Kansas City actor Gary Holcombe, known for his dramatic, comic, and musical performances on many professional stages, died on Monday at the age of 66. A veteran of Broadway musicals, like "Big River," "South Pacific," and "42nd Street," Holcombe also starred as Oliver Warbucks in the national tour of "Annie."
By Laura Spencer
Kansas City, Mo. – Gary Holcombe was raised in Kentucky. A move to New York to pursue a career as an opera singer turned into one in musical theatre, with roles in several Broadway musicals.
Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer tells the story of a young boy - a bit of a troublemaker - growing up in a town along the Mississippi River.
By Laura Spencer
Kansas City, Mo. – The setting is inspired by Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens) lived. But how do you incorporate vividly written characters into a ballet - where the story is told through movement, not words?
This summer's heat didn't affect the staff building scenery for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, probably the first time in three decades. In June, the Lyric moved tools, lumber, and other items from an un-air conditioned space in the East Bottoms to a new production facility in the East Crossroads.
Kansas City, Mo. – KCUR's Laura Spencer visited on a hot day in July (the expected high was 101), and filed this report.
Hours before the opening gala for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Broadway stars Patti LuPone and Tommy Tune discussed some of their signature roles and what it's like to open a new hall.
By Laura Spencer
Kansas City, Mo. – Patti LuPone on Muriel Kauffman Theatre: "It's probably one of the best new houses I've ever sung in...the acoustics are key. And this is a fantastic space."
The age-old advice most frequently given to writers is to write what you know - and the one thing writers all have in common is that they all came from a family. Many classic plays have explored various family dynamics but few have dissected the relationship between mothers and daughters with quite as much flair and precision as "August: Osage County."
Along with journalists and historians, playwrights can serve an important role in helping people make sense of national tragedies. And the results can weave narratives other sources might miss.
By Steve Walker
Kansas City, Mo. – This week, two Kansas City theater companies are staging plays coinciding with the 10 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, yet they utilize that historic day in very different ways.
Jacques d'Amboise, former principal dancer of the New York City Ballet and colleague of Todd Bolender, and Kimberly Cowen, Kansas City Ballet company dancer, cut the ribbon to open the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity.
Kansas City Actors Theatre, or KCAT, has built a reputation for designing its seasons around a specific theme or playwright. In past years, the company studied marriage by mounting four different plays about it, and spotlighted Missouri-native Lanford Wilson by staging his three "Talley" plays.
Though movies made from Broadway musicals have seen a resurgence since the success of "Chicago," the current trend is to go in the opposite direction. There are presently 7 musicals on Broadway based on popular movies, with several more on the way. Playing Starlight Theatre this week is the musical "Xanadu," whose success in New York made it an exception to all the rules - and that's because its source is considered one of the worst movies ever made.
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will hold its grand opening in mid-September, but finishing touches are already well underway, from the installation of the 5,548-pipe Casavant Freres organ in Helzberg Hall, to the addition of decorative touches in reception suites, to the finishing of the parking garage.
By Up to Date (recorded by Laura Spencer, edited by Danie Alexander)
The Kansas City Ballet's first season in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opens in October with "Tom Sawyer: A Ballet in 3 Acts" (choreography: William Whitener, music: Maury Yeston).
Kansas City, Mo. – The sets for "Tom Sawyer," built by the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, were recently loaded into the Kauffman Center's Muriel Kauffman Theatre. KCUR's Laura Spencer stopped by to take a look.
Several new theater companies have popped up in Kansas City in the last couple of years, adding breadth and depth to the local theater calendar.One of the latest, incorporated just last December, is Piane Productions.
Kansas City, Mo. – The National Endowment for the Arts announced its first round of "Our Town" grants on Tuesday. Projects in 34 states, including restoring an historic theater in Kansas City, Missouri, were awarded more than $6.5 million. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports. -------------------------------
NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman says he uses a framework called creative placemaking: "Which simply put, are the ways that towns and cities shape their social, physical and economic characters."
After 10 years of bestowing cash awards on visual artists, the Charlotte Street Foundation began in 2008 to recognize performing artists who'd put their stamp on Kansas City's arts community.
By Steve Walker
Kansas City, Mo. – This year's field of 29 nominees was narrowed to two winners: Jim Mobberley, a veteran composer and UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance professor, and theater director and playwright Kyle Hatley. KCUR's Steve Walker discovered how both men reconfigure traditional ideas of music and theater.
Growing up in Overland Park, Brian Stanton always knew he was adopted. And like many adoptees, he wanted to know something about his birth parents.
By Sylvia Maria Gross
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Brian Stanton's search for his birth mother ended up uncovering some difficult truths, which as a playwright and actor, he explores in a one-man play. He's performed Blank around the country, but last night was his first performance in his hometown.
For the Coterie Theatre, summer is the season to experiment with musical formulas and actors' chemistry in what they call the Lab for New Family Musicals. In essence, musical composers entrust the Coterie with condensing their familiar two-act shows into shorter one-act versions more suitable to theaters for young audiences - like its version of "The Wiz."
When the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival announced in April that its summer production of Macbeth was in jeopardy, area fans came through, donating $100,000 in a week to ensure that Macbeth would indeed reign. That was a relief to actor John Rensenhouse, who had been working on playing the title role for several months.
By Steve Walker
Kansas City, Mo. – KCUR's Steve Walker sat down with the actor to chat about what it takes to become the man who would be king.
Actor John Rensenhouse plays Macbeth in this summer's Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. It's a play described as a "story of vaulting ambition." But Rensenhouse tells KCUR's Steve Walker, it wasn't his ambition - at first - to play the role.
It's three months until the $413 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City, Missouri opens to the public. When architect Moshe Safdie revealed his designs about a decade ago, it was the largest project of his career. But, Safdie now has offices in Toronto, Boston, and Singapore, and the Safdie-designed $5.5 billion Marina Bay Sands project in Singapore opened earlier this year.
At the beginning of May, a national art project started here in Kansas City. This was first stop on a national tour for a conversation in the form of America Now and Here. Here’s how a Renga works — more than 30 Kansas City poets were challenged to write ten lines each….the subject that emerged is Kansas City, with references to cattlemen, ghosts, prairie grass, and Troost.
At the beginning of May, a national art project started here in Kansas City. This was first stop on a national tour for a conversation in the form of America Now and Here. Here’s how a Renga works — more than 30 Kansas City poets were challenged to write tens lines each….the subject that emerged is Kansas City, with references to cattlemen, ghosts, prairie grass, and Troost.
This week, the Kansas City Symphony took the stage for the first time at Helzberg Hall, one of two performance venues at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It marks the beginning of a series of tuning rehearsals before the mid-September opening weekend.
By Laura Spencer
Kansas City, Mo. – KCUR's Laura Spencer was there for the first rehearsal and has this audio postcard. Note: KCUR's Stephen Steigman also contributed to this report.
When you work on a radio talk show and you’re waiting for your guests, who have names such as Romeo DanceCheetah (That’s one word: DanceCheetah) and Björn Türoque (Pronounced Born to rock), and they are renowned air guitarists in town for a regional air guitar contest, you discover 10 things: