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TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE: Lyric Opera fills fairy-tale classic with clowns, Hollywood idols, gingerbread

By Paul Horsley Updated versions of well-known operas work best when they remain true to their concept from beginning to end. Director Doug Varone’s version of Hansel and Gretel is set in Depression-Era New York, and that’s fine: The 19th-century rural poverty of Humperdinck’s story translates relatively easily into urban poverty in the 1930s. Instead […]

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MAGIC, PLEASE: KC Actors Theatre offers fresh, modern take on American classic

By Paul Horsley When 17-year-old Blanche DuBois caught her husband in flagrante delicto with an older man, she impulsively lashed out at what she called his “degeneracy” (“You disgust me!”). The beautiful young man, whom Blanche loved desperately, went out into the yard and blew his brains out. Such an early trauma could screw with […]

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WELCOME TO THE (DIVERSE) FUTURE: Harriman series presents pioneering classical ensemble

By Paul Horsley In an increasingly diverse 21st-century America, sectors of society that have remained predominantly white are continually being challenged to examine their methods, purposes and even future viability. Classical music is no exception: If great music is “universal,” then why have its practitioners and audiences remained unrepresentative of the ethnic and cultural makeup […]

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STOP CLOWNING: Lyric’s season opener retells Grimm tale with wit and a tad of darkness

By Paul Horsley Clowns are fun and scary at the same time, and in that sense they are a lot like Grimm Fairy Tales. We shove goofily painted clowns in front of our kids all the time, yet many of us fear clowns so deeply that there’s even a clinical term for it: coulrophobia. So […]

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IF YOU BUILD IT, WILL THEY COME? New choir amazed by local interest

By Paul Horsley If you want to start a new chorus in Kansas City, you’re going to need a solid concept, some chutzpah, and boundless optimism. Jackson Thomas brought all of those things when he formed KC VITAs Chamber Choir last year, a chorus of top-flight singers that, after an astonishingly successful debut last year, […]

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DECISIONS THAT STICK: Starlight production features local actress who made it big

By Paul Horsley Once we’ve made tough life-choices, we either learn to live with them or experience the toxic effects of regret. Still, it’s only human to wonder sometimes what might have happened if we’d taken that “other path.” One of the most daringly experimental pieces of theater in recent Broadway history, If/Then is a […]

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TALK TO ME: Summerfest fosters great music, ‘face time,’ innovations

By Paul Horsley There are several reasons why Summerfest concerts have thrived for more than a quarter-century. They offer some of the best chamber music in town, performed by Kansas City Symphony musicians and friends, during a period in which there’s little other classical music going on locally. They play programs that balance light-hearted music […]

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ALL THAT JAZZ: New Theatre Restaurant brings top talent for Kander & Ebb classic

By Paul Horsley Great works of theater can succeed in a multitude of formats. As long as the material is strong and you bring great performers and direction, a small show can be staged on a grand scale, or a traditionally lavish production can work on a small- or medium-sized stage. When the New Theatre […]

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RESTRAINT IN THE FACE OF TRAGEDY: KC Symphony introduces significant new Leshnoff work

By Paul Horsley War poetry often contains all the drama, spectacle and tragedy that a composer needs to create a powerful musical setting, and history is rife with such statements—from Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death to Britten’s War Requiem and beyond. Letters from the battlefield, on the other hand, written in dire conditions to […]

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