Saturday, April 30, 2011

KC Jazz Orchestra review by Libby Hanssen

"Big Band Summit: The Master Returns" was the final concert for the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra’s 2010-2011 season, but the first under the direction of new Artistic Director Kerry Strayer.

more at

Ramona Pansengrau, KC Ballet interview by Patrick Neas

Interview on KXTR's Music Moves

listen at the KC Ballet (mp3 link)

12th Street Jump on "The Local Show"

KCPT hops along with 12th Street Jump, KCUR's jumpin' jazz and blues comedy hour. This dynamic radio show toasts the careers of famous jazz players each week with trivia, comedy and musical offerings from their renowned house band, with added musical styling's from featured guest artists. You can catch the show live, in person at the Downtown Marriott or over the airwaves every Saturday night at midnight on KCUR.

Unicorn "Ruined" review by Paul Donovan

In times of war, “neutral” places like bars enjoy a precarious existence - the owner must make a living, so must be willing to serve both sides and walk a fine line between business and politics. This makes for riveting stories, when done right - after all, Casablanca and Cabaret are famous for their depictions of such situations.

more at Camp

KC Symphony "Creation" review by John Heuertz

Creation history formed the backdrop of the Kansas City Symphony's inventive concert Friday night at the Lyric Theater.

more at

Shakespeare Festival discussion on Week in Review

After 18 years, is it the end of the line for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival?

Guitar maker Leo Posch interview by Mark Fagan

Like any skilled musician — or, even more to the point, anyone skilled in helping equip musicians with proper instruments — Leo Posch trusts his ear. Come to think of it, he also relies a great deal on his eyes, hands, fingers and other information-gathering receptors when it comes to his career calling. He builds and repairs guitars, banjos and mandolins, often for respected names in the industry.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

Friday, April 29, 2011

"As Leo Says... Happy Eekso" short film by Brian Paulette

Patrick Lewallen "Rock of Ages" at home in Overland Park

KC Symphony "Creation" preview

F. J. Haydn "The Representation of Chaos" from The Creation
Milhaud La création du monde (The Creation of the World)
Avner Dorman Frozen in Time, Percussion Concerto (US premiere)
Dvořák Symphony No. 8

Join Michael Stern and the Symphony in a celebration of the Earth beginning with Haydn's "The Representation of Chaos" from The Creation, a gripping musical account of the primordial bedlam that reigned before the birth of the world. Milhaud takes a different vantage point with a jazz-inflected ballet based on an African creation story. Percussionist Martin Grubinger performs Avner Dorman's Frozen in Time, a work the composer calls "an imaginary snapshot of the Earth's geological developments from prehistoric times to the present day." Dvořák's thrilling and masterful symphony provides a capstone to this titanic program.

newEar, Owen/Cox Dance interview by Laura Spencer

Two local arts organizations that embrace the “new” - newEar, the contemporary chamber ensemble, and the Owen/Cox Dance Group, have teamed up for a concert they’ve titled “Chromatic Collaboration.” 

listen at KCUR

Organist Sharee Thompson interview by Sarah Henning

A Sunday visitor to Lawrence’s First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway, will find the Rev. Kent Winters-Hazelton up front and a cross-section of Lawrence in the pews, that much is obvious. But what might not be so obvious is the elephant in the room and in your ears — the beautiful music coming from the church’s organ. The large instrument and the performer behind it, Lawrence’s Sharee Thompson, can change the whole weight of a service, according to Winters-Hazelton.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

Topeka Symphony Orchestra preview by Bill Blankenship

The Topeka Symphony Orchestra will close its 65th season Saturday night with a program of the most classical of classical music, "The Three B's: Bach, Beethoven & Brahms."

more at the Topeka Capital-Journal

Upcoming CinemaKC shows

On April 30th, Patrick Rea will show the trailer for his upcoming feature film “Nailbiter,” as well as one of his newest shorts, the sci-fi noir thriller “Times Up Eve.”

more at CinemaKC

"Cassarole Club" preview

Steve Balderson's new film, "The Casserole Club" focuses on a group of mod 1960's era suburban housewives. Close-knit and neighborly, they are all bent on one-upping each other, trying to prove that each is "the hostess with the mostess." They begin a recipe club, and hold dinner parties, testing out their new casseroles. But when the gatherings become increasingly focused on boozy flirtation, and more than recipes start getting swapped, the story moves swiftly from stylized and campy to a drama about irresponsibility, selfishness, and damaged people.

"The Casserole Club" is an intricate landscape of desolation, unspoken desires, and empty lives laid bare. Raw and uncompromising, it is evocative of classics like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and the more contemporary "American Beauty." Set in America during the NASA moonwalk, the moon, is a metaphor for the film's tragic heroines, who are filled with mystery, secrets and the untapped potential of people who exist without really living.

Starring Susan Traylor, Kevin Richardson, Daniela Sea, Mark Booker, Starina Johnson, Garrett Swann, Pleasant Gehman, Hunter Bodine, Michael Maize, and introducing Jennifer Grace.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heartland Men's Chorus performs "They Sang to Me"

HMC performs "They Sang to Me" (Don White, soloist) as guests of the Turtle Creek Chorale in Dallas, TX, June 2006. For more information about HMC, visit

Kickstarter fundraiser for the KC Fringe Festival

In the crazy rush to the theaters to see all of the amazing performing art that the Fringe Festival offers, it's easy for the Visual Arts to get overlooked. While we may not have the actors and stages we certainly have plenty of action and even trucks! Trucks? Yup! Trucks! You may have heard of the Lost Horizons Night Market, where renegade artists in rented trucks create amazing experiences to share ( Well, it's time to bring that energy to Kansas City. I can't think of a better way to do that than through this 11 day extravaganza! Your donation will support the foundation of the Night Market revolution in KC. Our artists are creating funky, art-without-boundaries workshops (imagine a figure drawing class run by burlesque models, a paper-mache costume creation workshop, or getting down and dirty with some clay and a throwing wheel, on the spot!) while offering a beautiful blend between traditional and non-traditional “Fringey” gallery spaces. In addition to all of the collected artists, we'll engage the public by giving them the tools to create a piece of work (perhaps for the first time), surrounded by the energy of other artists, participants and "Fringers". Then, we'll provide the means for them to display it for everyone to see (inside of one of our Community Trucks none-the-less. What a debut to share with friends! )

Your donation along with our creativity will help us rent the trucks, buy insurance (so crucial), purchase some supplies, tell everyone we know and then some and throw open the doors and supply our Fringe-goers with deliciously free interactive experiences!

There is an artistic, creative community out there just waiting to be engaged. You can help spread the word by donating and getting our project off the ground! Visit for more information.

more at Kickstarter

More details on Shakespeare Festival fundraising woes

The Shakespeare Festival is a beloved summer tradition for a generation of Kansas Citians. A professional production of Macbeth is scheduled to run from June 14 through July 3 in Southmoreland Park, but the Festival doesn't have the funds it needs to pay for the show.

more at Infozine

Encore Theatre "Every Little Crook and Nanny" preview by Adrianne DeWeese

A role in a play forced Hank DeLong to look up “smarmy” in the dictionary. “A shallow personality,” is what the definition held for DeLong, an Independence truck driver by day who says he didn’t even participate in high school theater. Still, DeLong dyed his hair light brown and trimmed a thin mustache for his role as Teddy Hitchell in the Encore Theatre’s comedy “Every Little Crook and Nanny,” which opens Friday night at the Roger T. Sermon Community Center’s Powerhouse Theatre.

more at The Examiner

A look at KU Filmworks

Lawrence’s thriving filmmaking scene is unusual, in that the efforts of a student organization — KU Filmworks — have led to the creation of festivals and other major happenings. It has managed to develop its own identity, complete with landmark figures. The opposite of insular, KU students have plenty of chances to get involved, whether through acting, directing or ripping up the paint of the screen.

more at the University Daily Kansan

KC Jazz Orchestra gets new leader

The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra is starting a new chapter of its life, with a new musical director. And from all indications, it’s a great start.

David Schweizer "Peer Gynt" interview by Robert Trussell

Directing “Peer Gynt” has become a habit for David Schweizer. He keeps coming back to it. Again and again. And again... And so now he’s staging it yet again, this time for Kansas City Repertory Theatre in a production that will travel to the La Jolla Playhouse in California after its Kansas City run. Using only five actors, it will rely as much on the audience’s imagination as stagecraft.

Patrick Lewallen shows off his bedroom

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"The Little People" short film by Lisa Marie Evans

A collaboration with Maura Michelle Garcia, Soumitra Dasgupta, and myself. Dasqupta paints on video, I edit the video and Garcia dances with the video as background to her piece The Little People

Live theatre at the cinema?

If you’ve been to the multiplex lately, you’ve noticed movie theaters aren’t just for movies anymore. They show operas and rock shows and sporting events — and now, theater.

Sidonie Garrett speaks about Shakespeare Festival financial woes

Due to a budget shortfall, as its 19th season approaches, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival organizers are asking: “Is this a dagger which I see before me?” when it comes to this year’s scheduled production of Macbeth

listen at KCUR

Unicorn "Ruined" review by Grace Suh

Cold beer and distraction" are what draw men to Mama Nadi's bar. And the bar's entertainments help customers forget the horror of the civil war outside in the same way that the pleasures of Lynn Nottage's Ruined help the audience.

more at The Pitch

Cody Choraliers win top honors in Central States District

It’s taken 41 years, but Leavenworth’s Cody Choraliers are now champions. The 39-member barbershop chorus, a member of the international Barbershop Harmony Society, took top honors in its division at April 9’s Central States District convention in Wichita, Kan. The Central States District includes most of Kansas, parts of South Dakota and Nebraska and all of Missouri and Iowa.

more at the Leavenworth Times

KC Rep "Peer Gynt" preview

This is a preview video of Peer Gynt at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. This show is a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse. Peer Gynt is written by Henrik Ibsen and this production is adapted and directed by David Schweizer. The cast is comprised of Danny Gavigan, Birgit Huppuc, Luis Moreno, Kate Cullen Roberts and Evan Zes. Scenic design is by David Zinn, costume design by Christina Wright, lighting and projections by Darrell Maloney, sound design by Ryan Rumery and Mary Honour is the stage manager.

"Spotlight on Kimberly Cowen" by Angie Fiedler

This article is from the March 2011 issue of KC Stage

“The time on stage, where it’s like you’re not you anymore: you’re transformed to a different place. You can be completely free, you know? There’s just something really enlightening about it that so far in my life I haven’t found anything that comes to that level. The hard work is definitely hard work, but when you have those moments on stage, it makes it all worth it.” So says Kimberly Cowen, one of two ballerinas playing the leading lady in the Kansas City Ballet’s production of Giselle, about why she does ballet.

Cowen should know — she’s been dancing since she’s been four, and been performing on stage since the age of nine. “There wasn’t a lot of dance exposure on television when I was young. There is now, but there wasn’t when I was young,” she says with a wry smile. “But ice skating was on quite often. And I used to try to imitate the ice skater in the family room, and I guess I just one day I said to my mom that I wanted to be a dancerella, and so she enrolled me in like an after school program at the local elementary school.”

She grew up in the West County area of St. Louis, attended the Nathalie Le Vine Academy of Ballet, graduated early from high school, and moved to Kansas City to join the ballet. That was 19 seasons ago.

“I was lucky,” Cowen says about her time at the Academy, “because besides just being a ballet school, she had a small company that once I was nine, I believe, I got to start performing — which I think makes a big difference. Some schools, the only chance {the kids} get to perform is maybe once at the end of the school year, or some of them just do studio workshops and things like that. And then they turn 18, and they’re trying to find a job. Yes, they’ve trained to do it, but to have the real experience ...” she trails off wistfully. “And so I feel lucky — I think that that’s probably one of the things that helped me the most, because I feel at home on the stage, because I’ve been on the stage since I was nine. And when you’re a kid, you don’t have the same fear, you know?”

You’d think being involved in dance since the age of four that perhaps Cowen’s parents were the stereotypical ‘stage moms’, pressuring her to dance. Not so, she says. “Since it was a small school and a small company, parents had to volunteer to help you know with costumes and fundraising and all kinds of things like that,” she says. “My parents were very involved and I told them that they could be involved with helping it be successful, but I didn’t want them hanging around, I didn’t want them watching. I was like, ‘If I ever hear you talking to another parent about, “Well, my Kimberly does blah blah blah,”, I will quit,’” she says with a laugh.

“My parents have always been extremely supportive,” she’s quick to add. “They kind of had to be. I mean, all the shoes over the years and sending me away to summer programs and things like that — it was definitely dedication on their part.”

In her 19 seasons at the Ballet, this is Cowen’s third time performing the role of Giselle. “The first time we did Giselle,” she says, “I didn’t really think it was going to be quite the experience that it ended up being. I knew I was going to love it,” she’s quick to continue, “I knew that it’s a big deal: it’s a classic, it’s been around forever, it’s something that all these ballerinas have done over the years that establishes who they are. I tend to be more powerful when I dance,” she continues with a smile, “like that’s my natural instinct, and in Giselle, she’s very fragile, and so I didn’t know that I would connect with the steps. The first time we did it, it really was a career-altering experience for me. And the second time around, I was just so nervous. But I was older, so I approached some things differently. So, this time around, it’s going to be really interesting, because I feel like I’ve experienced so much more and the whole approach to it.

“In ballet, we spend so much time perfecting perfect arm movements and our placement and our turnout, and for me, personally, I always feel like I dance better when I have a storyline. It gives me purpose behind the steps that I’m doing and then the steps actually have emotion and feeling and that kind of takes you out of that mind frame of trying to be perfect, you’re just dancing. And it really takes you through a broad range of emotions and even dance styles and everything all within one ballet, which just doesn’t happen very often.”

Ballet’s an unusual artistic challenge for dancers, as you have prior performances of the production that the staging usually is based on, combined with the fact that the dancers are double-cast. Cowen talks about how she manages to still make the role her own while still maintaining consistency with both the staging of the ballet mistress Karen Brown and what the other Giselle is doing.

“A dancer in general — I mean, it’s kind of bad to say this, but we do kind of like to be told what to do within a certain degree,” she says with a smile. “Dancers don’t like to just kind of go out and have no idea what’s going to happen: we practice, practice, and practice and we like that consistency. So when it comes to the acting, you really feel exposed, because it’s a different realm than what we do every day.

“We spend a lot of time trying to figure out those little subtleties. And you can even think through it a million times on your own at home, and then you’ll do the scenes with your partner, and something that he does can change what your reaction should be. It’s a fun experience, because we don’t do that all the time in ballet. So, I love doing that. Not every dancer does, but that to me makes it so much more complete.
“I think that it’s kind of like a quiet atmosphere, just a few people in the room and we try out some things, and if you all of a sudden you feel like, ‘You know what? I really like this moment when we do this.’ If you share that with your partner, you can kind of start to solidify some things. In some cases, it’s just the relationship you have with your partner, too.

“And it’s interesting, because sometimes you just try something and it does not work, and you just kind of have to stop. You’re like, ‘Okay, well, that doesn’t work.’ But it’s constantly a learning experience, and watching the other people in the room try it sometimes, you’re like, ‘Wow — that wasn’t anywhere where my brain was going.’ But that works, you know, and it makes you think about it differently. But it’s mostly just we communicate as much as we can at the beginning, and then at a certain point it does kind of solidify, and then there might be little subtleties, but the timing always has to be the same.”

Cowen loves being a ballet dancer, but readily admits it’s a hard job. “Some of the things that can be hard as a dancer — and really, it’s true with everything in life, but for some reason I feel like maybe we take it more personally — but most of our feedback in the day is negative in nature, because you’re trying to get better at what you do. You don’t have someone patting you on the back all the time telling you do a good job, because they want you to get better. So they’re always telling you what you’re doing wrong. And sometimes that can really take it out of you, like, ‘Oh, my gosh — can I do nothing right?’” she says with a laugh. “So, I think the important thing is that to remember that that’s what you’re there for, that’s what they’re for is to help you get better, and that for every one thing that you’re doing wrong you probably did five things right, but it’s a building process and at any age, you’re still learning in the field.

“The other thing is to just be open to different ways of approaching things, different styles, because you never know when something might work to your advantage if you had followed that path. I’ve known a lot of people over the years who don’t want to branch out, they want to kind of stick to their little niche what they’re good at, and they end up not having as many opportunities because of it, so it’s better to be open to it and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out, at least you know instead of holding back.

Being open to new experiences is also how Cowen would approach breaking the stereotype attached to ballet.

“It’s interesting, because there are a lot of people in Kansas City who’ve been to The Nutcracker but have never seen any other ballet. And I think it’s great that they come to The Nutcracker, but I think they’d be surprised at how much they would enjoy one of our regular season shows. There are people out there that love the tutus and like the classic, ideal image of the poised ballerina on the stage and that sort of thing, and other people love to come to the ballet because they want to be challenged artistically.

“And that’s one of the things that I think Kansas City Ballet specifically does a really good job of trying to make sure there is a broad variety of styles and movement qualities and to kind of try to appeal to every dance lover out there — and even maybe some who aren’t dance lovers, to make them realize that they would enjoy ballet, it’s not all about pink tights and pointe shoes. For example, our spring show, we’re doing a piece that’s all David Byrne music {“The Catherine Wheel Suite”} and very rockin’ the house, it’s just fun and crazy and free, so we do all kinds of stuff. We were just talking about it today, actually, how after doing Giselle where we’re all going to be pulled up,” she says, subconsciously pulling her arms into a tight embrace, “and trying to be perfect, and then we’re going to be like, ‘ahhhh!’” she continues, waving her hands around frantically.

And why should people go to the ballet and try something challenging? “Well, the other thing that’s hard, too, is back when ballet first was in its heyday, going to the theatre was the thing to do,” Cowen says. “Now, our society has changed so much and there’s so much stimulation out there, you know? People aren’t content with sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to go in to see their doctor, they have to be on their phone doing something. Everyone is multitasking all the time, and maybe over-stimulated. And there are so many special effects in movies these days, and so the stage is a much simpler presentation. And to be able to still captivate people and make them want to come out is our challenge. But I know for myself, watching with someone in person is a totally different experience than anything you see on any screen: even if it’s 3-D, it doesn’t matter. It can really touch you in a different way. I mean, I watch films all the time that help me with different time periods and things that we’re working on, all of those things are great, but if you get an opportunity to see something in person, you should, because it’s live like that and raw in the moment, anything can happen. It’s really a special thing, I think.

Giselle will be performing at the Kansas City Ballet March 10-13. For more information, visit

Online-only Extended Interview

Was it ballet from the beginning, or did you go into other dance styles as well?

When I first started, I did ballet and tap. Then once I joined an actual ballet school, I really only did ballet until maybe I was 11 or 12 in the summertime we would start to branch out and do some other styles. Now, it's so different. I mean, kids grow up now with a lot of different styles. So I feel pretty fortunate because I really had a strong base in the classical ballet technique, but I think coming here at a young age and being exposed to so many things helped me be able to be versatile, which is really what you need now. There's no company out there that really just does one thing anymore.

First time on stage - tell me a little bit more about that.

The Nutcracker was the first thing I did, which I think is a great introduction for kids, because there's an opportunity to do some dancing and then also roles that do require you to have personality, and they get to mingle with the adults and see what it's going to be like. I know for me, the adults, they really can leave like a big impression on you, so ... it's fun when we do shows now with the kids, because you just see it in their eyes: they're having the times of their lives.

Tell me what a typical day. Obviously, it's a much more rigorous schedule than most people.

Well, we work five days a week. We usually start around the nine o'clock hour, and we go 'till 5:30. We have an hour for lunch in the middle of the day. We start off our day with what we call class, and it's basically serves two purposes: one, to warm up all your muscles in your body accurately so you don't injure yourself during rehearsals; and two, to continue to work on your technique and your craft. We start off our day with that, that's an hour and a half long. And then usually, we have two hours of rehearsal in the morning and three hours after lunch and it depends on where we are in the process of the show. In the beginning stages, you might do a lot of standing around or waiting for your turn, or you might have a day where you're learning, so you are constantly repeating over and over and over and over and over again to get it to sink in. And then later on in the process, you're just running sections of it or even the whole ballet, just to start to get that continuity and everything.

And whenever it's not your turn, since we do have two casts, you know, especially in a ballet like Giselle, there's so many details that everyone will be in the back thinking through different things that they could do, that arm gesture this way or whatever, just without having to exert yourself too much, being able to think a little bit more about what you want to accomplish when it is your turn.

You know, it's interesting, because we go through periods of time where the show will be really difficult and you're dancing your butt off, and then we'll go through a period of time that the creative process sometimes is a little bit slower than when someone already knows what it is and they just teach it to you real quick compared to, 'Well, let's see, what if we try this,' and you have to be open to just kind of not being worried about what you're going to look like, but just kind of try something and see what happens. And then the choreographer and the dancer kind of bounce back off of each other, so those are some of the different types of days that we could have.

I know for me personally, the days go by a lot faster when I'm really working hard, you know? You look up at the clock and you can't believe that you've been in there for two hours already. And strangely enough, it feels better on your body, too, when you just keep dancing. If you stop and take a break, at least for me anyway and maybe that's my age talking, but when you stop and take a break, then it's like, 'oh, boy, I don't know if I can get back up and do it again.' You just want to kind of keep going, even if you keel over at the end.

Getting close to the end of female dancers' ability.

Definitely. I mean, what's interesting is that it kind of depends on the individual, how your body holds up to it, maybe the opportunities you're given at the right times, the size of the company, and the type of repertoire you do. In a small company like this in Kansas City, it's going to be a little bit harder to generate the whole star quality, you know? In New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theatre, they have their really established stars and people go to see those specific dancers, so they can probably dance a little bit longer because their name and their history and everything can carry them, but here in Kansas City, there are so few dancers. So yeah, it's closer to the end than it's ever been before.

Planning on staying in Kansas City? Any future plans?

You know, Kansas City really has felt like home to me. You know, it really has. Growing up in St. Louis, Kansas City is similar in some regards. They're still very different cities, but - and my parents would hate for me to say it - but it does feel like home because I've been here for a long time. And it's changed a lot since I've been here. The arts have really grown in the amount of time I've been here, and I feel like it's a great city, it has a lot of things to offer, so I can very easily see myself sticking around, and I like the Midwest.

Have you thought about what you're going to do when you do have to retire from ballet?

I feel like I think about it every day, and I just don't exactly know yet, you know? I'm pretty sure that in some capacity I'll definitely want to stay attached to the ballet, because it's just something that I've been doing for so long, and it's part of who I am.

Have you thought about yourself choreographer at all?

I don't know about choreography, but I do teach in the school. And I've been teaching, strangely enough I started teaching in the summer after we did Giselle the first time. That's kind of funny, I never really thought about it. I really enjoy teaching the kids and watching their growth and being able to just help build their confidence, because that's a huge part of whether or not you're successful.

Do you feel there's a lot of new stuff going on in the world of ballet?

Oh, all the time. I mean, it's kind of amazing to me, since I don't really consider myself a choreographer, the fact that people can still come up with new things. I'm like, 'Are you sure it hasn't already been done before?' Just because ballet's been around for a very long time. But different body types move in different ways, you know? People who are very long have maybe a more languid and slower approach to things, and they start experimenting with their bodies and it can bring out something completely different than someone who's maybe a little bit more athletic and shorter in stature - they're going to do powerhouse moves. So, to me, the people who can really come up with this great art and like have it stand the test of time, it's just beyond me. Yes, it's difficult to do things accurately when you're told what to do, but to be the one who's making it up? I mean, that takes a special skill, that's for sure.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Digital Milk Open House promo

UMKC Spring Dance Concert review by Nicole English

This year’s Dance Division annual Spring Dance Concert featured a professional-level, prestigious ballet presented with a special agreement from the Anthony Tudor Trust as part of the annual “Great Works Project”.”

more at University News

Metropolitan Chorale raising funds for Habitat for Humanity

The fifth annual “Hardhats for Habitat” show will feature performances by Central Standard, a barbershop-style group, and Dick Wilson, of 94.9 KCMO, who will play the show’s narrator, Mark Twain. Over the last four years, more than $15,000 has been raised and donated to Habitat for Humanity through the chorale’s performances.

more at The Examiner

KC Ballet "Moves" promo

There's something for everyone -- experience an exciting, eclectic evening of dance with three great ballets. The Catherine Wheel Suite by Twyla Tharp, the award winning creator of the smash hits Nine Sinatra Songs and Billy Joel's Movin' Out. A world premiere by Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director William Whitener... Mercy of the Elements set to music by Rimsky-Korsakov, and the Kansas City premiere of the ballet Moves by the legendary Jerome Robbins... creator of West Side Story.

Shakespeare Festival facing budget crisis

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival must raise $100,000 by May 4 or cancel its planned production of “Macbeth” in June and July.

KC Chamber of Commerce proposing need for arts festival

But then Jim Heeter, the chamber’s executive director, started talking about something that had real potential: a Kansas City arts festival, something like the Edinburgh Festival, the Miami Book Fair or the Spoleto Festival, a 17-day spring extravaganza in Charleston, S.C. The more I thought about this, the more it seemed like a great idea.

more at
and a response at Gone Mild

Barn Players taking applications for summer internship

Area high school and college will have the opportunity to earn up to $500.00 to be used toward tuition, boarding or books at the college of his/her choice. Application deadline is April 30, 2011. This is an incredible opportunity for a student to earn necessary college money, by participating in something that he/she enjoys! The internship requires the student to be available to work / study on our summer productions at The Barn Players Theatre.

Currently be currently enrolled in a high school or college theatre program, and be from the Metro Kansas City area
  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.75
  • Provide a letter of recommendation from an instructor or counselor at the school that he/she attends
  • Provide a cover letter of introduction by describing his/her interest in the performing arts
  • Provide a current theatrical resume listing his/her experience in the performing arts

Send a resume, recommendations and letter of application to Eric Magnus, Artistic Director, The Barn Players, Deadline for application is April 30, 2011. Interviews will be held at The Barn Players at 6219 Martway, Mission, KS 66202. Announcement will be made by May 15th, 2011.

KC Symphony, Martin Grubinger preview

His shows represent extreme physical exertion: marathon drummer Martin Grubinger.

Monday, April 25, 2011

History of the Jazz Commission

I’m not going to mention the individual’s name, because this person satisfied the court order, repaid what was stolen, and the incident was expunged from their record. And this person is still active in the music community. Still, if I was in a position to hire musicians, this is one – who I’ve actually never met – that I would not hire because of what they put me through. I’m not bitter, but I remember. It was a helluva way to take over a Jazz Commission.

more at kcjazzlark
and here is part 2

Molly Montgomery "Shadowbox" short film by Matt Connolly

Kauffman Center's Helzberg Hall promo

 KC Symphony conductor Michael Stern introduces Helzberg Hall

watch it at Youtube

KC Actors Theatre 2011-2012 Season

The Kansas City Actors Theatre (KCAT) announces its 2011-2012 season, and a return to repertory theatre, and a continuation of last season's professional partnerships.

Erin Thompson reflects on the Lyric Theatre

Erin Thompson started working at the Lyric Opera as an unpaid Production Assistant just seven years ago.  Since then, Thompson has quickly worked her way up to become the Company’s Stage Manager.  Thompson recently sat down to talk about how the Lyric Theatre has truly changed her life.

more at the Lyric Opera

Shawnee Mission East grad to star in reality show

Meredith Adkins (née Fuller), a 1980 SM East graduate who used to work at the Prairie Village pool, is getting her turn in the limelight as part of a new reality show.

more at the Prairie Village Post

Unicorn "Ruined" review by DeborahBuckner

Rating: 4

Unicorn Theatre

It has been a while since a theater completely carried me to another world, but such is the case with The Unicorn's production of Ruined.  Lynn Nottage received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for this play of war-torn Africa and its dual story of brutality toward women and the land.

Scenic Designer Erin Walley and Sound Designer Ryan Matthew Hall make Mama Nadi's establishment a "character" itself, a little place of escape for miners and soldiers alike.  With a deliberate casual-looking placement of tables and chairs and the central bar, the setting is inviting as a gathering place, respite from an outside where sounds include both jungle birds and occasional gunfire,.

Mama (Nedra Dixon) is a spitfire, fully in command of her place and her people.  She deals shrewdly with the shrewd trader, Christian (Walter Coppage), and the two display good chemistry of two people who know each other and know how to work with and around each other.  In addition to the requested goods, such as lipstick, Christian shows up this trip with two young women, hoping Mama will take them.  Salima (Samra Teferra) has been abducted from her village, raped by soldiers and witness to her baby's brutal murder; Sophie (Caroline Gombe), Christian's niece, has faced similar brutality, and was, ultimately, "ruined" (genital mutilation) by her captors.  Mama is willing to take Salima who can be put to use entertaining the miner and soldier customers, but she balks at the seemingly useless Sophie.  Bribed with Belgian chocolate and Christian's charms, she finds a place for the girl with a sweet singing voice and a good mind for arithmetic.

The girls make a place at Mama's, along with feisty whore Josephine, who dreams of a life of grandeur when regular client, Mr. Harari (John Rensenhouse) will take her away to "the city."  Their daily work brings them in contact with military leaders from both sides of the ever-present conflict, Commander Osembenga (Mykel Hill) and Jerome Kisembe (Damron Russel Armstrong).  At times, it is difficult to distinguish these two leaders—each is determined, ruthless and merciless in approaching the fight  This is either a weakness of character differentiation or a grand anti-war statement, demonstrating that war is only about the fight itself with no real care or concern for the cause.

Act I of the play is energy-charged, moving instantly from scene to scene as all the characters populating Mama's world are introduced.  Act II began to lose focus and might benefit from tightening and editing.  Each character seems to have a turn with an obligatory monologue that slows the action and, sometimes, confuses the flow of the play.

Gombe and Teferra, as Sophie and Salima, demonstrate important moments, but sometimes exhibit a lightness of mood that would seem impossible for young women who have endured so much. Outstanding performances by Dixon, Coppage, Anyanwu and Rensenhouse clearly define their characters and make them real and believable.

The overall result is a feeling of transportation to another world, certain to provoke lingering thought and questions.

read the review at KC Stage

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Winter's Bone" ends KC theatrical run

For the first time in 10 months, “Winter’s Bone” isn’t playing on a Kansas City movie screen. The Oscar-nominated Ozarks drama had its last show times Thursday evening at the Screenland Crown Center and the Screenland Armour.

KC Symphony "Creation" preview by Patrick Neas

As nature bursts forth at every turn, the Kansas City Symphony and conductor Michael Stern will celebrate planet Earth with music evocative of creation. The concert of music by Franz Joseph Haydn, Darius Milhaud, Antonin Dvorak and the U.S premiere of a work by Avner Dorman is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. May 1 at the Lyric Theatre, 1029 Central Ave.

Topeka Jazz Workshop awards scholarships

Topeka Jazz Workshop Inc., through its fund at Topeka Community Foundation, has awarded awarded five college scholarships.

more at the Topeka Capital-Journal

Unicorn "Ruined" review by Jennifer Bhargava

You only have one week left to see “Ruined” at the Unicorn Theatre. It is definitely not the feel-good production of the season. But it’s the most important.

more at the Vignette

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Unreal Housewives of KC" Marci's Dinner Party episode

Boom! interview by Jen Harris

Directly in the heart of art district, at 1715 Wyandotte, resides the Fishtank Performance Studio. Curated and co-founded in 2009 by Kansas City’s own theatre artist Heidi Van, the cozy recital bungalow seats a maximum of three dozen attendees. But it’s in this nook of a performance space where residents have the exceptional privilege of viewing some of Kansas City’s finest conceptual theatre works, specifically Boom! An International Lost and Found Family Marching Band.

more at The Vignette

David Schweizer "Peer Gynt" interview by Paul Horsely

Concluding the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s 2010-2011 season is Henryk Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, in an adaptation by David Schweizer, who also directs it. The production is already in previews and opens April 29th at the Copaken Stage downtown. David is a prominent figure in American theater who has directed several off-Broadway productions as well as works at Lincoln Center, London’s Barbican Centre and on stages throughout Europe. Regionally he has staged works at Trinity Repertory Company, Arena Stage, Center Stage, Mark Taper Forum, Geffen Playhouse, McCarter Theatre and others. David, who is 61, has had a lifelong fascination with Ibsen’s sprawling masterpiece, which he has reduced to a chamber version using five players and a sound score that eschews, for the most part, Edvard Grieg’s famous music. We recently sat down to chat about Ibsen, Peer, and David’s own 40-year relationship with this play.

more at The Independent

George Wendt, Tim Kazurinsky "Odd Couple" interview by Steve Kraske

Oscar Madison is divorced and enjoying the bachelor lifestyle in his own apartment, which is decorated in what can only be described as early American junkyard. His best friend, fastidious neatnik Felix Ungar, shows up distraught and suicidal announcing that his wife has given him the boot. George Wendt (Oscar) of Cheers fame and Tim Kazurinsky (Felix) of Saturday Night Live join us to today to discuss their parts in Neil Simon's famous play, The Odd Couple.

listen at KCUR (mp3)

River City Community Players "Mixed Nuts" preview by Tim Linn

The River City community Players’ newest production, “Mixed Nuts,” has come with a series of surprises for the cast and crew alike. Director Jonathan Wehmeyer, a theater instructor at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., who will be making his directorial debut in the show that starts Friday, said as it relates to his actors, those surprises have been pleasant.

more at the Leavenworth Times

Ben Vereen returns to Topeka Performing Arts Center for 20th anniversary

Ben Vereen, who was the first performer to take the stage of the Municipal Auditorium-turned-Topeka Performing Arts Center, returns Saturday night to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

more at the Topeka Capital-Journal

Patrick Lewellan "Rock of Ages" promo

Unicorn "Ruined" preview by Steve Walker

Plays at the Unicorn Theatre often use vibrant characters and colorful language to give audiences a way into complex issues. Those involved with the production of Ruined insist that plays about intense subjects can be both enlightening and entertaining.

listen at KCUR

Friday, April 22, 2011

T2 + Back Alley Films 2011 promo reel

SM East Chansonettes make annual Day Tour

Members of the SM East Chansonettes — a choir made up primarily of sophomore girls — made their annual Day Tour yesterday, performing at three healthcare facilities and the Power & Light District.

more at the Prairie Village Post

A look at the KC FilmFest winners by Jerry Rapp

The AMC Theatres Kansas City FilmFest 2011 concluded in style after another great collection of feature and short films from around the world were shown to appreciative and packed houses at the AMC Mainstreet 6 theater last week. Also highly popular were the various seminars and panels on filmmaking, featuring visiting and local artists. The road ahead looks bright as AMC and the festival organizers find their footing together as partners and head into the future as the Kansas City film festival.

more at Review

Kansas City Jazz Summit preview by Joe Klopus

In our time, college “jazz festivals” have become commonplace. Invite some school bands from around the region to show their stuff, bring in some clinicians, and it works. It makes for a solid day or two of jazz education and maybe a good concert in the evening. But there’s something to be said for the expanded approach that Jim Mair and his crew at Kansas City Kansas Community College are taking next week. They’re stretching their festival out over six days and calling it the Kansas City Jazz Summit.

Heidi Van, David Wayne Reed receive Arts KC Inspiration Grants

The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City Board of Directors approved $7,200 in new funding for local artists through the ArtsKC Fund Inspiration Grant program.  These projects represent artists from multiple disciplines, different stages in their career, and various project types.  Inspiration Grants are an investment in human capital, providing direct support to “art-treprenuers” whose abilities to advance their careers and produce work have a positive effect on our local economy.

Actor/creator Heidi Van, co-founder of the Fishtank Performance Studio, will use her $950 Inspiration funding to purchase a portable professional sound system for a new production, “Window Play.”  The sound system will enhance the production values of this show and others that debut at the Fishtank and make it easier for them to be toured to other sites, such as the New Orleans Fringe Festival.

Playwright and author David Wayne Reed will use is $1000 grant to help bring cult-favorite Late Night Theatre back to life with a production of “Mother Trucker 2,” a sequel to Reed’s original drama “Mother Trucker” that debuted in 2004. ArtsKC funding will support production costs for the scenery for the play, which features an on-stage pickup truck. 

more at ArtsKC

CinemaKC, KC Art Institute animators preview by Justin Gardner

Kansas City Art Institute animation students will be featured on the April 23rd show as Ryan Tonner presents “Luchadorable,” and Stuart Bury shows “My Best Friend” and his 2010 Student Academy Award winning short “Dried Up.”

more at CinemaKC

Bethel AME Church "Living Last Supper" preview by Tim Linn

It’s been a Passion for some of them for 20 years.For others, it’s a new experience. But for those involved in the annual Living Last Supper at Bethel AME Church — scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday — there is no question why they continue.

more at the Leavenworth Times

Unicorn "Ruined" review by Paul Horsely

It takes mettle to write a play about turmoil in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where civil wars have brought years of rampant pillaging, murder and sexual abuse. Ruined is a problematic but gutsy play, and it won Lynn Nottage the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009. The Unicorn Theatre’s production of Ruined, a co-production with UMKC Theatre that opened April 16th, has much to offer, and brings home much of the horrible realities of a situation that continues to rage in the Congo. If there are moments of sluggishness in the show, which Ricardo Khan directs, and if at times the play thwarts one’s yearning for satisfying dramatic conclusions, it is on the whole a powerful, savvy piece of theater brought off with panache by several strong performers.

more at The Independent

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Starlight 2011 season promo

2011 Kansas City Starlight Theatre Broadway Season:
The King and I - June 6 - 12
9 to 5 The Musical June 21 - 26
Guys and Dolls - July 12 - 17
Cinderella - August 2 - 7
Xanadu - August 15 - 21

Faction V8 promo by Zac Eubank

Kauffman Center taking donations for Children's Wall

The Kauffman Center is committed to engaging and inspiring our community's children for generations to come. Donate to the Children's Wall and you will forever connect your child to this iconic building while helping us complete the capital campaign. Your child's hand, along with his/her name and age, will be permanently included in this colorful, artistically-arranged design of 1,000 handprints.

This is a $1,000 donation, which is fully tax-deductible and payable over multiple years. Handprints submitted by May 1, 2011 guarantees your child's hand will be in place for the inaugural season. RSVP for the final handprint-making event at our construction site office: Sunday, May 1, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. by replying to this email. Or call Jennifer Lapka Pfeifer at 816-994-7238 if another date and time is more convenient to you.

End of an era for the Crossroad's Film Row

For decades, Film Row - the area between 17th and 19th streets on Central and between Wyandotte and Broadway on 18th Street - was the midwest's connection to the movie biz.

more at KC Confidential

Bassoon reed maker Leigh Miller Muñoz interview by Brenna Hawley

Leigh Miller Muñoz hunches over a table filled with supplies.Wood, Duco cement, an X-Acto knife and crochet thread are all laid out. Metal instruments with pointed pricks sit on shelves above her. The room is 70 degrees, at precisely 30 percent humidity. Reruns play on the flatscreen television next to the table.

more at the Lawrence Journal-World

UMKC Professor Zhou Long wins Pulitzer Prize

Zhou Long, UMKC Conservatory Research Professor of Music Composition was just awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Madame White Snake, which premiered on February 26, 2010 by Opera Boston at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. Madame White Snake is a deeply expressive opera that draws on a Chinese folk tale to blend the musical traditions of the East and the West. Libretto by Cerise Lim Jacobs.

more at UMKC 
and at
and at NBC Action News
 and at KCTV-5 
and at the New York Times