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Backstage And Beyond

NO HAREM APPARENT: Lyric production brings out musical treasures in zany Rossini comedy

By Paul Horsley The Italian Girl in Algiers contains as much delightful music as about any Rossini opera you could name, and though it is hardly a rarity worldwide it had, up to now, been produced only twice by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, most recently in 1998. The production that opened November 8th […]

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PRESCIENCE AND POETRY: Harriman series celebrates golden anniversary with returning pianist

By Paul Horsley Just as Kansas Citians often think of themselves as residing at a geographic and a spiritual center-point of the United States, Macedonians characterize their nation as occupying a special place at the heart of Europe. So it’s especially apt that in 2004 the late Richard Harriman, whose mind was always working several […]

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WONDERING ABOUT ‘ALICE’: KC Ballet’s production is colorful, entertaining, and just plain strange

By Paul Horsley There are many reasons to make a ballet: One is to entertain. Some of our “serious” choreographers forget this at times, and the results are often overly abstract works that leave us saying, “Well, that was pretty, but what was it?” Septime Webre’s Alice (in wonderland) functions at the other end of […]

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IT’S ABOUT THE ART: KC Friends of Alvin Ailey, celebrating 30 years of community-building, presents the full AAADT in schools and at the Kauffman Center

By Paul Horsley The staggering 30-year success of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey has been built on community-based projects, educational initiatives for children and annual visits of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and its youthful Ailey II. But at the heart of that success is something that Tyrone Aiken, the Friends’ executive […]

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PASSION WITH A FLICKER OF FIRE: Lyric brings attractive production, fresh voices, to Verdi classic

By Paul Horsley The challenge of Verdi’s La traviata is to present plausible characters and convincing emotional heat within the context of a famously, perhaps notoriously, contrived story line. This is a tall order even for the greatest opera companies, which have tended to rely on fabulous singing, high production values and Verdi’s durable if […]

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WACKY WONDERLAND: KC Ballet opens season with an explosion of color, design and dance

By Paul Horsley The beauty of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in its original literary version by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and in its many retellings through the last century and a half, is that it actually tells two stories at once. The first is that of a very curious little girl who through a series […]

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FALLING HARD: Lyric’s production of Verdi staple features stellar cast, lush production

By Paul Horsley If you read Francesco Piave’s libretto for Verdi’s La traviata carefully, one startling notion jumps out at you: Violetta Valéry, the “courtesan” of the title role, whose profession is to entertain wealthy gentlemen in whatever fashion they desire, has despite all her savvy fallen in love for the first time. It’s something […]

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NO LETTING UP: After passing 40-year mark, Unicorn forges ahead with all pistons firing

By Paul Horsley [NOTE: For a full transcript of our interview with Cynthia, check back here next week at kcindependent.com.] When Cynthia Levin took the reins of the Unicorn Theatre in 1979, she had a specific vision: To produce plays that no one else was doing at the time, and to cultivate local talent to […]

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MUSIC THAT UNITES WHERE DOCTRINE CAN’T: Local Cathedrals see eye-to-eye on concert series

By Paul Horsley Episcopalians and Roman Catholics have had their differences over the centuries, conflicts that have at times engulfed their musical establishments as well, but locally the month of August has long been an “era of good feelings” between the two downtown Cathedrals, thanks to a concert series that is held alternately in both […]

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SING YE OF SOLIDITY: Chorale’s new season continues on a road toward fiscal and artistic success

By Paul Horsley With several Grammy Awards to their name and an international reputation to uphold, Charles Bruffy and the 24-voice Kansas City Chorale certainly count as one of our city’s great success stories. The 2014-2015 season that begins this October will see an appearance by the international jazz and R&B singer Patti Austin; a […]

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CAN’T SCHMAN’T: Actor-comedian recounts his own obstacles and triumphs in Fringe Fest show

UPDATE: One more show added to Malcolm Grissom’s run, at 8 p.m. Saturday August 26th. By Paul Horsley Since its beginnings in 2004 the KC Fringe Festival, which continues to grow like Topsy each year, has prided itself on an incredibly wide range of offerings: from theater to dance, comedy to puppetry, burlesque to world […]

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THE MUSIC’S THE THING: Shakespeare Festival incorporates live music, to brilliant effect

By Paul Horsley Live music was an essential part of period performances of Shakespeare’s plays, but not until this year has it become central to the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s free annual performances in Southmoreland Park. Their presentation of the rare The Winter’s Tale, which runs through July the 6th, incorporates three live musicians […]

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MEET AND GREET: Passion for friendly classical environment drives summer chamber season

By Paul Horsley Summers are increasingly busy times for music, theater and dance in Kansas City, but for nearly a quarter-century Summerfest has presented the most substantial summer offerings in classical music, by a long shot. It thrives for two main reasons: (1) top-drawer musicians, many from the Kansas City Symphony, who offer the best […]

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MADE GLORIOUS SUMMER: KC performing arts groups vying for ever-growing summer audiences

By Paul Horsley Kansas City was once a sleepy place culturally during the summer, with a few notable exceptions. As the regular season began to overflow with events, that situation changed: KC Symphony members started playing chamber music, enterprising KC Ballet dancers began mini-festivals, the Fringe Festival took off, and theater companies began to offer […]

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HERE TO STAY: Quality Hill Playhouse offers generous array of Gershwin’s amazing talents

By Paul Horsley Sometimes it’s the things that accidental geniuses do “on the side,” to pay the bills, that we most remember them for. George Gershwin, like many gifted American composers of the early 20th century, desperately wanted to be remembered for his achievements in “serious” classical music, but he had a gift for tossing […]

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UNDER PRESSURE NO MORE (FOR NOW): Dance group founded by Kansan makes KC part of its final tour

By Paul Horsley The Harriman-Jewell Series has been responsible for several great artistic experiences during the current season, even in advance of its glittering 50th anniversary next year. We’ve already reported on the fascinating performances by Pinchas Zukerman with the Royal Philharmonic and by violinist Gil Shaham. Another program we’ll remember wistfully for some time to […]

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DANCE TO THE MUSIC: KC Ballet’s Cinderella highlights fine dancing and a deathless musical score

By Paul Horsley The opening of Act I of Victoria Morgan’s Cinderella, which the Kansas City Ballet performs through May 18th, depicts a drab, oddly ambiguous scene that conveys the title character’s “before” life. Stage right is what appears to be a row of dingy shops, almost crooked enough to suggest the sets of The […]

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CHEERIO, NOT GOOD-BYE: Wichita native shifts focus of world-renowned dance/art collective

By Paul Horsley When Trey McIntyre announced last year that he was all but disbanding his Boise-based dance troupe, which had been hailed as one of the most inventive American companies of the last quarter-century, the news caused considerable ripples in the dance world. Granted, the 10-member company was only one component of the Wichita […]

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BATS IN THE BELFRY: Lyric’s Fledermaus offers fine singing, excellent scenic design, firm direction

By Paul Horsley Die Fledermaus is a surprisingly difficult opera to bring to the stage, deceptively simple on the surface yet filled with comic subtleties and a sort of effortless graciousness that has to be “just right.” The Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s new English-language production that opened April 26th, directed by Tomer Zvulun in […]

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IF THE SLIPPER FITS: Ballet’s ‘Cinderella’ also features local premiere of essential Prokofiev score

By Paul Horsley Yes, the Kansas City Ballet will be mustering enormous forces for its production of Victoria Morgan’s magnificent Cinderella that opens here May 9th, with the 28-member company, the six apprentices of KCB II and some 90 children from the Ballet School. But at the center of this maelstrom is something audiences might […]

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TOMER AT THE BAT: Lyric Opera’s ‘Fledermaus’ director talks about opera, comedy and a life in the theater

By Paul Horsley We tend to think of Die Fledermaus as a champagne-soaked romp filled with catchy tunes and the infectious dances for which Johann Strauss, Jr., is known. But the piece has a darker side. Dr. Falke is miffed, mightily miffed, at his friend Eisenstein for leaving him drunk on the public square—dressed in […]

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