Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Olathe Community Theatre 2013-2014 Season

OCTA is pleased to announce our 40th Season!

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth
Directed by Jason Coats

The clashing sounds and pulsing rhythms of New York City underscore this landmark "concept" show, considered by many to have inaugurated the modern era of musical theatre. COMPANY follows our anti-hero bachelor Robert as he makes his way through a series of encounters with April (the stewardess), Kathy (the girl who's going to marry someone else), Marta (the "peculiar" one), as well as with his married friends.

On the night of his 35th birthday, confirmed bachelor Robert contemplates his unmarried state. In vignette after hilarious vignette, we are introduced to "those good and crazy people," his married friends, as Robert weighs the pros and cons of married life. In the end, he realizes being alone is "alone, not alive."

An honest, witty, sophisticated look at relationships, COMPANY is as contemporary and relevant as ever (witness the recent hit revivals on Broadway and the West End). It features a brilliant energetic score containing many of Stephen Sondheim's best-known songs (including "Another Hundred People," "The Ladies Who Lunch" and "Being Alive"). -- MTI

Production Dates:

Sept 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 2013


By Shirley Lauro

Directed by Betsy Sexton

This is a powerful, true drama of six women who went to Vietnam: five nurses and a country western singer booked by an unscrupulous agent to entertain the troops. The play portrays each young woman before, during, and after her tour in the war-torn nation and ends as each leaves a personal token at the memorial wall in Washington.A Piece of My Heart premiered in New York at Manhattan Theatre Club, and now has enjoyed over 1000 productions here and abroad. It has recently been named "The most enduring play on Vietnam in the nation," by The Vietnam Vets Association.

"There have been a number of plays dealing with Viet Nam, but none with the direct, emotional impact of Ms. Lauro's work.-The New York Times  - Samuel French

Production Dates:

October 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, Nov 1, 2, 3 2013


By Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten

Directed by Gregory Chafin

It's Christmas-time in the small town of Fayro, Texas, and the Futrelle Sisters—Frankie, Twink and Honey Raye—are not exactly in a festive mood. A cranky Frankie is weeks overdue with her second set of twins. Twink, recently jilted and bitter about it, is in jail for inadvertently burning down half the town. And hot-flash-suffering Honey Raye is desperately trying to keep the Tabernacle of the Lamb's Christmas Program from spiraling into chaos. But things are not looking too promising: Miss Geneva, the ousted director of the previous twenty-seven productions, is ruthless in her attempts to take over the show. The celebrity guest Santa Claus—played by Frankie's long-suffering husband, Dub—is passing a kidney stone. One of the shepherds refuses to watch over his flock by night without pulling his little red wagon behind him. And the entire cast is dropping like flies due to food poisoning from the Band Boosters' Pancake Supper. And when Frankie lets slip a family secret that h!
 as been carefully guarded for decades, all hope for a successful Christmas program seems lost, even with an Elvis impersonator at the manger. But in true Futrelle fashion, the feuding sisters find a way to pull together in order to present a Christmas program the citizens of Fayro will never forget. Their hilarious holiday journey through a misadventure-filled Christmas Eve is guaranteed to bring joy to your world! – DPS

Production Dates:

December 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 2013


Music by Jason Howland

Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein

Book by Allan Knee

Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott

Directed by Julie Ewing


Based on Louisa May Alcott's own family experiences (and novel), LITTLE WOMEN, follows the adventures of Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March as they grow up in Civil War America. The beloved story of the March sisters is timeless and deals with issues as relevant today as when they were written. Now, this wonderful narrative has been brought to life as an exhilarating new musical filled with glorious music, dancing and heart. LITTLE WOMEN embodies the complete theatrical experience, guaranteeing a night filled with laughter, tears, and a lifting of the spirit. This powerful score soars with the sounds of personal discovery, heartache and hope -- the sounds of a young America finding its voice. In years to come, we are sure that hundreds of productions by schools and theatres throughout the world will make this stage adaptation of the American classic novel a classic musical theatre treasure in its own right. – MTI

Production Dates:

Feb 21, 22, 23, 28, Mar 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 2014


By Patrick Barlow, John Buchan

Director - TBD


Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have The 39 Steps, a fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre! This 2-time Tony® and Drama Desk Award-winning treat is packed with nonstop laughs, over 150 zany characters (played by a ridiculously talented cast of 4), an on-stage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and some good old-fashioned romance!

In The 39 Steps, a man with a boring life meets a woman with a thick accent who says she's a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered. Soon, a mysterious organization called "The 39 Steps" is hot on the man's trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale! A riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft, The 39 Steps amounts to an unforgettable evening of pure pleasure! The 39 Steps, was Broadway's longest running comedy, and played its 500th performance on Broadway, May 19th, 2009! – Samuel French

Production Dates:

April 25, 26, 27, May 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 2014

KC Repertory "Christmas Story, the Musical" nominated for three Tonys

Christmas arrived early this year for Kansas City Repertory Theatre. A Christmas Story, The Musical!, which had its world premiere at the Rep in 2009, today was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Musical. “As a producing partner of the Broadway production, all of us at the Rep are elated for the success and national visibility that A Christmas Story, The Musical! has brought us,” said the Rep’s artistic director Eric Rosen, who directed show’s 2009 premiere and a 2010 production in Seattle.

"Killing Michael Bay" short film by Jetpack Pictures

Two filmmaker's try to kill Bay for being Hollywood's worst director. Hilarity ensues.  Made in 2002.

KC Repertory "American Buffalo" review by Robert Trussell

The early plays of David Mamet are never classified as comedies, but the fine Kansas City Repertory Theatre production of “American Buffalo” poses an obvious question: Why not?

more at kansascity.com

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/27/4205600/kc-rep-find-the-gritty-humor-in.html?utm_source=feedly#storylink=cpy

Ingrid Stölzel, Park University interview by Julie Denesha

The new director of the International Center for Music at Park University says the young musicians who study in the program often arrive with the same dream.

more at KCUR

Lied Center 2013-2014 Season preview by Robert Trussell

The Lied Center of Kansas will mark its 20th anniversary season with an eclectic mix of musical theater, world music and classical performances — including the legendary Hal Holbrook, who returns to the area with his signature performance of “Mark Twain Tonight.”

more at the KC Star

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/27/4202211/hal-holbrook-memphis-and-addams.html?utm_source=feedly#storylink=cpy

Shawnee Mission East to retain band teachers after protest

Last month band students and parents turned out in big numbers to protest cuts to the band program at SM East. The school now says that all of the band-related courses at SM East will be taught again next year. But the news may not be enough to alleviate the concerns of band supporters.

more at the Prairie Village Post

Brad Anderson, Salina Arts and Humanities Dept. director interview by Sara Shepherd

When Brad Anderson interviewed for his job, he looked for assurance that he and his department would be given the same importance as Salina’s other city departments, such as police and public works. Confident he wouldn’t be regarded simply as an “add-on” or “icing on the cake,” Anderson took the job and has been at it two years. What’s Anderson’s department? The arts.

more at lawrence.com

She&Her "Feminine Ending" preview by Kellie Houx

There’s almost a sweet tune that could be titled Irony with She & Her’s coming production of A Feminine Ending by Sarah Treem. Director Taylor St. John has been beating the drum for this piece since he moved to the area three years ago.

more at KC Studio

Monday, April 29, 2013

Shawnee Mission East nominated for 10 Blue Star Awards

Director Brian Cappello has received word from Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Awards that SM East’s production of the Drowsy Chaperone has received 10 nominations.

more at the Prairie Village Post

Bach Aria Soloists "Night of Tango" review by Libby Hanssen

The most striking element of the Kauffman Center’s “A Night of Tango” was not necessarily the superb talent of the musicians on stage, but the sense of a community eager for the passion and connection inherent to tango.

more at the KC Star

Cindy Williams "Weekend Comedy" interview by Michelle Davidson

Cindy Williams is on stage at the New Theatre Restaurant in the show, Weekend Comedy.

Kerwin Young, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame interview by Tess Koppelman

A University of Missouri – Kansas City music conservatory student has something on his resume that most students don’t — he was a producer for a hip hop group that is now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

more at Fox 4 News

newEar, Owen/Cox "Darwin" review by John Heuertz

Charles Darwin, born six hours before Abraham Lincoln, is a seminal figure in modern intellectual history. And Friday evening, a chamber opera that considers him as a man received its successful world premiere at Union Station’s H&R Block City Stage Theatre.

more at the KC Star

"War Horse" puppeteers visit World War I museum

On April 17, 2013, the National World War I Museum announced a collaborative initiative with the Kansas City Broadway Series and the North American Tour of the National Theatre of London's Production of WAR HORSE in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I. The Tony Award-winning play, which chronicles a remarkable bond between a boy named Albert and his loyal horse, Joey, will play Kansas City's Music Hall, April 1-6, 2014.

[Thanks, Tony]

Bobby McFerrin, Harriman-Jewell review by Libby Hanssen

Every empty seat in Helzberg Hall on Friday night (though there were few) signified someone’s missed opportunity to witness one of the most uplifting, rewarding and musically satisfying performances in Kansas City this year. Bobby McFerrin, whose vocal ability transcends the “my voice is my instrument” concept, melds scat-singing, vocalise, beat-box and an encyclopedic catalogue of melodic knowledge into a performance style that’s very physics is boggling.

more at the KC Star

KC Irish Dancers helping victim of Boston Marathon explosion

The Irish dance community in Kansas City, Mo., is lending a hand to a family recovering from the Boston Marathon explosion.

more at NBC Action News

"Music House School of Music" promo by Jetpack Pictures

Web Promo for Music House in Kansas City.

Barn Players 2013-2014 Season preview by Bob Evans

In a suburb of Kansas City, nestled just off Johnson Drive in a stand-alone, nondescript building, The Barn Players perform some of the biggest shows to grace the American stage, year after year; and next year’s season appears to be as stellar as season’s past.

more at examiner.com

Lee's Summit West High School wins at Student Television Network National Convention

Lee’s Summit West High School broadcasting students recently captured awards at the Student Television Network’s (STN) national convention in March in Los Angeles, Calif. A total of 2,500 students from across the nation attended the event.

more at the Lee's Summit Lifestyle

Tom Trenney, Kauffman organ recital interview with the KC Symphony

On May 8 at 8 p.m. Tom Trenney, organist at First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln, NE, will perform the famous Ives Variations on "America", Bach's Passacaglia and Fuge in C minor, and Schumann's Sketch in D-Flat Major. Discussion begins at 7 p.m. with host, Michael Barone host of America Public Media's "Pipedreams." Order tickets online or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.

KC Repertory "American Buffalo" review by Steve Wilson

The critically acclaimed play, “American Buffalo” written by David Mamet, directed by Jerry Genochio and produced by the Kansas City Repertory Theatre opened Friday night April 26 at the Copaken Stage in Kansas City. The play first took the stage in Chicago in 1975 at the Goodman Theatre Stage Two. In 1977 it opened on Broadway, with Robert Duvall as Teach, and was nominated for two Tony Awards and four Drama Desk Awards. In 1983 Al Pacino under took the role of Teach, and with the direction of Arvin Brown made the character less violent and frightening to the audience.

more at examiner.com

Patrick Alonzo Conway, Gamelan music interview by Suzanne Hogan

Gamelan music is the orchestral music of Indonesia which is primarily from the islands of Bali and Java. Over a decade ago, Kansas City became home to a hand crafted Gamelan from Indonesia that was fine tuned and given a blessing from a Balinese Hindu high priests. On this Central Standard the director of Kansas City's Gamelan group Kenti Kasturi, Patrick Alonzo Conway – he plays in the group and even composes pieces for the group, and is an eclectic composer and member of the People’s Liberation Big Band.

more at Central Standard

Lied Center 2013-2014 Season preview by Sara Shepherd

The Lied Center on Saturday announced its 20th anniversary season lineup, featuring an array of performers from acrobats to award-winning concert pianists, some new and some returning to Lawrence. Executive director Tim Van Leer said the variety reflects one of the Lied’s most important traits — there’s something for everybody.

more at lawrence.com

Lyric Opera "Mikado" photos by Karen Almond

Production photos from Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production of THE MIKADO, April 2013.

KC Ballet "Hey-Hay, Going to Kansas City" preview by Patrick Neas

The Kansas City Ballet will end its season over the next two weekends with a decidedly local flavor when it presents “Hey-Hay, Going to Kansas City,” a program of three contemporary ballets.

more at the KC Star

Rob Leigh, Metropolitan Ensemble board member interview by Kellie Houx

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Rob Leigh came to Kansas City to live at age 5. He was educated in the public school system and graduated from Westport High School in 1961. He attended the University of Missouri, Columbia for two years before transferring to UMKC when it became part of the M.U. system and earned a B.A. in English Language and Literature, with a minor in Social Sciences. He then began what became a career of 45 years in the commercial insurance brokerage business, earning the professional designations of Associate in Risk Management, Accredited Advisor in Insurance and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU). He served in various capacities with six different companies during his insurance career, retiring in 2005.

more at KC Studio

Sunday, April 28, 2013

KC Symphony, Hitchcock, Rogers & Hammerstein preview by Patrick Neas

Your surround-sound home entertainment ain’t got nothing on this. The Kansas City Symphony, led by assistant conductor Aram Demirjian, will accompany the screening of classic clips from the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals Saturday and May 5 in Helzberg Hall.

more at the KC Star

"KC SmartPort Sizzle" promo by the KC Area Development Council

KC SmartPort Sizzle

Hunter Long "Rites of Being" interview with the Black House Collective

We’re now four weeks away from the premiere of Rites of Being and it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. For a project this large, it’s been so essential to have great collaborators. I feel bad for all the singer jokes I made in college because Anna, Emily, Jessica, Nathan, and Stacey have been fantastic to work with and their professionalism has been downright inspiring. In rehearsals I am reminded of how much more difficult they have it than the instrumentalists. We get to simply sit and read our music while they must memorize everything and act while performing. It’s really impressive.

Johnson County supports the ArtsKC Fund

Johnson County employees are the best kept secret in the Kansas City region. They perform their duties at high levels and are loyal to their community. During a three-year period when these employees were experiencing a net reduction in their take-home pay, they set new records for their contributions to United Way, Feed the Need, and Arts KC Fund campaigns. How did they do it? We learned that in addition to their other talents, Johnson County employees are very creative and the Arts KC Fund campaign unleashed that creativity.

more at the Arts Council of Johnson County

Judith Levy "NV in KC" preview by Alice Thorson

Human nature is Judith Levy’s muse. As an artist, she has found endless inspiration in the lies we tell ourselves and others, the histories we invent, the facades we hide behind, and the feelings we disguise. Since joining the Kansas City art community four and a half years ago, Levy has won wide respect and admiration for her exploration of these themes in impeccably crafted works blending humor and social commentary.

more at the KC Star

"Troost Fest" short documentary by Jetpack Pictures

Kansas City Music Girls performing at the 2013 Troost Fest in Kansas City, Missouri. Featuring footage of many talented dancers and acrobatic performers, as well.

KC Jazz musician's take on Beck's "Song Reader"

In a small midtown apartment on a recent Sunday afternoon, a group of Kansas City jazz musicians gather to rehearse about a half-dozen songs. It looks like any other band rehearsal, but there’s a difference: Each person is hearing each song for the first time. No recorded versions of the songs exist, though they were composed by one of the more popular singer/songwriters of this generation. They exist only on paper.

more at the KC Star

KC Ballet needs pointe shoes

Hear from some of our dancers on the importance of pointe shoes,how many they go through in a season, and just how much they cost. Help us provide the dancers the appropriate equipment they need to rehearse and perform. Donate to our 'Keep Our Dancers On Their Toes' campaign today! Visit kcballet.org to donate today!

Wakarusa Trio wins MTNA national competition

The Wakarusa Trio, comprised of clarinetist Puyin Bai, violist Shokhrukh Sadikov and pianist Kai Yin Crystal Lam, won the Chamber Music Performance division at the Music Teachers National Association National Competition during the MTNA’s national conference March 9-13 in Anaheim, Calif.

more at the Lawrence Journal World

Mark Westervelt interview by Project KC

March 2013, we caught up with local Kansas City artist Mark Westervelt. He invited us into his home to see firsthand the creative process. We were introduced to his truly one-of-a-kind style and the journey he took to get to where he is today.

Visit: www.markwesterveltart.com

Free State Film Festival preview by Eric Melin

When actress Ann Dowd won the Best Supporting Actress award from the National Board of Review last year for her riveting performance in the independent drama “Compliance,” it probably took all of Marlo Angell’s strength not to scream “I told you so!” at the top of her lungs.

more at the Lawrence Journal World

Christina Hixson, Lied Center interview by Sara Shepherd

Christina Hixson isn’t afraid to admit she uses the dictionary when she does crossword puzzles. Someone once told her she was cheating, to which Hixson replied, “No, I’m self-educating.”

more at lawrence.com

Lyric Opera "Mikado" review by Libby Hanssen

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City offered a sturdy and representative evening of light opera with its production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado.” Directed by William Theisen, this was the closer for their second season in Muriel Kauffman Theatre and was full of whimsical, absurdist touches.

more at kansascity.com

Unicorn "My Name is Asher Lev" review by Piddums

Religion, Art, and Asher Lev Rating: 5

Performance Reviewed:
My Name is Asher Lev
by Unicorn Theatre

My Name is Asher Lev, playing at the Unicorn through May 12, takes its conflict from the point where art and devout religion clash. The play, by Aaron Posner, from the novel by Chiam Potok, tells the story of Asher Lev, born into a family of devout Hassidic Jews in the middle of the twentieth century. Asher's world is one of devotion to the faith and commitment to the Rebbe. His father devotes his life to the promotion of Judaisim, particularly in Soviet Russia, where Stalin has just died and opportunities are now open for Jews to enter and proselytize. Asher's mother is a woman devoted to her family and serving the men of her faith.

At an early age, Asher begins to show skill at drawing, making accurate depictions of family members when he is only six. He is fascinated by the world of art around him, much more so than his interest in his religion, whose studies he neglects to go to museums and galleries. He also has the added difficulty of only being able to draw the world as he sees it. He produces unflattering portraits of family members and teachers, despite is mother's admonishments to "draw something pretty." His gift is not in depicting the beauty of the world, only the truth as he sees it. He also tends to paint religious imagery, both Hassidic and Christian, which his faith sees as blasphemy.

His family and faith do not value his talent, but even they recognize it as a gift, and he is sent by the Rebbe to study under the artist Jacob Khan. Khan becomes the nurturing father figure the boy needs and devotes himself to training Asher, regardless of the conditions imposed by the church and the Rebbe. For example, in a beautiful scene, Jacob teaches Asher to draw the nude human form, a big taboo for his faith. Later, Asher logically explains the need for this to his uncomprehending father.

Asher becomes a prodigy on the art scene, his paintings selling well. He hits an artistic breakthrough with a show that breaks all conventions and taboos, causing a final break with his family.

This is a lovingly done, beautiful show. The acting is superlative. Doogin Brown plays Asher Lev in a soulful performance, allowing us to see the man with all his flaws. Asher, as written in the story, is driven but not particularly likeable. Doogin Brown lets us see this flawed man in all his aspects without allowing us to look away. This may be the best work I've seen this actor do.

All the other characters are played by Mark Robbins and Manon Halliburton, two of Kansas City's finest. Robbins exudes warmth as Jacob Khan, Asher's mentor and also finds the complexities in the role of Asher's father. Halliburton is chameleon-like in her embodiment of the various female characters in the show, the primary one being Asher's loving, but devout mother.

If there is a flaw, it would be that this really is not a stage play, it is an adapted novel. It relies heavily on narration, and the climax leaves us a little underwhelmed. The passion is palpable, but the depiction of art is missing. But as an adapted novel, it is a tremendous one. It is full of ideas of the conflict of art and religions and where God resides in both of them.

Technically, it is a stunning play. The subtle but effective lighting design by Alex Perry sets the mood and moves the action. The multi-use set designed by Gary Mosby invokes both an artist's studio and a cathedral. The costumes and the sound are flawless.

My Name is Asher Lev runs on the Unicorn's mainstage through May 12th.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Keili Lefkovitz "Pain & Gain" interview by Charles Ferruzza

What movie do you watch at least once a year? Troll 2

more at the Pitch 

Stephens College professor Dan Schultz honored

While working as an actor in New York, Dan Schultz realized fresh-out-of-college talents weren’t being discovered because they were making silly mistakes. Like being jerks to people they didn’t think were important. Or leaving their eyes on scripts for too long instead of interacting with fellow performers. Little things that likely cost them their first, and critically important, acting gigs.

more at the Missourian

Friends of Chamber Music 2013-2014 Season by Libby Hanssen

Next fall brings the 38th season of the Friends of Chamber Music, and its lineup of award-winning artists, just announced, will span more than seven centuries of music.

more at the KC Star

Topeka Symphony hires Kyle Pickett as new conductor

The Topeka Symphony Orchestra has appointed Kyle Wiley Pickett as its conductor and music director. The hiring, which was announced Saturday night at the conclusion of the symphony's 2012-13 season finale, ended a months-long national search that began when John W. Strickler, director for 23 years, resigned at the end of the 2011-12 season.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Barn Players "Chess" review by andiam

Another triumph Rating: 5

The Barn Players, Inc.

The Barn Players have established themselves over the
past few years as one of the best--if not the best--
venue for fully staged musicals in the KC area.
Starlight and Broadway Across America may have more
star power, but the Barn's intimate setting more than
compensates for the lack of big-name stars.

The rarely produced "Chess" is another triumph, at
least equal to the wonderful productions in the past
few years of "Curtains" and "Drowsy Chaperone."
Inspired by (though not in any way actually based on)
the Fischer-Spassky chess match of 1972, this show is
the powerful story of the way that people become pawns
(an apt metaphor) in the games politicians play.
(Comparisons to "Tosca" and "Aida" come to mind).

It would be redundant to mention all of the fine
actors/singers. The casting is excellent from top to
bottom. Among the secondary characters, however, Josh
Kreuger is convincing as the brash American chess
genius (much more amiable than the real-life Fischer),
and Kipp Simmons is especially effective as the
Machiavellian Russian diplomat who dominates the lives
of the participants.

The success of a production of this show, however,
rests on the abilities of the two leads--the Russian
champion, Anatoly, and the love interest of the two
competitors, Florence. "Anthem" is one of the great act
I finales in the repertoire, requiring an operatic
voice for its full effect, and Robert Hingula was equal
to the task. Rebecca Johnston, as Florence, not only
sings beautifully but also fully inhabits the
character, with a finely nuanced performance that makes
the audience feel her inner turmoil. This is a
performance I will remember for a long time.

The Barn may be a "community theater," but it would be
hard to imagine any professional company surpassing
this production.

Living Room "Burn This", "Hurlyburly" preview by Robert Trussell

Rusty Sneary had a birthday the other day. And how do you suppose he celebrated? The 34-year-old actor marked the day by exhausting himself. He rehearsed two emotionally complex, physically demanding plays back to back. One was “Burn This,” Lanford Wilson’s searing drama about friends and lovers coming together in a New York loft to mourn the accidental death of a young dancer. The other was David Rabe’s “Hurlyburly,” an intense piece about a house full of drinking, doping actors, writers and agents in the Hollywood Hills.

more at kansascity.com

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Lied Center 20th anniversary by Sara Shepherd

In the not-so-distant past, Deb Kraushaar had to hire off-duty school buses to transport elegantly dressed patrons of the arts up the hill from parking lots by Allen Fieldhouse to performances at Hoch Auditorium. For shows she couldn’t schedule in Hoch after it burned — and there were many — Kraushaar, secretary of Kansas University’s Concert Series, juggled churches and other venues across town, and even Topeka. Not to mention stage equipment rentals. In 1993, things changed in a huge way.

more at lawrence.com

Unicorn "My Name is Asher Lev" review by Robert Trussell

“My Name is Asher Lev,” an adaptation of the Chaim Potok novel now on stage at the Unicorn Theatre, is earnest, serious-minded, provocative and poignant. It also is filled with a sort of gooey emotionalism that obscures some of the play’s better qualities.

more at the KC Star

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/21/4195430/a-clash-of-art-and-tradition-in.html?utm_source=feedly#storylink=cpy

Lyric Opera "Mikado" photos by Julie Denesha

Love conquers all in "The Mikado," a comic opera by Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert introduced in London in 1885. The Lyric Opera of Kansas City presents the satirical comedy in five performances through April 28.

more at KCUR

Friday, April 26, 2013

Starlight offering gourmet dinners

Fast food joints and chain restaurants take heed because Starlight Theatre presents a newer take on the standard “Dinner and a show” fare by revamping its dinner options by providing healthy choices of gourmet selections and with affordable prices for those who wish to dine casually prior to seeing one of the theatre’s Broadway shows.

more at examiner.com

Home-schooled students win national vocal music competition

A group of Topeka home-schooled teenagers won top honors at a recent national vocal music competition, but members of the ensemble say it is the friendships they forged that will mean the most to them in the years to come.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

Quality Hill "You've Got a Friend" review by Bob Evans

Carole King and James Taylor’s music sets the tone for the current show through May 19th at Quality Hill Playhouse in Kansas City where musical reviews and cabaret shows set the tone and bring audiences to their feet more times than not.

more at examiner.com

UMKC "Kansas City Swing" review by Deborah Hirsch

"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching." Satchel Paige's succinct instructions have been quoted often, but the UMKC Theatre production of Kansas City Swing, a new play by Ricardo Khan and Trey Ellis, shows us a vivid version of the man behind those words.

more at the Pitch

River City Community Players "Night I Dided at the Palace" review by ghostpug6

Whodunit? The RCCP. Rating: 5

The Night I Died at the Palace Theatre
River City Community Players

RCCP's version of "The Night I Died at the Palace Theatre" is a fine way to spend an evening. The story is an interesting whodunit that captivated the audience. This play has a large cast, and most noticeable was the excellence of its female actors. I mean no slight against the men, but all the ladies really make this play magnificent. Jill Seib-Schaub, Linda Finch (arguably the show's star), and Melanie Marcec offered particularly noteworthy performances. There are no scene changes and very little to the set: a brick wall, a dozen straight-back wooden chairs, and a stuffed dummy pretty much cover it all. These actors were rewarded by a great deal of laughter from the patrons. Richard S. Bayse has done a superb job as director, clearly bringing out the best from his actors, who were rewarded by the audience's frequent laughter. I overheard several post-play conversations from audience members who discussed how and why they had been wrong in identifying the killer. It seemed that all involved enjoyed the evening. This is a very funny show.

Mutual Musicians Foundation "Vine Street Rumble" by Joel Nichols

The Vine Street Rumble keeps the raucuous, blues-based heritage of Kansas City Jazz alive in the 21st Century.

UMKC "Kansas City Swing" review by kellyluck

'Swing' Deftly turned slice of KC History Rating: 4

Kansas City Swing
UMKC Theatre

Last night at the UMKC theatre saw the debut of "Kansas City Swing", a new play by Richardo Kahn and Trey Ellis. Based on actual people and events in Kansas City history, it is very much a hometown production. And while in other towns this may conjure up images of cheap painted sets and earnest cornball performances, here in KC we do things differently: this is a play deep rooted in our city's social and cultural history, grown in the fertile soil of the remarkable people who made that time and place their own, and brought to blossom by the rhythm of our music.

It looks like rain as Satchel Paige (Rob Karma Robinson) and his all-stars are slated to meet up with Bob Feller (Nick Papamihalakis) and his barnstormers for a night exhibition game. Unfortunately Jackie Robinson and his Dodgers are taking on the Cardinals in St Louis so when the storm breaks, the respective captains pack it in and head to the guesthouse of Mrs. Hopkins (Janaé Mitchell), with a few of their teammates in tow. While there, rookies Art Young (Thomas E Tucker) and Franky Palmieri (Michael R Pauley) find themselves quite taken with Mrs Hopkins' daughter Moira (Alisha Espinosa), the not-quite-friendly rivalry of the field spilling over into a romantic triangle that eventually has severe effects for all concerned. Through the night, the players and their hostesses listen to the game on the radio and discuss baseball, business, and the ever-changing world which, in the first few years after the close of the second world war, suddenly seems to be changing even faster than ever before. Paige's friend and teammate Buck O'Neil (Antonio Jerron Glass) admits he's been asked to consider a scouting position, and isn't sure whether to take it. Feller sees promise in Young, and suggests they talk seriously about his future career in the morning. And all the while outside, the storm rages on.

Now, understand. Baseball is the name of the game, but this is not your typical sports story. This is an unblinking look at a certain time and place when the world was on the tipping point, and no one was quite sure how it was going to go. Your humble reviewer, never one for the vicissitudes of athletic competition, was nonetheless riveted by the drama presented onstage. Robinson's Paige has miles of personality, and Ms. Mitchell's Homer-quoting Mrs. Hopkins brings a wonderful edge to her character. It is good to see Tucker and Pauley treading the familiar boards at the Helen F. Spencer Theatre once again, and indeed all the players exhibited confident, effortlessly authentic performances. Costumes and scenery were spot on, and some interesting business with the lighting was interesting while not being distracting. During a nightmare in the final act, the stage elements are perhaps overdone a bit--the echo in particular seems a bit over-the-top, even for a dream sequence--but overall the presentation was strong throughout.

Special mention must be made of the music. The music is composed by local jazz legend Bobby Watson, who also performs onstage at several points in the production. Those who have been privileged to hear Mr. Watson play will need no further explanation, and for those who have not... well, no explanation is sufficient. He is a master of his craft, and can do things with an alto sax one would not have thought possible. Jazz roots run deep in this city, and the history of it and the Negro Leagues are inextricably entwined. One could not have asked for a better accompaniment to this tale.

All things considered, Kahn et al have put together an excellent bit of work that should be of interest to anyone who is interested in history, enjoys a well-written drama, or just loves the game. The play was created in partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, to which this reviewer would also commend your attention. Unfortunately, unlike the aforesaid museum, the play only runs through the 28th. This is an excellent production, and readers are encouraged unreservedly to make the effort to see it if they can.

Unicorn "My Name is Asher Lev" review by Steve Wilson

One of the most dramatic plays to be presented in Kansas City opened Saturday night at the Unicorn Theatre. “My Name is Asher Lev” by Aaron Posner, from the novel by Chaim Potok and directed by Cynthia Levin is the story of an artist, an artist torn between his desire to paint and his strict Jewish upbringing. Though many of the terms used by the actors may be foreign to anyone not of the Jewish faith, it is only a short time before the audience is able to understand what is going on without looking at the sheet of glossary words that accompany the Playbill.

more at examiner.com

Lyric Opera "Mikado" review by Alexia Lang

A modern twist on a 19th century classic “Mikado” is leaving audiences in stitches at The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 

more at the Vignette

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hector del Curto, Bach Aria Soloists preview by Patrick Neas

The sound of tango, a celebrated musical form with origins in the theaters and working-class slums of Buenos Aires, Argentina, will fill Helzberg Hall on Saturday when Bach Aria Soloists present “A Night of Tango.” Local players will be joined by Hector del Curto, probably the finest bandoneon player in the world.

more at the KC Star

Topeka Civic Theatre "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" review by Lizzi Crystal

“Why is it so hard for people to talk?” This is the question at the heart of Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” running now through May 4 in the Sheffel Theatre.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

KC Burlesque Festival preview by Jon Niccum

Burlesque is a loaded term. To some, it’s vulgar. Sleazy. Trash. To others, it represents art. Movement. Expression. Humor. Provocative stage entertainment.

more at the KC Star

Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, JCCC review by John Heuertz

Who would have guessed one of the hottest tickets in town this weekend would be to hear English ukulele players? The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain brought a two-hour show filled with superb musicianship and a stage presence characterized by zany, deadpan British humor to Johnson County Community College’s Yardley Hall Saturday night.

more at the KC Star

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/21/4195004/ukulele-orchestra-of-great-britain.html?utm_source=feedly#storylink=cpy

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Rare silent film highlights Native Americans

A movie nine decades in the making will see its 21st-century premiere on Saturday in Larned. The rare silent movie made in 1920 features a cast of more than 300 Kiowa and Comanche people.

more at the KC Star

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/21/4195279/rare-1920-film-featuring-300-comanche.html?utm_source=feedly#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/21/4195279/rare-1920-film-featuring-300-comanche.html?utm_source=feedly#storylink=cpy