Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Local musicians discuss the future of KC jazz

The past few months have been rough for local jazz. Two promising newer venues, 1911 Main and CafĂ© Augusta in Lenexa, have shut down. And at Jardine's Restaurant and Jazz Club, one of the city’s most celebrated venues, a dispute between the owner and employees led to a boycott by musicians. The restaurant then closed its doors, and its future remains up in the air.

more at KCUR 
and at KC Confidential

KC Rep "Tom Sawyer" audience reactions

Opening Night, audience members express how they feel about The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at KC Rep. Do you have your tickets yet? 816.235.2700 kcrep.org

Tax checkoff hearing in Topeka

A proposal that would allow a tax checkoff program for the arts drew no interest before a legislative committee on Monday as lawmakers continued to wrestle with Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of arts funding. No one testified in favor or against the measure before the House Taxation Committee.

more at the Lawrence Journal World

Downtown campus and UMKC theatre exhibit on "The Local Show"

On Friday, Dec. 2, the UMKC Theatre Department opened an exhibit at the Box Gallery in the Commerce Bank building at 1000 Walnut St. The exhibit is called “Form Follows Function,” and its primary goal is to highlight the hard work the costume, lighting and scenic design graduate students contribute to UMKC performances behind the scenes.

more at the University News

Chiara String Quartet review by Libby Hanssen

The Chiara String Quartet has a reputation for taking contemporary classical repertoire beyond conventional venues while maintaining the traditions of the genre.

more at kansascity.com

"Spotlight on Art Suskin" by Angie Fiedler

This article is from the December 2011 issue of KC Stage

"I still get nervous before every rehearsal. I still get nervous before every performance. And I think that's important. You've got to keep that anticipation and excitement. And I look for not young people, but youth. I look for people who are still young at heart, if not actually young. I am, I think. And I think that's what keeps you going. Hopefully it'll keep you alive. I always say that theatre keeps you young and keeps you alive. That's what I do."  

more at KC Stage

Auditions for School of American Ballet

Sarah Wilkerson has been studying ballet for the past 10 years, and she’s only 13. But that’s not so unusual for young people burning for a professional dancing career, as are Sarah and the dozens of other teenagers who came Sunday to audition at the Kansas City Ballet’s Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity.

more at kansascity.com

Locals remember Etta James

Kansas City music fans remembered singer Etta James, who died Friday at 73. The R&B icon, who was best known for the song, "At Last," won six Grammy awards over the course of her long career.

more at KMBC

Monday, January 30, 2012

kcjazzlark insists it's not the "j word"

It’s not the J word. Last week, our friend Plastic Sax identified the reason Nnenna Freelon’s Folly Theater show failed to draw more than some 400 people. “To a large extent, the barrier was antipathy to the j-word,” he wrote.

more at kcjazzlark

Unicorn "Next Fall" review by Robert Trussell

Geoffrey Nauffts’ play “Next Fall,” a hit both on and off Broadway in 2009-10, addresses issues of love, faith, death and loss — and, remarkably, does so with a sense of humor that cuts to the bone.

more at kansascity.com

On the set of "The Sublime and the Beautiful"

It’s the middle of January. There’s still a Christmas tree in the corner, and kids’ footsteps rattle the floors upstairs at the Kuhlman residence. “Daddy, we made a mess,” one of them yells on the edge of the stairwell. “OK,” an exasperated Les Kuhlman says. “Just stay upstairs. They’re filming down there.”

more at lawrence.com

Parsons Dance review by Libby Hanssen

Visually arresting by way of incredible physicality, dynamic lighting and eclectic movement vocabulary, Parsons Dance is a proudly accessible modern dance company. Its debut performance Saturday night in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts marked the company’s 11th appearance as part of the Harriman-Jewell Series.

more at kansascity.com

KC Symphony "Resurrection" preview by Patrick Neas

According to Gustav Mahler, “the symphony is a world; it must contain everything.” Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “The Resurrection” is almost 90 minutes long, and it certainly contains a world of emotion.

more at kansascity.com

Barn Players "Barny Award" winners

Barn Players Barny Awards 2011
  • Technical Achievement - Michael Ong (projections), "Marvin's Room" and Christi Fulton Reeder (choreography), "Sweet Charity"
  • Supporting Actor - Josh Brady, "Marvin's Room" 
  • Supporting Actress - Julie Harris Shaw, "The Drowsy Chaperone" 
  • Actor - Eric Magnus, "The Drowsy Chaperone" 
  • Actress - Jennifer Coville, "Marvin's Room" 
  • Director - Barbara Evans Nichols, "The Drowsy Chaperone" and Shelly Stewart, "Frost / Nixon" 
  • Best Show - "The Drowsy Chaperone" 
Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, and thank you to John Rensenhouse and the Barny judges, as well as, everyone who came out this evening to celebrate our wonderful 2011 season!

Youth Symphony of KC preview by Lisa Allen

More than 300 young musicians comprise the five orchestras and perform more than 15 annual performances. The Youth Symphony of Kansas City has served as the orchestral music home to more than 8,000 young musicians throughout the span of its 50-plus year history.

more at Johnson County Lifestyles

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Space Thang" short film by Jori Sackin and Pat Vamos

Last October, local filmmakers Jori Sackin and Pat Vamos screened Space Thang, a 40-minute mashing up of '70s sci-fi porn and original animation, at the Strand Theater, the old-school porn house on Troost. It was good times, although when I went outside to smoke pot before the movie started, I lost my seat and had to sit cross-legged on the floor in the aisle. Let me tell you, I was not crazy about my hands touching that carpet. Spent a good minute scrubbing my hands in the restroom afterward.

more at the Pitch

Quixotic, Janelle Monae presenting at TED

Kansas City’s involvement in the global brainfest known as TED continues to expand.

more at kansascity.com

Vivica Genaux "Pyrotechnics" interview by Verena Dobnik

Sometimes Vivica Genaux loves to sing with the precision and breakneck speed of an athlete — in “techno rhythm.” Other times, the tunes are achingly slow but still bursting with passion. The common thread of most of the songs she performs is that they come from obscure archives, silent for centuries.

more at kansascity.com

KC Repertory "Tom Sawyer" review by Alexia Lang

When we are young, every single day appears to be bursting at the seams with potential for adventure. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” at The Kansas City Repertory Theatre ignites that desire to get a little messy and have a lot of fun.

more at the Vignette

KC Symphony "Sci-Fi Spectacular" review by Andrea Fowler

As the orchestra began the main title theme from “Star Wars,” it was obvious that this concert, the first of two weekend concerts, was unlike any yet in Helzberg Hall. The stage on Friday night was filled to near capacity with members of the Kansas City Symphony, including expanded brass and percussion sections, and singers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance and Blue Valley North, Olathe North and Olathe Northwest high schools.

more at kansascity.com

ArtsKC awards luncheon for ArtsKC Fund campaign

Kansas City will live long and prosper if it continues to support its vibrant arts community. The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City borrowed that message Friday for its Star Trek-themed annual ArtsKC Awards luncheon, kicking off its 2012 ArtsKC Fund campaign. The effort aims to raise $420,000 in workplace contributions.

more at kansascity.com

Coterie "Wrestling Season" review by Robert Trussell

The Coterie Theatre and the UMKC Theatre Department have joined forces to produce a remarkably well-acted revival of "The Wrestling Season," a taut one-act play by Laurie Brooks about intense social pressures and sexual identity among a group of teens.

more at kansascity.com

Yo-Yo Ma talks about Helzberg Hall

The world's most celebrated cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, recently performed with the Kansas City Symphony in their new home, Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Here is what he had to say about his experience in the new hall.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Will Combs, American Jazz Museum interview

Meet the AJM Staff Video Series by Melaney Mitchell. Our IT Manager and Technical Director talks about what its like working at the American Jazz Museum and points out some helpful tips for those also interested in an technical audio career.

Trails West Barbershop Chorus interview by Lisa Allen

Everyday miracles are often overlooked. Take, for instance, the ability to turn a mishmash group of men, ranging from high school age to 80 with no formal musical training, into a chorus of voices that spreads entertainment and happiness throughout the Kansas City area.

more at Johnson County Lifestyle

Starlight "Aladdin" preview by Robert Trussell

When Denton Yockey, president and executive producer at Starlight Theatre, approached Jerry Jay Cranford about directing the Disney musical “Aladdin” at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, he thought he was making a simple, common-sense decision.

more at kansascity.com

KC Ballet 2012-2013 Season

Following a season of perennial favorites and premieres in a brand new performance hall is not an easy feat. Yet the Kansas City Ballet’s artistic director, William Whitener, has programmed a season of performances for 2012-13 that aims to meet the high standards Kansas City dance fans have come to expect as the company settled into its new performance home, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and its new headquarters, the Bolender Center.

more at kansascity.com

KC Symphony "Sci-Fi Spectacular" review by DSM

It takes real guts and musicianship to pull off pieces like the ones we heard last night at Kansas City’s Kauffman Center!

more at Chamber Music Today

Quality Hill "My Romance" review by Robert Trussell

Kudos to J. Kent Barnhart and Quality Hill Playhouse for creating a show that transported a seen-it-all theater critic to a different time and place.

more at kansascity.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

Call for donations to Robert Altman Emerging Filmmakers Fund

The Film Commission of Greater Kansas City has created The Robert Altman Emerging Filmmakers Fund, which is a sustainable fund designed to help filmmakers get their short film productions off the ground. This new fund will leverage individual, institutional, charitable and corporate support to reach critical mass. All donations go the the Commission.

Guitarist Slash to shoot movie about cemetary in Lawrance

In one corner, there is Slash — the heavy-metal rock icon and former lead guitarist for the band Guns N’ Roses. In the other corner, there is Iona, an 86-year-old rural Douglas County resident intent on keeping riffraff out of her neighborhood’s historic cemetery. It sure appears a clash is coming.

more at lawrence.com

James Wright on bringing "Nixon in China" to KC

Richard Nixon, Mao, First Lady Pat Nixon, et. al. are travelling by semi truck to Kansas City, Missouri from Vancouver.

Washburn University "Year of Magical Thinking" preview by Bill Blankenship

"The Year of Magical Thinking" explores, in the words of its author, Joan Didion, explores "a place none of know until we reach it": grief.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

High school students get lessons from Yo-Yo Ma

Anyone lucky enough to have a ticket can see one of the world's greatest cellists, Yo-Yo Ma, perform this weekend with the Kansas City Symphony.
Blue Springs high school sophomore Alyssa Aubuchon will get a much closer encounter on Saturday: she will have the chance to learn from him.

more at NBC Action News

Amphion interview by Teresa Sheffield

“There is an element of camaraderie that you can only get from a group of singing guys; we’re a brotherhood,” Amphion president Samuel Green said. “It’s nice to know that after we’re done singing, we’re just a bunch of dudes. We goof off, have inside jokes, and that makes our bond that much stronger.”

more at the University News

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kansas City Academy Grassroots Concert Series introduction

[Thanks, Plastic Sax]

Mandy Patinkin interview by Steve Walker

"An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin" reunites two Tony Award-winning performers for the first time since they performed together in the original Broadway cast of "Evita."

more at KCUR
and more here

Hamburg Symphony review by John Heuertz

Violinist Guy Braunstein joined the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Tate in their Kansas City debuts Wednesday night at Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The concert was part of this season’s Harriman-Jewell Series.

more at kansascity.com

KC Rep "Tom Sawyer" review by Robert Trussell

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre, in collaboration with three other regional theaters, gives us an inventive, high-spirited and somewhat endearing stage version of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

more at kansascity.com

Ladysmith Black Mambazo review by Timothy Finn

A clichĂ© may be a worn-out truth but it’s a truth nonetheless, and one well-known truth came forth boldly Tuesday night inside the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts: Music is a language the whole world speaks.

more at kansascity.com

Geoffrey Nauffts "Next Fall" interview by Robert Trussell

Geoffrey Nauffts wants to sucker punch you. At the moment, the playwright is keeping an eye on regional productions of his “Next Fall,” a 2010 hit on and off-Broadway, especially those in theaters down south. The reason, Nauffts said in an interview from Los Angeles, is that his dramedy, which opens this week at the Unicorn Theatre, is a play about a gay relationship unlike others theatergoers have encountered.

more at kansascity.com

West Platte High School Performing Arts Center ribbon cutting

The new Performing Arts Center and the entire building program carried out the past four years were celebrated at West Platte Schools Sunday afternoon. Looking around the new theatre space, and extolling the value of the new elementary gym and other school improvements, speaker Darrell Willson stopped and looked at the audience. “Can we praise the Lord for the Iatan Power Plant money?!”

more at the Platte Chronicle

Downtown art campus plans in motion

“The idea of a Downtown Campus for the Arts has really captured the public imagination,” said Anne Hartung Spenner, Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications.

more at the University News

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Nightcap with Arty Vulgaris" episode 1

The Nightcap with Arty Vulgaris at the Fishtank Fishtank Performance Studio shot LIVE each month in Kansas City, Missouri. The theatrical team of Damian Blake and Annie Cherry present a new live talk show at the Fishtank Performance Studio at 10pm the second Friday of each month. The show features interviews with local performers, and occasional historical and/or fictitious characters. Arty Vulgaris asks the hard hitting, the intimate, and the awkward questions. The show also features notable musical guests. The lineup for the debut show includes Annie Cherry, actor Katie Gilchrist, comic Martin Plant, music by The Vi Tran Band, and burlesque by Violet Vendetta. The program will be webcast the week of the performance. Damian Blake and Annie Cherry are a performing duo, specializing in vaudeville style entertainment, though their talents defy confinement to just one genre. They sing, dance, act, pantomime... They are as comfortable and engaging performing in a fancy-schmancy theater as they are on a rural sidewalk. With performances ranging from family friendly clowning to bawdy material they will charm the pants right off of you (usually figuratively speaking). Always searching for new creative outlets, these two are guaranteed to captivate, titillate, and twitterpate. The two perform as well as writing and producing their own material.

more at Blip

Buyers looking at Jardine's as club stays closed

So many rumors, so few facts.... With Kansas City's top jazz club stuck in limbo, it's time again to saddle up and see where - if anywhere - things have progressed. As the world turns.

more at KC Confidential 
and more here
and at Tony's Kansas City

Marcia Cebulska "Tick Tock" interview by Sam Sayler

It is often said that waiting is the hardest part. The stress involved in anticipating confirmation or failure is almost enough to kill those stuck in the waiting limbo. This culture behind waiting, specifically in a women's health clinic, was expressed this past weekend in the one-act choreoplay "Tick Tock" written by Marcia Cebulska, with shows at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and the YWCA.

more at the Washburn Review

KC Chamber Orchestra "Brandenburg Concertos" review by John Heuertz

J.S. Bach’s music can really get a grip on people. They plan lifetime careers around it, or celebrate his birthday by getting married, or send it into outer space so that little green men might someday see how smart we are. Albert Schweitzer called Bach the “fifth evangelist.”

more at kansascity.com

Artifacts galore at "America's Lost Treasures" filming

Every object at the taping of America's Lost Treasures told a story. It has been more than an hour since a train left Union Station, but a crowd remains. About 100 people are gathered in front of the Kansas City Power & Light gallery. They give off the disjointed thrum of folks waiting for a train that has been too long coming.

more at the Pitch

Contemplating an arts promoter for Lawrence

Final Fridays may just be the beginning. Organizers of the year-and-a-half-old monthly arts event in downtown Lawrence are now envisioning a new full-time city position that would promote the arts and work to bring “creative industries” to the city.

more at the Lawrence Journal World

"Performing Outside the Black Box" by Richard Buswell

This article is from the December 2011 issue of KC Stage

On August 13, the National Airline History Museum threw a Rock Around the Props 50’s style sock hop as a fundraiser. At the event, participants received dance lessons, watched a Constellation class airplane rev up, danced to the Benders, participated in a costume contest, and were treated to a display of classic cars. So what does this have to do with the performing arts in Kansas City?

more at KC Stage

UMKC Conservatory student performs with Yo-Yo Ma

Good things come to those who wait. After years of study and performance in China, Conservatory of Music and Dance student Wei Shen received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity last Saturday: a live performance with world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts’ Helzberg Hall.

more at the University News

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Stroke of Genius" documentary short by Shawn Porter

Kansas City Video dude Shawn Porter concludes a really great series of clips in his recent documentary . . .

more at Tony's Kansas City

Plastic Sax ponders the "jazz" label

I wrote a piece for The Kansas City Star that examines Nicholas Payton's Black American Music proposal. The challenging subject makes a lot of people uncomfortable. And while the argument isn't new, it's more relevant than ever. Allow me to set aside the political and sociological aspects of Payton's concept in order to demonstrate one reason this topic matters.

more at Plastic Sax

Central Standard "I, Elizabeth" review by William Ferleman

Recently, Kim Jong-il—the Dear Leader—passed into blessed oblivion. Subsequently, two important matters struck me:  that both totalitarianism and theocracy are still, alas, alive and well. (And George Orwell found no distinction between the two). This presumed modern world simply accepts these malignancies on the stage.

more at Pop Matters

Filmmaker Sharon Wright interview by Jennifer Bhargava

You don’t always need a cute cat or a quick laugh to become a YouTube sensation. Just ask Sharon Wright. The Grandview native has reached almost 1.5 million hits for her short film. Not bad for a 10-minute drama about change for a dollar.

more at Ink

Read more here: http://inkkc.com/content/grandviews-sharon-wright-filmmaker-model-and-actress/#storylink=cpy

"UMKC Theatre Training News" available online

A pdf of the 2012 Spring issue of UMKC Theatre Training News is now available online.

more at UMatters

Pianist Freddy Kempf review by Erin Hales

Throughout its history, the Harriman-Jewell Series’ Discovery Concert Series has sought to promote the careers of emerging artists while providing high-quality, free-of-charge concerts for the Kansas City community. It was therefore an unconventional move to select a relatively established figure such as Freddy Kempf for the Series’ Discovery concert on January 20th. Few in the audience were complaining: Kempf brings an old-world gentility to the piano, as well as a mellow, mahogany tone and a refined sense of voice leading. Although the entire program did much to showcase his signature style, the second half proved particularly satisfying.

more at the Independent