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Backstage And Beyond

IN PLAIN ENGLISH: Festival marks 30th anniversary with Shakespeare’s most vibrantly accessible play

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival started pretty much the way many Kansas City performing arts organizations have begun: Nobody really knew if it was going to get off the ground at all. Thirty years later, it is flying high. Not only is it one of the nation’s most celebrated professional outdoor theaters, it is venerated […]

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BREAKING THE FUR CEILING: ‘Animal work’ trains actors to become their whole selves

We often say that an actor on stage or screen has “leonine grace,” or eats like a ravenous wolf, or moves with reptilian stealth. What you might not realize is that “animal work” is actually a part of nearly every actor’s professional training: studying the movements, positions, and sounds of different creatures to expand one’s […]

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BACH TO THE BAYOU: Trumpeter follows famous kin into halls of greatness

Members of the Marsalis family have made such regular visits to Kansas City that listeners might not realize that one of the most famous, and most fabulously gifted, scions of this venerable family has yet to make a Kansas City solo debut. This month, the Bach Aria Soloists will present trumpet virtuoso Rodney Marsalis, the […]

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LADIES, WITH AN ARABESQUE: Local dance companies defy national odds with increased gender parity

The common perception that the dance world is controlled chiefly by men might be partly true, but the situation in Kansas City presents a noticeably different landscape. Consider this: Of the dozen works of choreography being performed this spring by the four most prominent local companies, only two are by men. And while this hardly […]

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BOYS’ CLUB NO LONGER: Women are brightening up classical music locally and globally

If music is a universal language, then why have its institutions historically been run almost entirely by men? Women account for roughly half of the audience for classical music, yet the leadership of orchestras, opera companies, presenters, and choirs has remained lopsidedly male since the birth of European polyphony in the 12th century. The good […]

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JOBS WELL DONE: Tech giant is subject of Lyric Opera’s path-forging new production

By the end of most serious operas you can be pretty sure that at least one main character will be dead. The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs needs no spoiler alert, as the title character is essentially already dead when the opera begins. Yet by the end of this 90-minute dazzler, we feel we have begun […]

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Local offerings of music, theater, and dance display evolving awareness of diversity and inclusiveness    FEBRUARY 18-27 Kansas City Ballet; Dracula; Michael Pink’s 1996 choreographic setting of Bram Stoker’s novel, with an original score by composer Philip Feeney, was a runaway hit at its local premiere in 2014, and audiences have been awaiting its return; Kauffman […]

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PULLING THE STRINGS: Local groups use puppets for youth initiatives and standard theater

Puppet theater has been around for millennia: Archaeologists have found remains to suggest that puppetry existed in ancient Egypt, Asia, and Africa some 3,000 years ago or more. It has formed an essential part of performance culture wherever theater has flourished, so it is perhaps not surprising that it has played an active role in […]

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GIRLS JUST WANNA SOLVE CRIMES: Rep presents new female-centered Holmes play

Why should boys get to have all the fun? That’s one of the questions Kate Hamill asked herself as she began to refocus the Holmes and Watson stories to view them through the lens of a woman who had always felt left out of the “buddy stories” of literature, television, and film. “As a kid, […]

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