After nearly 30 years with Fox Associates, in St. Louis, Mo., Richard (Rich) Baker will take on a new role as president and CEO of Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Mo. in March.

Fox Associates owns and operates the 4,500-seat Fox Theatre, as well as MetroTix, an online ticket broker, and Fox Theatricals, which runs Briar Street Theatre in Chicago, Ill.

J. Robert Schraeder / Courtesy the Coterie Theatre

For more than three centuries, Salem, Mass., has been linked to the infamous witch trials. In 1692, at least 20 men and women died after being convicted of witchcraft; it was then considered a crime punishable by death. Hundreds more faced accusations.

A new production at the Coterie Theatre, Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, provides the story behind the girls — the accusers, who started it all.

Afflicted is written by Laurie Brooks, a longtime Coterie collaborator. She says the play is "not easy. It’s subtle, it’s complex. It's about relationships."

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The one-woman play, Grounded, by George Brant, explores the destructive power of modern warfare through the eyes of a female combat pilot. After an unexpected pregnancy, she's reassigned to a windowless trailer in the Nevada desert as the desk pilot of a military drone.

The Unicorn Theatre's production marks the third in a series of "rolling world premieres" presented by members of the National New Play Network, dedicated to the development of new work.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

It was 30 years ago this year that Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey was created as a second home for the New York-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a modern dance company founded in 1958.

To mark this milestone, the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation on Friday issued a challenge grant. At $375,000, it’s the largest grant in the history of the Friends of Alvin Ailey.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This year, the Owen/Cox Dance Group is bringing its annual jazzy adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King to the Polsky Theatre at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan.

Returning to perform in the production is a powerful dancer with an explosive name: Winston Dynamite Brown. A frequent guest artist with the group, Brown says he relishes his role as the Nutcracker.

Growing into an explosive name

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol has a large cast, including about three dozen children and young adults. Rehearsals start in early November, and the hours can be long and demanding. There are song lyrics, and sometimes lots of lines to learn. It’s a challenging job for the young actors - and for the staff charged with keeping track of them.

Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

This week, the Unicorn Theatre opens the play Clybourne Park, which has the distinction of winning the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize. Its two acts take place in the same house 50 years apart, and examine with equal humor and drama all the varying shades within the phrase, "There goes the neighborhood."

A house divided

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.

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.

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.

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.

Brian Paulette / Kansas City Actors Theatre

Most theater productions comfortably nest in traditional, familiar venues, with a proscenium arch, a set taking up three walls, and the audience making up the fourth. Occasionally, though, the material calls for a stretch of the boundaries.

Such is the case with Kansas City Actors Theatre's Three Viewings, a play set in a funeral home whose three-week run will perform at Muehlebach's Funeral Home.

Dearly departed

“Wicked”: “Wizard of Oz” prequel about the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good 7:30 Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday Music Hall, 301 W. 13th Tickets: Start at $30

Amy Whitmore / Egads! Theatre Company

While area theaters often stage shows with Christmas or Hanukkah themes around the year-end holidays, it seems October has taken a lesson from December. Currently at Crown Center, Coterie Theatre is offering a version of Dracula, while at Off Center Theatre, the Egads! Theatre Company is staging a bloody show with a notorious reputation - the musical version of Stephen King's horror novel, Carrie.

High school confidential

Charles Stonewall/

It's the ultimate collaboration for three dancing companies in Kansas City. The Kansas City Ballet will join forces with Owen/CoxDance Group and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance to present a triumvirate of original work .

On Friday's Up to Date, we talk about why this collaboration is so groundbreaking and what it means for dance culture in the city.


J. Robert Schraeder / courtesy of Coterie Theatre.

Between this month and next summer, The Coterie Theatre will unveil three world premieres, including a new play inspired by the classic novel The Red Badge of Courage. Playwright Melissa Cooper calls the play Red Badge Variations, and rather than revisit the book's Civil War setting, she was given the go-ahead to update it in order to tell the story of five soldiers serving in present day Afghanistan.

Soldiers' stories

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production of The Capulets and the Montagues (I Capuleti e i Montecchi) premieres later this month. It's the story of Romeo and Juliet, told by Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A festive crowd gathered Saturday evening at Roanoke Park with blankets and lawn chairs for the 15th Annual "Dance in the Park" presented by City in Motion Dance Theater. Local companies presented a diverse range of dance ranging from modern to classical ballet, and East Indian to Afro-Brazilian capoeira.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

To celebrate the opening of the 2013-2014 season, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Kansas City Ballet threw open their doors to scores of First Friday crowds. 

Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

In its 40th year, the Unicorn Theatre continues its mission of bringing new American plays to Kansas City audiences. Among the themes explored this season are racial identity, family dysfunction, and, with its kickoff production, Venus in Fur, the ever-shifting power dynamic between men and women.

Don Ipock / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre launches its new season this week with a history lesson wrapped inside a musical. Called The Tallest Tree in the Forest, it examines both the contributions and controversies of Paul Robeson, who at the height of his acting and musical career was perhaps the most famous African-American man in the world.

Courtesy of the Kansas City Ballet

The Kansas City Ballet is joining other dance companies around the country – from Boston Ballet to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – to create a training ground for young dancers: a second company. 

Devon Carney, newly appointed artistic director of the Kansas City Ballet, described the second company, Kansas City Ballet II (KCB II), as a "natural next stage of development," based on the Ballet’s growth in recent years.

Brian Paulette / Kansas City Actors Theatre

Playwright William Inge, the Independence, Kan. native who went on to win a Pulitzer and an Oscar, would have turned 100 this year. To honor that birthday, Kansas City Actors Theatre is staging Picnic, set in the 1950s in small town Kansas. The rehearsal process has revealed that it's a play much deeper and darker than the company originally believed.  

Julie Denesha / KCUR

In this scene from Picnic, 18-year-old Madge Owens (Emily Peterson), universally acclaimed as the "prettiest girl in town," and her 16-year-old sister, Millie (Alisa Lynn), discuss the upcoming Labor Day picnic.

Millie, a tomboy, is uncharacteristically wearing a dress. As Madge paints her toenails, Millie interrogates her sister about how to handle boys.

Beth Lipoff/KCUR

Heaven can wait for Dyan Cannon. The actress still has plenty she’d like to do, including a guest spot at the New Theatre Restaurant, starting later this month. 

On Tuesday's Up to Date, we talk with the three-time Academy Award-nominated actress. She’s also known for her three-year marriage to actor Cary Grant, who was 33 years her senior.

After conducting a nationwide search, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre has chosen Angela Lee Gieras as its executive director. This marks a newly created position for the nearly 50-year-old regional theater.

Scott Boswell is the chair of the Rep's board of directors and served on the search committee. In a release, Boswell says, "Angela (Gieras) has a strong background in theatre, not-for-profit strategy, finance and development."

Julie Denesha / KCUR

For most dancers, the off-season is a time of rest and recuperation from the rigors of performance. But six months ago, Kansas City Ballet dancers Anthony Krutzkamp and Logan Pachciarz began to plan a more ambitious summer break.

Art is not always easy

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Alvin Ailey was an African American choreographer who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. For the past 25 years, Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey have held AileyCamp, a month-long session for junior high-age students, to honor Ailey's work.

Flickr/Bob DiBono

The golden age of radio drama might have been in the 1930s and 40s, but practitioners say the genre is alive and kicking in podcasts, audiobooks, and even video games.

Next weekend, Kansas City will host Hear Now: The Audio Arts and Fiction Festival, which will draw old-timey radio voices as well as younger producers.