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In Review

IN REVIEW: Choreographed version of Oz story bursts with visuals, stagecraft

It’s amazing, really, that in the dazzle of costumes, projections, puppetry, lighting and even a mechanical Toto, Septime Webre’s new The Wizard of Oz still managed to remain a ballet. The Cuban-American dance maker, who recently left a longtime post at Washington Ballet to take a position at Hong Kong Ballet, is a gifted choreographer, […]

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IN REVIEW: The Coterie’s scintillating new MLK play is a must-see

What strikes you first about Kevin Willmott’s Becoming Martin, which the Coterie Theatre commissioned it for its 40th anniversary, is the sharp craftsmanship and concise economy of its language. The play’s portrait of the teenaged Martin Luther King, Jr. uses dialogue that sounds so natural that you can easily believe that, although this is technically […]

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IN REVIEW: Lyric’s ‘West Side Story’ shines light on the show’s real star

West Side Story remains a bit of a conundrum. More than 60 years after its first appearance, it continues to fascinate for its mixture of conventional musical theater with ballet, witty lyrics on a Gilbert-and-Sullivan level, and a healthy dose of “opera.” Francesca Zambello’s high-end production, which opened at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City on […]

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IN REVIEW: Lyric sings lovely Barber, splashing color and silliness into the mix

Is opera music, or is it theater? That the best answer to that question is “yes” is part of what makes this art form so intriguing: The struggle over whether “la musica” or “la parola” (the word) should prevail in opera has raged since its inception around 1600. As I watched the Lyric Opera’s production […]

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IN REVIEW: KC Rep produces fine ‘Sweeney,’ but is it time to discuss the ‘Sondheim problem’?

If you like Stephen Sondheim’s musicals, chances are you’ll enjoy the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s finely outfitted production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which runs through April 15th at Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus. Rep Artistic Director Eric Rosen, who directed the show, has a keen intuitive sense for staging […]

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IN REVIEW: Lyric stages workaday ‘Rigoletto’

That Rigoletto is regarded as one of Verdi’s most beloved operas might seem surprising considering what an ugly story it recounts. First performed in 1851 but based on a tawdry Victor Hugo play from 1832 (which was banned from the French stage for half a century), it tells of a mean-spirited jester who serves in […]

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IN REVIEW: KCB dancers, plus others, create New Moves

The Kansas City Ballet’s New Moves is gradually coming into its own. The project that Artistic Director Devon Carney launched shortly after arriving in 2013 (an outgrowth of a previous series consisting chiefly of works by Company members) mixes works by aspiring KCB choreographers with dances by prominent visiting artists whose professionalism has at times […]

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IN REVIEW: Lyric stages tuneful, visually striking new opera (and the weather outside is indeed frightful)

Everest possesses something found in surprisingly few contemporary operas: soaring, tastefully singable tunes that stick in your head but avoid the tacky pizzazz of Broadway that plagues so many new operas. Some will admire the piece (by composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer) simply for its dazzling physical production and its starkly naturalistic score, […]

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IN REVIEW: CSO returns to Helzberg Hall for stirring encore performance

The Chicago Symphony plays like a well-oiled, meticulously hand-crafted engine, and an opportunity to hear it in a fine acoustic space is always a treat. In 2015, when the Harriman-Jewell Series brought the CSO for its first appearance here in nearly a half-century, Music Director Riccardo Muti was so delighted with the experience of performing […]

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