Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jardine's train wreck continues

Who doesn't love a good, old-fashioned train wreck? And for the past four months, the wreck that won't go away involves Kansas City's leading jazz club Jardine's. But hold it a minute before we go any further.

more at KC Confidential
and more here

Black Crack Revue (BCR) preview by Timothy Finn

On a warm, sunny Saturday, Dwight Frizzell and Allaudin Ottinger, two founding members of the Black Crack Revue, are sitting in a booth in a Westport restaurant, talking about the long, colorful history of their groovy polyphonic jazz/dance band.

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Starlight "Ugg a Wugg" performance

"Nightcap with Arty Vulgaris" episode 2

The Nightcap with Arty Vulgaris - Episode 2. Starring: Arty Vulgaris & Annie Cherry. Guests: Rebecca Hart, Nightlife Jones, Tyson Schroeder, Sweet Louise, Martin Plant & David Ford.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Company preview by Paul Horsley

Based in two cities at once, the 11-member company has grown from a modest group Bebe Schweppe founded in 1990 – in sleepy Aspen, Colo. – into a path-forging international powerhouse. It now performs at the major dance venues in the United States, and in Europe, South America, Israel and Canada.

more at the Independent

KC Repertory, Metropolitan Ensemble, KC Actors Theatre 2012-2013 Seasons

When Eric Rosen took over the artistic leadership of Kansas City Repertory Theatre in 2008, he had two broad goals: Elevate the theater company’s national profile and build bridges to the Kansas City theater community.

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KC Repertory "Whipping Man" review by Alexia Lang

Three men tied by faith and bound by secrets are at a crossroads.
When the three men reunite to celebrate the Passover, the Confederate soldier and two former slaves who were raised as Jews in his household uncover a tangle of secrets that might cost each man his freedom.

more at the Vignette

Lyric Opera upcoming auction items

It will be a wonderful evening at the Lyric Opera Ball on April 20th at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This year’s theme is the “Wonderful Wizard of Opera.” Guests will enjoy dinner and dancing, and will have the chance to bid on some truly fabulous auction items including jewelry, art, trips, and even an airplane ride. Jeanne and Joe Brandmeyer are the honorary chairmen, and Dr. Michella Stiles is serving as the chairmen. Mary Leonida and Carolyn Price are the auction co-chairmen.

more at the Independent

Friday, March 30, 2012

"Propaganda 3 Experience" intros by Bazillion

Washburn University "Honors Concert" preview by Bill Blankenship

An audience Sunday can sample some of Washburn University's best student musicians when the music department presents its annual Honors Concert.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Jellybean Conspiracy "No Such Thing as Normal" tackles autism

The Jellybean Conspiracy's most recent project is a musical a bout autism for elementary age children.

KC Ballet Ball photos by Larry Levenson

On Saturday, March 3rd, the much anticipated Ballet Ball, a fund-raising event presented by the Kansas City Ballet Guild, honored the Kansas City Ballet’s new home, the Todd Bolender Center of Dance & Creativity, at the InterContinental Hotel on the Plaza.

more at KC Studio

Green plans for Disney studios

In the early 1920s, when Walt Disney was in his early 20s, he was heading up a struggling animation studio on Kansas City’s east side. A small field mouse became his pet, lived in a drawer in his office, and shared his food. That mouse would later provide the inspiration for Mickey Mouse. Disney's studio, where early animators cut their teeth making black-and-white silent cartoons, is still struggling. There are now plans for a green future.

more at KCUR

Lawrence Arts Center "Willy Wonka" preview by Alex Garrison

The Oompa-Loompas run free. Dressed in green pill-box hats and clad in polka dots and stripes — lots of stripes — they excitedly roam around the greenrooms, the wings, the nooks and crannies off the stage. Don’t blame them for their energy; the youngest of them are just 6 years old. Well, director Ric Averill thinks so at least. “Some 5-year-olds might have snuck in there. I’m not sure,” he says.

more at

KC Repertory "Whipping Man" review by Mark Edelman

Some first class acting in the service of an intriguing if not fully mature script makes The Whipping Man a thought-provoking two hours of theater.

more at KC Confidential

Ad Astra "[title of show]" preview by Bill Blankenship

A musical about staging a musical isn't a new concept, but the Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble's production of "[title of show]" is no Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney "Hey, kids, let's put on a show."

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Independent Filmmaker's Coalition "Actor's Showcase Spring 2012"

IFC, Independent Filmmaker's Coalition Actor's Showcase Spring 2012

KC Young Audiences presents bAm! awards

Kansas City Young Audiences (KCYA) will present annual distinguished artist and educator awards at its bAm! because ARTS matter event on Thursday, March 29. The event, to be held at EventPORT 208 in the crossroads arts district, recognizes the educators and teaching artists who have enabled the organization to achieve its mission of providing arts education experiences to the youth of Greater Kansas City.

The Lighton Prize for Teaching Artist Excellence will be presented to Cathy Barton and Dave Para. In memory of Gertrude W. Lighton, this award is presented by KCYA to recognize excellence by professional Teaching Artists, who serve the KCYA mission by providing interactive arts education programs to students. Lighton Prize winners provide programs that consistently exhibit high artistic quality and a strong connection to school curriculum.

Cathy Barton and Dave Para have created a variety of dynamic performances for 25 years and are acclaimed for their expertise in vocal and instrumental music. They have celebrated the musical traditions and folk life of Missouri and the Ozarks in festivals, clubs, concert halls, schools and studios across the U.S. and Europe.

Cathy and Dave's school programs: Missouri Cultural History and Lewis and Clark infuse their love of folk music with history and both have entertained and educated countless children since joining the KCYA roster in 1986.

The Distinguished Educator Award will be presented to Libia Kozisek of the Blue Valley School District. This annual award, established in 2004, honors educators and school representatives who understand the importance of integrating the arts into daily classroom curriculum. This award is presented to those who recognize the correlation between high academic achievement and arts education. These dedicated educators and school volunteers work to provide quality arts programming for the students and faculty they represent.

Libia Kozisek is an amazing and dedicated educator and Cultural Arts Coordinator. Her hard work, commitment and leadership exemplify the qualities of a Distinguished Educator. Stanley Elementary has a robust Arts Partners plan including multiple arts experiences for every child each year.

Implementation of this rich programming takes resources and Libia has been a true champion at bringing together the PTO, the community and school leadership to ensure that the students of Stanley Elementary have access to the very best arts programs available. KCYA is pleased to honor her for her passion and dedication to arts education.

The bAm! because ARTS Matter event will be from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Guests will enjoy live performances by KCYA Teaching Artists Chris Hudson and Samarpita Bajpai, among others.

Gary Huggins "Kick Me" challenge continues

30 ROCK's Josh Fadem provokes Santiago Vasquez into casting him in Kick

"Class" performance by Daisy Buckët and Christa Collins

Daisy Buckët & Christa Collins sing about the days when etiquette mattered in "The Girlie Show" at Californos in Westport. Every Wednesday, 8 o'clock. $5 Cover. Also featuring Loretta Martin and Tajma Stetson.

KC Repertory faith nights to discuss "Whipping Man"

Knowing that many churches and synagogues in the metropolitan area participate in book groups centered on religious topics, Kansas City Repertory Theatre decided to offer persons of faith an opportunity to discuss the spiritual themes that are in some of the Rep’s productions.

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival 2012 Season

This summer Rensenhouse and Martin-Cotten reunite to play the title characters in “Antony and Cleopatra,” one of two productions the festival will mount in Southmoreland Park. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Martin-Cotton plays Hyppolita, Queen of the Amazons, and Rensenhouse will appear as Oberon, King of the Faeries.

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KC Repertory "Whipping Man" review by Paul Horsley

In one of the first exchanges of Matthew Lopez’ The Whipping Man, former slave owner Caleb DeLeon begins shouting orders to former slave Simon – fetch this, fetch that. It is days after the end of the Civil War, and Simon winces, surprised that his former master has not yet grasped the new order of things: namely, that he can’t give orders any more. But Simon complies anyway, giving a glimpse of how complex the relationships between former master and slave must have been in the early days of the post-war South.

more at the Independent

Boulevard Drive-In gets digital projector

Everything's up to date in Kansas City---especially when it comes to Drive In movies... The Boulevard Drive-In made its debut in 1950 and remains as the oldest, continously operating movie theater in the greater Kansas City area.

more at KC Confidential

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Vibe Tribe KC" promo by Metaphor Media

Vibe Tribe KC & BEYOND is a consortium of professional performance artists, visual artists, fashion designers, and all around exhibitionists that reflect the vast creative landscape. They are united to provoke higher thought, excite, and elevate the mood of the human condition.

Musician Steve Miller dead at 84

Steve’s education brought him to Kansas City, where he performed with the Kansas City Philharmonic. During that time, he also earned his master’s degree from Kansas City University and taught music lessons in piano and trombone. Playing piano at the time, Steve also formed the well-known Steve Miller KC Band.

more at

[Thanks, Plastic Sax]

Gary Huggins "Kick Me" interview by Justin Kendall

Gary Huggins needs to raise $70,000 by April 3. The 44-year-old filmmaker's first full-length feature, Kick Me, hangs in the balance.
Huggins either reaches 70 large by 1:59 a.m. Tuesday or loses every dollar pledged. Those are the rules, Kickstarter-style.

more at the Pitch

Francisco Villegas "Lucky Duck" interview by Jennifer Bhargava

Francisco Villegas spent two weeks bobbing his head like a rooster and growling like a dog in the Big Apple. The Kansas City actor was part of the Coterie Theatre’s New York City debut earlier this month. He played a rooster, dog and bird in “Lucky Duck,” a kid-friendly musical that opened March 16 at the New Victory Theater, located near Times Square.

more at Ink

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White Theatre "Did You Know?" call for entries

DID YOU KNOW? is a video project designed to compile and present the personal thoughts of youths and adults in our community and to increase awareness of diversity, compassion and acceptance.

Lyric Opera "Nixon in China" review by William Carl Ferleman

The opening night of John Adams’ opera, Nixon in China, was nearly unblemished in all aspects. The Lyric Opera of Kansas City had waited roughly fourteen years to produce this immensely creative approach to a monumental historical event for both America and China.

more at Pop Matters

KC Repertory "Whipping Man" review by kellyluck

A New Exodus at the KC Rep
Rating: 5

The Whipping Man 
Kansas City Repertory Theatre

It is no coincidence that the KC Repertory Theatre's production of Matthew Lopez's "The Whipping Man" is making its debut so close to Passover. The story, a tale of slavery and freedom, of tradition and faith, of the conflicts between spirituality and the life of the everyday, is set over the final days of the Civil War, from the destruction of Richmond on April 2 to the assassination of President Lincoln, days which coincided with the Jewish celebration of delivery from bondage in Egypt. As the play progresses, the parallels are explored, and drawn upon for bringing out truths that have lain dormant for decades.

It is a dark and stormy night when Caleb Deleon (KC Rep's own Kyle Hatley) stumbles back into his family home with a dead horse and a gangrenous leg. The house is a shambles: scorched, looted, and empty except for old Simon (Broadway veteran Michael Genet), sent by the patriarch of the family to guard the place until their safe return. Presently, they are joined by John (Josh Breckinridge, another transplant from Broadway), a younger slave, relishing his new-found freedom and reveling in his status. It is quickly determined that Caleb's leg is beyond help, and must be amputated before the gangrene spreads. He refuses to be taken to the hospital, however, and so the operation is performed then and there, with whisky serving as antiseptic and anesthesia. This leaves Caleb bedridden for the duration of the story, propped up on a day bed in the main room, dependent on those he used to own.

The Deleons are a Jewish family, and took the unusual step of raising their slaves in the faith. John, when young, even learned to read a little, until he began to ask questions. But Judaism is a religion of discussion and debate, where to participate is to stake your ground and say your piece. The war – and the life of bondage that preceded it – has affected all three men in different ways, and as they wait for Caleb's leg to heal and the family to return home, everyone has a lot to say about it.

Such a story could easily become maudlin, or heavy-handed with its moral lessons. But Lopez's script maintains careful balance, tempering pathos with humor, conflict with warmth. The dynamics between the three are complicated to say the least: somewhere in a nebulous point between friends, family, employee and employer, owner and property. As the story proceeds and secrets are unearthed, the baggage of slavery becomes more and more apparent.

In an ensemble piece like this, with only the three characters to work with, you need strong actors. Fortunately, KC Rep has them in the cast for this production. All three play their parts with sensitivity and nuance, skirting what so easily could have descended into self-parody with consummate skill. One finds oneself drawn in to the lives of the characters, captivated by their stories. As to the lighting and set design, we have yet to see KC Rep do anything less than dazzle at stagecraft, and this is no exception. The house set is wrecked and dilapidated, with the look of a place abandoned in a hurry. It is the detailing that captivates: the degradation of the house, the slow accumulation of looted treasures, the gradual addition of candles so that, by the final act where the three make Seder, the stage is awash in candlelight.

In the program notes, director Eric Rosen notes that there were indeed Jewish families in the south, some who had risen to prominence, and indeed some that owned slaves. About one in five Jewish southern families, we are told. For a people for whom the narrative of escape from bondage is so central to who they are, it is something of a paradox. The program notes that they were not, generally, plantation owners, but merely kept a few slaves around the house. It sounds like mitigation but still, eighteen hundred years after the people of Masada chose death over slavery, it is curious indeed. This reviewer, being Jewish herself, found much to reflect upon.

The Rep have put together a particularly thoughtful production of this play, and to accompany it will be having special "discussion nights" with members of the clergy, a scholars' forum, and discussions with the actors themselves. There is a lot of food for thought in this production, and persons considering it could do worse than to schedule their attendance for one of these nights.

Overall, the KC Rep has once again taken a strong, challenging script and combined it with top-grade performances and stagecraft for a performance that will stay with you long after the story is ended. In a couple of weeks, when we sit with family and friends and remember together the deliverance from slavery, the Exodus of "The Whipping Man" will certainly be in this reviewer's mind. But one does not have to be Jewish to take away things of great value from this story. One only has to be human.

(NOTE: due to the intensity of the subject matter in certain scenes, this reviewer strongly recommend leaving the kids at home for this one.)

Jazz musician Bill Caldwell dead at 49

News of Bill Caldwell’s death at age 49 hit some local jazz musicians like a stark tritone. Caldwell, who played the alto, tenor and soprano saxophones and the flute and clarinet, was found dead of an apparent heart attack early Monday in his Wichita home.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"Quarked" opening by Bazillion

Olathe South senior wins Shakespeare competition

For an unprecedented third year in a row, Olathe South High School Senior Elizabeth Hix captured first place in the 28th annual Shakespeare Competition sponsored by the Kansas City Branch of the English- Speaking Union.

more at Johnson County Lifestyle

Comparing 18th and Vine to Beale Street

The Atlantic has followed up their excellent story on Kansas City’s 18th and Vine District with a visit to Memphis and a thriving Beale Street. Beale Street has grown into a premiere tourist mecca, mostly through private development, spearheaded by developer John Elkington. Meanwhile, 18th and Vine, spearheaded by city government, has not.

more at kcjazzlark

Uptown Arts Bar "French Cabaret" performance

Byrd Productions in collaboration with the band Belleville presents: The French Cabaret, a wistful performance of music, mime, clown, art and cocktails with Beth Byrd as Petite Columbe, the Mime, and Belleville
featuring Chanteuse Cynthia van Roden, Rick Mareske on guitar and John Miles on bass.

Heartland Men's Chorus "When I Knew" review by Libby Hanssen

The Heartland Men’s Chorus’ “When I Knew” production tugged at the heartstrings with an emotional and uplifting performance Saturday night at the Folly Theater.

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KC Repertory "Whipping Man" review by elijah9lego

Something I never thought about...
Rating: 4

The Whipping Man 
Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Great story ... a Jewish family in the South and the slaves being part of that religious tradition. Family defined in sense of different types, levels of society, but never the less you make family of what you have, something to hang on to. Only criticism is it was difficult to understand the dialogue when the actors were screaming in the second act. I would recommend the show, thought provoking and enjoyable. Very well done.

"Spotlight on Philip blue owl Hooser" by Peter Bakley

This article is from the February 2012 issue of KC Stage

In the 2004 Late Night Theater production of The Women, Philip blue owl Hooser walked onto a stage set like a hat shop and answered a ringing phone. For the next ninety minutes he acted out the story of the 1939 movie The Women, relaying the screenplay in glorious detail and acting out all the parts, each and every one of them female. The script of the stage play, with its central character haranguing imaginary customers to see this favorite film all the while keeping up a running commentary, was also written by Philip, and his tour de force performance of it is a happy memory to all of those who got a chance to see its original run. It also gives a good primer on the talents of Hooser, who, as well as an actor and writer, is also a producer, director, and educator in the Kansas City area, with a career going back to the early 1980s. A KC theater goer may have seen him at The Rep, The Unicorn, the Coterie, Late Night Theater, or the Gorilla Theatre working as an actor, writer, or director. Or they might know him as the guy who gives the preshow lectures at the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival sharing duties with his friend and mentor, Dr. Felicia Hardison Londre.

For thirty years, Philip Hooser has been working and performing in Kansas City, while seeing his work performed around the country. I recently sat down and talked to Phil about his career and current and future plans.

Oklahoma Birth, Jefferson City Boyhood
Philip Hooser was born in Oklahoma, his parents living there while his father got a master’s degree in environmental education. He grew up in the state capitol of Jefferson City, where his father worked for the state Department of Education and his mother taught junior high school. 

Philip blue owl Hooser was given his name from tribal elders when he was a young man. Of Choctaw heritage, he has used his background to form several of his plays. It does make interviewing him a little difficult. “There’s a basic thing in Native America culture about modesty. If I’m talking about myself, it feels ... wrong.”

Phil Hooser went to Jefferson City High School, where he found a theater teacher who was happy to challenge her students by producing plays such as The Lark by Jean Annoulh and She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith. It was during high school that Phil began writing, “mostly poetry at that time and I was published regularly”, his early work appearing in literary journals and Modern Haiku. His poetry teacher encouraged him, but told him that he would need to choose between verse and playwriting.

“I don’t think I chose. I think theater chose me,” says Hooser. “I discovered that I could do so much more and make people laugh. People don’t laugh at poetry much.” He did win his senior talent contest doing his Elvis impersonation in a version of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” And as soon as he graduated, he escaped from Jefferson City and came to Kansas City as a theater major at the UMKC.

A Long Undergraduate Experience
Phil was drawn to UMKC on the strength of the Missouri Rep theater and its reputation. “From there, I fell into the delightful clutches of Felicia Hardison Londre, from the playwriting and the theater history, both of which I love. Then I stuck around for a long, long time,” Philip laughs. “I was on the ten year program. At one point, I applied for tenure. I felt that I should at least have my own parking space.

“I fell in love with learning. I feel the idea of a liberal education is a good one,” he cheerfully states. He spent his time taking as many courses as he could. He took all theater courses he could find: performing, directing, and playwriting. But eventually, the money or school simply ran out and Phil left UMKC without a degree after ten years.

The time was well used. He played a variety of small roles at Missouri Rep and in undergraduate productions at UMKC. He had a one on one class in directing with Fracis Cullinan. He worked outside of school, playing the lead in Gemini at the Unicorn and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor at New Directions Theater Company. And he took the opportunity to write, produce, and direct his own short plays.

“The early plays were ... well ... crap,” he says. An early play called “Table Tips for Teens” used a single actor and a blowup sex doll as his maid and showed how manners play against social differences. But better things were on the horizon, because while at UMKC, he wrote one of his favorite plays, Dottie, a one woman show about Dorothy Parker, the mid-twentieth century wit, writer, and Algonquin Club mainstay.

“I would quote Dorothy Parker and so many people would say, ‘Who…?’ I felt I should do something about this.” He goes on to mention that this play has received productions around the country. It was first done at UMKC, then New Directions, and went on to be performed in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Chicago.

Another essential play written while a student was “Jeffrey Thinks He’s a Big Black Woman.” Another one person play, it shows a young man so unwilling to face his identity as a homosexual that he creates an alter ego for himself, the big black woman of the title who can say and do the things he thinks he can’t. It was produced at Gorilla Theatre.

“One actor shows made me a lot more interested in the relationship of one actor with an audience,” he reflects. “And having to create a complete world that comes out of that character in a way that an actor can work with an audience and say, ‘you’re part of this, too.’”

From School To Life
After leaving UMKC, he supported himself by working at various local ticket offices, a type of job he still holds today. He has worked at Starlight, American Heartland Theater, The Coterie, the new Kauffman Center, and is currently working at the Midland. Ticket sales are a way to earn money between other theater gigs and give a unique perspective on the people buying the tickets. “Some people love the shows and some people simply want the best seats.”

While working at the Coterie, he was commissioned to write Coyote Tales, a collection of Native American tales, which Philip also acted in.

“That had one of my favorite audiences ever. We had a senior citizen’s group, a middle school group which had to be rescheduled, and of course the thought, (disdain) ‘Talking animals, we’re too cool for that’ and, of course a young kids’ group, which is the demographic The Coterie is aiming for,” he remembers. “Well the young kids liked all the slapstick and the puns and silliness of it, the middle school kids really got into the swing of it and played along, and the senior citizen’s group got all the jokes.”

Coyote Tales went on to be performed at the Smithsonian Theater in Washington, D.C. The director, Roberta Gasbarre thrilled Philip by understanding immediately that it was to be presented as a vaudeville show. It was a great success and was performed again two or three times in subsequent seasons.

In 1990, Phil performed his first drag role as Boom-Boom, a Puerto Rican transvestite, in Doric Wilson’s Street Theatre, a play about the night of the Stonewall riots. This was unbeknownst to him the start of a tradition. He does differentiate between drag roles, where he plays a man dressed as a woman and female roles, where he actually plays a woman.

An example of the former was in the landmark Kansas City production of Plan Nine from Outer Space: the Musical. Produced by Gorilla Theatre and performed in a bar on Southwest Boulevard, they were surprised when the owner of the rights to the movie, a Kansas City man named Wade Williams, showed up one night. He was expecting to shut them down, but liked the show so much that he allowed them to continue and became a supporter.

In the cast of that show was a young performer named Ron Megee, who would soon present a new opportunity to Philip.

Late Nights in Kansas City
Plan Nine experienced a good long run, moving from Actor’s Ensemble Theater on Southwest Boulevard to Wade Williams Fine Arts movie theater in Mission. “We would start the show after the last movie had ended, so we were going onstage about 11 o’clock with this big musical in this movie theater.”

“Late Night Theater started because Ron Megee had ideas he wanted to do that didn’t fit in with what anybody else was doing. We started taking on big pop culture moments, especially ones which had a little kitsch edge, like Valley of the Dolls.” Hooser remembers that show as being the first real Late Night production, even though they hadn’t taken the name Late Night Theater at that point. “It was an all male production, and there is a special energy that goes into creating that.”

That play, an adaptation of the camp classic movie of the same name, utilized 135 costumes and two small dressing rooms. It was happy pandemonium.

Megee was the driving force behind Late Night Theater, producing, directing and writing the shows. When the company produced their version of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, Ron gave Philip a co-writing credit.

“He would give me a writing credit even though I didn’t really write a lot of it. I’d just whisper jokes to people,” Phil says. His contributions grew as he wrote or co-wrote the all-woman Bonanza show, the Oscar Wilde/sitcom mash-up The Importance of Being Three’s Company (which he also directed) and generally kibitzed through all the shows.

“Pop culture is the real culture,” he opines.

One of the final productions he worked on for the company was The Woman, which came about because he was a huge fan of the film based on the Clare Booth Luce play, The Women. He would push it on everyone and recite huge sections of dialogue from it at parties, to the point that Megee suggested that he do it as part of their season. Philip wrote the script and played the sole character, a shop owner who, over the phone acts out the entire movie for a friend.

The Itinerant Theater Professional
Over the years, Hooser has filled many roles in Kansas City Theater, both as an actor and in many other guises.

He is well known for his regular gig giving “scholarly lectures” on the productions at Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. “I knew that ten years of college would pay off.” He calls these lectures “edutainment” for his desire to give the audience valid information on the bard’s plays, but to entertain them. He has used cartoon action figures to lecture on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for example, to point out the cartoonishness of the characters. He’s been doing these popular speeches for more than 15 years now.

In the early 2000s, the Unicorn Theater commissioned Philip to write a one woman show for the talented local actress Missy Koontz. The one woman show Loving Lucy was co-directed by Jeff Church and Phil Fiorini and gave Koontz an opportunity to portray comedy legend Lucille Ball. The script has gone on to other productions in Indianapolis and Seattle. “It was wonderful just to be able to study Lucille Ball. She went into everything like a child would. She had the ability to believe every absurd situation she was put in.”

He also had the opportunity to write a one woman show for Kansas City acting great, Kathleen Warfel. The play Icebox came about after discussions with the actress about her life and came up with a play based on their conversations which took the emotions she was feeling to come up with an original script about a woman confronting herself in front of an icebox in the middle of the night.

Make Them Eat Their Words
Phil had been working at the downtown bookstore Out There when the owners decided they wanted to have something to promote their new coffee and sandwich shop. Philip had the idea to combine the ideas of reading and eating and so he came up with the title Eat Their Words. He earlier heard of a show where people read selections from celebrity autobiographies. It seemed a great fit for the store and its clientele.

In an early show he hit on a great moment when he had local writer Charles Ferruzza read a selection from makeup giant Mary Kay’s autobiography. Feruzza was not familiar with the material before he read it and his shocked reaction while reading made for some great theater.

“Then I became more and more focused on finding the most insane or stupid or self involved sections in these books. I love celebrities, but whatever makes them believe they should be writing these books, or having these books written under their name ... I don’t know.”

Eat Their Words continues to be a regular show in Kansas City, performing every month or so at different locations. Most commonly performed at either The Fishtank Performance Space or at Prospero’s Books, it has also been seen at the Indie Bar in downtown Kansas City and at readings with various burlesque and variety shows in the area.

On any given Eat Their Words, you can see all varieties of celebrity insanity. Zsa Zsa Gabor describing the ordeal of her 36 hour incarceration for slapping a police officer, Tommy Lee’s tips on romance, Tori Amos’s incoherent ramblings on religion and music, Vanna White on the difficulties of turning letters, or Mr. T. giving a loving tribute to his mother have all been read to great success. One popular piece takes sections from multiple autobiographies to tell the story of how Eddie Fisher left Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor and how she left him for Richard Burton, with five actors playing Fisher, Reynolds, Taylor, Burton, and a wryly commenting Carrie Fisher.

This has also become a regular fun activity for many of the top actors and actresses in the Kansas City area. Regular readers include Hooser himself, myself, Tom Kessler, Bess Wallerstein, Gail Bronfman-Bunch, Patrick Rippeto, Andy Chambers, and Mark Manning. Other performers who have dropped by once or twice include Katie Gilchrist, David Wayne Reed, Lisa Cordes, Jeremy Lillig, Patricia Rusconi, Kellie Main, Stephanie Roberts, Virginia Hubbard, and Beth Byrd along with dozens of others.

“What I really hate is the celebrities we can’t use. Take, for example, Traci Lords. She’s intelligent, reasoned, has a compelling story to tell. Completely wrong for our purposes.”

Current Projects
The next planned Eat Their Words is going to be a politically themed show, with Phil currently reading through selections by The Palin family (Sarah, Bristol, Levi), the Clintons, and many others.

Current writing projects include a play on 14th century British mystic Marjorie Kempe, another script called The Big Noir, and a 30s pastiche burlesque musical called Hobo Erectus.

Philip has been in demand as a director, last year having directed both Premortem and Jet Propulsion for Kansas City Peep Shows (now Cunning Stunts Productions), with more to come, including a planned production of a new script Couple’s Night for Fringe Festival next summer.

Pete Bakely is a local actor and playwright who has known Hooser for more years than either would care to admit. Bakely is a regular reader at Eat Their Words and is the founder of Kansas City Peep Shows. He produced and appeared in Premortem written by Joseph Concha and directed by Hooser, and wrote Jet Propulsion, also directed by Hooser. He also wrote Couple’s Night.

Disney fans come to Missouri to see childhood home

More than 100 Disney fans from the U.S. and Japan left Crown Center Wednesday morning on the first ever Disney tour to Walt's childhood home.

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Exquisite Corpse" short film by Trish Brummett

Collaboration project for class with Johanna Brooks who recorded the mouths and Cody Hunt who recorded the eyes.

Piffaro, King's Noyse review by DSM

The performance last night in Kansas City by Piffaro & King’s Noyse with Ellen Hargis entitled ‘New Waves in Ferrara: Two Bands, Fresh Sounds’ illustrated a number of 16th and 17th Century innovations. “Large-scale tonal contrasts” of the sort referred to in the quotes above and a surprising amount of chromaticism were among them.

more at Chamber Music Today

KC Symphony, Yefim Bronfman preview by Patrick Neas

To celebrate the Kansas City Symphony’s inaugural year in the Kauffman Center, Michael Stern invited several of the world’s greatest pianists to perform. We’ve already heard Emanuel Ax and Behzod Abduraimov, and now the fabulous Yefim Bronfman will perform the music of Béla Bartók with the Symphony at 8 p.m. March 30-31 and 2 p.m. April 1 in Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway.

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Joyce DiDonato review by Erin Hales

The Kansas City Symphony, manifestly in top form, outdid itself in Giuseppe Verdi’s Overture to La Forza del Destino as well as the 2005 Jake Heggie song cycle The Deepest Desire. And Kansas City’s own dazzling mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato graced Friday night’s enthusiastic audience with the same redolent, mesmerizing voice that has garnered her an estimable international reputation.

more at the Independent

KU Jazz Ensemble performances on KJHK

KU Jazz Ensemble One on KC Jazz Connection

more at KJHK

KC Actors Theatre 2012 Season

Kansas City Actors Theatre (KCAT) announces its “Excellent Eighth” Season with four shows including two mysteries, one holiday spoof and one regional premiere.

more at Broadway World

KC Repertory "Whipping Man" review by Robert Trussell

“The Whipping Man” is an exceptional play, and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre gives it an exceptional production.

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Running cable to Helzberg Hall

KCPT's crew of engineers and production folks had to pull quite a bit of cable to connect the HD production truck outside of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts to Helzberg Hall where the Symphony and DiDonato will wow audiences this weekend and again on PBS on July 20th!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Assassin and the Call Girl" short film by Chris Williamson

Joyce DiDonato review by Timothy McDonald

When Joyce DiDonato comes to town, it’s not just an event worth attending. It’s a cause for celebration. The world-famous mezzo-soprano and hometown diva performed with Kansas City Symphony on Friday night at Helzberg Hall, living up to her stellar reputation as one of the world’s premier vocalists.

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Josh Fadem challenges "Kick Me" fundraiser

30 ROCK's Josh Fadem challenges Santiago to kick his ass in KICK ME.

Help us help Josh Fadem live (and die) his dream.

Learn more at

Campaign ends April 2!

Kauffman Center exterior photos by Eric Bowers

Last week I grabbed some new Kauffman Center shots – some from standing in different locations on the site than I have before – and duplicating some past shots but under sunset lighting conditions also, such as the front facing fisheye shots highlighting the steel cabling holding up the “glass curtain” on the south side of the building. A lot of my website traffic derives from searches for the Kauffman Center so it makes sense to continue populating the Internet with keyworded images of the building.

more at Eric Bowers Photoblog

Landscaper chosen for Symphony Showhouse

The Symphony Showhouse is a Kansas City tradition, in which a group of interior designers and landscapers is chosen to make over an upscale residence (5,000 sq. ft. or more) as a creative project. The Showhouse is kept open for a month as a tour and event venue, and proceeds from tickets go to benefit the KC Symphony. Each year, about $100,000 is raised, and more than 15,000 people tour the house.

more at the Northland Lifestyle

Topeka Youth Players "Clarissa's Closet" preview by Bill Blankenship

Grandma is coming for a visit, but something is wrong with the room in which she is going to stay. It's so messy, it stinks. That's the premise of "Clarissa's Closet," a musical for children and their families staged by the Topeka Youth Players, a troupe of 10- to 13-year-old actors and techies at the Helen Hocker Center for the Performing Arts.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Kauffman Center "Million Dollar Quartet" review by Matthew Donnelly

Most people are familiar with the iconic photo of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis... The one taken the night of December 4, 1956 at a jam session at Sun Studios in Memphis. Part of what makes the photo so powerful is the youth of the musicians all but one of whom (Lewis) are deceased.

more at KC Confidential

Heartland Men's Chorus "It Gets Better"

Members of Kansas City's gay men's chorus lend their voices to the "It Gets Better" Project. For more information on Heartland Men's Chorus, visit

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Splashtacular Live" by Bazillion

KC Repertory "Whipping Man" promo

Do you know what day it was the day after The Civil War ended? It was Passover, 1865. Caleb, a young Confederate soldier, returns to his family home in Richmond, Virginia. The house is in ruins, but Caleb discovers Simon, his former slave, occupying the house. As Simon begins an improvised Passover Seder, Caleb and John, another former slave, celebrate with him. Deep questions arise as the parallels between the Exodus from Egypt align with Simon and John's newly found freedom.

Joyce DiDonato on the Kauffman Center

No great artist in the world is more excited about Helzberg Hall than Joyce DiDonato -- the Prairie Village native has risen to an international career of stratospheric proportions, winning two Gramophone Awards in 2010 for coveted "Artist of the Year" and "Recital of the Year" for her CD Colbran the Muse. She graces the finest opera houses and concert stages of the world and is in great demand. In this video she talks about singing in Helzberg Hall for the first time. DiDonato will perform with the Kansas City Symphony in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts March 23 - 25, 2012.

Cody Slaughter "Million Dollar Quartet" interview by April Fleming

The story behind Million Dollar Quartet, onstage through Sunday at the Kauffman Center, is so unbelievably awesome that it’s hard to believe it's actually true. On Tuesday, December 4, 1956, at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis all coincidentally ended up in the studio at the same time. Acknowledging the rarity of the situation, the four decided to head into the recording booth together to lay down a few country songs and spirituals.

more at the Pitch

Bethel College Concert Choir preview by Bill Blankenship

The 52-member Bethel College Concert Choir will wind down its six-state spring break tour in Topeka before returning to its North Newton campus.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

City Theatre of Independence "Working" preview by Adiranne DeWeese

On the surface, the musicals “Cinderella” and “Working” might appear to have little in common. Upon a closer look, though, the two recent City Theatre of Independence productions reveal two similarities: Like “Cinderella” and its story of a girl who dreams of bigger and brighter opportunities, “Working” tells the vignettes of working-class Americans and what they love to hate and hate to love about their professions.

more at the Examiner

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Stay Clean" short film by Mitch Brian

Based on a segment from the novel Killer on the Road, a killer plays a risky game of cat and mouse with the investigating detectives. Directed by Mitch Brian

Sidonie Garrett "Time Stands Still" interview

Director Sidonie Garrett takes you behind the scenes at the first rehearsal for Unicorn Theatre's production of TIME STANDS STILL by Donald Margulies. More information at

Charlotte Street "Sound and Shadow" performance

Sound and Shadow is a video installation with live music. Karen McCoy has recorded the often surprising and abstract effects of shadows, animated by such phenomena as wind and the passage of the sun. Robert Carl has created an accompanying soundscape (in honor of John Cage’s centennial) that will guide the performers in their interpretation and response to the visual imagery. The audience will be encouraged to move about during the performance and will have a chance will talk with the artist, composer, and performers at the end of the evening.

more at Vimeo

Kauffmann Center "Million Dollar Quartet" preview by Steve Kraske

On December 4, 1956, a twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together.

more at Up to Date

Conductor Matthew Christopher Shepard interview by Cindy Hoedel

Matthew Christopher Shepard of Westwood is associate director of music at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, music director of Atchison-Benedictine College Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of Te Deum sacred music vocal ensemble, 

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Living Room "Bucket of Blood" photos by Paul Andrews

Shawnee Mission East Choir performs in Italy

To be sure, there were plenty of local teens who spent their Spring Break last week lounging on a beach or hitting the ski slopes. But for many in the SM East choir, Spring Break meant a trip to Italy to share their talents.

more at the Prairie Village Post

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"XL Reel 2012" by T2 + Back Alley Films

Kauffmann Center "Million Dollar Quartet" review by Nicholas Sawin

When the Broadway hit, “Million Dollar Quartet,” came on tour to the Kauffman Center on Tuesday, the legendary night of Dec. 4, 1956 — when Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash jammed in a one-time-only recording session at Sun Records in Memphis, Tenn. — came alive once more.

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Geri Allen, Tierney Sutton preview by Joe Klopus

The American Jazz Museum is rounding out a month of events celebrating women in jazz with a creative double bill — pianist Geri Allen and her trio, and singer Tierney Sutton and her quartet, on Saturday at the Gem Theater. It’s an insightful choice, because Allen and Sutton are among the top people in their fields, and both have gone to great lengths to create a real group sound that combines the individuals in the bands into something greater than the sum of the parts.

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Pianist Candace Evans interview by Charles Ferruzza

“Other than the Kauffman Center, Kansas City got it right when …” Downtown was revitalized. I had been away from Kansas City for several years and had not seen the Power & Light District. I couldn’t believe the difference in Kansas City’s downtown. It made me proud.

more at the Pitch

Coterie "Lucky Duck" New York review roundup

Well, the reviews are in, and the Coterie Theatre’s production of “Lucky Duck,” which runs through this weekend at the New Victory Theater in New York, earned a mix of kudos and slams from the New York theater press.

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Summit Theatre "Bus Stop" preview by Steve Walker

It's been a decade since the Lee's Summit area has had its own community theater. A new company, called Summit Theatre Group, marks its debut with Bus Stop, the William Inge play set in a snowed-in roadhouse diner. The group's taking an inventive approach with the play and will be performing it in the dining room of a Lee's Summit cafe.

more at KCUR

American Heartland "Importance of Being Earnest" review by Deborah Hisrsh

If it were up to me, Kansas City would cele­brate Oscar Wilde every year, on the occasion of some U.K. national holiday. Given my bias, then, I had high hopes for the American Heartland Theatre's new production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

more at the Pitch

Egads "Zombie Prom" rehearsal and performance

The Cast of Zombie Prom work on the final song of the show.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Lillian Nouvelle" short flm by Shawn Porter

Lillian Nouvelle, in the world that grew her.
Make Something out of Everything

David Basse "You Won't Hear Me Say Goodbye" performance

David singing a Mike Melvoin song, You Won't Hear Me Say Goodbye.

UMKC Theatre "Yorkshire Tragedy" review by Lindsay Adams

“A Yorkshire Tragedy,” performed by the UMKC Undergraduate Theatre, is a brutal and strange rollercoaster ride. It is bizarre, often in a good way, but other times, not quite so much.

more at the University News