Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Amy Myers "We Can Have Some Fun" music video

David Wilson, True/False Film Festival interview by David Hudnall

The streets of downtown Columbia, Missouri — the District, as the college town's tourism agency would prefer that you call it — will teem with roving bodies this weekend, and not just with the usual blacked-out-drunk undergrads. The True/False Film Festival is celebrating its ninth year, and David Wilson (who co-founded the fest in 2004 with Paul Sturtz) is expecting the highest turnout to date.

more at the Pitch

KC Repertory "Great Immensity" audience reactions

Opening Night, the audience reacts to The Great Immensity. Buy tickets today! Through March 18. 816.235.2700

Living Room "Bucket of Blood" preview

Emiel Cleaver interview by Jennifer Bhargava

A documentary filmmaker, freelance videographer (most of his projects involve filming music videos) and son of U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II.

more at Ink

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Barn Players "How to Succeed in Business" review by charasloan

Rating: 4

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying 
The Barn Players, Inc.

I caught the Feb 26 performance and it was a perfect little Sunday getaway. The theatre is small and intimate, but has a cozy hometown feel.
The orchestra needed some tweaks on a few transition numbers seemed out of step at times.

Loved the mix of ages, sizes, and shapes of the characters & brightly painted set that morphed into different scenes - great use of space.

Total scene stealer goes to Alisha Garnier as Hedy LeRue! Anytime she was on stage the musical lit up. Certainly a triple threat to watch out for & it won't surprise me at all to see her on Broadway soon. From facial expressions to vocal quality and to absolutely taking it over the top - my pick for favorite.

Remainder of cast gave worthy performances and had a few surprising moments sprinkled in. Lots of laughs!!

Barn Players "How to Succeed in Business" review by mindy60

They Succeed in Theater
Rating: 5

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying 
The Barn Players, Inc.

I went to "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" opening weekend and was impressed again by the quality of shows produced by the Barn Players.

The musical revolves around the story of a young man J. Pierpont Finch played by Adam McAdoo. His voice was very well suited for the role and his boyish charm made the character endearing. His romantic counterpart Rosemary played by Erin Coleman was well played as the secretary who falls in love with the new rising star of the company. Her voice was flawless with a great tone and expression.

Notable roles in the show include Bud Frump, Smitty , Hedy LaRue, and Mr Bratt each perfect in there roles and they all brought life and humor to the stage.

The cast is filled with many cameo roles all of which had their moments on the stage adding to the story and flow of the show. Casting for this production was spot on without a real weak link. Everyone embraced their roles to make use of every moment on the stage.

Congratulation has to go out to Eric Van Horn director and set designer. Not only did he put together an entertaining show and cast, but he designed a set that was filled with moving platforms, rolling walls, and a working elevator. There were so many different locations in this show, but each were unique and fitting of the scene. The color pallet was bright a vibrant and costumes by Francine Kapono played into the wacky world of World Wide Wickets.

Choreography by Guy Gardner was spot on for the big production numbers especially "The Brotherhood of Man". It is very exciting to see a stage fill with men all dancing in sync to such a crowd pleasing musical number. "Coffee Break" also captured the audience with the panic one feels when the coffee pot goes dry.

You can find flaws with most shows: this production is no different. One or two of the many scene changes were a little clumsy, but I have give credit to stage crew because the majority were seamless. Though vocals were consistently goo,d there were some flaws with the orchestra. The show started out with a few misplaced notes and a lack of musical unity. Overall, they were together for most of the show. I felt some of the non dance songs lacked creative planning. I wasn't that impressed with one of the actor's portrayal of his role and to me there seemed to be a few times where he was searching for the next line. Lighting had its great moments and its shadowy uneven moments. There may have been a light out the night I saw the show, because Rosemary's desk area seemed very dark. Audio is audio as in every show I see occasional feedback and crackling microphones. But I will say the sound effects worked very well from the many elevator dings, Book Voice (which was done by Joel Nichols of KMBC) and Finch's smile chime.

There are two more weekends left to see this outstanding production at the Barn Players. I highly recommend seeing this show it was well worth the ticket price and we had a great evening of entertainment. I am continually amazed with the quality of some area community theaters.

Hickman High School "Grease" preview by Catherine Martin

Hickman students will deliver their take on the show that deals with complex issues, such as dropping out of high school and teenage rebellion, while dazzling audiences with catchy rock 'n' roll songs they will recognize from productions of the musical or the soundtrack to the wildly popular 1978 film adaptation.

more at the Columbia Daily Tribune

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Stroke of Genius" complete series

At age 23, Joel Brocato, aka J.B. a hip-hop sensation originating from Kansas City, MO, suffers a stroke... witness his return not only to his music, but to his life... An incredible comeback story that is truly inspiring.

Emiel Cleaver "Freedom is Now" review by Luke Harman

Filmmaker Emiel Cleaver’s new documentary “Freedom Is Now” premiered at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library on Friday, telling the story of Kansas City’s revolutionary African-American political organization, Freedom Inc. Cleaver is the son of former mayor and current United States Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II and received his master’s degree at UMKC. Cleaver’s subject, Freedom Inc., was founded in 1961 and the documentary is used to show the success of the organization in integrating stores and restaurants in Kansas City on the social front.

more at the University News

KC Repertory "Great Immensity" review by Alexia Lang

This warm winter has got us all wondering what the heck is going on with the weather. So, it’s quite fitting that Kansas City Repertory Theatre is tackling the topic of climate change in its own edgy, theatrical style.

more at the Vignette

Kristin Chenoweth at Rose Brooks Cabaret

While the Oscars took place in Los Angeles, Kansas City hosted Tony and Emmy award winner Kristin Chenoweth.

Brass instrument maker Mike Corrigan interview by Sylvia Maria Gross

New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras last week with that signature brass band sound. In the seven years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, a local man has played a role in bringing that sound back to the streets.

more at KC Currents

River City Community Players "Camelot" review by mattpursel

Camelot - Best show in a long time
Rating: 5

River City Community Players

I just saw the RCCP production of "Camelot" at the historic Hollywood Theatre in Leavenworth. This play was honestly the best over all show I have seen there in a long time.

Enter King Arthur played by Jeff Adams. I do not know this man nor have I ever met him but WOW ... this dude is a BEAST on stage. He gave such a stirring emotional performance that at times I got chills and forgot I was watching a play. Hell I even wanted to fight someone myself. I got to him after the show and he said in modesty, "I was feeling I was having an off night." To which I replied, "Well if that was an off night, I can't imagine what an amazing night would be. Most likely you would be like opening the Ark of the Covenant in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and melt all our faces." His timing and inflection were excellent and he believed in what he was saying. Hell, he made me believe it. He also had a great British accent and kept it the entire show. It was a Broadway caliber performance on a small stage from him in my opinion.

I really liked how the cast had good chemistry. Sir Lancelot, played by Coby Anderson, was a good choice. I liked how he included a passable French accent and kept in throughout the show. He was just enough of a dick to be arrogant but still passed as a lovable asshole, with morals and virtue ... who also happens to cheat on his best friend with his wife. So yea. Great guy, but kind of a D bag at the same time.

Guenevere, played by Sarah DaMetz, was also a good choice. She has an amazing voice and can hit the higher notes some find difficult. She was always on key and in tune. (Being a vocalist myself, I am hard on singers and she impressed me.) She is also pretty easy on the eyes. She looked the part and her acting was good as well. The character is just enough of a (insert word) to kind of hate but at the same time has enough redeeming qualities that you don't see her as a villain. She, Arthur, and Lancelot had GREAT chemistry on stage and it showed.

Mordred, played by Spencer Williams was every bit the A-Hole one would expect the villain from the Arthur tale to be. Man, what a little prick that guy was. Sowing dissension within the walls of Camelot and relishing in wanton destruction are this guys M.O. The actor brought to life a character we all love to hate.

Also, I have to give a shout out to Sir Sagramore played by Bill Wood. He engaged in a pretty cool fight scene and brandished his sword AND mustache with honor!

The production was well done also. They made good use of silhouetting against a backdrop for fight scenes and other things, which gave a larger than life and more of an epic feel. They made a small stage feel like an open world. No easy task on a community theatre budget. They also had fairly accurate period costumes including real armor for all knights and the king. This was a nice touch because real metal is so much better than painted cardboard. From set design to costumes, it was all rather well done in the scope of community theatre. I am kind of a jaded curmudgeon sometimes when it comes to live shows and this really impressed me. I would very much recommend going to see this production while it is still running.

Now let's get the 'bad' out of the way. One suggestion I would make is not to use the microphones so much. Only use them for people with less powerful voices. I noticed some people were way over powering or 'eating' the mics and causing them to clip. It is a small enough space that if you project you should not need a mic unless you are very soft spoken. That is just my opinion. Also I did not think Merlin was very well done. He was soft spoken and high pitched and used almost no emotion. It kind of took me out of the story. Merlin was not a main character but he IS important because he is at the beginning of the play. Establishing characters set the tone of what you think the duration will be. Thankfully, the rest of the cast picked up any slack this may have caused.


"Spotlight on Paula Winans" by Erika Crane Ricketts

This article is from the January 2012 issue of KC Stage

When Paula Winans asks people what they liked doing most when they were little, most of the time they'll say something similar to what they're doing now. Often looking back to her own childhood, Winans refers to memories of producing her own music reviews on the back porch of her home in Sharon, Pa.

"I had all the neighbor kids be in it. Figured out how to put up a curtain on a rope," she says. "For some reason I found expression in that. And then, it's not work – it's play. That's how I feel a lot of the time. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes it's really work, but when you're actually in it, and it becomes, what my mentor called, an aesthetic experience, where you want to do it again."

Her love of music helped her gain a job during high school, where she conducted a children's choir. "I've always wanted to work with kids. And when I had my own two kids, I even had a greater respect for children. I've always loved kids." Her children are now grown, but she retains that respect for all children she works with. "It's a precious thing that has been entrusted to me. I've always felt that way. But I'm also – what would you say – stern. You know, no nonsense. And then loving after that. It's about what's best for them."

Winans received her undergraduate degree from DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and her graduate degree in music education and voice from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. After completing her studies, she found herself in the public education field. "I taught public school music for 15 years in Montana, Oregon, and Minnesota, and conducted a lot of children's choirs. I did a little stage directing, which I found out wasn't my thing, I wasn't very good at it," she says with a laugh. "It's a lot harder than helping children sing – it's a lot harder. But my professional life has always been about helping children find their voice. There's so much you can learn when you study singing about yourself."

Helping children grow through music continued to be a part of her life. When the Lyric Opera advertised an opening for an education director, Winans was busy with her family and was therefore a little hesitant to apply. "I wasn't sure I really wanted to work full time. So I cut out the little ad in the paper. I was an artist-in-residence at the time, for the state of Kansas." She smiles as she recollects how she felt. "I put it on the ledge of the sink, wondering if I would apply. And finally I did apply. And I'm glad I did. Because all of the really, really close friends I've made, I've made through the opera company. And they live all over the world, and all these families are friends. I just feel . . . I don't know, I don't feel lonely. I feel like I have a family, in addition to my two great kids."

Her kids, Joe and Jenn, are both aspiring opera singers, working on their craft in Kansas and Germany respectively. Not only has she cultivated their music-enriched lives, but she has also reached over 576,000 young people through the programs at the Lyric Opera. There's the opera targeted to families and school audiences, which her department presents every two to three years. On alternate years, they produce One False Move, an opera on girl bullying. There's the Lyric Opera Express, a touring production that reaches schools, community centers, and correctional facilities. There's the Ginger Frost High School Honors Artists, a program that provide students with special training. There's spring break camp. Summer break camp. Operas that she and Joe write for the camps. Winans realizes that, "I always neglect to say that I'm the music director. So I think some people, when I talk about what we do, maybe think that my job is to administer it all – and it is, but we create the education materials that go with every program, and I music direct it." She explains further that yet another aspect of her job is to train any young person that performs on the main stage. There are so many aspects to her job that she relies on "good people" to help her with the work. "If I had to do all of it . . . . Sometimes I feel like my head's going to do circles."

Although she admits to being a little weary from time to time, she says that people, especially children, inspire her. The easiest part of her job is "getting immersed in the music with them. And that's what I love the most about it. I love making music with them." She provides an example from her current work: rehearsing for the family opera, The Giver. "It has very difficult music – some of it's in 4 parts. It has a huge Greek chorus, and we have twenty-eight young people in it from seven years old, clear up to eighteen years old . . . . It's not to have them learn it just by rote, but I help them figure out how they're really going to count it. That's my job. It's not to hope it just comes together, but it's to also to be teaching those who haven't had the experience and lessons in reading music, to learn how to do that and feel good about doing that . . . . . I love that challenge."

Three years ago, Winans and composer Susan Kander were looking to do a family opera based on a book. "We always do it on something that is well-known." They looked at books that would grab Kansas City audiences, like Anne of Green Gables and Tom Sawyer. "And Susan started interviewing friends of her grown children, and The Giver kept coming up, I think," Winans recalls. They contacted author Lois Lowry's agent and found out that the Minnesota Opera also inquired about doing an opera on the same book. Long story made short, the two opera companies got together and obtained the rights for the first-ever opera on the much-loved novel. Winans excitement bubbles as she tells of an idea that came to her while she went on a walk one day. In addition to hearing the author speak after every performance of The Giver, audiences will be able to hear Lowry's voice throughout the opera, as the character of The Speaker. She exclaims, "Lois Lowry is actually going to be in our show!"

Having been the first and only education director of the Lyric Opera in Kansas City, Winans is ecstatic to be honoring individuals who have donated their time to the education department, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. On January 8, the opera will present a public performance at Rockhurst High School, with whom they have a partnership. "Kids from the past and the present are going to sing. Our children are also doing a fundraising project this year, and I'm working really hard on it too, and all the parents – everybody is trying to raise money for education. Anyone that has done it for all of the twenty years are the ones we are honoring," she says. Those receiving nods include Susan Kander, set designer R. Keith Brumley, director Linda Ade Brand, and philanthropist Ginger Frost.

When thinking of how the world was hurt by the crumbling economy a few years ago and how we are still feeling the effects now, Winans is thankful for people who have supported the education department of the Lyric. "When we wanted to do The Giver it was when the economy was at its worst. People on the board, our general director, and Ward Holmquist (the artistic director of the Lyric) – they understand what we do . . . . It was a lean time. And they said it was important to do. And they didn't need to. But they saw that it was important. Especially my education committee, they are amazing."

For those artists and arts organizations that are struggling, Winans says that communication is key to spreading word about your work. She says that over the years, she has come to understand that some people do not fully understand the depth of the work. She recognizes that being in a constant struggle for funding can be stressful, but also believes that a confident outlook on life is important. "I try to be optimistic and positive, so I think when you're that way, people and resources kind of fall in line and they appear, when they need to appear. That's been my experience."

It's that kind of optimism that keeps Winans looking forward to the future. She's already forming ideas for the 25th anniversary celebration and names people she hopes will work with her, and even has a possible title for the next children's opera. "I'm feeling good about what we're doing . . . . We should always be busy, and we are."

More information about the education department of the Lyric Opera can be found on the company's web site,, or by calling Paula Winans at (816) 471-4933. In addition to school matinees, there will be one public performance of  The Giver on January 14 at 2 pm at Rockhurst High School.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Burlesque Downtown Underground "Wicked Game" performance

"Wicked Game" performed by Burlesque Downtown Underground's own Madame MacKay at the February 2011 show Aphrodite Awakened show in Off Center Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri.

Plastic Sax on the failure of the jazz district

The namesake of this blog is displayed in a case at the publicly-funded American Jazz Museum in Kansas City's Jazz District. The institution isn't located at the corner of 12th Street and Vine. The famous intersection no longer exists. Want to see Charlie Parker's childhood homes? They've also been leveled. Many of the most historically valuable properties in the Kansas City area are gone. Even though I openly mock the city's decision to spend $144,500.00 in taxpayer dollars on a plastic sax once played by Bird, I applaud the motives that inspired the purchase.

more at Plastic Sax 
and more here

"The Nuclear Standard" promo by Grant Babbit

KC Rep "Great Immensity" review by Jeff Tamblyn

There are few issues which concern me as much as the shortage of persuasive and inspiring communication from the scientific community, and few things I love as much as good theatre. So when I heard that a musical about the important topic of global warming had been funded by the National Science Foundation and would be staged at the KC Rep Theatre, my hopes rose.

more at Infozine

KC Symphony, VooDoo Daddy review by Timothy Finn

Back in the mid-1990s, Big Bad VooDoo Daddy emerged as one of the leaders of the jump swing revival (or scare, depending on your point of view), along with other punk./swing/rockabilly alchemists like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and Royal Crowne Revue. Back then, it was normal to find those bands on festival bills, like the Warped Tour, amid pure punk bands like Rancid and Green Day. These days, the Daddys keep much different company.

more at

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Alcott Arts Center seeks help after theft

A Kansas City, Kansas arts center is usually closed for the winter because the building doesn’t have heat. The center may not be able to re-open in April because someone stole their copper wiring.

more at FOX4 News

True/False Film Festival preview by Jill Renae Hicks

Life often rests in the gap between what is true and what is false — perhaps especially when it comes to documentaries. When True/False Film Fest made its official debut in Columbia in 2004, the focus was, and has remained, on the slash mark. In documentaries — which are, by definition, nonfiction films — how do cameras possibly influence the film's participants? And once in a while, a few fictive documentaries sneak into the program — but do they perhaps contain other types of truth we can learn from?

more at the Columbia Daily Tribune

KC Symphony's Michael Stern to speak at fundraiser

To celebrate its 60th Anniversary, the Brandeis National Committee; Greater Kansas City Chapter will host a Gala High Tea on April 10th at the Webster House. Shirley Bush Helzberg will host the Tea, and Michael Stern, director of the Kansas City Symphony; will be the guest speaker. The Tea will raise funds for scientific research at Brandeis University.

more at the Independent

Unicorn "Next Fall" review by Paul Donovan

So to present another coming-out story now, in the 21st century, is risky. But the Unicorn Theatre, not averse to taking risks, is presenting Next Fall, the 2010 Broadway play about coming out, to Kansas City. Could there possibly be any facet of awkward gay relationships that hasn’t yet been beaten to death? Well, it turns out there is. 

more at Camp

KC Repertory "Great Immensity" review by Robert Trussell

Kansas City Repertory Theatre in partnership with the Civilians, a New York-based “investigative theater” company, alerts us to the devastating consequences of climate change if we don’t get off our rear ends and do something about it.

more at

Missouri University "Monsieur Baptiste" review by Lainie Mullen

Catchy New Orleans music pumps from loudspeakers as a maid boogies across the stage to collect drinks for a party. The son of the house enters in a dazzling, peacock-like outfit and starts dance stepping, too. In the background behind some windows, people laugh and waltz wildly. The play "Monsieur Baptiste — The Con Man" promises to be a riotous show — until piety screeches revelry to a halt.

more at the Columbia Daily Tribune

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Lucky Strike" short film by Brett Jackson

Lucky Stike is the story of two gifted brothers on their way to the top of the underground league of bowling, a league that is for only the most elite bowlers.
Written, Filmed, and Edited all in 10 hours.
Directed and Edited by Brett Jackson
Staring Kevin Bailey, Ben Harrison, and Brett Jackson
Special thanks to Summit Lanes for letting us use their facilities.
"Lose Your Soul"
by Dead Man's Bones

Benny Golson review by Bill Brownlee

Benny Golson loves to talk. The jazz legend's loquaciousness overshadowed the music he performed in the first of two sets Saturday at the Blue Room. Members of the capacity audience of about 150 were treated to terrific stories that served to illuminate Golson's illustrious career.

more at

Free State Film Festival call for submissions

The Lawrence Arts Center will host The Free State Film Festival, a brand-new film festival scheduled for May 11-13.

more at the Lawrence Journal World

Topeka Community Association, Spanish Brass preview by Bill Blankenship

A brass quintet from Spain that has earned international acclaim will present the penultimate program of the Topeka Community Concert Association's 2011-12 series Tuesday night.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Microphone Jack performances at All Souls Coffee House

Microphone Jack at All Souls Coffee House. A satire from the point of view of an American For Profit Health Insurance Company.

Microphone Jack Live at All Souls Coffee House. A satire of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and their contention that EVERYONE should have a gun.

Microphone Jack at All Souls Coffee House. A satire about jingoism- the phony patriotism that promotes war.

Microphone Jack at All Souls Coffee House. A satire of Progressive bickering and one-upmanship.

"Freedom is Now" debut at the Plaza Library

The organization behind the fight for civil rights in Kansas City is being honored on the big screen. Friday night, the documentary, Freedom Inc., made its debut at the Kansas City Public Library on the Plaza.

Gem Theatre "Barbara Jordan" review by Nicholas Sawin

So when the world premiere of “Barbara Jordan: A Rendezvous With Destiny” at the Gem Theater faced technical difficulties with lighting and audio that delayed the start on Friday night, the audience took the distractions in stride because something new was being born: African-American theater in the 18th and Vine District, courtesy of the Kansas City Theater Foundation.

more at

Kauffman Center photos by Hyperglobal

Finally did a photo safari to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts today as it was lovely out.... decided black and white was the way to go. All taken with the Nikon D3 and 14-24mm lens. ASA 200... F22 throughout. Multiple exposures for each shot.

more at Hyperglobal

[Thanks, Tony]

KC Repertory "Great Immensity" review by ChaimEliyahu

Pay Attention! To 'The Great Immensity'
Rating: 5

The Great Immensity
Kansas City Repertory Theatre

How can we get people to pay attention to something that's really, really important? Everybody's so busy: there's work (if we're lucky), family, friends, obligations, deadlines, and millions of incoming messages, telling us what's important or offering escape. Besides, if the problem's really, really big — like global warming — what can any of us do?

The Civilians have an answer: dramatize it! Their latest show — "The Great Immensity," which made its world premiere on Copaken Stage Friday, February 24th — does just that. Beautifully staged in this KC Rep co-production, Civilians' outstanding six-member New York–based company — all making Kansas City debuts — brought the immense issue of global warming to life in a musical mystery that sweeps us around a big world made small by human hands.

Writer/director Steve Cosson's new show, generously leavened with Michael Freedman's music and lyrics, starts out in Panama, then carries us to the Canadian Arctic, and finally to Auckland for a quick and teary postscript at a global warming conference that anchors the drama. Our protagonist, Phyllis, arrives in Panama in search of Polly, her twin (both ably played by Rebecca Hart). Polly's an ex-Nature Channel producer who's jumped the shark and disappeared on some mission no one can figure out. The amusingly emo-activist Julie (Molly Carden) somehow has a hand in it, in league with the youthful Earth Ambassadors, an international ecology group that stays a step ahead of us all the way.

The rest of the Civilians — Todd Cerveris, Dan Domingues, Eddy Korbich, and Meghan McGeary — do double duty (triple, in Cerveris's case) in scenes and songs that release a cascade of facts and feelings in a fast-paced show running something under two hours. (An intermission was added late in the show's final development here in Kansas City.) Unlike many social-issue shows, the facts never weigh us down: most are liltingly sung. It's feelings that Crosson and Company ultimately harness to lead us into "The Great Immensity."

None of the cast puts on animal outfits, yet animals play a big part in warming our hearts to a chilling issue. Jason Thompson's projection designs animate Mimi Lien's inventive, flexible set. The cast clambers all over it in every conceivable combination, producing every conceivable effect, and some that seem rather inconceivable: who ever expected to be moved by the heart-rending song of that last living carrier pigeon, or the last lemur in the Cincinnati Zoo?

The funniest of several thematic throughlines that weave together this global drama aims right at what draws us into the Nature Channel, literal or figurative: it's the appeal of the "charismatic mega-fauna." Guess who that turns out to be, if we really open out hearts? That's what we're led to in the sobering (though still amusing) short second act in Canada. Polar bears have become the poster children of global warming, but we're also reminded of the genocide of the Dene people, whose lucky survivors now campaign to stop the Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

Can the lucky ones — the survivors, who still have time to act — awaken soon enough? At the end, I found myself thinking of the Pied Piper. When the adults wouldn't pay the Piper, their children were lost — all but three: the lame one, the blind one, the deaf one. No matter how lame, blind or deaf we might feel, maybe we could still get lucky.

The real drama of "The Great Immensity" is our human response to the global issues we face. If you've got 20 bucks (just 10 for student rush), rush on down before it closes on March 18th. It's a credit to KC Rep that we have a gorilla of a show in our midst. And maybe there's some charismatic mega-fauna in your life that will open your heart to something more than slinging shit from some treetop on the issue of global warming.

NOTE: If that last line offends you, stay home with your kids. Tickets are available only to those 13 and older.

"Behind the scenes at the Lied Center" by Rachel Schultz

Shouts echo throughout the 2,000-person Lied Center theater, but are not coming from the audience or performers. The Lied’s blue velvet curtain lifts to an array of students and employees of the Lied Center preparing for the next few shows to come across its historic stage.

more at the University Daily Kansan

New Jardine's owners get greenlight

Don't look now, but the jazz club known as Jardine's is poised to get a new lease on life...

more at KC Confidential

Teacher Matt Beat writes songs about presidents

A local teacher has created songs to help his students learn about the presidents.

Access Dance performs at the Music Hall

Local dancers from Access Dance took the stage at the Music Hall on Sunday. Access Dance is a not for profit organization dedicated to giving children with special needs the same opportunities as their peers.

more at FOX4 News

KCK Community College jazz ensembles performing for Kansas Music Educators Association

Two Kansas City Kansas Community College’s vocal jazz ensembles “The Standard” have been selected to perform at the Kansas Music Educators Assn. annual convention in Wichita Friday, Feb. 24.

more at the Kansas City Kansan

Rap instructor Roger Sugg interview on FOX

Kansas City, Kansas rap artist Roger Sugg shares his information about his program at the Kansas City Kansas Community College.

more at FOX4 News

Douglass High School talent show celebrates Black History Month

Eight small young boys, wearing matching shirts and white hats, lined the stage carrying large drums strapped to their backs. The group performed a carefully choreographed piece that included marching steps, instrument exchanges and solo performances.

more at the Missourian
with photos

KC Actors Theatre "Billy Bishop Goes to War" preview by Terra Hall

The National World War I Museum is hoping to keep history alive with its latest play.

more at FOX4 News

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Cigar Butler" commercial by Metaphor Media

The Cigar Butler is an innovative device designed with the cigar smoker in mind. Use it when boating, golfing, camping, fishing, or any place you light up. A sanitary way to keep your cigar off of the ground and easily found.

Filmed & Produced by MetaphorMedia

Golfer: Nick Swartz
Butler: Michael McDermott

Harmony Middle School "Honk" raises money for suicide prevention

Every year, Harmony Middle School hosts an annual theater production put on by the middle schoolers.  This year, the story of the Ugly Duckling is told through the musical "Honk." A portion of the money raised from the performances goes to a charity voted on by the kids.

more at NBC Action News

Charlotte Street "Winter Music" performance

Winter Music is two nights of new music from local artists more well known internationally than in their home town; artists who deal in sounds not suited to rock bars or jazz clubs; artists of melodies buried in the hiss of silence, that draw on the history of European film music, 20th century classical, and the shimmering roots of the psychedelic tradition.

Quixotic 2012 Season

When Kansas Citians think of a fusion between dance and music, they think of Quixotic.

more at the Vignette

Cellist Tina Guo interview on FOX

Classical and electric cellist Tina Guo, from the Cirque du Soleil show “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” stopped by the FOX 4 Morning Show to talk about the show – which is set for Wednesday night at the Sprint Center – her new album “The Journey” and to show off some of her musical chops.

more at FOX4 News

Tom Kane, voice of the Academy Awards interview by Tim Engle

Kane, the Overland Park-based voice-over artist, could be in an Oscar rehearsal at this very moment. But when we caught up with him earlier this week, before he jetted to Los Angeles on Thursday, he had just recorded a few in-and-out-of-commercials, or “bumpers,” and sponsor tags in his home studio.

more at

"Sounds of Mardi Gras" on FOX4KC

You can’t celebrate Mardi Gras without the smooth sounds of the South!  Hermon Mehari & Diverse helped us kick off Mardi Gras, New Orleans style!

more at FOX4KC

Jazz District history by Brandon Reynolds

Take a walk in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District in Kansas City, Missouri, and you’ll see some of the storefronts of that bygone time. Shops, cafes, clubs, all evoking those days of prosperity and depravity that contributed to one of America’s great renaissances. Now look not even that closely and you’ll see that many of those storefronts are flat: they’re paintings, imaginary doors and awnings and windows. Behind them, boards prop up walls in weedy lots. These aren’t storefronts at all: they’re the backdrops for the 1996 Robert Altman film, Kansas City.

more at the Atlantic 

[Thanks, Plastic Sax]

Emiel Cleaver "Freedom is Now" interview on NBC

The struggle for civil rights didn't just happen in the south . It happened here in Kansas City too. One organization led that struggle and a local filmmaker recently finished a documentary about Kansas City's most powerful African -American political group.

UMKC Dental School talent show

The Student National Dental Association (SNDA) and Hispanic Student Dental Association (HSDA) and the Office of Student Programs co-hosted the annual Variety Show featuring a multitude of talent among the School's students, faculty and staff. The audience packed Room 209 and spilled out the doors to witness the 10 amazing acts performed on Friday, February 10, 2012, during the noon hour.

Topeka Jazz Workshop, Nine Plus One review by Chuck Berg

The genesis of the Kansas City-based Nine Plus One goes back some four years when alto saxophonist Tim Doherty heard a recording of Jim Cifelli’s New York City nonet. Enlarging his section format, Doherty put together Nine Plus One which on Sunday set Topeka Jazz Workshop toes to tapping at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center, 420 S.E. 6th.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Kimberly Cowan, KC Ballet interview by Laura Spencer

Described as the "epitome of balletic grace," Kimberly Cowen is the one remaining Kansas City Ballet dancer hired by the late Todd Bolender, former artistic director. But, it's the end of an era.

more at KCUR

Kauffman Center fisheye photos by Eric Bowers

Playing around with the fisheye lens and the steel cabling holding up the “glass curtain” at the Kauffman Center in Kansas City, engineered by Novum Structures.

more at Eric Bowers Photoblog

Lyric Opera "Nixon in China" rehearsal

The three secretaries to Mao you'll see in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City production of "Nixon in China" are being sung by current and former Lyric Opera Apprentices Holly White, Kristee Haney and Jennifer Powell.

Due to the complexity of the music and nearly constant meter changes in John Adams' score, the secretaries received several private coaching sessions with Artistic Director Ward Holmquist before rehearsals began.

"Nixon in China" directed by Michael Cavanaugh and conducted by Ward Holmquist opens March, 2012 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Visit to select your own seat now!

"Battle: Change from Within" documentary preview by Allie Hinga

On the wall of Eliot Battle's house is a framed family tree. It is filled with the names and images of generations of Battle's and his wife's families. The tree is captioned with the words "We Stand on the Shoulders of Giants."

more at the Missourian

Gary Huggins "Kick Me" fundraiser

Local filmmaker Gary Huggins is set to make his first feature film in 2012 and he needs your help raising $70K by April.

more at CinemaKC

White Theatre "Avenue Q" weather shoutout

Thanks to the cast of Avenue Q at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park for kicking off our shoutouts!

Friday, February 24, 2012

"KU's Dancing With the Stars" by Grant Babbitt

KU's Dancing With The Stars - Roderick Harris and Chelsea Ybarra

True/False Film Festival trailers

From time to time here at Art Axis, we’ve used the title “Trailer Park” to designate a special series of posts in which we show and analyze film trailers. The feature is meant to be something of a stream-of-consciousness experience analogous to watching a trailer in your local moviehouse. We all have immediate responses and questions upon watching a trailer – this is just a written version of that first visceral experience.

more at the Columbia Daily Tribune
and more here
and here

Topeka Jazz Workshop awards scholarships

Nine young Topeka musicians will spend part of their summer refining their jazz performance skills, courtesy of summer band camp scholarships presented by Topeka Jazz Workshop Inc.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Alcott Arts Center fundraisers

The Alcott Arts Center has had some bad luck to deal with in the past couple of months. A thief broke in and stole the copper wire and tools. To counter the losses, several fundraisers have been planned.

more at KC Studio

KC Rep "Great Immensity" preview

Find yourself wondering why Kansas City didn't have any snow this winter? The Great Immensity, a dynamic, earth-friendly, multi-media experience may hold clues. Come see this music-filled mystery through March 18 at Copaken Stage! Order tickets now: 816.235.2700 or

Kristin Chenoweth, Rose Brooks Center interview by Robert Trussell

Chenoweth, who tonight will perform at a private fundraiser for the Rose Brooks Center, went on to headline other Broadway hits. She created the role of Glinda in “Wicked” and starred in revivals of “The Apple Tree” and “Promises, Promises.” So we were curious to find out how Chenoweth thinks Broadway theater has changed since 1999.

more at

Read more here:

Paul Rudy, Heidi Svoboda performance

High Seas, Low Planes @ La Esquina from Charlotte Street Foundation on Vimeo.

Paul Rudy and Heidi Svoboda perform in Ari Fish's installation High Seas Low Planes in La Esquina Feb 21st 2012.

Paul Rudy has composed for orchestra, chamber music, electroacoustic, site-specific sound installations and sonic journeying, using sounds he has gathered spanning the globe. He is a Rome Prize (2010), Guggenheim (2008), Fulbright (1997) and Wurlitzer Foundation (2007 and 2009) Fellow. He teaches at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Recordings of his acclaimed “2012 Stories,” an ongoing CD series of exploratory sound journeys, are available on iTunes and at Heidi Svoboda is a gong artist based in Taos, New Mexico. She has studied The Way of the Gong with gong master Don Conreaux and sound healing with harmonics pioneer Jonathan Goldman. She is a licensed massage therapist and medical Qi gong practitioner. Svoboda has been practicing healing arts for 15 years.

Helen Hocker "1776" preview by Bill Blankenship

Nothing in U.S. history books would support the notion that the Founding Fathers broke out in song and dance as they crafted the Declaration of Independence, but Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams do in the Helen Hocker Center for the Performing Arts production of the musical "1776."

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Kansas Silent Film Festival schedule

Since two of this year's Oscar nominees for Best Picture — "Hugo" and "The Artist" — involve the silent film era, a good lead-up Sunday's presentation of the 84th annual Academy Awards would be the 16th annual Kansas Silent Film Festival.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Jet Ainsworth "Dream On" interview by Aarik Danielsen

On Saturday, the film "Dream On" makes its debut at The Blue Note. Something of a dream journal, the documentary captures the paths and passions of area talents that include University of Missouri basketball standout Kim English, news anchor Sarah Hill, musicians such as The Hooten Hallers and Lunar Mansion and a number of aspiring actors and performers. The film also traces the narrative of such locally forged talents as NASCAR star Carl Edwards and country singer Sara Evans.

more at the Columbia Daily Tribune

Alan Woodrow "Nixon in China" interview with the Lyric Opera

Not long ago we spoke to Alan Woodrow, our Mao Tse-tung in the upcoming production of Nixon in China.  Mr. Woodrow filled us in about his beginnings in the opera world and how he would convince you to attend an opera.  Read the interview below to learn about this talented tenor who has defined the role of Mao in Nixon in China.

more at the Lyric Opera

KC Ballet "Romeo & Juliet" interview by Laura Spencer

Shakespeare's classic story of two star-crossed lovers has inspired musical, film and theatrical adaptations. It's also one of the most popular ballets. Kansas City Ballet's production of Romeo and Juliet brings this story of young love to the stage.

more at KCUR

Blue Valley Northwest skit causes controversy

A rivalry between two schools in the Blue Valley School District has turned into a controversy over what is good clean fun and what is anti-Semitism. On Jan. 27, Blue Valley Northwest students performed a skit pre-approved by school officials that some Jewish students at BV North believe was anti-Semitic. Three weeks later the controversial skit was aired on television. Following the broadcasts social media sites, including Facebook, exploded with public comments.

more at the KC Jewish Chronicle 
and at NBC Action News
and more here
and more here

River City Community Players "Camelot" preview by Tim Linn

It’s a story so well-known that its title has become a sort of cultural shorthand. But that doesn’t mean that the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in “Camelot” doesn’t still have something to offer modern audiences, according to Tisha Entwhistle.

more at the Leavenworth Times

Quixotic pre-TED interview by Timothy Finn

When Anthony Magliano started Quixotic Fusion seven years ago, the founding mission was grand but simple: Create a bold and unusual synthesis of dance, music and technology, take it worldwide and show what kind of dynamic arts culture thrives in Kansas City.

more at

Washburn University "Ruined" preview by Bill Blankenship

In "Ruined," the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Lynn Nottage that plays Thursday through Sunday at Washburn University, the audience learns why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared rape a weapon of mass destruction in many contemporary wars.

and at Washburn University

Lawrence Arts Center "Regional Choreography Festival" preview by Kelsey Cipolla

You don’t have to know the difference between a pas-de-deux and pirouette to appreciate dance or enjoy the Regional Choreography Festival events going on this weekend.

more at the University Daily Kansan

Heartland Men's Chorus "I Am in Need of Music" performance

Heartland Men's Chorus performs "I Am in Need of Music" by David Brunner as part of their 25th Anniversary concert "Metro Retro." For more information on HMC, visit

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"The Littlest Ones: A Dogumentary" by Grant Babbitt

Coterie "Freedom Sisters" preview

It is 1950s America, the Deep South; a world on the verge of change but still tainted by everyday injustices and the remnants of slavery. "In my family there's dead people hopping in and out of the conversation all the time." One of those dead people is Lizzie's great-great-great grandmother Sojourner Truth, freedom fighter of slavery, whose voice could not be silenced. As Lizzie unpacks the past, she listens to Sojourner and, in the process, discovers her own voice...fearless, joyful, full of resolve. Part of the Coterie's Preteen/Young Adult Series. 816-474-6552 or

CinemaKC, T2 + Back Alley Films win Addy Award

At the recent 2012 Kansas City ADDY Awards, CinemaKC, T2 and Back Alley Films picked up an award in the “Special Effects, Video or Film” category for their “Show Open for CinemaKC.”

more at CinemaKC

Columbia Civic Orchestra "Images of Hungary" preview by Jill Renae Hicks

Many of America's music traditions pull from the historic proliferation of jazz and blues music. So it is with Hungarian classical composition, which draws from the country's folk music traditions, said Stefan Freund, Columbia Civic Orchestra conductor and music director. Freund and the orchestra will perform "Images of Hungary" on Saturday, drawing attention to native composers — most notably Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály — who many listeners might not have heard live in performance before, he said.

more at the Columbia Daily Tribune