Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Rock n Roll Fashion Show" promo by Joshua Ferdinand

Kansas students attend Student Television Network Conference

It’s my senior year of high school and I’m in Anaheim, Calif., with some of my friends from our filmmaking class. My high school had an advanced filmmaking program, equipped with advanced cameras and editing software, and every year our teacher, Mr. Kapeller, would take some of his students to the Student Television Network (STN) conference, a convention dedicated to student filmmaking across the country.

more at The University Daily Kansan

Remembering gospel teacher Michael Charles

This month, Kansas City said goodbye to a local leader in gospel music and education. Michael Charles passed away suddenly on March 9, 2011 at the age of 64, of liver cancer. 

listen at KCUR

Sandhal Bergman to be awarded by Shawnee Mission East

She'll be here May 6th to accept a lifetime achievement award from Shawnee Mission East, her high school. Bergman won the Golden Globe for Conan The Barbarian with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1982. This is the second time Shawnee Mission East has given the award.

more at KC Confidential

Spinning Tree "Make Me a Song" preview

Spinning Tree Theatre presents the music of William Finn in "Make Me A Song," April 1-10 at Off Center Theatre, located on Level 3 of the Crown Center Shops in Kansas City, Mo. More information at

Olathe Community Theatre "Complete Works of William Shakespeare" review by JLin

Don't Call Him
Rating: 5

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
Olathe Community Theatre Association

It was a true delight to witness this phenomenal comedy on Saturday, March 26th.  It was my first time visiting the space and I was very impressed with how they had transformed the old church into a beautiful and comfortable theatre.  Upon entering, the audience is greeted by a vibrant and comical set designed by actor Shea Coffman.  I loved the labels painted on the stage such as "C" for center and "You are about to break the fourth wall" on the edge.  There were so many funny and interesting things to look at!

Though I knew the general concept of the show I was unprepared for the crazy trip that was director Kipp Simmons's three-man extravaganza.  They crammed so many clever jokes into this show that there was barely a moment that I wasn't laughing (which at sometimes was an issue because I couldn't hear the next few lines over the audience).  I really appreciated the way they made things personal and relevant by making references to modern celebrities, local events, and their own eccentricities.

The three actors, Kyle Dyck, David Martin, and Reed Uthe, had amazing chemistry and comedic timing.  Each of them had their own style and the audience was quick to catch on to their niches.  Dyck (which, as joked about, is pronounced dick) was the "dumb one" who was always the first one to get confused and all of the female parts.  I took a particular joy in his performance as we are good friends from the cast of the Brownville Village Theatre's 2009 season.  Even though he was constantly running around in different wigs pretending to vomit on the audience, we still got to see his serious side when he performed on of the monologues from Hamlet (which took up the entirety of Act 2) in the traditional style.  Knowing him personally, I was already aware of his prowess for Shakespearean acting and I was glad they decided to showcase that talent.  David Martin was the "goofy one" and his extreme height (6'6" I believe) really lent itself to that character.  The highlight of his performance was his physical comedy; I especially enjoyed his take on the old man, Polonius, from Hamlet.  Reed Uthe was the "pretentious one" who was supposed to be the one that knew the most about Shakespeare; so it was that much funnier when he got something wrong.  His shining moment?  Hamlet, of course!  I think he did it best backwards.

>From the witty banter with the sound guy, Bob, to the insulting of various audience members (though Kyle was kind enough to compliment me on my hair as he was running through the row behind me to get away from Reed), to getting everyone in the room to play a part of Ophelia's personality, the show was a complete riot!  I wish they would have had a longer run so that more people could have enjoyed this wonderful show.  I haven't laughed that hard since Edward Cullun took off his shirt!  Do I even have to say it?  5 out ot 5.

Jamie Lin

read the review at KC Stage

KC Rep "Cabaret" review by StageSavvy

A well-rounded show
Rating: 4

Kansas City Repertory Theatre

"Cabaret" is an event from the beginning at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. From the ushers with cabaret style hats on to the velvet red curtain and small candle-lit tables on the front row to the costumes (the oh-so-excellent costumes, especially for the Kit Kat girls - I just wish the Kit Kat boys' costumes were just as sexy) and the blocking in-the-round, the show helps you believe that you're not in 2011 in a theatre but in the 1930s in a cabaret club.

With a drum roll, the spotlight opens on the excellent Brian Sills as the Master of Ceremonies, who steals the show every single time he steps on stage, let alone sings. "Wilkommen" gets a double steal as the use of the rotating stage and the gay subtext (as we not only get men dancing together but women as well) is used to full effect. Sills really shines, however, during "The Money Song" - making the song have the true double-meaning and disturbing concept its supposed to.

This is the perfect show for staging in the round, and sometimes it's awesome (especially with the use of the rotating stage). However, sometimes it's gimmicky. The blocking and choreography felt like it played to the house a lot, so I was left wondering if the people on the risers on the stage really got the full effect of the show. Also, the "Telephone Song" ended up being too busy and distracting, the one time the blocking for in the round didn't really work for me as I didn't know quite where to look.

Claybourne Elder, as Clifford, started out small and quiet - as the character needs to be - and really shines in Act II. He has tremendous stage presence, and commands the scenes he's in. He exudes a quiet shyness that makes you want to watch him.

Which leads me to Kara Lindsay as Sally Bowles. As the whole reason for the plot, the character of Sally Bowles needs to grab the audience's attention right off the bat with "Don't Tell Mama" and keep it for the rest of the show. Lindsay just didn't have it - "Don't Tell Mama" was the weakest of the Act I songs, feeling like it's 'just another song' as opposed to an introduction. Her English accent wandered from time to time, and it wasn't really until the last song, "Cabaret", that she sang with energy and passion. I'd love to blame it on having to compare her to Liza Minelli and the movie version - but it's been ages since I've seen the movie, and Sills was able to take the roll of the Emcee and make it his own, even though one of the few things I did remember from the movie was how much Joel Grey creeped me out. It wasn't that she was bad - it's that she should've been so much better. She just didn't command the audience's attention, and she's the one you need to be attracted to regardless of your sexual preferences.

"Life is depressing," the Emcee states - and this show definitely shows that (I felt guilty applauding at the end of Act I, as that's when the Nazi menace shows up in the plot). Act II has some definite parallels to the world of today that makes this a great choice to produce. I had been looking forward to this since the Rep announced it in their season, and I was not disappointed. It was a decent production, with just a couple of flaws. "Cabaret" is a roller-coaster of a show - when it's good, it's really good; but when it's not so good, it's very noticeable as a result.

"Cabaret" is playing at the KC Rep until April 10, 2011, and more information can be found at

Angie Fiedler Sutton
review can also be seen at

read the review at KC Stage

Ward Holmquist reflects on the Lyric Theatre

The Artistic Director for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City since 1998, Ward Holmquist, admits he didn’t know much about the Lyric Opera of Kansas City when he was first considered for the job in 1997. But he said that the Lyric Theatre was one of the most important aspects of the job for him. “I couldn’t help but be impressed that a regional opera owned its own theatre. That was really remarkable and very interesting to me. It was one of the first things that piqued my interest. I assumed, correctly, that the city had a great love and support of opera.” Interestingly, The Marriage of Figaro was the first opera that Holmquist conducted at the Lyric Theatre.

more at KCUR

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Music this weekend in Topeka

Jazz will bookend the weekend as Friday offers the Washburn University Coleman Hawkins Jazz Festival capped by a Sons of Brasil performance in White Concert Hall and Sunday brings saxophonist Kim Park to the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center for a Topeka Jazz Workshop Inc. Concert Series show.

more at the Topeka Capital-Journal 

Three Topeka houses of worship will provide the venues for weekend performances by an Italian concert organist, a Kansas City, Mo.,-based baroque ensemble and musically inclined local medical care providers.

more at the Topeka Capital-Journal

Paseo Academy students learn from theatre entrepreneur

Students from the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts in Kansas City are learning from a theatre entrepreneur in Baton Rouge, La., thanks to the Urban Entrepreneur Partnership (UEP), a program of the Kauffman Foundation, the world's leading foundation in entrepreneurship.

more at Infozine

Phil Grabsky "In Search of Mozart" interview by Robert Butler

Yet over the last few years the British documentary maker — whose subjects have ranged from Muhammad Ali to the Chernobyl nuclear accident — has gained a reputation for making films about great composers that are accessible to classical newbies even as they satisfy hard-core types.

Lawrence Arts Center "Music Man" preview by Margie Carr

Thursday night’s production of “The Music Man” at the Lawrence Arts Center may as well be called “All In The Family” for all of the familial units that are a part of the cast. Brothers will perform with sisters, husbands with wives, fathers with their daughters, mothers with their sons, and grandparents with grandchildren.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

Brenda Patterson "Marriage of Figaro" interview with the Lyric Opera

Don’t be confused when you see Cherubino on stage in The Marriage of Figaro. The role is of a man being played by a woman and Brenda Patterson, our Cherubino, is well versed in portraying this man on stage.

more at the Lyric Opera

KC Rep "Cabaret" review by Paul Horsely

Circles can symbolize unity or closure, but they can also convey inertia, stasis, even claustrophobia. The Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s production of Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret at Spencer Theatre uses the circle to represent all of those things, by placing the action on a rotating central disc and seating the audience “in the round”—a configuration created by installing semi-circular rows of seats in what would normally be the upstage area.

more at The Independent

Plowman Chamber Music Competition preview by Jill Renae Hicks

Strings and keys; the “whuff” of a pedal and the rhythmic tippling of fingerpads along saxophones and trumpets; horsehair bows gracefully cuffing their partner strings; the glowering melt of a tuba solo. All of these sounds are the stuff of the nationally known, locally grown Plowman Chamber Music Competition.

more at the Columbia Daily-Tribune

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Middle of the Map Fest promo by Daniel Richard Myers

Matt Otto Quartet photos by kcjazzlark

This is a collection of Kansas City jazz all-stars. All but Matt are better known in KC in other groups. Yet in this configuration, they blend their talents into a unique voice for Matt’s compositions (and some by Monk and others) to fill the room with musical wonder.

more at kcjazzlark

Paul O'Dette "Acis and Galatea" interview by Paul Horsley

In what promises to be one of the most significant musical events of the Kansas City season, this week the Boston Early Music Festival brings Handel’s Acis and Galatea to the Friends of Chamber Music’s chamber series. This semi-staged production—at 8 p.m. on April 1st at the Folly Theater—strives for historical authenticity in all aspects.

more at The Independent

Karen Paisley interview by Tom Ryan

The Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director; actor, director, business leader, Mother to Holland and James, wife of co-collaborator actor director Bob, and excellent cook. When I arrived at the MET this afternoon, a cast rehearsed the upcoming production of “Enchanted April”. Bob has a role, Karen’s not directing or acting in this one but she’s stewarding the ship, USS MET.

more at Present Magazine

MOMMA Legislative Day Rescheduled for April 19

The Missouri Motion Media Association's Legislative Day, originally scheduled for February 1 in Jefferson City, had to be postponed due to the snowstorm that hit the area. They have now officially rescheduled the event for April 19.
The goal of the legislative day is to meet legislators about keeping the current film production tax incentive of $4.5 million. The governor's tax incentive task force had recommended the money be transferred to another industry.
The original schedule for the legislative day included having tables to showcase various film jobs, such as sound editing, animation, 3-D, etc., followed by visiting with legislators.
If you are involved in the Missouri film industry any way and are interested in attending the rescheduled legislative day, please visit the MOMMA website at

KC Rep "Cabaret" review by Jen Harris

Creating a rotating stage for a 360 degree stage production is no small task. Sauntering across a catwalk of chairs in a role made famous by Liza Minnelli– also rather challenging. But entertaining Kansas City is perhaps the most difficult feat of them all.

more at The Vignette

"Top Rated Shows of 2010" by Angie Fiedler

This article appeared in the February 2011 issue of KC Stage
Top-Rated Shows (20 vote minimum)
  1. Women of Rock - The Barn Players, Inc. (4.50)
  2. Our Town - Olathe Community Theatre (3.95)
  3. Guys & Dolls - Leawood Stage Company (3.71)
  4. My Girdle is Killing Me - KC Fringe Festival (3.63)
  5. All Shook Up - The Theatre in the Park (3.62)
  6. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - American Heartland Theatre (3.60)
  7. You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown - She&Her Productions (3.56)
  8. Death and the Publican - Tara Lane Productions (3.47)
  9. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - The Barn Players, Inc. (3.40)
  10. Khan! the Musical - KC Fringe Festival (3.40)
Cathy Barnett in Grey Gardens. Photo by Cynthia Levin
Top-Rated Equity Shows (7 vote minimum)
  1. Grey Gardens - Unicorn Theatre (4.29)
  2. Lucky Duck - The Coterie Theatre (4.00)
  3. Marion Bridge - Kansas City Actors Theatre (3.86)
  4. Bus Stop - Kansas City Repertory Theatre (3.67)
  5. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - American Heartland Theatre (3.60)
  6. [title of show] - Unicorn Theatre (3.45)
  7. Broke-ology - Kansas City Repertory Theatre (3.25)
  8. Glorious! - American Heartland Theatre (3.14)
  9. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - The Coterie Theatre (2.43)
  10. Harriet Jacobs - Kansas City Repertory Theatre (2.29)
Top-Rated Professional Shows (5 vote minimum)
  1. Valhalla - Egads Theatre Company (4.17)
  2. The US & THEM Reunion - KC Fringe Festival (3.80)
  3. Say You Love Satan - Egads Theatre Company (3.67)
  4. Dark Play or Stories for Boys - Relevance Productions (3.67)
  5. Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story - KC Fringe Festival (3.64)
  6. My Girdle is Killing Me - KC Fringe Festival (3.63)
  7. Breaking the Trust - Tara Lane Productions (3.54)
  8. Morphotic - KC Fringe Festival (3.54)
  9. Death and the Publican - KC Fringe Festival (3.47)
  10. The Event - KC Fringe Festival (3.43)
Aurelie Roque in Women of Rock. Photo by Vida Bikales
Top-Rated Community Shows (20 vote minimum)
  1. Women of Rock - The Barn Players, Inc. (4.50)
  2. Our Town - Olathe Community Theatre (3.95)
  3. Guys & Dolls - Leawood Stage Company (3.71)
  4. All Shook Up - The Theatre in the Park (3.62)
  5. You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown - She&Her Productions (3.56)
  6. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - The Barn Players, Inc. (3.40)
  7. Chicago - City Theatre of Independence (3.32)
  8. Rent - The Barn Players, Inc. (3.15)
  9. Annie - The Theatre in the Park (2.95)
  10. Jesus Christ Superstar - The Theatre in the Park (2.82)
Zachary Andrews, and Andrea Morales in The King Stag. Photo by Kristi Lewczenko
Top-Rated Academic Shows (2 vote minimum)
  1. The King Stag - UMKC Theatre (4.75)
  2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream - UMKC Theatre (4.50)
  3. Slammed: KC Speaks Out on the Recession - UMKC Theatre (4.50)
  4. Big River - Shawnee Mission Northwest Theatre (4.25)
  5. Miss Julie - UMKC Theatre (3.50)
  6. Black Comedy/The White Liars - UMKC Theatre (3.34)
  7. Hedda Gabler - Emporia State University Theatre (3.00)
  8. The Drowsy Chaperone - Music Theatre for Young People (3.00)
  9. The Laramie Project - Shawnee Mission South (2.86)
  10. Annie - ACT One of Kansas City (2.67)
And the audiences have spoken. The Barn Players’ musical benefit Women of Rock won not only the top rated show overall, but also the top rated community show. “I thought it would be just a rock concert but it was much more than that,” wrote reviewer Mhull. “The entire production from the ladies on stage, to the costuming and lighting, a rocking band and the delightful Mistress of Ceremonies Shelly Stewart, was flawless, energetic, moving, and captivating,” wrote reviewer brn2act1969.

We also asked some of our top reviewers for their input as to their favorite show.
Nicole Hall wrote, “I went to see Head at this year’s Fringe Festival, and I thought that show was, by far, one of the more risky, yet successful, productions done this year. Each individual cast member was strong in their own right, the director’s vision was clear, and it was just plain entertaining to take in. Kyle Hatley really showed me what it was to thoroughly enjoy a production instead of just analyze it.”

The reviewer known as Guildenstern wrote, “There were a handful of little-seen shows this year that really stood out for me. The best was perhaps Egads Theatre’s Valhalla [winner of top rated professional show], a complex comedy set in two different time periods that were nicely intertwined. While Steven Eubank’s stable of performers are well-known for their song-and-dance camp, they dove into this piece and made it as substantial and effective as any drama, anchored by Matt Weiss’ strong performance and balanced by Doogin Brown’s versatile comic abilities.

“Another great play with a smattering of audience was Relevance Production’s Dark Play, or Stories for Boys at Fringe Central. It seemed like just another story admonishing the dangers of online dating, but went far deeper as a character study and offered some real revelations. I kept trying to second guess where the play was going and was surprised. The staging was sparse but effective and the performances rough but sincere.

“UMKC’s King Stag [winner of top rated academic show] was an absolute delight that left me pleading for a better ending, or else it would have been my favorite play of the year. The Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre did a nice job with Eugene O’Neill’s Moon for the Misbegotten, finding a lot of much-needed humor that I’d never seen in prior productions.

“I caught a few great shows at the KC Fringe Festival, including Kyle Hatley’s Head, which was impressively presented but the script needed to be further developed. Morphotic was a remarkable staging of Franz Kafka’s life by Butcher Block Productions from Las Vegas, and I was also impressed with Bob Paisley’s hilarious and thought-provoking one man show The Event.

“Unfortunately I seem to have missed all the great shows by the big professional houses, because nothing I went to see really interested me much. In fact, some of the worst shows I saw were at the big professional houses. Is all the great theatre in this town really being done in ragtag Crossroads buildings on a shoestring?”

As for me, as I wrote in my blog Stage Savvy (, “My overall favorite performance I saw in 2010 was Boston Court Performing Arts Center’s performance of The Twentieth Century Way, which was the last performance I saw in LA [for my fellowship]. This show moved me in a way I’ve not felt with regards to a show in a very long time (and not just because it ended with two nude men expressing their interest in each other). The acting was superb, especially as the story involved the two actors playing a vast array of characters, and I got chills as the show reached its climax.

“On the local KC side, my favorite performance of the year is a close tie between two shows that couldn’t be more different. On one hand, there was the Barstow’s Fringe production of Not Just For the Birds. As my review stated, this was good edutainment, and while it had a few bumps in the production I saw, it had a great energy to it. Great energy also applies to my other favorite show, the Unicorn Theatre’s A Very Joan Crawford Christmas. This show was just fucked up enough (phraseology definitely intended) to make me remember why I love theatre.”

KC Stage listed over 450 performances in 2010, and the “Annie Award” (for most produced show of the year) actually goes to the five companies who produced Annie this year - ACT One of Kansas City, Gardner Community Theatre, Inc., Raytown Arts Council, River City Community Players, and The Theatre in the Park.

Everyone’s a critic – especially in the world of Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other forms of social networking. KC Stage’s top rated shows are based on the ratings and review system on our website. Anyone can rate and/or review any of the shows listed on The more votes a show has, the more likely it will be included in the top rated show listings. If you really want to speak your mind, write a review as well — sharing your thoughts and opinions. You do need to register with KC Stage to become a reviewer, but it’s fast and free.

Don’t forget to encourage your audience members as often as you can - online, at the box office, even in the curtain speech — to go online to to rate your shows.

We’d also love to hear from you. Write to with your thoughts on our Top Rated Shows.

JCCC "Joffrey Ballet" preview by Patrick Neas

The Joffrey Ballet, founded by Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino in 1956, has been touring since the beginning. In the early days, the ensemble of six dancers would travel across America with a trailer, bringing the best of ballet to audiences all over the country.

more at

Monday, March 28, 2011

"The Time We Hold" short film by Jon Davis

Columbia rebuilds Maplewood Theatre after fire

What makes a theater? An instinctive response to that question might start with elements of its material constitution — a stage suitable for plays and players, seating, lights, set pieces, perhaps even an orchestra pit.
As Michael Scott and all who love the Maplewood Barn Theatre have learned, a theater is not, in fact, a passive, brick-and-mortar building just waiting for patrons to wander in and fill it up. Rather, it’s an active, wonder-filled community of people aware of how fortunate they are to share their lives and craft.

more at the Columbia Daily-Tribune

Sarah McMullen interview on KCTV-5

Sarah McMullen began to make her mark in school musicals and local productions at the Coterie Theatre and Starlight Theatre. Then she hit the big time. McMullen was voted Pop Artist of 2010 at the Los Angeles Music Awards.

more at KCTV-5

She&Her "Pillowman" review by becca10

Disturbingly Wonderful
Rating: 5

The Pillowman
She&Her Productions

I had the pleasure of seeing Pillowman at The Birdhouse this past weekend and it was amazing. The actors were all stellar with extra kudos to Coleman Crenshaw. The show is disturbing yet extremely captivating! Added bonuses were the live music coming from the piano and the cool set design. Not only was this an amazing show but i would like to mention the really cool theater space of She&Her Productions. The raw brick walls and brick floor were incredible, along with the exposed timber beams. They had a seperate bar area which was amazing as well. The space definitely helped create the mood for the show. Im so excited for more She&Her Production shows! Glad they are here creating wonderful theater. If you miss this show it will be too bad. Definitely a show you can not pass up. Thank you for a great night of theater!

read the review at KC Stage

Starlight benefit for KC Free Health Clinic

Things are blooming at Starlight Theatre. On April 8 it will host a party in Kansas City with the proceeds benefiting the Kansas City Free Health Clinic. The Kansas City Free Health Clinic is one of the largest free clinics in the country. The fundraiser we be held at the Starlight Theatre at 4600 Starlight Rd. in Kansas City, Mo. from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m on Friday, April 8.

more at KSHB

Friends of Chamber Music "Acis and Galatea" preview by Patrick Neas

Those who know George Frideric Handel only from “Messiah” and a few of his orchestral works are missing out on what many consider his greatest music: his operas.

more at

KC Rep "Cabaret" preview by Steve Walker

Of all the musicals written by Kansas City native John Kander and his late partner, Fred Ebb, perhaps none were more innovative than "Cabaret." Though it contained many hummable songs in the Broadway tradition, it was set in Berlin in 1931 on the cusp of the rise of the Nazi party, making the Broadway musical a safe place for risky material. 

listen at KCUR

Sunday, March 27, 2011

For the Birds "Terror" short film by Colin Bridgham

It was 5 degrees outside on a wintery Kansas City night. Despite a wet guitar and some frozen fingers, it turned out to be a good time to capture a pretty song from the Kansas City band, for the birds. And, boy, does it sound nice through the filter of snowflakes.

KC Art Institute "Hollowed Out" short film

Jaclyn Dalbey, Mallory Dorn & Travis Drahozal. KCAI Animation, 2011 independent project.

Trio Medieval review by Timothy McDonald

The art of vocal production is both subtle and difficult, and the Trio Medieval displayed their impressive skills Saturday night in a program of English Medieval polyphony and Norwegian folk songs.

more at

An open letter to mayor-elect Sly James by Roger Oyster

I attended your final debate on Monday, March 21 at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library, and was struck by two of the answers you gave to questions asked by debate moderator, Up to Date host Steve Kraske. When Mr. Kraske asked if there would be a place in your administration for your opponent, Mike Burke, you said that you would utilize Mr. Burke as an advocate for the arts in Kansas City. I strongly urge you to make this one of your first acts as mayor, and officially create a special position for Mr. Burke to galvanize support for the arts in the region, in coordination with the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City. (“Arts Czar”? “Arts Poo-bah”? I’ll try to think of a more catchy title.)

more at KCUR

Jane Gotch, Mark Southerland "We!" review by Timothy Finn

If you asked 10 people who have attended a performance of “We!” to describe their experiences, chances are you’d get 10 very different responses. “We!” is an installation dance performance staged in an abandoned office space in the sixth floor of the Town Pavilion (formerly occupied by AT&T). It is co-produced and co-directed by jazz musician and horn sculpturer Mark Southerland and Jane Gotch, the show’s choreographer. The show comprises several performances and installations, each in a different part of the office space, which in various states of demolition and construction.

more at

KC Rep "Cabaret" review by Robert Trussell

Watching Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s classy production of “Cabaret” with its rotating circular stage and bifurcated audience from my customary seat in the orchestra section made for an interesting and ultimately rewarding experience on opening night.

more at

Kevin Scott Richardson "Cassarole Club" interview by Garrett Swann

Actor Kevin Scott Richardson takes a break from filming Steve Balderson's movie "The Casserole Club" to dish with host Garrett Swann about relationships, food and more.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Whoop Dee Doo performances

DANCING! DANCING! DANCING! WE LOVE DANCING! Whoop Dee Doo is the place for dancing of all types.

Here on Whoop Dee Doo all kinds of performers are welcome, here we've got some incredible vocalists, going all out to show their skillzzz!

Dancing dancing dancing, nothing is better than dancing, except maybe singing, and/or 80's classics.

MUSIC!! Music is something you can dance to! Music is something that can be made by people of all ages, look at these youngsters rocking!

Here on Whoop Dee Doo, we love to challenge our audience, but always in the most fun ways possible, watch as these kids struggle to enjoy a fizzy beverage through a delicious strawberry licorice strawwwwww

Playwright Landford Wilson dead at 73

Lanford Wilson, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright and Missouri native, died Wednesday at 73. Wilson, who wrote big, sprawling plays with heart about misfits and eccentrics, was the most celebrated playwright from Missouri and, along with William Inge of Kansas, one of the most significant dramatists from this region.

more at

Fishtank "Pies from the Porn Kitchen" review by Robert Trussell

Kansas City, in case you hadn’t noticed, has become a place to see original plays and musicals -- more than ever before, in fact. And the general rule of thumb seems to be: the smaller the venue, the edgier the material.

more at

Young actors making Kansas City their home

This is what’s happening more and more in Kansas City — young theater artists creating original work. They take paying gigs when they can get them, but they’re happy to make theater even when they earn nothing. The key word is “young.” There are probably more theater artists — actors, designers, directors, playwrights — in their 20s and 30s in Kansas City than ever before. Some are UMKC graduates. Others went to Stephens College in Columbia. Some went to New York and decided to come back.

more at

KC Symphony, Larry Rachleff review by Timothy McDonald

Two guests were better than one at the Lyric Theatre Friday when guest conductor Larry Rachleff and pianist Ingrid Fliter appeared with the Kansas City Symphony.

more at

She&Her "Pillowman" review by JLin

(Bloody) Brilliant!
Rating: 5

The Pillowman
She&Her Productions

Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman is both moving and disturbing, and on Monday, March 21st, director Trevor Belt and his cast did it justice.  Those of you who haven't experienced this dramatic piece of theatre need to make it down to the Westbottoms this weekend while you still have time.  Musician Caleb Hopkins set the mood with the eerie sounds of an old piano – it's slightly out of tune, but it really added to the ambiance of it all – and the audience knew they were in for a trip, especially as they took their seats so close to the action.

The play opens in an interrogation room where Katrurian, played by Coleman Crenshaw, is being questioned and beaten by Tupolski and Ariel (Rick Williamson and Matt Leonard, respectively) over the recent murders of children who have met their demise in the same fashion of the characters in Katurian's short stories.  It is soon revealed that they are also holding his mentally retarded brother, Michael (Jeremy Frazier) in another room.  Without revealing any plot points, things get crazy and there is a lot of stage blood.  Throughout the play, the audience sees many of Katurian's stories acted out by Cheryl Barker, Jared Walters, Alice Pollack, and Quinton Barker, all of which did a wonderful job with the mostly silent characters.

Crenshaw's performance as Katurian started out slow.  When the lights came up and he was sitting there blindfolded, being startled by the sounds of Williamson in the room, it felt really contrived.  I was not convinced.  However, the further into the production (and the bloodier he got), Crenshaw became more and more believable.  Once he hit his pace, he delivered an amazing character with real human emotions.  You couldn't help but feel for him as he was being mistreated, even while you doubted his innocence.  His interactions with his brother were the highlights of his performance, showing a wide range and severe dedication to his character.

Williamson as Detective Tupolski was brilliantly funny.  The man was so hilarious that you felt bad for laughing so hard when the topic of the play is such a serious one.  His witty banter and sarcasm was perfect for his role as the "good cop" and you can't help but like him.  However, when his personality takes a meaner turn in the third act, the previous nice-guy demeanor doesn't hold him back from laying down the law.  The switch seemed a little over done to me and I feel it would have benefitted Williamson to pull back on the anger a little bit.  Because the audience was so fond of him and his pleasant behavior from earlier in the play, it's almost a shock to the system to see him so different at the end.  Other than that small critique, a spot on job.

Frazier had a hard task ahead of him when he was cast as a mentally handicapped man.  There is always the risk of over doing it and making it seem cartoonish and offensive.  However, this was not an issue for him.  Frazier played Michael more like a boy trapped in a man's body and it was so natural that I'm sure he must be a fun loving guy, in touch with his inner child.  Michael suffers more from ignorance, or even innocence, than he does from a lack of intelligence; Frazier hit the nail right on the head.  You only ever see him interact with Katurian, but that's all you need to fall in love with him.

I saved Matt Leonard for last for a few reasons: (1) I consider him a good friend, so I'm slightly biased, (2) I've got a lot to say about his character, and (3) my favorite part of the show involves him specifically.  Leonard's character Officer Ariel is, without a doubt, the bad cop.  For reasons later revealed, he hates Katurian and has no problem showing that hate with his fists (all of that stage blood is entirely his fault).  For the majority of the play, Ariel seems pretty two dimensional: a slightly sadistic cop who really enjoys "interrogations" and cigarettes.  Let's talk about the cigarettes.  I'm fairly certain he went through at least a pack and a half over the course of the production.  I understand that it is in the script and a staple for his character, but that is overkill.  If you are sensitive to tobacco smoke, be sure to sit in the back because he is smoking like a chimney.  Leonard uses it to show his character's anger and frustration, but I think we get that enough from his facial expressions and physicality.  He gets so into it that he speeds through each cigarette in half the time it should take to smoke.  He also made the decision to do the scene changes with a lit cigarette in his mouth.  Again, maybe it's because I don't want my friend's lungs to shrivel up, but I think I would be concerned even if I didn't know the actor.  Ariel's rage is very passionate and violent – Belt had everyone yelling a lot so Leonard had no choice but to crank it up to eleven since his character is supposed to be the loose cannon.  I think it would have been just as effective, if not more, for him to have a seething rage, rather than a loud one.  And everyone was pretty loud (shouting in such a small performance space might have something to do with it).  But we did get to see the more understated emotions of Ariel in the third act and that is where my favorite part is.  When Tupolski has flipped to "bad cop" it makes sense for Ariel to swap with him.  Leonard has a beautiful moment at the end of the play in which he has no lines at all, but the subtle changes in his physicality and the softening of his face speak volumes.  Yes, the play is about Katurian and his brother.  But at that moment, when you see just how their story has affected this once raging cop, your eyes well up a little bit.  I am so glad that McDonagh included this scene in his script, and that Leonard was there to do it justice.

Just like any production, there were a few things that could be improved upon.  A lot of the blocking is down on the floor so some people have sight line issues, the light board operator is right behind the audience and whispered conversations could be heard, and then there is the trains passing the building and blowing their horns (which no one can do anything about anyway).  But overall, I was extremely impressed (I gave one of those standing ovations that I'm so stingy with).  I want to take just a moment to pat scenic designer Donovan Kidd on the back.  You come in thinking, that's simple enough, but then the first scene change comes and that thought changes immediately to, WOW that's cool!  I won't ruin it for you.  GO SEE IT!  There are only three more performances left, so please don't miss the opportunity to be a part of this experience.  The building's chilly, so bring a jacket, and it's a long show with a later starting time, so make sure the babysitter can stay la!
 te.  Congratulations to Trevor Belt and his phenomenal cast.  You have a show to be proud of.  5 out of 5 stars.

read the review at KC Stage

KC Volunteer Lawyers & Accountants for the Arts collecting testimonials

The KCVLAA needs your help.  If you have been a volunteer for KCVLAA, have taken a case, have been helped by their volunteers, have attended their seminars, or have been helped or helped them in any manner, they need your testimonials!

On Tuesday, April 12, at our Copyrights seminar at the Arts Incubator, the Independent Filmmaker's Coalition of Kansas City will be filming testimonials and classroom shots for a short promotional video for the KCVLAA.  This is where you come in!  Please come fill the classroom for the classroom shots, or give a filmed testimonial or both.  Please email at, to let them know if you are going to attend and if you would be providing a testimonial.

Thank you for your consideration!!  Please let the KCVLLA know by April 5th if you will be able to join them on April 12.

Information about the April 12th seminar:

What Everyone Needs to Know About Copyrights: Apr 12: 6 pm Tue
Learn the basics of copyright law: who owns what, how much you can use of someone else's work, what's really "fair" about "fair use," what happens when you sell a piece, and how to avoid disputes!  Myths will be debunked and famous artists' infringements analyzed. Arts Incubator, 115 W. 18th St., (816) 974-8522,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Olathe Community Theatre 2011-2012 Season

The Olathe Community Theatre Association (OCTA) is pleased to announce its 38th Season. 

[title of show]
Musical (and yes, that's really the title). August 12 - 28, 2011.
Music and Lyrics by Jeff Bowen, Book by Hunter Bell. Directed by Shelly Stewart

Twelve Angry Men
Drama. October 7 - 23, 2011
Adapted by Sherman Sergel.  Based on the television movie by Reginald Rose. Directed by Dave Martin

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)
Comedy. December 2 - 18, 2011
By Michael Carleton, James Fitzgerald and John K. Alvarez. Directed by Shari Johnson

Two Rooms
Drama. February 17 - March 4, 2012
By Lee Blessing. Directed by Coleman Crenshaw

Fuddy Meers
Comedy. April 13 - 29, 2012
By David Lindsay-Abaire. Directed by Jessica Franz

Season tickets are on sale now for OCTA's 38th season.  Please contact the box office at 913-782-2990 or at

Cynthia Levin, Seth Rozin discuss the National New Play Network

Two of the nations new play leaders talk about why they are dedicated to writing, developing and producing new plays. They also talk about the importance of the National New Play Network for their theaters.

Kauffman Center Helzberg Hall photos

Some new Facebook-posted pictures from an “anonymous photographer” who has a vested interest in Helzberg Hall. As the poster noted in one image: “looks just like the 3D renderings!”

more at KCUR

Enter to win two free tickets to Piane Productions "For the Love of Broadway"

Enter your contact info to win two free tickets to Piane Productions' "For the Love of Broadway", a concert on April 2 of legendary stage and screen performer Betty Buckley at the Music Hall.

The contest is open to anyone. It closed March 30 at noon, and winners will be picked at random.

Piane Productions has also provided a special 10% discount off the price to KC Stage audiences - just enter the discount code 'KCStage' on the Ticketmaster website to get this tickets. Tickets are priced at $35-$60.

Questions? Comments? E-mail

She&Her "Pillowman" review by withoutnumbers

Harsh but fair.
Rating: 4

The Pillowman
by She&Her Productions

"The Pillowman" is a dark comedy written by one of the most famous dark comedic writers of the modern theatre age, Martin McDonough. As dark and as violent as this production is, however, it never loses the playwrights intention of being a *comedy*.

Trevor Belt's direction is strong and precise in this production. As two detectives grill a confused writer, (the good: Tupolski, the bad: Ariel, and the clueless: Katurian), there are moments of severe and scathing dialogue that drift seamlessly into ridiculous banter that will make you forget they're going to shoot him in the head at any minute. The audience finds themselves torn between taking it too seriously and cracking a wide-eyed and surprised smile at it all while the police grill him mercilessly.

When Michal, Katurian's mentally challenged brother, enters the action, things take an even more frightening twist. Jeremy Frazier's brilliant performance is heart-wrenchingly believable, and the brotherhood that exists between he and fellow actor Coleman Crenshaw is fascinating to watch. Likewise, the dichotomy between Matt Leonard as the bad cop(?) and Rick Williamson as the good cop(?) mixes in colorful but painful layers of drama that carry throughout the play.

As fascinating, funny, and harsh as it all is, there are some minor set-backs. Yes, it's an interrogation -- but does there really have to be that much screaming during one? I don't know, I've only seen them on movies and TV, and those are obviously exaggerated. But I found myself wondering if some moments might've been more effective "whispered" than "shouted". Costumes seemed minimal if non-existent. If it's set in a totalitarian dictatorship, would the citizens really be wearing Abercrombie and Fitch? I don't know, I've never lived in one. But hey, non of my complaints are a very big deal anyway.

I love the script, have loved it for a while, and I think the production as a whole does the playwright and the play more than justice. I recommend all KC theater-goers to make the time to see this show. After all, escapism can only give you so much -- and this show will give you the rest.

read the review at KC Stage

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Joyce DiDonato sings some songs

On February 13, 2011, the acclaimed mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato returned to sing her fourth recital for the Harriman-Jewell Series on her birthday and in her hometown. She was joined by pianist David Zobel, who played for DiDonato's 2006 recital, to perform arias and songs by Rossini, Haydn, Chaminade, Hahn, Buzzi-Peccia, Di Chiara, and Leoncavallo. Following the recital program, Series Director Clark Morris wheeled a birthday cake onto stage to celebrate the occasion. This recording was approved by Ms. DiDonato.

Coterie "Ben Franklin's Apprentice" interviews

Actor Theodore Swetz and Director Kyle Hatley, discuss the skills that it takes to collaborate.

Actor Theodore Swetz describes his process for creating a character based on a historical figure like Ben Franklin.

How Does Lightning occur and how will Coterie artists create this natural phenomena on stage?

Soundz of Africa & Grupo Manos Student Showcase photos by Mike Strong

Soundz of Africa & Grupo Manos Student Showcase

more at KC Dance

Troy Cook "Marriage of Figaro" interview with the Lyric Opera

We had a chance to speak with Troy Cook, Count Almaviva in our  upcoming production of The Marriage of Figaro.  He talks about his small town roots, early enjoyment of singing, and why he may be getting spring fever while performing in Kansas City.

more at the Lyric Opera

She&Her "Pillowman" review by StageSavvy

There are no happy endings in real life
Rating: 4

The Pillowman
She&Her Productions

She&Her Productions' performance of "The Pillowman" is an intense, heart-wrenching roller coaster that left me speechless and emotionally drained by the end of the evening.

The plot is, as their description indicates, about a writer in an unnamed totalitarian state being interrogated about the violent content of his short stories and their similarities to a series of child murders. It delves into the concepts of what art is, and whether a creator is responsible when it goes beyond the story. Is "Taxi Driver" (and Jodie Foster) at all responsible for John Hinckley's shooting of Ronald Reagan? Can you really blame Marilyn Manson for the massacre at Columbine high school? Does what Stephen King or Clive Barker write reflect or inspire humanity? The character of Tupolski says at one point, "I think there is a solution, but then I'm clever." But by the end of the play, the only solution is the quote of my title - that there are no happy endings in real life.

The story has echoes of "Of Mice and Men", "A Clockwork Orange", and "Waiting for Godot", and the dialogue is very precise - almost too precise, as the few times the actors flubbed a line it was a little too obvious as a result. And as with "Of Mice and Men" and "Waiting for Godot", it takes a while for the story to settle in and find its bearing, the characters hard to tell apart and figure out right away. But once I figured out what's going on, I was reminded of watching the coverage of 9/11 - too gruesome to watch, but too compelling of a story to turn away.

As for the acting, Coleman Crenshaw (as Katurian) started out slow, which made it a harder buy in since he was who we needed buy in from. But once he got going, he did a very good job. Rick Williamson (as Tupolski) and Matt Leonard (as Arial) also got better as the show progressed, but special note needs to go out to Jeremy Frazier as Michal. As the brother of Katurian, who (for reasons pertaining to the plot) is not emotionally an adult even though he's physically older than Katurian, did an excellent job of playing innocently 'idiotic' without turning it into a stereotype or a caricature.

Kudos to the fight choreography and makeup - as a techie, there were only a couple of times in the show where it was obviously fake to me - and that might be partly because I was sitting on the side and not in front. And double kudos to the decision to use a real fire at the end of the show, as it added a sense of realism that gave me shivers. And the scene changes? I don't want to ruin it, but let's just say they were some of the best scene changes I've ever seen.

I can't say I enjoyed the piece, any more than I could say I enjoyed watching "Shindler's List". If you want to be entertained, this is not a production you want to go to. But if you want to be awed and shown what theatre truly can be, you have to catch this before it closes.

Angie Fiedler Sutton

read the review at KC Stage

Inge Festival preview

A cast of Broadway veterans will converge on a small Kansas town April 13 to perform a new musical comedy by Sheldon Harnick, co-creator of "Fiddler on the Roof."

Quartet Accorda review by Paul Horsely

The highlight of my musical weekend was the concert on Sunday, March 20th of Quartet Accorda. This was a big event in the Park University calendar, as it represented the first time in nearly a year that these four terrific musicians—violinists Kanako Ito and Ben Sayevich, violist Chung-Hoon Peter Chun and cellist Martin Storey—have been able to unite to make music.

more at The Independent

Sari Gruber "Marriage of Figaro" interview with the Lyric Opera

We spoke with Sari Gruber, who will be performing the role of Susanna, recently about her opera origins, why this probably won’t be her last Susanna, and her favorite opera. Read what this leading lady has to say.

more at the Lyric Opera

Kansas Arts Commission accepting grant applications

Due to the Kansas Senate's passage of Resolution 1819 retaining the Kansas Arts Commission as a state agency, the KAC is moving forward with two of its Fiscal Year 2012 Grant Programs:

Kansas Arts on Tour Presenters Program
Applications accepted beginning April 13, 2011

Operational Support
Deadline: May 5, 2011