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Backstage And Beyond

DEATH & DESPAIR IN DES MOINES: Metro Opera continues its remarkable ascent

The best summer festivals highlight the unexpected: The juxtaposition of idyllic landscapes with the sort of high-end performances that we usually experience in urban settings sometimes permits us to view great art in fresh ways. Three hours north of Kansas City, nestled in verdant Iowa hills, stands one of America’s most delightful and distinguished opera […]

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ANYTHING GOES: Musical conventions for weddings are all over the map

At the end of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin, the source of the most famous bridal march of all, poor Elsa collapses and dies as her heroic groom (who is a Knight of the Holy Grail, after all) sails off to a higher destiny. Misogynistic much? Perhaps it’s a relief that this tune, “Here Comes the Bride,” […]

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LOVE AT FIRST PLIÉ: Dancers find love through artistry and understanding

Lilliana Hagerman and Lamin Pereira dos Santos may thrive on dancing the hyper-romantic characters of 19th-century ballets, but in real life their romance is as contemporary as it gets. They met, in fact, on Facebook Messenger: After a mutual dancer-friend “introduced” them, they spent three months getting acquainted online, through chat and Skype. And already […]

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TELL ME A STORY: Summerfest makes new friends (but always keeps the old)

Continuity and renewal are key to any arts organization that wants to stick around. Summerfest, now in its 29th season, has remained vigilant on both fronts, with a core of chamber musicians (many of them Kansas City Symphony members), a solid if at times shifting pool of additional colleagues, and a long-term view of artistic […]

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GREEN GRASS, GOLDEN JUBILEE: Theatre in the Park celebrates 50 years with big musicals

What could possibly motivate someone with a full-time job and perhaps a family and a mortgage to devote an entire month of his or her life to something that will not reap one red cent? Gene Kelly said it best in Singin’ in the Rain: “Gotta dance! … Broadway rhythm, it’s got me, everybody sing […]

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IN REVIEW: ‘Hamilton’ finally takes the stage in Kansas City (and good luck getting a ticket)

Part of the genius of Hamilton lies in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s recognition that rap and hip-hop, which have already brought enormous energy to nearly every aspect of American culture, might also cast light into some of the more obscure, moribund corners of the Broadway musical. From the very first number of this instant classic (“Alexander Hamilton”) one […]

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SHADOWS ON THE PLAIN: MTH ‘clarifies’ classic musical by paring it to basics

If you still think of Oklahoma! as a wholesome slice of Americana and cheerful life on the prairie, you might want to take another look. You don’t have to scratch hard find darker elements beneath the surface of this musical from 1943: misogyny, gun violence, bullying, anti-immigration sentiment. And although Musical Theater Heritage at Crown […]

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IN REVIEW: With a single program, the Kansas City Ballet has altered the tone of the performing arts in our community

Four women far upstage in pajama-like outfits skip in place, their limbs flying in precisely crafted, whimsical calisthenics. Downstage, a ballerina in red pointe shoes is dancing, now two ballerinas, and now with men, in a juxtaposition of classical and contemporary styles that appears all the more startling because of the ensemble’s placement in front […]

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HUMOR IN THE MIX: KC Ballet nabs world-renowned local hero for commission

David Parsons embodies the kinds of values and ideals that any Kansas City artist would do well to emulate. He is as comfortable hacking through weeds at the Leawood home of his hardy 91-year-old father, UMKC Emeritus Professor Stanley Parsons, as he is gathering accolades (with the New York-based company he founded in 1985) in […]

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