Julie Denesha / KCUR

It can be daunting to wade through the schedule for the KC Fringe Festival.

Founded in 2004, Fringe presents about 130 events this year, including theater, dance, comedy, film, poetry, as well as visual art exhibitions.

There are artists from around the world — St. Louis, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland, the U.K. — and the Kansas City area.

Here are a few homegrown highlights:

Poor Lear

Warning: This content may be unsuitable for children. It contains brief sexual references.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The KC Fringe Festival, an annual event featuring actors, dancers, poets, storytellers, filmmakers, and visual artists, turns 10 this year. The festival offers about 50 theater performances, from R-rated to puppet shows for kids. And, KC Fringe often provides an opportunity for performers to try out new material.

It seems appropriate that Jesse Ray Metcalf, the writer of a new production called (Virgin.), would say: "This is my first time doing Fringe."

Cara McClain / KCUR

For its 10th season, the KC Fringe Festival will take over spaces in Kansas City, Mo., for theater, music, comedy, spoken word, burlesque and more.

KC Fringe is an 11-day festival that provides a platform for often lesser-known performing and visual artists. 

This year's Fringe will have 19 different venues. Most are scattered around the Crossroads Arts District, but some spread out into Westport and the Country Club Plaza.

courtesy: Kansas City Repertory Theatre

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre announced this month that Kyle Hatley, associate artistic director, plans to relocate to Chicago in August.

Hatley, a 33-year-old native of Memphis, started working at the Rep in 2008. During his time in Kansas City, Mo., he's earned a reputation as an energizing force in the theater community — as an actor and director, as well as the creator of innovative new works at the KC Fringe Festival and The Living Room.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

On Tuesday's Central Standard, we invited a variety of artists to discuss how their practice has evolved as they have moved from one stage of life to another.

As a ballet dancer embarked on retirement from the stage and into a teaching and choreographing role at the age of 32, he sat down with a visual artist who has more than forty years of studio experience and a legendary jazz saxophonist. The three compared notes across genres. 


KC Riverfest

Have a star-spangled weekend with this sizzling list of area entertainment from Brian McTavish!

Big Bang: Jackson County’s Fourth of July Celebration
5:30 p.m. (gates open) Friday; free admission
Longview Lake, Shelter #13

KC Riverfest: Music and Fireworks
4 p.m. (gates open) Friday; $5 admission after 5 p.m.
Berkley Riverfront Park

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s production of The Winter’s Tale is well underway. But it takes a lot of time and effort – and people — to put the show together. For our series, From Page to Park, we’re taking a behind-the-scenes look at the process.

About two weeks ago in Southmoreland Park in Kansas City, Mo., actors, musicians, designers and directors were working through perhaps the most intricate part of staging a play, a rehearsal called tech.

Breaking it down and putting it back together

Julie Denesha / KCUR

In this scene from The Coterie's production of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," Baron Bomburst (Jerry Jay Cranford) and Baroness Bomburst (Julie Shaw) express their love for each other through song and a series of gags and tricks.

"We are the Baron and Baroness of Vulgaria. I am about to have my birthday party, and I am very excited about it and completely forget that she’s alive," explains Cranford, a Broadway veteran, with a laugh.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This weekend, the second annual Kansas City Dance Festival gets under way, assembling dancers and choreographers from the local, national and international stage.

A recent rehearsal found dancers Logan Pachciarz and Molly Wagner working on a pas de deux under the watchful eye of departing Kansas City Ballet ballet master James Jordan, as they honed both steps and expression during a walk through of the late Todd Bolender’s "The Still Point."

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Kicking off the summer with a trip to the Vegas strip, Heartland Men’s Chorus is bringing “Vegas Baby” to the Folly Theater in Kansas City, Mo., in what's envisioned as a lavish spectacle. The chorus, with 150 singers, will be joined by magicians, showgirls and aerial acrobatics.

Guest conductor Anthony T. Edwards says one of the highlights for him will be seeing Quixotic perform onstage as the chorus sings Cirque du Soleil’s Let Me Fall.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

For more than two decades, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival has turned Southmoreland Park into a place where Hamlet posed questions, Macbeth’s witches toiled and troubled, and Romeo and Juliet professed their love. This year’s production of The Winter’s Tale, one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, will come to life thanks to like-minded artists whose collective goal is to make the play leap effortlessly From Page To Park.

Getting started

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This summer, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival presents the tragicomedy, The Winter's Tale, in Southmoreland Park in Kansas City, Mo.

It marks the first time the 22-year-old festival has staged the play, which explores the nature of jealousy.

Helix Architecture + Design

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre on Wednesday announced $3 million from the Hall Family Foundation, the largest gift in the company's history. The funds will support the renovations of the Spencer Theatre and its lobby in James C. Olson Performing Arts Center on the UMKC campus.

The center was completed in 1979. The Rep's artistic director, Eric Rosen, said the stage is ready for an upgrade as the company marks its 50th year.

The 1960s marked “the second golden age” in Kansas City’s theater history, according to historian Felicia Hardison Londré. It was a time of transition from touring companies providing entertainment to the city creating its own.

For Kansas City, this meant the creation of the first resident professional theater company since the 1930s: the Missouri Repertory Theatre, now known as the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. The “solid foundation” of the Rep, said Londré, led to the thriving theater scene across the Kansas City metro today.

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre was founded in 1964 by Patricia McIlrath. The company has moved, the name has changed, and this non-profit theater group has expanded in the 50 years since.

Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company

If you're looking for a variety of entertainment this weekend, look no further than Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for May 30-June 1.

Cher (pop diva), D2K Tour 2014, 8:00 p.m. Saturday at the Sprint Center, 1407 Grand, Kansas City, MO

Tickets: $45.50 to $105.50

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The modern pointe shoe has kept ballerinas on their toes since the early 20th Century.

Each delicate, custom-made satin and leather shoe endures a punishing routine that begins even before a dancer places a shoe on her foot.

As part of an occasional series called Tools of the Trade about performers and their relationship to the tools that make their work possible, I talked to members of the Kansas City Ballet about shoes.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Choreographer Victoria Morgan, artistic director and CEO of the Cincinnati Ballet, based her narrative ballet, Cinderella, on the classic story by Charles Perrault, as well as drawing on her own experience dancing the title role in previous productions. The Kansas City Ballet presents the work, which opens this weekend.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This weekend, the Kansas City Ballet presents a classic fairy tale, Cinderella. It's the story of a girl who's magically transformed for one night, and attends a ball where she meets her prince.

In choreographer Victoria Morgan's version, Cinderella's wicked stepsisters are played by two men, with a great deal of humor.

Brian Paulette / The Living Room

Much like Vincent Van Gogh, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo wasn’t famous in her own lifetime. A new play at The Living Room examines the artist's trials and tribulations, especially a series of tragic events that would have daunted many people but actually motivated her to paint in the first place.

Kahlo had a look as distinctive as her art. In a series of self-portraits, she emits a piercing stare from beneath an arched unibrow and a crown of braids. And her work has found the acclaim that eluded her in life.

Picture perfect

Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

The Unicorn Theatre's production of Water by the Spoonful marks the local premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. But the play may be more noteworthy for its meaty, multi-layered characters of Puerto Rican heritage, and the fact that the actors playing them represent ethnic diversity that's rare to see on a Kansas City stage.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

It's a Thursday morning in the rehearsal space at the Lyric Opera Center in the Crossroads Arts District. About 20 students from the Kansas City Art Institute stand on either side of a long table covered with sketches, floor and building plans and colorful set drawings. They reach into pockets to snap photos with cell phones, or focus in with larger cameras.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

For the past 25 years, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s apprentice program has offered graduate-level voice students at the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City a chance to develop their operatic skills on a professional stage.

Auditions for the two-year program are competitive; there are only about a handful of positions. The apprentices then have the opportunity to appear in either two or three productions at the Lyric each year.

Matteo Bittanti / Flickr / Creative Commons

Nathan Darrow, an actor from Overland Park, Kan., has rocketed to stardom in his role as Edward Meechum on the Netflix show House of Cards. Darrow got his big break when he completed a world tour with a Sam Mendes production of Richard III, also starring Kevin Spacey. (A one-time screening of a documentary about that world tour will take place at the Tivoli April 29 at 7:30 p.m.

courtesy of Nick Blaemire

It seems every new musical is based on a familiar movie, such as the current Broadway productions of Rocky, Bullets Over Broadway, and Aladdin. There are notable exceptions, though - original stories crafted from pure imagination.

Opening its world premiere production at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre is a show taking up that challenge called A Little More Alive.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

After nearly three decades with the Kansas City Ballet, Ballet Master James Jordan has accepted the same post with The Sarasota Ballet as of the 2014-2015 season.

Devon Carney, the Ballet's artistic director, said in a news release that Jordan's national reputation as a stager of Anthony Tudor ballets led to the Florida connection.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A blowing March wind on Thursday roared outside the windows of a rehearsal and performance space in the Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity. Ilya Kozadayev, a former soloist with Houston Ballet, watched intently from the audience as a group of six dancers from the Kansas City Ballet moved without music. For long stretches of time, only the sound of occasional claps and feet upon the floor could be heard as they went through the motions of a final tech rehearsal.

Get that spring into your step with Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for March 21-23, 2014.

Lyric Opera of Kansas City: “La Boheme” (Classic opera by Giacomo Puccini), 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets: $90 to $160

The National World War I Museum, housed at the base of the Liberty Memorial, is this year marking the 100th anniversary of the start of that war. By pure coincidence, the national tour of the Tony Award-winning play War Horse arrives at the Music Hall next month, creating a rare convergence of history and theatricality in Kansas City.

Confounding the skeptics

Julie Denesha / KCUR

When American soprano Katie Van Kooten came down with a cold just before the final dress rehearsal of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's "La Bohème," it became clear that she was not going to be able to "sing out" in her role as Mimì.

But the show - or at least the rehearsal - went on.