Monday, February 28, 2011

Junior Mance review and photos by kcjazzlark

“Julian Clifford ‘Junior’ Mance is a living, thriving link to the history of jazz. When he was a teenager, the Chicago pianist backed up saxophonist Gene Ammons. From there he toured with another saxophone king, Lester Young, as well as singer Dinah Washington, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.”

more at kcjazzlark

Van Horn High School "Fly Like a Bumblebee" preview by Kelly Evenson

Jacob Solum feels “honored” to be playing Bob Klamm in Van Horn High School’s production of “Fly Like a Bumblebee.” Unlike other characters he has played, the Van Horn senior has met Klamm, who lives in Kansas City, learning from him what it is like to be a man with limited sight.

more at The Examiner

Jonathan Biss, KC Symphony interview by Patrick Neas

The supremely talented pianist Jonathan Biss maintains a busy schedule, recording and performing around the world.

more at

Bach Aria Soloists, Astor Piazzolla review by Bill Brownlee

Laden with anguish and regret, the music of Astor Piazzolla is exquisitely sorrowful. Yet no one in the overflow audience of approximately 300 at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church had cause for misgivings about attending Friday's concert dedicated to the compositions of the acclaimed master of tango.

more at

Cape Town Philharmonic review by Timothy McDonald

There’s an air of excitement when any artist visits Kansas City for the first time. The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra took the stage of the Folly Theater Friday night, presented by the Harriman-Jewell Series and identifying themselves as the first African orchestra ever to visit the U.S. Their performance left some question whether the ensemble proclaimed its presence with a bang or a whimper.

more at

Topher Grace "Take Me Home Tonight" interview by Angela Davis

Wanna live through the eighties again? Or maybe as an older version of yourself that can make independent decisions like what to wear, what parties to attend and whether or not to do coke for the first time? You could discover yourself in Topher Grace’s new film Take Me Home Tonight, in theaters March 4th. I sat down with Topher when he decided to pop into Kansas City for some chilly air and barbecue. I know the weather may be nice now, but when we spoke, there were several inches of snow on the ground.

How Arts Commission cuts may affect Leavenworth

An budget-saving measure that came down from the governor’s office Monday could mean some further belt-tightening for a local arts organization.

more at the Leavenworth Times

Missouri Contemporary Ballet Shannon West interview by Aarik Danielsen

Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force. We accept this as a governing truth, yet rarely do we ask the question: What happens when bodies are acted upon by forces beyond their control? What happens when the motion stops?

more at the Columbia Daily-Tribune

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kauffman Center interior construction photos by Fred Blocher

Seats for the concert hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts started going in recently. Work on the building is over 80-percent complete.

more at

Jason Sudeikis interview by Robert Butler

Listen to Sudeikis for very long and you can’t miss his Midwestern ethos. He’s a huge fan of his hometown, lending his celebrity to local charities. He’s a rabid KU fan, sporting Jayhawk gear on “Saturday Night Live” and last week on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”'

more at

River City Community Players "Wedding Singer" preview by Tim Linn

Come Friday, the stage at the Hollywood Theater will once again be moving to the sounds of the 1980s as the River City Community Players prepare to perform the musical version of the 1998 film “The Wedding Singer.”

more at the Leavenworth Times

KC Rep "Circle Mirror Transformation" review by Robert Trussell

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre serves up an extremely well crafted production of an offbeat play by a promising young writer with its production of "Circle Mirror Transformation." At the conclusion of this elliptical piece, however, you might find yourself asking: Is that all there is?

more at

Pianist Christopher O'Riley interview by Aarik Danielsen

In Christopher O’Riley’s capable hands, worlds and cultural moments quite literally collide. As his fingers gloriously bend and bound over a piano’s keyboard, both past and present are quite imminent.

more at the Columbia Daily-Tribune

John Goodman to attend fundraiser in El Dorado Springs

Actor John Goodman has been scheduled as the featured guest at a fundraiser for the Lighthouse Children's Theatre in El Dorado Springs.

more at The Missourian

Meagan Flynn acting demo

Kickstarter campaign for "The Cocktail Napkin" interview series

For two years, the Cocktail Napkin has been a video series dedicated to talking about various facets of creativity. Over the course of 2010, it has organically transformed from a simple video blog to a full-fledged interview show with some of the great minds behind things we enjoy on the Internet. As a result, the show is slowly growing out of its original skin. To alleviate these growing pains, I've been working to bring the Cocktail Napkin to the next stop in its evolution.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dave Stephens, Burlesque Downtown Underground photos by Tony Botello

The Beach Nuts backed up epic Kansas City jazsz man Dave Stephens while Kat Kimmitz and Marisa MacKay-Smith brought their burlesque skill to the historic Kansas City bar.

more at Tony's Kansas City

Whoop Dee Doo performances from 2007

Some short clips from a Whoop Dee Doo show, way back from 2007!!!! Enjoy SSION, interpretive dancing done by lumberjacks, and grocery store game shows.

Another blast from the Whoop Dee Doo Past, we've got Dancing Grannies, The Mt. Rushmore Staring Contest, and the Diva Soma Belly Dancers.

Parents fail to save music program in Lee's Summit

One of the biggest issues for parents was changing then music program. The fourth grade elementary band and strings programs would essentially be gone.

more at KSHB 

[Thanks, Tony]

Egads "In Trousers" bathroom confessions

The Cast of Egads! Theatres 'In Trousers" (a musical by William Finn) shares thoughts and non-thoughts about the show.

Ironwood Park controversy stirs up Leawood parks planning meeting

I told you I'd keep an eye on this whole Ironwoods situation and that I'd look into it further. This whole thing proves that all politics is local. The whole world seems to be coming apart and in laconic little Leawood rich people got together to argue about what a bathroom means in a park.
more at SOJOCO

Karen Errington benefit raises over $10,000

People in the world of theater are known for the way actors help their own. On Friday night, many of the people who perform on stage in Kansas City lived up to that reputation.

Lawrence Children's Choir celebrates 20th anniversary

It started as an anniversary anthem. Now, it might as well be battle cry. Going into its 20th anniversary season this year, the Lawrence Children’s Choir picked “There Has to Be a Song” to be its signature song for the year. At the time, it seemed like a nice nod to the music group’s long history of churning out music lovers and career musicians, but with the state’s proposed July 1 privatization of the Kansas Arts Commission, its meaning has deepened.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

UMKC Ron Schaeffer interview by Bradley Turner

Ron Schaeffer, who has taught stage management in the theatre department’s MFA program for over thirty years, has spent decades working in professional theater all around the country.

more at the University News

True/False Film Festival preparation photos by Madison Mack

Below American Auto Parts on Business Loop 70 lies the self-described True/False laboratory where Sabrina Braden, design coordinator, and her team of artists create much of the artwork used to decorate the venues of the True/False Film Festival.

more at The Missourian

Friday, February 25, 2011

UMKC Senior Dance Recital photos by Mike Strong

more at KC Dance

Nelson-Atkins, RMB City Opera preview by Steve Walker

With the opening of the Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the new spaces within its gleaming white walls seemed to cry out for art as fresh and cutting edge as the structure itself. 

listen at KCUR

Theatre Lawrence "Opus" preview by Joe Miller

“Opus,” a play by Michael Hollinger that opens at Theatre Lawrence tonight, is written like the complex piece of music from which it draws its name says director Doug Weaver.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

Broadway Across America "Grease" review by Mark Edelman

Though Fox may have television's biggest sitcom hit on its hands, Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele and company by no means invented testosterone-laden high school angst rendered musically in cool threads. That distinction belonged to Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, who decades ago hit upon the winning formula that made Grease (now through Sunday at the Music Hall) one of the longest-running hits on Broadway.
more at KC Confidential

KC Rep "Circle Mirror Transformation" photos by Don Ipock

Annie Baker's Obie Award-winning Circle Mirror Transformation opens Friday at Kansas City Repertory Theatre's Copaken Stage. Kyle Hatley directs.

more at Broadway World

Are new restrooms sign of Leawood Stage construction?

Officials in Leawood insist that it's just a new restroom in a park, but a small group of residents in the Ironwoods Park subdivision say that it's actually a first step in expanding an amphitheater that they say will hurt their property values.

more at FOX4KC

Felicia Hardison-Londré lecture on Sarah Bernhardt

On Feb. 19, Felicia Hardison-LondrĂ© gave a lecture at the World War I Museum about Sarah Bernhardt’s potential influence on the American public, and our country’s decision to enter the Great War.

more at the University News

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Governor's Arts Awards on March 3

The Kansas Arts Commission is pleased to honor the dedication and contributions to artistic and cultural enrichment in the state of Kansas with the 2011 Governor’s Arts Awards. Winners and performers will be recognized at a reception and awards ceremony from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, March 3, 2011, at Washburn University’s Memorial Union Washburn Room.

more at Infozine

Key Productions demo reel

Demo reel of my work. A thanks to CIY (Christ In Youth) and Unearthed for providing me such great projects to work on. Portions of work I did for them can been seen here as well as portions of my personal independent contracted work. Enjoy!

Also check out the organization Rapha House. They are rescuing and rehabilitating girls who have been forced in the sex trade. They've commissioned me to do a bunch of work for them. They are doing amazing stuff.

Dancer Kimberly Cowen interview with the KC Ballet

Kansas City Ballet dancer Kimberly Cowen talks about the upcoming performance of Giselle. This performance will be her third time playing the lead role of Giselle.

Karen Errington benefit show

They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again: The men and women of the theater community are banding together to help one of their own.

more at

UMKC "Shape of Things" review by Shelby Fahrmi

“The Shape of Things,” directed by Ron Schaeffer, is a chilling and unpredictable telling of how far some will go for their passions in art and love. With a rocking playlist and small but gifted cast, “The Shape of Things” gives dramatic insight into the world of art and love.

more at the University News

Lyric Opera "Daughter of the Regiment" review by Tom Ryan

No one dies, or maybe someone does over the hills and far way from this Alpine wonderland gently invaded by Napoleon’s boys. Two people fall in love, Marie and Tonio. Tonio catches Marie when she almost falls over a cliff while picking flowers. Or so they both say. Marie’s regimental step-Dad, played by John Stephens, is the regimental sergeant. Lots of uniforms, rifles, surprises, colors, high notes and fun.

more at Present Magazine

"Sing! Blue Springs" shows off youth talent

Nine high school students will be taking the stage this weekend to see who is the best singer in the community.

more at The Examiner

UMKC "Vagina Monologues" review by Jacquelyn Hoermann

Vagina. It’s a word that rang through the rafters of the Student Union Theatre last week. The Women’s Center presented two benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” last Wednesday and Thursday evening.

more at the University News

Bret Iwan the new voice of Mickey Mouse

It’s one of the most recognizable voices in the world: the sweetly shy, fabulously famous falsetto of Mickey Mouse. And although few people know it, for the better part of the last two years it has come out of the mouth of a recent Kansas City resident.

more at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Missouri Arts Council, Kansas Arts Commission to attend NEA Education Leaders Institute

This spring, the sixth NEA Education Leaders Institute will convene decisionmakers from state education departments, state arts agencies, along with educators, artists, public policy, business, and philanthropic leaders to put arts education at the center of discussion on education policy. The upcoming NEA Education Leaders Institute will take place May 11-13, 2011, in Chicago, Illinois. Five state teams will attend: these teams are led by the California Arts Council; the Idaho Department of Education; the Kansas Arts Commission; the Missouri Arts Council; and the South Dakota Arts Council. Since 2007, the NEA has gathered arts education policy teams from 28 states and the District of Columbia.
more at Infozine

Writer Roy Teicher interview by Alan Hoskins

Roy Teicher is returning to his roots as a small newspaper journalist and he’s bringing a world premiere play with him. A 15-year veteran in television in Hollywood where his resume included writing for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”  producing the “Newhart” show and developing the series “Mad About You,” Teicher spent six years with The Kansas City Kansan newspaper, first as a reporter and then as managing editor.

more at the Kansas City Kansan

Actor/comic Michael Joiner interview by Robert Butler

Independence resident Michael Joiner has seen plenty of ups and downs during his life in show business.

more at

Lee's Summit North High School fighting budget cuts

Students at Lee's Summit North High School are fighting to protect their theater department from deep budget cuts. The cuts come after voters rejected a recent school levy.

more at KMBC

Metropolitan Ensemble "Piano Lesson" review by Tom Ryan

August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson had its Kansas City premiere at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre Thursday night. It’s been a long time coming. This play takes you to the living room and kitchen of Uncle Doaker’s house in Pittsburgh in the 1930s. Doaker’s niece, Berniece, and her 11-year old daughter Maretha live there too.

more at Present Magazine

David Wilson, True/False Film Festival interview by Sylvia Maria Gross

After eight years in existence, the weekend-long festival in Columbia, Missouri is becoming a destination for documentary film-makers.

listen at KCUR

Broadway Across America "Grease" review by Robert Trussell

Well, you have to give the creators of “Grease” their due. Who could have imagined that a 1972 show celebrating 1950s pop culture could be an ongoing commercial success in 2011?

more at

Lyric Opera "Daughter of the Regiment" review by Robert Trussell

Director Dorothy Danner evidently decided that the plot of “The Daughter of the Regiment” is so ridiculous that her best choice was to embrace the material’s built-in absurdities and run with them.

more at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

City Theatre of Independence seeking directors for 2011-12 season

City Theatre of Independence is seeking directors for their 2011-12 season. Visit their website at to obtain an application.  The deadline to apply is Feb. 26. The 2011-12 season includes "The Foreigner","Suburb", "A Streetcar Named Desire", "Working", and "A Nice Family Gathering."

Lyric Opera "Daughter of the Regiment" review by TheatreDiva

Every opera needs Ron Megee and Debra Bluford
Rating: 4

The Daughter of the Regiment
Lyric Opera of Kansas City

{You can also read this review on my blog at}.

Let's clear the air. The last (and I think only) time I saw opera, it was on PBS - and I was still living 'at home', either in middle school or high school. While I wasn't against it per se, the various aspects of what makes opera opera - the typically foreign language, the moreso than musicals singing to the audience (and singing soliloquies), and the fantastic plots - made me not really into it either. I have never seen one live.

One of my goals of 2011 was to go to shows outside of my 'typical' range, and last Saturday I got the chance by seeing "The Daughter of the Regiment" at the Lyric Opera.

The plot is basic. The time is 1805, just after the French won at the Battle of Marrengo. Marie (played impressively by Nili Riemer), having been abandoned as a baby, is raised by a regiment of French soldiers (hence the title). In the fashion of comedic opera (and older musicals), she has fallen in love after just a short interlude with a man who is not a man of the regiment, Tonio (a fabulous Victor Ryan Robertson). After an interchange where Tonio has to join the army, since she had promised to marry a man from the regiment, her aunt (the Marquise of Berkenfield, played by Joyce Castle) appears on the scene and forces her back to her chateau in order to learn how to be a proper woman - and, of course, to be promised to another.

>From the moments of the first sounds of the overture to the last moments, the music was flawless. For the overture, I just closed my eyes and listened - and was overwhelmed by the wonder of the music. And for the two lovers, all I can say is, "Damn!" with regards to their singing. And for the second act, where Tonio pleads to be able to marry Marie .... You know that moment in live theatre where you don't want to applaud because it was so wonderful you don't want to break the spell? Let's just say I had that moment right there. In fact, as many of you know, I have before railed against the 'obligatory' standing ovation. I joined in on the standing ovation for these two powerhouse singers.

But this is a comedy, and that is where this show won me over. However, it was more than just the 'a wedding happens at the end' definition of a comedy. After all, there are not many times you see a man in a nightshirt doing a jig. This production was in English, and the translation was very good. As a result, the few lines of dialogue that were spoken made the show even easier to follow.

But the comedy comes to the fore in the second act, with not only jokes about Maria Shriver and training a tomboy to be a 'proper' woman, but with the presence of both Deb Bluford and Ron Megee, who both upstage the entire cast and continually steal the show from each other (they play mother and son). I'm hesitant to say too much else as much of the comedy comes from the fact that Ron is playing a fop, but in my compliment to the costumes, I have to make the joke of wondering if Ron is actually wearing his own clothes for this part.

I highly recommend this production for both lovers of opera and to those who may - like me - have stayed away from it. The seats in the Lyric may be old fashioned and uncomfortable, and the show was proceeded by one of the longest curtain speeches ever, but the actual production of "The Daughter of the Regiment" was well worth seeing.

Angie Fiedler Sutton

read the review at KC Stage

Cary Mock, Alicia Brende interview by Deborah Shouse

Prince Charming saw Cinderella and was most impressed with her. Though Cinderella had her guard up, she was quite attracted to Prince Charming.
It was January 1996, and 29-year-old Cary Mock was playing the role of Prince Charming in a Topeka theater production of the musical “Into the Woods.” Alicia Brende, then 24, played Cinderella.

more at

"2010 Year in Review" by Angie Fiedler

This article appeared in the January 2011 issue of KC Stage

As I write this, December is drawing to a close. Writing a year-in-review, especially in December, is an interesting challenge. What do I include? Do I mention the Haiti earthquake in January? Well, KC Stage handles just performing arts, so maybe just cover the year in performing arts. But what constitutes performing arts? The 2010 Winter Olympics had performances. And what about the mid-term elections or the Wikileaks controversy? Plenty of drama there.

Other year-in-review articles mention prominent deaths. In 2010, we lost Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen, Lynn Redgrave, Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper, Rue McClanahan, and Tony Curtis, just to name a few.

In the world of performing arts, there has to be mention of the Tony Awards. This year’s, hosted by Sean Hayes, had Red as the big winner, with six awards including Best Play. Memphis won Best Musical, while Fences won Best Revival of a Play and La Cage aux Follies won the Best Revival of a Musical.

There’s also the Oscars to mention for film buffs—with The Hurt Locker being the big winner, with six awards including Best Director and director Kathryn Bigelow being the first female director to win Best Director.

As for local performing arts, here are some of the KC Stage highlights from the year:

January: While it technically started in December, January saw the official launch of the KC Stage blog. With over 2,500 posts, the blog is fast becoming the place to go to see what we can’t cover in the print magazine for time purposes as well as to see other arts coverage in the KC area.

February: Our top-rated shows were announced, as well as the launch of the Arts Council’s 2010 ArtsKC Fund campaign.

March: Carole Ries, our January spotlight, announced her retirement from Topeka Civic Theatre, and the Association of Kansas Theatre had March Madness, a festival of workshops, networking, and idea-sharing.

April: Shawnee Mission North High School sophomore Casha Mills won the 2010 Kansas State Poetry Out Loud recitation competition and traveled to Washington, DC, to compete in the national finals.

May: I attended the National Endowment for the Arts Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater at USC Annenberg, seeing 10 shows in 11 days and attending various workshops and seminars.

June: Award announcements were in full swing; with the Cappies, the Blue Star Awards, the Charlotte Street awards, and the Focus Film Festival awards.

July: KC Stage once again covered the KC Fringe Festival, receiving nearly 100 reviews on our website.

August: The Missouri Association of Community Theatres had their own festival (Theatre on the Fly), and filmmakers in the area participated in the 48 Hour Film Project

September: The Just Off Broadway Theatre closed until April for some upgrades, and ArtsKC’s new ARTunitites program was announced.

October: The first meeting of CinemaKC, as well as the passing of former KC Rep artistic director George Keathley.

November: Two classics were produced in new ways, with Aristophanes’ The Birds being produced with an environmental theme, and Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream being heard in the original pronunciation

December: Our regular round up of Christmas shows and spotlight on Peter Bakely.

The Lyric Opera’s performance of Carmen wasn’t only the highest selling opera in the past 20 years, but also was the highest grossing in the organization’s history. On the other end of the budget spectrum, Shawnee Mission South High School—in danger of not having enough money for their season—was able to raise almost $20,000 thanks to SMS alum Peter Spears and an aggressive Facebook campaign that saw help from the local community and Hollywood alike.

Time Magazine not only proclaimed the Kansas City Rep’s Venice as the year’s best musical in May, but in December proclaimed it to be the second best play of the year. “And so, once again, it took a trip outside New York—to Kansas City, which happens to be my hometown—to find a show to really get excited about,” writes Richard Zoglin. “Though early in its creative life, the next major American musical could well be in the making” stated Zoglin in his May article.

KC Stage saw the premiere of two new programs in 2010: the ‘conversation with’, with our first one with Art Suskin in June; and KC Stage Live, a ‘play-watching’ club in the vein of book clubs, where we will pick a show every few months to have people attend and then discuss afterwards, in November. And thanks to getting plenty of giveaways for our now-annual Fringe Festival reviewer contest, we were able to start giving away tickets on a regular basis—many just to subscribers—and we were able to have our first audience survey in August.

So, that’s 2010 in the proverbial nutshell. Looking forward to 2011, we see the opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in September, with the KC Ballet’s world premiere ballet Tom Sawyer kicking off the season in October. Opening weekend (Sept. 16-18) will feature international opera star Placido Domingo and violinist Itzhak Perlman. KC Stage hopes to continue the ticket offers and events, and will be announcing our top-rated shows of 2010 in next month’s issue. And then the whole thing starts up again—happy new year!

KC Rep "Circle Mirror Transformation" preview

This is a preview video for Circle Mirror Transformation at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

Blues musicians raise money for children with cancer

Several Kansas City blues bands jammed Saturday in a benefit to help kids. Musicians gathered at Danny’s Big Easy, 18th and Vine, to wail the blues and raise money for local families who have children battling cancer.

more at KSHB

Monday, February 21, 2011

How good is Kansas City's jazz today?

I have no training in music. I know it as Duke Ellington described it: “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.” That's me: Just a simple, emotional response. But lacking training sometimes leads me to wonder, do I truly understand which music stands out, is extraordinary?

more at kcjazzlark

Fire damages Missouri Theatre in St. Joesph

Fire broke out in the northeast corner of the second floor of the building complex, in an area used by Robidoux Resident Theater for costume storage, props and rehearsals. Although the fire itself was confined to that area, the failure of three fire doors allowed extensive smoke damage to the theater, said Steve Henrichson, fire inspector.

more at News Press Now

Egads "In Trousers" promo

Egads! Theatre Presents William Finn's "In Trousers"

NewEar "Vocalissimus" review by John Heuertz

NewEar, Kansas City’s premier new music ensemble, presented this season’s third concert at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday night.
“Vocalissimus” featured music from two Eastern European and three American composers, including Sebastian Currier’s 1991 work of that name.

more at

Lied Center, magician Kevin Spencer preview by Michael Auchard

Magician Kevin Spencer doesn’t want you to go watch a magic show. No, he doesn’t want anybody to sit through the same old rabbit-from-a-hat routine — the familiar, humdrum hocus-pocus. What he does want to do is entertain you. He wants to broaden your expectations of what a show involving illusion can entail, eschewing the bland for the bewildering.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

Lyric Opera "Daughter of the Regiment" review by Paul Horsely

Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment is perhaps more sentimental comedy than farce, though the wanton absurdities of its plot invite elements of silliness. The Lyric Opera’s production of the 1840 bel canto classic plays it somewhere in the middle, and the result is an entertaining evening with strong singing and a generous portion of well-grounded comedic action.

more at The Independent

Topher Grace interview by Joel Nichols

KMBC's Joel Nichols talked with actor Topher Grace about his new movie.

more at Youtube (part 1 and part 2)