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BEST OF FALL: Some must-see events from now through December

By Paul Horsley



Through August 21: Musical Theater Heritage; Next to Normal; The multiple Tony and Pulitzer-winning musical by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey stars Ashley Pankow and Ben Gulley, among others. Crown Center. 816-221-6987 or mthkc.com.

Through August 28: Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral; Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; Summer Music at the Cathedrals; August’s best classical music in KC. (August 7: KC VITAs; August 14: Anne Marie Brown, violin, and Lawrence Figg, cello; August 21: Summer Singers of KC; August 28: A French Organ Festival.) 816-474-8260 or kccathedral.org.

10-28: Kansas City Actors Theatre; I’m Not Rappaport; Two octogenarians meet regularly under a bridge and hold forth. Granvile O’Neal and Victor Raider-Wexler star in Herb Gardner’s Tony Award-winning play. H&R Block City Stage at Union Station. 816-235-6222 or kcactors.org.

11-28: Spinning Tree Theatre; Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill; Nedra Dixon stars as Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson’s reminiscence of the final months before the singer’s death. The Living Room. 816-235-6222 or spinningtreetheatre.com.

27: Kansas City Chamber Orchestra; Beethoven Triple! KC’s finest small instrumental ensemble opens its 30th season with a performance of Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto, featuring award-winning faculty members of Park University’s International Center for Music: founding KCCO concertmaster Ben Sayevich, cellist Daniel Veis and pianist Lolita Lisovskaya. Helberg Hall. 816-235-6222 or kcchamberorchestra.org.



7-25: Kansas City Actors Theatre; A Streetcar Named Desire; Sidonie Garrett directs. H&R Block City Stage at Union Station. 816-235-6222 or kcactors.org.

7-October 2: Unicorn Theatre; Hand to God; A sock puppet says profane things that its teenaged master can’t in Robert Askins’ witty play. Also November 30-December 26 An Octoroon; Damron Russel Armstrong directs Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ subversive plantation meta-comedy. 816-531-7529 or unicorntheatre.org.

8-24: Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre; Picasso at the Lapin Agile; Einstein and Picasso meet in a bar; hijinks ensue. The New York Times called Steve Martin’s 1993 show “very good fun.” 816-569-3226 or metkc.org.

9-October 2: Kansas City Repertory Theatre; Evita; Eric Rosen directs the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice classic about Eva Perón’s angst. Spencer Theatre. 816-235-2700 or kcrep.org.

17-25: Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Hansel and Gretel; Doug Varone directs this delicious family drama, which includes a cast of top singers and Doug’s own legendary dancers. Kauffman Center. 816-471-7344 or kcopera.org.

Sphinx Virtuosi / Photo by Kevin Kennedy
Sphinx Virtuosi / Photo by Kevin Kennedy

24: Harriman-Jewell Series; Sphinx Virtuosi; KC’s world-renowned presenter opens its season with a free Discovery Concert by the adventurous chamber group made up of America’s top Black and Latino classical soloists. Folly Theater. Reserve tickets at 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

29-October 1: Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey; Ailey II; The gifted dancers of this fresh ensemble present works by Alvin and others. Folly Theater. 816-471-6003 or kcfaa.org.

30-October 2: Kansas City Symphony; Stefan Jackiw, violin; The most compelling violinist of his generation opens the season with the radiant Korngold Concerto. Not to be missed! 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

30-October 30: Quality Hill Playhouse; Barry, Bette & Broadway; Enjoy classics of the 1970’s and ’80s by Manilow, Midler and others. 816-421-1700 or qualityhillplayhouse.com.



1: Harriman-Jewell Series; Jessica Lang Dance; In 2011, former Tharp dancer Jessica Lang created a company that has been praised worldwide. Dance Magazine called her “a master of visual composition.” Kauffman Center. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

7-16: Kansas City Ballet; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Bruce Wells’ 1985 version of the Shakespeare comedy has become one of the most durable. It will include some 50 KC Ballet School students. Kauffman Center. 816-931-8993 or kcballet.org.

9: Performing Arts Series at JCCC; Basetrack Live; This gripping piece of documentary theater, a partnership with JCCC’s Veteran & Military Student Resource Center, tells a real-life story of a wounded Marine and his return home from Afghanistan. Yardley Hall. 913-469-4445 or jccc.edu.

14-November 13: Kansas City Repertory Theatre; The Invisible Hand; Ayad Akhtar’s play tells of two captors and their American hostage chatting about the stock market in a holding cell (and revealing universal truths). Copaken Stage. 816-235-2700 or kcrep.org.

15: Harriman-Jewell Series; Renée Fleming, soprano; The most beloved soprano of our time (Grammy Awards, a National Medal of Arts, you name it) sings a rare recital of songs and arias. Helzberg Hall. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

15: Performing Arts Series at JCCC: Wichita Grand Opera: La Bohème; The Little Opera Company that Could celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2015. Kansas native Samuel Ramey stars, with Zvetelina Vassileva as Mimì. Yardley Hall. 913-469-4445 or jccc.edu.

20-November 5: Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre; Deathtrap; Ira Levin’s stylish 1978 thriller is filled with twists. 816-569-3226 or metkc.org.

20-23: Kansas City Symphony; Mozart’s Requiem; Top soloists join the Symphony Chorus; organist Paul Jacobs also performs in Guilmant’s Symphony No. 1. Kauffman Center. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

Ben Bliss_Photo by Dario Acosta_IMG Artists
Ben Bliss / Photo by Dario Acosta, IMG Artists

22: Harriman-Jewell Series; Ben Bliss, tenor; The rising star from Our Town joins a line of greats (among them Pavarotti) who have made debuts on the Series. Free Discovery Concert. Folly Theater. Reserve tickets at 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

29: Performing Arts Series at JCCC; Ginger Shankar; Telling the true story of the lives of the women from India’s musical family. Polsky Theatre. 913-469-4445 or jccc.edu.

30 and November 1: Kansas City Chorale; Brahms: German Requiem; A performance of this glorious piece is rare enough: Rarer still is one of Brahms’ own version with two pianos. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral (October 30th) and Asbury United Methodist Church (November 1st). 816-235-6222 or kcchorale.org.



3-20: Spinning Tree Theatre; Nine; Michael Grayman directs Arthur Kopit’s and Maury Yeston’s playful musical spin on Fellini’s film 8 ½. The Living Room. 816-235-6222 or spinningtreetheatre.com.

4: Friends of Chamber Music; Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; David Finckel is joined by friends for a program called Destination Vienna. Folly Theater. 816-561-9999 or chambermusic.org.

5-13: Lyric Opera of Kansas City; The Marriage of Figaro; Legendary director Stephen Lawless makes his Lyric debut with a brand-new production of Mozart’s gem, a co-production with Opera Philadelphia and San Diego Opera. Adam Lau sings the title role. Kauffman Center. 816-471-7344 or kcopera.org.

12: Bach Aria Soloists; Notes and Letters; Chamber music and more. Kansas City Public Library. bachariasoloists.com.

18: Friends of Chamber Music; Sequentia: The Monk Sings Pagan: Medieval Songs of Gods, Heroes and Strong Women; Classical text-settings from the middle ages, made into something remarkably compelling. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral. 816-561-9999 or chambermusic.org.

18-December 24: Kansas City Repertory Theatre; A Christmas Carol; The holiday favorite is freshened every year with new twists, new actors. Jerry Genochio directs. Spencer Theatre. 816-235-2700 or kcrep.org.

25-27: Kansas City Symphony; Robert Levin, piano; One of the leading authorities on the Classical period, Levin performs Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3. Bernard Labadie conducts. Kauffman Center. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

J. Kent Barnhart / Photo courtesy Quality Hill Playhouse
J. Kent Barnhart / Photo courtesy Quality Hill Playhouse

25-December 24: Quality Hill Playhouse; Christmas in Song; J. Kent Barnhart is joined by leading soloists for this always-fresh holiday favorite. 816-421-1700 or qualityhillplayhouse.com.



1: Harriman-Jewell Series; Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Band Holidays; Vocalist Catherine Russell joins Wynton and the ensemble. Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

3-24: Kansas City Ballet: The Nutcracker; Devon Carney’s lavishly redesigned new production, unveiled last season, is reprised. Kauffman Center. 816-931-8993 or kcballet.org.

7: Harriman-Jewell Series: Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano, with Il Pomo d’Oro: In War and Peace: Harmony through Music; America’s favorite mezzo-soprano from Our Town joins one of the top early-music groups. Folly Theater. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

To reach Paul Horsley, performing arts editor; send an email to paul@kcindependent.com or find him on Facebook (paul.horsley.501) or Twitter (@phorsleycritic).

KC Independent web august


Paul Horsley, Performing Arts Editor 

Paul studied piano and musicology at WSU and Cornell University. He also earned a degree in journalism, because writing about the arts in order to inspire others to partake in them was always his first love. After earning a PhD from Cornell, he became Program Annotator for the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he learned firsthand the challenges that non profits face. He moved to KC to join the then-thriving Arts Desk at The Kansas City Star, but in 2008 he happily accepted a post at The Independent. Paul contributes to national publications, including Dance Magazine, Symphony, Musical America, and The New York Times, and has conducted scholarly research in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic (the latter on a Fulbright Fellowship). He also taught musicology at Cornell, LSU and Park University.



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