Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

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Performance
8:13 am
Fri November 29, 2013

[VIDEO] In This Scene...'The Santaland Diaries'

This season, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre has added a second show to their holiday schedule. The Santaland Diaries is a dark comedy written by David Sedaris and adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello. The one-man show is a prickly retelling of Sedaris’ stint as a Macy’s elf during the Christmas season.

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Visual Arts
5:00 am
Tue November 26, 2013

City Plans To Take Back Management Of Kansas City Museum

The city of Kansas City, Mo. is one step closer to taking back management of the city-owned Kansas City Museum. A contract has been in place with Union Station Kansas City since 2000. It’s taken time and effort to reach a new agreement.

Charting a new path

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Arts
8:15 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Kansas City Arts Task Force Presents Findings To Mayor

Mayor Sly James spoke to artists at a public meeting in January 2013 at ArtsTech in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

After about two years of research, work and community engagement, Kansas City Mayor Sly James' Task Force for the Arts presented its findings on Thursday during the City Council’s business session.

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KC Currents
8:00 am
Sat November 23, 2013

How Janelle Monae Discovered Her 'Inner Weirdo' In Kansas City

Janelle Monae credits her Kansas City Kansas roots for helping develop her music, writing, personal style and passion.
Credit Marc Baptiste / Courtesy of Atlantic Records

At 28, rising pop star Janelle Monae has collaborated with musical royalty, like Erykah Badu and Prince. Last summer, she was featured in Fun’s runaway hit We Are Young, and recently played Saturday Night Live, with songs from her new album Electric Lady, which debuted as number 5 on Billboard’s 200

But the Kansas City, Kan., native had her first local headliner at the Uptown Theatre on November 15. It was a boisterous, sold-out party attended by dozens of her family members and former teachers.

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Performance
8:10 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Behind The Scenes: Bach Aria Soloists In Rehearsal

Beau Bledsoe, on guitar, (from left) and Elizabeth Suh Lane, on violin, work through a piece in the living room of harpsichordist Elisa Bickers in Overland Park, Kan.
Julie Denesha KCUR

A few leaves clung to the trees on a damp autumn morning as four Baroque-trained musicians huddled around a harpsichord. The Bach Aria Soloists were busy preparing for this Saturday's performance of 'Marriage of True Minds,' a collaboration with Heart of America Shakespeare Festival and the Kansas City Public Library. 

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Performance
7:51 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Hanukkah Celebrated By Paul Mesner Puppets At Jewish Community Center

'Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins" cast rehearse at Paul Mesner Puppets in Midtown.
Photo by Steve Walker KCUR News

On Kansas City stages during the holiday season, there's an abundance of shows with Christmas themes. Audiences can go from Kansas City Ballet's The Nutcracker to Kansas City Repertory Theatre's A Christmas Carol, with several other destinations in between.

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Music
7:47 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Alexander Majors House Shows Off Restored Piano

Dr. Bruce Prince-Joseph has a passion for vintage instruments, including this grand box piano in the Alexander Majors House collection.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Alexander Majors House, a two-story white antebellum home, is a relic from the 1850's, and still stands at 82nd and State Line. It was built by one of the founders of the Pony Express, and it's tucked next to an office building, just north of Ward Parkway Shopping Center.

Inside the house, there’s historic furniture and fixtures, and also on the property, a blacksmith’s shop, carriages, and a barn – where, for now, there’s a newly restored piano. 

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Film
6:00 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Film Review: A Love Affair Ebbs And Flows In Controversial 'Blue Is The Warmest Color'

Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) falls for Emma (Léa Seydoux) in 'Blue is the Warmest Color.'
Credit Sundance Selects

Blue is the Warmest Color, the winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a frank and honest examination of a relationship from a heated first glance to its dying embers. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, the film rides waves of passion, bliss and anger in such truthful ways that anyone who’s been madly in love will identify with the couple, even if the parties happen to be two women. And to boot, the movie is wonderfully alive.

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Up to Date
1:15 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Audra McDonald: From Broadway To Kansas City

Audra McDonald's performances on Broadway include roles in Carousel, Porgy & Bess and 110 in the Shade.
Credit Michael Lutch / audramcdonald.net

She’s won Tony awards and dazzled Hollywood, and now Audra McDonald is blending her voice with the Kansas City Symphony. 

On Friday's Up to Date, we talk with the versatile songstress about her career and how she’s using her fame to support causes like marriage equality and pet adoption.

Guest:

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Performance
5:00 am
Thu November 14, 2013

KU Theater Department Reinvents Stage Design With Computer Technology

Mark Reaney's computerized rendering of the set of the University Theatre's production of 'Adding Machine: A Musical'.
Mark Reaney Department of Theatre, University of Kansas

When the University Theatre at the University of Kansas in Lawrence first staged the play The Adding Machine in 1995, it garnered national attention. American Theatre magazine was impressed by the way the production utilized cutting edge computer animation in its set design. This week, the department opens a musical version of the play with its scenic designer intact while the technology used is now much more advanced.

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Visual Arts
5:40 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

KCI Terminal A Closing, But Public Art Remains, For Now

The terrazzo flooring of 'Polarities' is underfoot in Terminal A.
Julie Denesha KCUR

At Kansas City International Airport, Air Canada, US Airways and United are moving to Terminal C, and Terminal A is expected to close on Jan. 9, 2014. But what does this mean for the public artwork - inside and outside the terminal?

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Performance
4:38 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

'The Magic Flute' Reimagined

In 'The Magic Flute' a comic tale of love buffeted by the forces of good and evil. Kathryn Lewek, plays the Queen of the Night.
Julie Denesha KCUR

The Magic Flute, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, first premiered in Vienna in 1791. A comic tale of love buffeted by the forces of good and evil, the opera is a singspiel, including both spoken dialogue and song.

For the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production, artist and ceramicist Jun Kaneko, based in Omaha, Neb., designed the fanciful set design and costumes.

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Up to Date
1:40 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign & Doc Critics' 'Three To See,' Nov. 8-10

Cynthia Haines and Steve Walker both recommend "12 Years a Slave" this weekend.
Credit Fox Searchlight Pictures

Looking for a great film to see the weekend of November 8-10? Up to Date's indie, documentary and foreign film critics share their three favorites showing on area screens.

Cynthia Haines:

  • Wadjda
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • All is Lost

Steve Walker

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Visual Arts
7:48 am
Fri November 8, 2013

A. Bitterman Enters Community Dialogue About Controversial 'Scout' Billboard

One side of A. Bitterman's two-part billboard showed the artist, standing on scaffolding and on a chair, pointing a gun at 'The Scout.'
courtesy of the artist

In late September, a billboard went up picturing a white man aiming a rifle at The Scout, the locally-famous statue of a Native American on horseback that’s in Penn Valley Park. The billboard also called out a cheery “Discover Kansas City!” in cursive font. But, it didn’t go over very well. The billboard came down about a week after it went up, and it nearly wasn’t installed at all.   

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Performance
5:00 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Immersion In Music Inspires Jun Kaneko's 'The Magic Flute'

Artist Jun Kaneko created the scenic and costume design for Mozart's 'The Magic Flute.'
Cory Weaver

Artist Jun Kaneko grew up in Japan, but he's been based in Omaha, Neb. since the mid-1980's.  He's known for his monumental ceramic sculptures, including his signature "dangos," or rounded forms - and he’s also created scenic and costume design for opera.

Mozart’s The Magic Flute marks Kaneko's third opera. The set is almost entirely digital animated projection, with colorful, whimsical costumes. The Lyric Opera of Kansas City opens the production this weekend at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

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Up To Date
11:40 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Evocative Portraits From Photographer Gregory Heisler

Oceanographer Robert Ballard discovered the wreckage of the Titanic.
Greg Heisler

Photographer Gregory Heisler admits that the process of making a portrait is fraught with unease.

The sitter, Heisler says, doesn't want to face reality. For the photographer, that's all there is.

Greg Heisler has spent a quarter century photographing covers for Time, Life and Sports Illustrated.

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Up to Date
11:41 am
Sun November 3, 2013

Steve's Bookshelf: Cracking Camelot And Becoming American

Steve Kraske speaks with authors Thurston Clarke, Robert Dallek and Domingo Martinez.

John F. Kennedy was no King Arthur, but his life has often been compared to Camelot.

On Monday's Up to Date, we revisit Steve’s Bookshelf, a collection of books on Steve Kraske's radar right now. We talk with Thurston Clarke and Robert Dallek the authors of two different books that examine the former president’s policies. Also, author Domingo Martinez takes us into the life of a family trying to become “real” Americans on the Texas border.

Guests:

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Film
6:45 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Film Review: '12 Years A Slave' A Portrait Of Dignity Under Extreme Duress

Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender, and Chiwetel Ejiofor are all excellent in Steve McQueen's '12 Years a Slave.'
Credit Courtesy / Fox Searchlight Pictures

In director Steve McQueen’s thematically brutal yet beautifully composed film 12 Years a Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an astonishing performance as Solomon Northup, a black musician whose trusting nature leads to the ultimate betrayal when he goes from a free man to a slave. That both director and actor are British and black isn’t an anomaly but rather an obtuse argument that perhaps American filmmakers are too close to the story of slavery in this country to do it justice.

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Performance
6:41 am
Fri November 1, 2013

[VIDEO] Eboni Fondren 'Ain't Misbehavin' At Spinning Tree Theatre

Eboni Fondren in 'Ain't Misbehavin.'
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

In this scene, singer Eboni Fondren performs 'I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling' in Spinning Tree Theatre's production of Ain't Misbehavin' at Just Off Broadway Theatre.

"Ain't Misbehavin is a celebration of the music Fats Waller wrote, performed, and made famous during the 1930s Harlem Renaissance," says co-director Andy Parkhurst.

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Visual Arts
5:00 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Kemper Museum's Exhibition Gets 'Dressed Up'

Hope Gangloff, Vera, 2013; acrylic on canvas, 81 x 54 inches.
Collection of Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

The Halloween season is a time when, for at least a night or two, you can become something – or someone – else.  An exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art called Dressed Up explores the "theater of the self," and the role of nature, culture, reality and perception.

Creating a new self-image

"Let’s be really ornery in the museum," encourages librarian Meghann Henry. "And on the count of three, you're going to count shout ‘Good morning!’ One, two three, 'Good morning!' Pretty good, alright."

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Classical
9:30 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Haunting Soundtrack For Silent Classic 'The Phantom Of The Opera'

'The Phantom of the Opera' starred Lon Chaney, as the phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House.
Credit Blackhawk Films/Image Entertainment

The Phantom of the Opera, a 1925 silent film, tells the story of an organist who lurks beneath an opera house. This Halloween night, organist Aaron David Miller will be in plain sight at the Kauffman Center, when he provides the soundtrack for a screening of this film.

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KC Currents
9:19 am
Thu October 31, 2013

The Mysterious 400-Year-Old Band That Haunts Kansas City

He Who Bought The Farm would not publicly reveal himself at KCUR. He says he has no head, and wouldn't explain what holds up the hood.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Almost every year around this time in Kansas City, a musical phenomenon rises up at area bars. A mysterious band called the Haunted Creepys tends to perform around Halloween, and whenever Friday the 13th rolls around. 

The Creepys wear colorful robes and hoods with black netting covering their faces, and they claim to be a 400-year-old band of undead musicians from Transylvania who play original numbers such as Phantom of the Pipeline, Skiffle Haunt and Hairy Tomato.

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Visual Arts
2:42 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Nelson-Atkins Commissions Work From Artist Maya Lin

Artist Maya Lin's new work for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will be installed on November 15.
Credit Walter Smith / Courtesy Maya Lin Studio and Pace Gallery

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has commissioned a new work by architect and artist Maya Lin, who's probably best known as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

Lin’s sculpture, Silver Missouri, inspired by the Missouri River, is crafted from recycled silver, and it’s one in a series of works exploring water conservation. It will be installed in the Bloch Building on November 15. 

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Performance
5:00 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Kansas City Actor Goes From Shakespeare To ‘House Of Cards’

Nathan Darrow plays Edward Meechum, Congressman Francis 'Frank' Underwood's bodyguard and driver in 'House of Cards.'
Credit Netflix

In the Netflix series, House of Cards, actor Nathan Darrow, a native of Kansas City, plays Edward Meechum. It's an understated role, but he's the keeper of secrets as the bodyguard and driver for ruthless Congressman Francis "Frank" Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey.

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Up to Date
9:30 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Johnny Carson: The King Of Late Night

Credit henrybushkin.com

With Jimmy Fallon due to take over "The Tonight Show" in early 2014, many are looking back to the days when Johnny Carson hosted the late night show.

On Monday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Carson's former lawyer, Henry Bushkin about his new behind-the-scenes memoir detailing his relationship with the longest running "Tonight Show" host. From their initial meeting in 1970 to their falling out in 1988, Carson trusted Bushkin as his legal advisor, tennis partner, and close friend. 

Guests:

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Up to Date
7:24 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Local Listen: The Silver Maggies

The music of The Silver Maggies is a unique blend of gothic country and high desert noir, resulting in a sound that’s dark and lonely... and maybe a little dangerous.   In this week’s local listen, we hear “End of Time” from their album “My Pale Horse”. The Silver Maggies appear Friday evening October 25th at The Brick, sharing the stage with Starhaven Rounders and Amy Farrand.  

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Up to Date
11:45 am
Fri October 25, 2013

The Weekend To-Do List, Oct. 25-27, 2013

The Kinsey Sicks parody group performs at Johnson County Community College this weekend.

Looking for something to ward off the chill this weekend? Check out Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for October 25-27, 2013.

Deborah Voigt (Soprano in recital), 8 p.m. Friday at the Folly Theatre, 300 W. 12th. Tickets: $25-$75 

The Kinsey Sicks (Parody group), 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Polsky Theatre, Johnson County Community College. Tickets: $25-$30 

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Up to Date
10:38 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign & Doc Critics' 'Three To See,' Oct 25-27

The National Theatre of London's presentation of Frankenstein, on screens at the Tivoli, is on Steve Walker's list this week.

Looking for a great film to see the weekend of Oct. 25-27? Up to Date's indie, documentary and foreign film critics share their three favorites showing on area screens. 

Cynthia Haines:

  • Salinger
  • Parkland
  • Gravity 3D

Steve Walker:

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Up to Date
3:00 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

The Worst Gigs In Rock 'N' Roll

Credit worstgig.com

It's hard to imagine Def Leppard, John Mayer, or any other rock musician having a bad day, but Jon Niccum​ begs to differ. 

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Up to Date
4:00 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Children's Book Puts Reader In The Story

Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett join Steve Kraske to discuss their new book, 'Battle Bunny.'

A boy gets a book he thinks is cheesy-- a tale about a bunny and his birthday. His next move is to take a pen to the pages of the book and make the story a bit more interesting.

In the second part of Thursday's Up to Date, we take a look at a lighter side of life with children’s book authors Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett as we talk about their new book, Battle Bunny

Guests:

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