Performance

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.

Paramount Pictures

As the dog days of summer start to fizzle out and the rain comes down, hold out on building that ark. This week, Up to Date’s indie, foreign and documentary film critics have a few good movies to keep you warm, cozy and indoors.

Robert Butler

Hell or High Water, R

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."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Kids in the Lyric’s Summer Opera Camp are getting some particularly timely lessons this year, and they don’t all have to do with vocal performance.

The opera they’re learning is She Never Lost a Passenger, which recounts the tale of Harriet Tubman, the slave who escaped to freedom and returned to guide some 70 slaves to freedom using the Underground Railroad network of safe houses.

Dancing In The Street

Aug 2, 2016

Dance can be a way to express yourself, but it can also be a way to meet people and find community. Kansas Citians have tangoed, sashayed, two-stepped, and boogied all over the streets and dance floors of this city for decades. But what's new in the scene? What are the cultures of dancing in our city? And, are there still places to dance? 

Guests:

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.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

Supporters of the proposed downtown University of Missouri-Kansas City campus for the arts have enlisted Warren Erdman, a savvy veteran of Missouri politics, to lead the lobbying effort for $48 million in matching state funds.

“Warren has been fantastically supportive since early on,” says Dean Peter Witte of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

“His understanding of the University of Missouri System and his reputation in the State Legislature are great assets.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The members of Kansas City's Dance Gurukul troupe are hoping “Cosmic Forces” helps revive an ancient tradition while honoring the Hindu god Shiva.

This weekend, they'll be performing in the classical Southern Indian tradition of Kuchipudi, a style of dance that started as a temple art form thousands of years ago.

“The stage is a sacred space for us and the essence of the dance is deeply spiritual,” says Samarpita Bajpai. “It’s a way of connecting with God. That’s what you should feel when you are dancing.”

Beth Scupham/Flickr -- CC

Inspired by a new exhibit at Union Station, which features preserved corpses, we explore our relationship with our bodies.

Guests:

file photo: Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The late dancer and choreographer, Alvin Ailey, believed that "dance is for everybody." That philosophy extends to an event in its second year called Festival on the Vine: three days of dance, art and live performance in the historic 18th and Vine jazz district. 

The festival was created by Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, the second home for Ailey's New York-based dance company. Chief artistic officer Tyrone Aiken walked us through some things to know: 

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

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

It may look like just another hefty tome, but Shakespeare's First Folio is a big deal. Up To Date hit the road for a live, first-hand look at one of the most valuable, and rare, literary documents in the English language.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

For two decades, The Billie Mahoney Dance Troupe has riffed, shuffled and flapped to jazzy, syncopated rhythms year round.

There's always that one friend whose obsession leaks into every conversation. Wendy Perron, dancer, choreographer, and writer, says, "I'd be talking about dance so much that friends would say, 'Just shut up already.'" Despite the advice, Perron has built a career around documenting changes in dance and choreography since the 1970s.

As Sue Sylvester on Glee, actress Jane Lynch delivered some of the best zingers ever written for television. Lynch has built a portfolio portraying what one media outlet called, "full-throttle, sexed-up, hyper-confident female wack jobs.” We catch up with Lynch as her musical tour gears up to come to Overland Park, Kansas. 

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."  

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As they rehearsed for an upcoming performance in the apocalyptic “Rite of Spring,” two dancers in the Kansas City Ballet recently got advice from the legendary ballerina who’d helped create the role.

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.

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