony Botello's thoughts on the Kauffman Center

While I'm opposed to "high art" on general principle I find the hype surrounding the upcoming Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts exceedingly distasteful.

more at Tony's Kansas City

KC Rep "Saved" review by Christian Rose

The well-respected theater, under the artistic direction of Eric Ronsen, seeks to build on the momentum created with last season’s acclaimed hit “Venice,” now in production in Los Angeles. The inspirationally-intentioned but mostly disastrous “Saved!,” directed by Gary Griffin, revolves around a group of Christian high school students.

more at the University News

Mike Rollen "Kansas City Murder Factory" interview by Marcus Moore

KMBC's Marcus Moore talked with director Mike Rollen.

more at Youtube

Columbia's Odyssey Chamber Music Series 2010-2011 Season

7:30 p.m. Friday: Odyssey Gala Benefit Concert includes intimate waltzes by Johannes Brahms with Tsuruta and her husband, pianist Peter Miyamoto, followed by Robert Schumann’s popular “Fantasy Pieces” with clarinetist Paul Garritson. It also will include a selection of songs by Richard Strauss with soprano Christine Seitz. The celebration of chamber music culminates with “Schumann’s Piano Quintet” with pianist Janice Wenger and the Esterhazy Quartet. Meet the musicians at a post-concert reception. Tickets: $20 general admission, $10 students.

7 p.m. Nov. 12: Ode to Americana: Woodwinds & Percussion features various combinations of woodwinds and percussions by mostly American composers. The concert features percussionist Andrew Heglund of the University of Nevada in Reno and bassoonist Christine Schillinger of Miami University in Ohio. MU’s Rodney Ackmann, Steve Geibel, Erica Manzo, Marcia Spence, Brian Tate, Dan Willett, as well as string players Amy Appold, Paul Seitz, Matt Pierce and Bryce McDonald will also take the stage. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students.

7 p.m. Dec. 3: Brahms & The Enchanted Garden is a holiday program featuring a work for violin and piano by resident composer Paul Seitz, Maurice Ravel’s fantastic “Mother Goose Suite” for piano four hands and Frank Martin’s charming “Trois Chants de Noël” with soprano Tiffany Blake and friends from Colorado State University. The evening closes with Johannes Brahms’ “Horn Trio” featuring Marcia Spence, Elizabeth Warne and Natalia Bolshakova. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students.

2 p.m. Jan. 22: Musicians from New York Summer Festival features New York Summer Music Festival faculty Miyamoto and Tsuruta; Chris Nappi, percussion; Ella Toovy, cello; Jessica Warner, oboe; and Nathan Warner, classical and jazz trumpet. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students.

7 p.m. Feb. 11: Genuinely Baroque welcomes flutist Roberto Maggio and virtuoso harpsichordist Enrico Baiano from Italy. The concert will also highlight violinist Susan Jensen and cellist Darry Dolezal as well as the Bach Collegium Choir and Odyssey Chamber Ensemble, led by R. Paul Crabb. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students.

7 p.m. March 11: The Second Viennese School features Schönberg’s “Verklärte Nacht,” or transfigured night, for string sextet performed by Esterhazy Quartet with cellist Matthew Pierce, and guest violinist Mark Menzies of the California Institute of the Arts. The program opens with a solo violin work by Brian Ferneyhough of Stanford University and closes with Alban Berg’s notoriously beautiful and difficult Chamber Concerto featuring soloists Menzies and Miyamoto, with Leo Saguiguit, conductor. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students.

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. April 2: Plowman Chamber Music Competition semifinals. Tickets: $15 all day general admission, or $10 per morning or afternoon session; $10 all day students.

2 p.m. April 3: Plowman Chamber Music Competition finals concert and awards ceremony is scheduled for the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. The Plowman will feature 17 ensembles, and audience members are encouraged to vote for the Audience Prize. All proceeds support the Plowman Chamber Music Competition. Tickets: $20 general admission, $10 students.

7 p.m. May 6: Ode to Americana: George & Lenny! Popular composers Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin are featured in a selection of songs with soprano Jo Ella Todd and baritone Dan Urton, and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” is arranged for a smaller ensemble by Patrick Dell. Tickets: $20 general admission, $10 students.

All events are at 1112 E. Broadway unless stated otherwise. For more details and updates, visit

KU Dean Robert Walzel interview by Terry Rombeck

Amid unpacking boxes at home and hundreds of meetings at work, Robert Walzel has been keeping his clarinet chops up the last few weeks. He wants to make a good first impression for his Lawrence debut, which comes Friday at the 11th annual Collage Concert presented by the Kansas University School of Music.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

KCPT hosting a murder mystery fundraiser

Enjoy dinner and solve a mystery just like Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple!

Lyric Opera "Carmen" review by Robert Trussell

The Lyric Opera production of the piece, directed by Bernard Uzan and conducted by Ward Holmquist, is a beautifully sung rendering, with handsome production values. R. Keith Brumley’s new scenic design and Donald Edmund Thomas’ lighting create a Spanish fantasy world that lodges permanent visual memories in the viewer’s mind.

more at

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Musical Theatre Heritage "Jesus Christ, Superstar" performance

Bad Plus review by Bill Brownlee

The Bad Plus isn’t boring. The specter of tedium, an accursed affliction of even the most exceptional jazz piano trios, never loomed Saturday at the Folly Theater. Then again, this isn’t a typical jazz act.

more at

Neil Berg "100 Years of Broadway" interview by Chansi Long

On Thursday, a cast will don tuxes and gowns and stroll onto the stage of the Lied Center to perform “100 Years of Broadway.” The concert is a compilation, composed by Neil Berg, featuring a collection of scenes and songs that made Broadway famous.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

Coterie "Science Fiction Triple Feature" review by Tribblemom

Triple Crown for a Triple Feature
Rating: 5

Science Fiction Triple Feature
The Coterie Theatre

I went to see the Science Fiction Triple Feature and was blown away.  I was moved by all three one acts.  I found myself hurting along with Charlie during the "Flowers for Algernon" and questioning our methods of trying to "fix" everything quickly and not asking ourselves if the quick fix is worth it.  "The Veldt" written by Bradbury many years ago shows us that being a parent is by involving ourselves in our children's lives by being there, not buying items to replace parents and the day to day contact that we have with our children.  The "River to Babylon" that was written in '37 was a forecast of what could happen in our lives if we don't make some changes.

I was please with all the performances in the ensemble cast with a notable performance by Rusty Sneary as Charlie in "Flowers."  The acting was marvelous including the two newcomers to the stage.  I am always impressed with Jeff Church's productions and have never left disappointed.

read the review at KC Stage

Lyric Opera "Carmen" review by Paul Horsley

September 25th at the Lyric Theatre and runs through October 4 — a sort of “Carmen Lite” that was nonetheless elevated by a handsome, versatile new set by the Lyric’s R. Keith Brumley, firm musical direction by Ward Holmquist in the orchestra pit and a captivating, vocally exceptional performance by Sandra in the title role.

more at the Independent

Coterie "Science Fiction Triple Feature" review by Piddums

Three Science Fiction Classics
Rating: 5

Science Fiction Triple Feature
The Coterie Theatre

The Coterie's Science fiction Triple feature takes three classics of young adult science fiction, Ray Bradbury's The Veldt, Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon and Steven Vincent Benet's The Water of Babylon.

The Bradbury and Benet pieces are the shorter bits, working as bookends around the much longer Flowers for Algernon. I read the Bradbury story when I was in Junior high school. It is chilling, but fairly incomprehensible. Two children have programmed an entertainment system to do something awful to their parents. Vanessa Severo gives a compelling performance as the terrified Mother.

Benet's The Waters of Babylon, from 1937, is an almost clichéd look at a possibly prehistoric world, but it got me wondering if Benet was the first too come up with this plot. Benet is mostly forgotten, but during the thirties and forties was a popular and readable poet, who wrote more than his share of Sci-Fi pieces and he might be due for a resurgence.

The central piece is Flowers for Algernon about a mentally retarded man given a life altering surgery. Rusty Sneary gives a tremendous performance showing the rise and fall of this gentle character. Watching it, I was amazed at the story flow, showing the character gaining more and more intelligence, but with it becoming aware of his position in life. The devastating ending had me weeping.

A fine production done by the Coterie and directed by Ron McGee.

read the review at KC Stage

Columbia's Stephens Lake Park Amphitheater to reopen in March

The Stephens Lake Park amphitheater is scheduled to reopen in March after weather-related construction delays. The amphitheater, which first opened on June 26, although it was uncompleted, will be available for concerts, plays, musical performances and private events, such as weddings, according to Erin Carrillo, recreational specialist at the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department.

more at the Missourian

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Theatre Lawrence "Shout!" preview by Cathy Hamilton

Baby boomers who grew up in the ’60s might find themselves singing along with the performers of “Shout!,” amazed at the lyrics they can remember. “This is the music my sister said I had to learn or I’d never have a girlfriend,” says Doug Weaver, director of the musical review opening tonight at Theatre Lawrence, formerly the Lawrence Community Theatre.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

Composer Jonathan Leshnoff interview by Rick Hellman

The Kansas City Symphony continues its Michael Stern-era tradition of collaborating to commission and premiere new works when it brings composer Jonathan Leshnoff to town Oct. 8-10 for the second-ever performance of his eight-minute Starburst.

more at the Jewish Chronicle

Vladimir Feltsman interview by Patrick Neas

For 35 years, the Friends of Chamber Music has been bringing some of the finest classical performers to Kansas City. For its big anniversary season, Cynthia Siebert, the founder and artistic director of the series, has lined up some of the greatest pianists in the world. Vladimir Feltsman will start things off with a recital at 8 p.m. Friday at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.

more at (followed by a preview of more music events!)

Grace Cathedral 2010-11 Season

The Grace Cathedral in Topeka has programmed 11 more performances during the 2010-11 Great Spaces Music & Arts Series:
  • 5 p.m. Oct. 10: Ensemble Heinavanker, a choral group from Estonia that will sing sacred and folk classics from their homeland. Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students, and free for children 12 and younger.
  • 7 p.m. Oct. 29: Silents in the Cathedral, a joint program with the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, returns with a screening of the silent movie classic "The Phantom of the Opera" starring Lon Chaney in the title role and accompanied live by organist Marvin Faulwell. Free.
  • 7 p.m. Nov. 12: The Madraliers, the chamber choir from Northwest Missouri State University, under the direction of Brian Lanier, brings Kansas City, Mo., classical guitarist Douglas Niedt to perform Mario Castelnuovo-Tedasco's "Romancero Gitano" and other works. Freewill offering.
  • 3 p.m. Nov. 21: Kairy Koshoeva, a native of Kyrgyzstan who is pursuing her doctoral degree in piano performance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Conservatory of Music, returns to perform her third recital on the cathedral's 1923 Model D Steinway grand piano. Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students, and free for children 12 and younger.
  • 7 p.m. Dec. 10: New York Polyphony, the acclaimed four-voice male a cappella vocal ensemble that performed last year as part of the Great Spaces series returns to present a program of holiday music and selections from its latest CD, "Tudor City." Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students. and free for children 12 and younger.
  • 7 p.m. Jan. 21: Catherine Rodland, the concert organist from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., will perform works by Marcel Dupre and other classics on the cathedral's 63-rank Schantz organ, the city's second-largest pipe organ. Freewill offering.
  • 7 p.m. Jan. 31: The St. Olaf Choir, the world-famous collegiate chorus whose many appearances have included ones on Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion," will make its first appearance at Grace Cathedral as part of its Midwest tour under the direction of conductor Anton Armstrong. Freewill offering.
  • 7 p.m. Feb. 18: Washburn Percussion Collective will return to the cathedral to once again demonstrate just how much melody can be produced by various percussion instruments, including vibraphones, xylophones, marimbas and drums. Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students, and free for children 12 and younger.
  • 7 p.m. March 4: The Pagan Jazz Trio, from Kansas City, Mo., makes its Jazz at Grace debut, including tracks from its "Three for the Ages" CD featuring pianist Michael Pagan, drummer Ray DeMarchi and Topeka-born bassist Bob Bowman. Freewill offering.
  • 7 p.m. April 1: Massimo Nosetti, the titular organist of the Basilica of Santa Rita in Turin, Italy, includes Grace Cathedral on a concert tour of the United States. Freewill offering.
  • 5 p.m. May 8: The Elaris Duo, the acclaimed Topeka-based duo of violinist Larisa Elisha and cellist Steven Elisha bring their mastery of the repertoire for those two instruments to close out the Great Spaces series. Freewill offering.
more at the Topeka Capital-Journal

"A Conversation with Jeff Church" by Anna Jennings

This article appeared in the August 2010 issue of KC Stage

Jeff Church is now in his 19th year at the Coterie Theater, a professional theater for young audiences and is the Producing Artistic Director. He got his start at the age of 15 in his hometown of La Junta, Colorado, where he started a children’s theater (now called theater for young audiences) because “There weren’t many opportunities for kids to be in plays. We did not have a good junior high drama program at all. So I started a theater when I was in junior high, a children’s theater where kids could be in the plays. I was very entrepreneurial back then. I think I started it because I’ve always wanted to direct. Even back then I was gearing towards directing. Having been in plays when I was a kid, I didn’t necessarily think my passion was acting. I wasn’t against acting; I did a lot of acting in high school and college. But I really liked, and always have liked directing and organizing the concept of the production. I sure had an idea of what I wanted the set to look like, the costumes to look like, and that sort of thing. It was the director in me coming out at a young age.”

Coterie producing artistic director Jeff Church and executive director Joette Pelster. 
Photo courtesy The Coterie Theatre

Throughout his years at Colorado College and as a Playwright-in-Residence at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., he operated his summer theater back home in Colorado. When he joined the Coterie as Producing Artistic Director in 1990 he chose to retire his original theater venture. On a national level, Jeff has been a board member of the Theater Communications Group, an NEA site reporter and panelist, and has been inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theater. “I think it’s interesting that I’ve always been specializing in theater for young audiences or children’s theater in some form and I had a long, really fun, stint in Washington D.C. I was a playwright in residence at the Kennedy Center in my 20s, and that was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. It was a lot of write-for-hire.”

“Something I don’t put in my bio is that I also taught at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts at the same time. I took my writing side and my teaching side and tried to cobble out a living in the 1980s. There were a lot of ups and downs and rewards and highlights. One of the students that I taught for 3 years was Dave Chappelle. I taught him Principals of Stage Management, Play Analysis, and a playwriting class. In the playwriting class, I was feeling like the kids weren’t really writing anything that they were passionate about so I gave them an “A” or “F” assignment and they had to grade themselves. They had to write something that shocked even them. They had half the class to write it and half the class to perform it. Everybody else in the class clearly gave themselves an “F”. They tried everything; they really tried to shock themselves but couldn’t do it. The only person who really succeeded was Dave and he wrote the Crack Baby Monologue, which is a famous routine he did in his first HBO special. I’ve heard kids over the years be able to do the whole monologue, and I think that it’s so interesting that it was a class assignment. I think he’s kept that idea in his television series, ‘don’t write if it doesn’t shock you’. If it didn’t shock him, it wouldn’t shock anybody else. All his stuff was so edgy and funny. He was doing stand-up at the time, and kept saying, ‘Mr. Church, I don’t see why I have to write a play, I’m in stand-up.’ I said, ‘eventually you’re going to want to develop characters, you can’t always be you, Dave, at the mike. There might be some other things that you want to do.’ Which was true.”

When asked why Jeff cares so much about theater for young audiences, he said, “I really think that there are several sides to that question. A personal side, I feel that there’s a lot left to explore in theater for young audiences. For example, there are a number of plays that are very common to the entire American population in adult theater that many people could name to you... from Glass Menagerie to Oklahoma. But in theater for young audiences, though we’ve been at it for 100 years or more, we only have one play everyone can name that truly began as a play, not an adaptation of a children’s story, something that was born to be onstage, and that’s Peter Pan. Since then there’s really been nothing, and I think that’s a dismal record. Or you can look at it as a tremendous opportunity. There’s obviously a lot of room for growth.”

Jeff has been doing his part to help theater for young audiences grow with the Coterie’s Lab for New Family Musicals. “Our idea for the Coterie Lab for New Family Musicals is to get Broadway composers to take a property of theirs and fashion it into a family musical and give it a life in professional theater for young audiences. It’s not a junior version. When we did Seussical, they made the junior version from our version. But our version was a professional theater for young audiences version. Yes, it had a smaller cast, but it did not have a simplified, easy to sing score. It was just as professional and challenging for singers as the Broadway original, though not as many songs, not as many characters, and not as long.” Many shows have had new life and fame through this program, including Seussical, Geppetto & Son, The Happy Elf, Life on the Mississippi, and the latest production, Lucky Duck, which opened June 22, 2010 and runs through August 8, 2010. “Over the 8 years of doing this, I’ve gotten to work with some really great people, from Stephen Schwartz, Harry Connick Jr., Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and now Henry Krieger and Bill Russell. These people have told us that it makes their plays better to come here and spend time at the Coterie and streamline and clarify what story you are telling.” One of the goals of the Coterie Lab for New Family Musicals is to create more high-caliber musicals for younger audiences, with the hopes that most shows go on from here to the national level, as Seussical did. The National Endowment for the Arts has recognized this caliber of shows, through Jeff’s grant writing skills, and has provided funding for both Life on the Mississippi and Lucky Duck. “That particular grant was probably the most difficult for me to write because it has an artistic narrative that has to be very complete and very exhaustive in its detail. But my Executive Director, Joette Pelster, and our Development Director, Patrick Yount, they’re very good at uncovering funding sources.” The Coterie Lab for New Family Musicals also is letting Jeff realize a dream of his, directing a production of The Wiz next summer!

A couple of other little known programs that the Coterie has are the Coterie at Night Series and “We also have the largest AIDS education program in the city and we partner with UMKC School of Medicine and KU School of Nursing. The Dramatic AIDS Education Project (DAEP) has proven to be very fundable and we’ve been able to get involved in some funding that other theaters would not have because they don’t have a program like that. It’s unusual to be sex and health educators, as a lot of theaters are not that. Another little known fact about is that we find a lot of up-and-coming actors because they’re on our payroll very early on. We have a payroll of about 120 people over the course of a year and a budget of about 1.4 million.”

“A big part of why the Coterie works is that, as a not-for-profit theater, we’re given the in-kind donation of our space here at Crown Center. That makes a huge difference. In fact, I would encourage any theater entrepreneurs or not-for-profit theaters that are getting started to create whatever structures you can, make whatever in-roads you can, to get out of the business of paying rent, or at least try to greatly minimize. You don’t want to be in the business in our size of theater and be looking at roof repair or high rent. Once you take that on, once you get a space that you can get in-kind or greatly reduced, you’ve got to use that. I think that it would be a shame to produce Velveteen Rabbit and those kinds of plays all year long. It would be a waste of a chance to do some really interesting plays. I think I could’ve built the Coterie to a much greater budget than what we are currently if I was to do these commercial children’s theater favorites, but I’m trying not to go that route.”

When asked what keeps him going, Jeff replied that it’s because “the theater is largely changing, there’s more shows for older ages now, and lots of fun musicals for all ages. The Coterie’s always open for change, and has become a place where you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the shows. I like kids’ musicals, but I’m also interested in trying to redefine traditional notions of children’s theater and turn those notions on their head and make some new rules, standards and goals. I think there’s a lot of opportunity in middle school and high school to get them excited about theater. The Coterie has a great chance because we’re in a small space and you can really impact them. When we did Tell Tale Electric Poe we paired Scott Hobart, Rex Hobart, and Bruce Roach together. It was very palpable. The audience did not move for 65 minutes. They were literally working to get the language, taking in the atmosphere, and then electric score was just pulling them in. I think that we’ve had some real successes in middle school and high school to give them the one-two punch that they didn’t expect.”

Still in Kansas City, but outside of the Coterie, Jeff is directing Thrill Me, a musical in the Fringe Festival. Its run will extend through Aug 15 at the Fishtank Performance Studio. After the Fringe, it will play on weekends. “It’s a two-character musical. It’s based on the 1920’s gay criminals, Leopold and Loeb. They were young, and they were well educated, from Chicago. They read a lot of Nietzsche and they felt like they were above the law and they tried to commit the perfect crime and failed.” At the Unicorn Theater, Jeff has directed many times (Sister Mary Ignatius…, La Cage Aux Folles, Laramie Project and others). His upcoming Unicorn project A Very Joan Crawford Christmas. “I’m writing it in August and it will be performed in December. Ron Megee, a long-time collaborator of mine, and I are doing A Very Joan Crawford Christmas, as a very fun, glorious Joan Crawford giving advice on how to drink your vodka and how to keep a man. She’s an older Joan at the end of her career, doing a lot of horror movies.”

Jeff’s advice for others wanting a career in theater for young audiences? “There’s a couple of great grad schools to go to. Arizona State University, University of Texas at Austin, and DePaul University in Chicago all have great programs. I think going and getting that advanced degree is helpful. It networks you, and you go to national conferences. If you’re interested in just getting involved in theater for young audiences, an education degree and some classes in children’s literature, which are really fun to take since you’re reading children’s books, are very helpful. Sometimes taking that and a playwriting class really helps, especially if you can get the professor to let you work on trying out and adapting so you can see the challenges involved with that. I’ve also worked with big casts, sometimes as big as 100 people. It helped me to learn those large stage pictures, moving large groups of people and getting large groups of people to be motivated; to really want to stay in character and take it seriously. I think it taught me how to inspire them.”

"Kansas City Murder Factory" to premiere at Kansas International Film Festival

Imago Dei 2010-2011 Season

Imago Dei Announces 2010-2011 Performing Arts Season taking place at the Historic Granada Theatre.

September 10-11, 2010: Amen! – A combined performance featuring the Transfiguration Vocal Ensemble and the Potter's Clay Dance Company

October 8, 2010: KCK Has Talent! – An annual wide-ranging talent show hosted at the Granada Theatre national historic landmark

November 11-13, 2010: A Christmas Carol: An Urban Cautionary Tale – A stage play set in present day inner city America based on the novel, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

December 10, 2010: Celebration of Choirs – An annual talent show for choirs of all backgrounds to showcase their talent, hosted at the Granada Theatre national historic landmark

January 7, 2011: Gold Rush – A silent film starring Charlie Chaplin

February 10-12, 2011: It's a Journey – a multimedia one woman show that examines her spiritual journey through the joys and heartache's of life.

March 11-12, 2011: Best of Broadway – Take a trip through the Golden Age of Musicals using dance and music

April 8-9, 2011: Battle of the Bands – An annual talent show for local bands to showcase their talent hosted at the Granada Theatre national historic landmark

May 13, 2011: Wacky Wrabbit: Bugs Bunny Cartoons – A film of cartoon shorts featuring the ever popular Bugs Bunny

June 9-11, 2011: Franklin - Winner of the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces Kansas Arts Commission Award

July 7-9, 2011: Godspell – A musical based on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew

August 11-13, 2011: Steel Magnolias – The fabulous stage play on which the award winning 1989 film was bassed.

Imago Dei is a nonprofit professional arts organization that working in performing arts, visual arts, literary arts, and arts education. For more information please see

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hearne Christopher offers more comments on Waterfire

Sources say the well-intentioned promoters behind the Kansas City edition of Waterfire on the Plaza have been walking it hard this past week. The New Age spin off of the annual Providence, Rhode Island event took a seriously, fatal bullet last weekend. That after organizers made a last minute decision to go forward with the outdoor burning pylons on Brush Creek in the midst of one of the worst rain, hail and lightning storms of the year. With an October 2nd rain date in the bank, WaterFire blew it by ignoring the obvious weather and safety conditions and paid the price.

more at KC Confidential

Howard Hessman "Sunshine Boys" interview by Robert Trussell

Howard Hesseman had never worked in Kansas City, never thought much about Kansas City, never connected the words “Kansas City” and “career.” Never, that is, until earlier this year when he agreed to play an aging comedian in Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys.”

Lyric Opera "Carmen" review by Sue Patterson

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City opened its 53rd season, the final season in the Lyric Theater, with one of the most popular and beloved operas for audiences and artists alike, Georges Bizet’s sizzler, Carmen.

more at Present Magazine

Countdown begins for performing arts center

More than 2,000 partygoers are expected to eat, drink and rock the Power & Light District tonight to celebrate the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Why the revelry? It begins a one-year countdown to what is expected to be an even bigger celebration and a crucial turning point for the city.

Coterie "Science Fiction Triple Feature" review by Robert Trussell

Not all science-fiction is created equal. Some sci-fi authors create compelling characters. Others create compelling situations. Still others prefer the world of ideas. Every now and then you can encounter a work of science fiction that has all three.

more at

Barn Players "6x10 Ten-Minute Play Festival" call for directors

The Barn Players is seeking directors for the 3rd Annual 6 x 10 Ten-Minute Play Festival

PROCESS: Submit a letter of application to The Barn Players, along with your resume. An interview will then be scheduled with the Artistic Director and the Asst. Artistic Director.

DEADLINE: October 1st, 2010

AUDITIONS: October 23rd and 24th at from 1pm to 4pm at St. Pius Church. Directors may also choose to pre-cast their play.

REHEARSAL PERIOD: anytime between November 1st and December 2nd…rehearsal schedules and locations are subject to approval by the Artistic Director.

PERFORMANCE WEEK: December 3 -5, 2010 at The Barn Players

  • VICKY'S DESK by Peter Bakely
  • THE LETTER by Kurtis Thiel
  • 4 GIRLS by Joshua Efron
  • SEND-OFF by Justin Martinez
  • JOINED AT THE HIP by Michael Ruth
The directors are responsible for:
  • executing the artistic interpretation of the show with the input of the playwright.
  • Casting the show through open auditions…or through their own connections without benefit of an audition.
  • collaborating on design elements with Technical Director / Stage Manager, Bill Wright and the Facility Coordinator of The Barn Players , Sean Leistico.
  • designing a rehearsal schedule.
  • maintaining open, regular and professional communication with the cast, production team, artistic director and asst. artistic director.
  • provide a minimal set design…provide costumes and props…provide any sound and light cue prior to tech week.
  • hiring their own stage manager who will give way the to the production stage manager during tech week. All other production team members will be provided by The Barn.
To submit an application or for more information, please contact Eric Magnus, Artistic Director of The Barn Players at

Lyric Opera "Carmen" rehearsal

Sandra Piques Eddy and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City cast rehearse the sultry "Habanera" from Bizet's classic "Carmen." This steamy production opens September 25th and is directed by Bernard Uzan.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

UMKC Dance "Flow" photos by Mike Strong

more at KC Dance

Coterie "Science Fiction Triple Feature" preview

Science Fiction Triple Feature- which includes "Flowers for Algernon," "The Veldt and "By the Waters of Babylon"- is showing at the Coterie Theatre, at Kansas City's Crown Center, September 21 to October 17, 2010. Visit for tickets.

Brainroot demo reel

Our Short Reel as up to this point - just focusing on the photography...or videography...or movieography. Whatever you want to call it - basically our non-motion graphics reel.

[Thanks, Tony]

LA Theatre Works interview with the Lied Center

L.A. Theatre Works Producing Director Susan Albert Loewenberg chats with the Lied Center about the historical events surrounding the hydrogen bomb and the power of radio theatre to explore the gammut of human emotion. Lied Center of Kansas - Friday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Unicorn "[title of show]" preview

Lyric Opera director Evan Luskin interview by Dick Wilson

KC Lyric Opera General Director Evan Luskin on the 2010-2011 season

listen at 94.9 KCMO

Saturday, September 25, 2010

KC Rep "Saved" review by Jeannine Chatterton-Papineau

This show was adapted from the controversial MGM film written by Brian Dannelly and Michael Urban. It was controversial partially because its motives were misunderstood, I believe. I have to admit that I had a hard time with Saved. From beginning to end, I was deeply confused.

more at Infozine

Coterie "Science Fiction Triple Feature" preview by Robert Trussell

The Coterie Theatre initiates its 2010-11 season with an unusual show that dramatizes three classic works of speculative fiction under the collective title of “Science Fiction Triple Feature.”

more at

Broadway Across America "Rock of Ages" behind-the-scenes

A behind-the-scenes look at the birth of Rock of Ages including interviews with the producers and creative team.

Unicorn "[title of show]" review by Jeannine Chatterton-Papineau

This production, directed by Missy Koonce and written by Jeff Bowen (Music & Lyrics) and Hunter Bell (Book), has cleaver, memorable songs and a lovable, energetic cast which includes the Musical Director Anthony T. Edwards.

more at Infozine

A look at the set design for the Lyric Opera's "Carmen"

It began with a circle. R. Keith Brumley’s scenic design for the Lyric Opera’s new production of Carmen took as its point of departure the circular shape of the bullfight ring of Act 4, where the searing drama of Bizet’s opera reaches its breaking point.

more at the Independent

"Architect to the Sky" debuts at Kansas International Film Festival

Directed by Joseph Hendrickson, a Kansas City native, and Seattle-educated cinematographer turned director, the film chronicles the building process from planning to ceremonial completion of one of Romero's most unique projects — a Moroccan Lantern Tree House, built in the foothills of Los Angeles.

more at Review

Quality Hill "Come Fly With Me" review by Robert Trussell

Tasty musicianship is what we’ve come to expect at Quality Hill Playhouse and that’s exactly what we get with its new cabaret revue, “Come Fly With Me.”

more at

Friday, September 24, 2010

American Heartland "Love List" preview

"The Love List" is showing at Kansas City's American Heartland Theatre from September 10 to October 24, 2010. Tickets at

Pyramidwest short film "Recovering"

Philly and Aja star in this spoken word/short film about love. "Recovering" is a Pyramidwest film shot on location in the historical 18th & Vine Jazz District.

[thanks, Present Magazine]

"Carmen" mezzo Sandra Piques Eddy interview by Sue Peterson

Steadily, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts grows its striking shell and transforms its interior into a dynamic space on a hill in downtown Kansas City. A year from now, this architectural landmark will be home to Lyric Opera of Kansas City for its 2011-2012 season. For now, Kansas City's noted opera company opens its exciting 53rd season at the Lyric Theatre (1029 Central) with a new production of Carmen by Georges Bizet.

more at Present Magazine

Wamego Dutch Mill Chorus singing for Seattle

Fans of barbershop harmony can help the Wamego Dutch Mill Chorus wing its way next month to Seattle to compete for the first time in the Sweet Adelines International Competition by attending a Saturday concert by the group in downtown Topeka.

more at the Topeka Capital-Journal

Fundraiser for Missouri Theatre in Columbia

The Missouri Theatre will open its doors for audiences once again this month, but only for an evening. A musical show titled “Who’s Afraid of Classical Music?” is scheduled for Saturday night. Alex Innecco, music director at the Missouri United Methodist Church and co-owner of the multicultural arts space Carpe Diem, is the conductor. The event is intended to benefit the Missouri Theatre. Innecco said that after covering the operational costs, proceeds will go to the theater.

more at The Missourian

Band Day at Kansas University

The Marching Jayhawks and the University of Kansas School of Music will host 34 high school marching bands for the 63rd annual Band Day on Saturday, Sept. 25.

more at Infozine

KC Rep "Saved" review by Russ Simmons

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre production of the musical "Saved" tiptoes the thin line between satire and sacrilege. For the most part, it keeps its balance.

more at Sun Publications (after the review for [title of show]

Barn Players "Assassins" review by Russ Simmons

So, what do all of the people who have tried to murder American presidents have in common? Well, judging from Stephen Sondheim’s eccentric 1990 musical comedy "Assassins," they all love to sing and dance.

more at Sun Publications (after the review for [title of show] and Saved)

Unicorn "[title of show]" review by Russ Simmons

Ever wonder what goes into the creation of a hit musical? The Unicorn Theatre gives a wildly entertaining glimpse into the creative process. "[title of show]" is a cheeky and extremely funny behind-the-scenes opus that provides the perfect vehicle for gifted director Missy Koonce and an exceptionally talented cast.

more at Sun Publications

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Carlsen Center's 20th Anniversary

Johnson County Community College dedicated its Cultural Education Center and presented its first season of music and dance performances 20 years ago. Since then, the $21 million arts complex, which was renamed the Carlsen Center in 1998, has seen its share of performances from local, national and international artists.

more at Sun Publications

Leawood Stage "Bye Bye Birdie" call for directors

Leawood Stage Company is accepting applications for Director of it's 2011 summer musical Bye Bye Birdie.  Performance dates are July 14-17 and 21-23, 2011 at the amphitheatre in Ironwoods Park.

Applicants for Director must submit the following by November 5, 2010.
  • A letter of interest and a basic concept of the show.
  • A current resume including all production work and other relavant theatre experience including location and year.
Submit all material to Bob Allen at or mail to Bob Allen, 13236 Falmouth St., Leawood, KS 66209, 913-906-9152

Unicorn "[title of show]" review by ChaimEliyahu

[The Show]'s the Thing
Rating: 5

[title of show]
Unicorn Theatre

The Unicorn Theatre's 37th season gets off to a rousing start with "[title of show]," a beautifully directed, fast-paced musical that's all about itself.

Yes, [title of show]'s about the writing and mounting of a show very much like -- well, this one. Or is it this one? The idea may sound slight, but it's very fun and very funny to get in on the action as composer-lyricist Jeff Bowen (played by KC Comeaux) and writer Hunter Bell (Seth Golay) stumble into writing a musical about their own sweet selves and the dilemma they face in building a musical — in the three weeks before the submission deadline — that will sweep them straight (well, as straight as they could possibly get) to a breakthrough hit and the Tony Awards.

Soon enough, they call in their underemployed actress-friends Heidi (Jessalyn Kincaid) and Susan (Natalie Weaver), who work and play with them to flesh out this play about a play, with an audience very much like us in mind. And we were so clever to join them, for a tour de force of inside jokes and high-energy musical numbers! This is a really fun, fast evening of theater and music, performed by a talented, top-notch cast that can really sell a song. In fact, we get 18 of them!

Musical director Anthony T. Edwards sits onstage throughout as Larry [the pianist], sometimes in the background, and sometimes evidently right there in that New York apartment where most of the action unfolds. Director Missy Koonce keeps the whole enterprise aloft and zooming ahead on David Hawkinson's perfect set, with strong production work all around.

No Brechtian stone goes upturned, as we laugh with our friends onstage about even the lighting, as time flies through writing, improv, dreaming of making it big, preview and then kvetching and re-writing for Broadway. This is the only time when I became a little self-conscious, as the characters worried about whether to change it or not; for a minute or two, I found myself thinking about knowing that it got that Tony, or we wouldn't be seeing it in Kansas City... But soon enough, the charming cast ripped me out of my momentary distraction and back to the action on stage.

You'll have so much fun at this show, you just shouldn't miss it. Kansas City is so lucky to have the Unicorn and the whole theatrical community that surrounds it. Book yourself in RIGHT NOW, as the show closes October 10th: you'll have a fabulous time and feel like one of a very fun-loving family!

read the review at KC Stage

Olathe Community Theatre "Our Town" review by SwizzleStick

Best Play in Town
Rating: 4

Our Town
Olathe Community Theatre Association

Edward Albee has called Our Town "the greatest of all American plays" and I might tend to agree with him.  It is, oft times obscured, a tough play that is unsentimental and rigorous in it's assessment of the human state.  New Hampshire version.

David Cromer has created a nifty version of the play that is true to the spirit of the piece and yet expansive and revelatory for our modern jaded times.  Darren Sextro and OCTA are smart to grab this version and be the first to present it outside of Chicago and New York.  Quite a coup for a non professional theatre!

And they do it pretty good justice.  You won't leave dry eyed, I can assure you.  In this production, the play is allowed to speak very clearly for itself and, as Mr. Albee and I have told you, it is a great one.
Modern dress, house lights always up, this production does not thrive on artifice.  And the actors are up to the challenge.  They give simple, honest performances that gather strength as the evening goes along.  This is clearly an ensemble effort so I won't try and single people out lest I forget one or two, but the tone is set by a personable Coleman Crenshaw as the Stage Manager and everyone follows suit.

The third act of this play is a most beautiful 30 minutes.  Sadly, having seen the Cromer production in New York, I found the shortcomings of technical resources here to be distracting.   A bad wig and a bad set pull you out of the story for a bit but, thanks to some other winning aspects, all is not lost.  The play is allowed to work its magic and indeed it does.

This is the best play going in Kansas City right now.  You should see it.

read the review at KC Stage

Wylliams/Henry "Cypress Avenue" rehearsal photos by Mike Strong

more at KC Dance

Waterfire photos by Eric Bowers

[Thanks, Tony]

City in Motion "Dance in the Park" review by Nicole English

The rhythmic drumming of West African music could be heard throughout the 39th and Roanoke area on Saturday evening, Sept. 11, for City in Motion’s 12th Annual Dance in the Park. Tucked away in lovely green Roanoke Park, people parked and walked towards the compelling call of the drums.

more at the University News

"Carmen" star Christina Hager interview with the Lyric Opera

We spoke with Christina Hager recently, who will star as Mercédès in Carmen, about how she is not the only opera singer in the family and what she says to get people to try opera.

more at  The Lyric Opera

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

kcjazzlark conjures the magic jazz fairy

A restaurant, bar, someone, someplace, books jazz. But they don’t promote, they don’t tell anyone, word barely gets out that there’s good jazz in a place you never knew about, so few customers show up and the owner declares nobody in Kansas City listens to jazz anymore. He knows because he booked it in his restaurant or bar or wherever and nobody came. But it’s not his fault for not telling anybody. It’s the musicians’ fault, or it’s the music’s fault. Or, I know, it’s the fault of the magic jazz fairy!

more at kcjazzlark

UMKC Conservatory Wylliams/Henry preview by Nicole English

Fans of both dance and popular “Cypress Avenue,” the local rock music talk show on KCUR-FM Radio, hosted by Bill Shapiro, are in for a treat on Sept. 24 and 25, when Shapiro will be collaborating with Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company for its annual fall concert.

more at the University News