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Backstage And Beyond

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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WHAT CRISIS? Kansas City bucks national odds with ever-new, ever-fresh arts groups

If there really is a crisis in the performing arts in America, somebody forgot to send Kansas City the memo. In the past decade, our city has seen the formation of dozens of small non-profit organizations, from theater companies to chamber ensembles, dance groups to jazz orchestras, choruses to opera companies. And there’s no reason […]

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REVIEW: Visually appealing ‘Pearl Fishers’ entertains by embracing the opera’s conundrums

Contrary to popular opinion, Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers does not rely on a single beautiful duet: It has several quite lovely numbers and a few choruses that are worth your time. To be sure, taken as a whole this opera, which preceded the inimitable Carmen by 12 years, is a bit of a mess. Yet to […]

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BELIEVING IN DOG: Unicorn transforms one-man ‘short’ into full-length drama

Anyone who has owned a pet understands the ineffable bond that can form between human and animal. But what if your pet were instrumental in saving not only your life but the lives of hundreds of others, and had done so dozens of times? Perhaps only those who have served as military Search Dog Handlers […]

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