theater

Shirley Jones and Patrick Cassidy are the mother-and-son team starring in  Have You Met Miss Jones, a musical that chronicles the life of the talented actress and soprano. They share what it's like to balance show business with everyday life and how a family that works together stays together. 

'Have You Met Miss Jones' premieres at New Theatre Restaurant September 22 and runs through November 27. Find more information at newtheatre.com.

It's this season's most compelling made-for-TV drama: The 2016 election. From costumes to stage sets to the use of music and more, we explore the role of political theater. How do candidates present themselves on stage and screen for drama ... or comedy?

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City theater audiences know Damron Russel Armstrong’s work – he’s been an actor and director in town for years. But Armstrong’s new role is his most challenging yet: He’s starting a new theater company.

Brian Paulette

Tennessee Williams' masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948, has been called the greatest play ever written by an American, and the character Blanche DuBois is at the center of nearly everything that happens in it. It's a daunting role that Kansas City actress Cinnamon Schultz has spent months preparing for. No pressure, right?

The end of Billie Holiday's musical career is infamous because of her drug and alcohol abuse, not to mention her tumultuous relationships with men. That's the Billie Holiday that actress Nedra Dixon is taking on in her latest role. Dixon says that, despite the drama, Lady Day "left a legacy of song and style unlike any other."

Janet Saidi / KCUR 89.3

It all started with Death of a Salesman.

When up-and-coming Kansas City playwrights Sarah Aptilon, Victor Wishna and Inbar Kahnsat sat down and thought about how they might collaborate on a project for the Kansas City Fringe Festival, they understood it would be a challenge to combine three separate plays into a production that made sense.

But they each were inspired by the themes of disillusionment in Arthur Miller’s classic.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

With about a week to go before the kickoff of the 12th Annual Kansas City Fringe Festival, local actors and performers are rehearsing intensely for the 11­-day festival that includes theater, dance, cabaret, and spoken word.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

For this year's production of Twelfth Night, or What You Will, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival has set the play in the Roaring Twenties.

Its three female characters represent distinctly different approaches to the gender politics of Shakespeare's time, so KCUR asked the actors for their thoughts on the characters of Viola, Olivia, and Maria.

Actor: Bree Elrod
Character: Viola

Courtesy: Helix Architecture + Design

Kansas City Young Audiences will soon move to its first permanent home in the organization's 55-year history. On Tuesday, the arts education non-profit announced the purchase of a former Office Max building at 3732 Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri. 

"It's in the heart of Midtown, centrally located in the city," says executive director Martin English. "We believe it will give us an opportunity to reach out and to serve a broader community of students from that location."  

courtesy: Barn Players Community Theatre

Charlotte Bronte's 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, tells the story of a young woman, an orphan, who takes a job as a governess. She falls in love with the owner of the estate, the darkly brooding Mr. Rochester, who has a secret past.

The musical adaptation of Jane Eyre premiered on Broadway in 2000, and the Barn Players Community Theatre presents the first Kansas City production. Alisha Richardson and Matt Richardson, who married in 2015, play the two lead roles.  

Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Eric Rosen's play, Lot's Wife, has gone through several iterations over the last two decades. It's a work that Rosen, the artistic director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, started in the early 1990s when he was in graduate school. It premieres this weekend in the Rep's first new works festival. 

Structured as a play within a play, it has echoes of a personal tragedy, and 1930s noir as well as a nod to the cautionary Biblical tale of Lot’s wife, who turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back.

Courtesy Avila University

Avila University will get a new performing arts center thanks to a $3.5 million gift from the estate of Vita Goppert, a former Avila board member.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Sound and lighting designers at Kansas City's Unicorn Theatre are pulling out all the stops for the world premiere of the play The Ghosts of Lote Bravo. Thanks to a six-figure grant, the Unicorn has been able to upgrade to the latest technology the theater world has to offer.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The curtain rises this weekend on Georges Bizet’s Carmen, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s final production of the season. At the heart of this story of love, betrayal and revenge is Carmen, the tempestuous Gypsy played by Latvian mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde.

Aleksi Ollila / Wikimedia Commons

Keeping it real has its limitations.

Pretend your way out of them this weekend by encountering the ardent make-believe of ambitious air guitarists, the living legacy of a legendary animator and the unquenchable pursuit of assorted paraphernalia associated with the most famous fizzy water in the world.

Need more? Wow, you do need a break. Ready… set …pretend!

1. U.S. Air Guitar Contest

J. Robert Schraeder Photography / The Coterie Theatre

Long-form improvisation is a grueling strain of comedy. But some of Kansas City’s funniest high school students are embracing it. Undaunted, they've spent the last few months trying, sometimes successfully, to master it.

Comedy audiences know about short-form improv, where a random word thrown out from the crowd provokes a three-minute sketch.

courtesy Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

Spencer Fane LLP's commitment to arts funding dates back to 2006, and the early days of the campaign for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 

"We made a $75,000 challenge grant at the beginning of their fundraising efforts. That obviously was a large donation for us," says Nate Orr, a partner at the firm's headquarters in Kansas City. He heads up the charitable giving program. 

Courtesy Logan Black

Logan Black is an Iraq War veteran and an actor. Last year he moved Kansas City Fringe Festival audiences with Bond: A Soldier and His Dog, a one-act play he wrote about his relationship with a specialized search dog named Diego.

With another run for the show this month, however, Black has faced a tough reality, with implications for the play’s future: Diego hasn't been well.

Black was Diego's handler. Together, they cleared roads of roadside bombs and searched homes and discovered other stockpiles of ordnance.

Brian Paulette / Kansas City Actors Theatre

The Island is a play about apartheid. Its two actors are prisoners in a tiny cell on South Africa’s notorious Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was kept.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 2:15 p.m. Friday:

At least five journalists have taken voluntary buyouts from the Kansas City Star.

Those departing include editorial page editor Steve Paul, columnist Barb Shelly, theater critic and arts reporter Robert Trussell and assistant sports editor Mark Zeligman.

 A young couple living in New Orleans are expecting a baby any day when Hurricane Katrina separates them. That’s the premise of Gumbo House, a new play debuting at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theater.

Guest:

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Starlight Theatre offers nearly a dozen performing arts education programs, but staffers are often working around the schedules of the Broadway musicals or concerts. 

Officials with the theater hope a new addition will alleviate some of the logistical issues. On Thursday, the 66-year-old theater unveiled a new education pavilion and a dedicated space for education programming

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Many actors say they finally get into character when they put on their costumes. An effective costume design can transport audiences to ancient Greece or to the nifty 1950s of the musical Grease. The wardrobe created for the Unicorn Theatre's production of The Whale brings to the stage the life of a 600-pound shut-in. 

Courtesy Amanda Kibler / The Coterie

Advances in equal rights for LGBT people – along with the struggles that remain – filtered through the imagination of theatrically inclined teenagers should make for intriguing performances this weekend when the Coterie Theatre presents "Gears and Queers," the result of the third annual Project Pride.

Project Pride begins with group discussions and improvisation exercises, then culminates a few weeks later with a staged production of vignettes created and shaped by the teenaged cast.

Thought of as one of the most significant 20th Century songwriters, Cole Porter filled the American songbook with his compositions. His style was greatly influenced by his life experiences, many of which were in stark contrast to those of his contemporaries. 

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

What does it mean to be an American teenager? That's been a question posed everywhere from The Catcher in the Rye to Huckleberry Finn. It's also the subject of the Spinning Tree Theatre's production of the musical 13, a show about adolescents — with a cast made up of nineteen of them.

At a recent rehearsal for the company's production of 13, sets are under construction and the musical director is tinkering with the score.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

It's a rare person who can make a full-time living as a playwright in Kansas City. Nathan Louis Jackson is such a person. His gig as playwright-in-residence at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre was recently renewed.

Kansas City Repertory Theatre

In the 1930s and 1940s, many Jews in Europe lived in fear — or in hiding — from the Nazis. 

A cramped attic in Amsterdam served as a makeshift home for two years for Anne Frank, her family, and four others. 

This secret annex was discovered, and Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was the only one to survive the concentration camps – but their stories live on through Anne’s diary, first published in 1947. 

Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl, was turned into a play and a film in the 1950s. Now, decades later, there’s an update for a new era. 

Creative Commons

A food-borne virus traced to an Overland Park dinner theater has sickened even more people than originally thought, health authorities say.

More than 600 people have now reported symptoms of norovirus after attending the New Theatre Restaurant in mid-January.

Since the first reports of the illness, state and local health authorities have been working with the popular venue on cleanup and safe food practices.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

Thirty-five local playwrights will capture the mood of Kansas City's present and future at the city's first One-Minute Play Festival this weekend on City Stage at Union Station.

Founded in New York by producing artistic director Dominic D'Andrea, one-minute play festivals have spread all over the country, "with the goal of promoting the spirit of radical inclusion by representing local cultures of playwrights of different age, gender, race, cultures, and points of career," according to the festival's website.

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