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Backstage And Beyond

NAME-CALLING AS ART FORM: HASF presents comedy of strong women, quirky men

It’s such common fodder for literature, stage and screen that it’s become almost cliché: two people who spend so much time exchanging verbal barbs that eventually their cohorts have to step in and help them realize they’re “made for each other.” From Pride and Prejudice to Bridget Jones’s Diary (not to mention Leia and Han, or […]

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LIBERTY & MUSIC FOR ALL: Choral ensembles stand up for tolerance, justice, artistry

It’s largely by coincidence that the Kansas City Women’s Chorus and the Heartland Men’s Chorus have scheduled their Summer Concerts on adjacent weekends. But it’s win-win for Kansas Citians who care about the intersection of music and social justice: Each of these programs addresses broader issues that can often only be expressed through music. On […]

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IN REVIEW: Lyric sings lovely Barber, splashing color and silliness into the mix

Is opera music, or is it theater? That the best answer to that question is “yes” is part of what makes this art form so intriguing: The struggle over whether “la musica” or “la parola” (the word) should prevail in opera has raged since its inception around 1600. As I watched the Lyric Opera’s production […]

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LOVE STORY AS SOCIAL CRITIQUE: KC Actors Theatre presents starkly relevant classic

Theater about economic disparities will always be current. From the master-servant dynamics of Shakespeare’s plays to close-to-the-bone American tales such as Death of a Salesman or even Stephen Karam’s recent The Humans, most of us can relate to plays in which the struggle to survive forms the very core of the drama. When Darren Sextro […]

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IN REVIEW: KC Rep produces fine ‘Sweeney,’ but is it time to discuss the ‘Sondheim problem’?

If you like Stephen Sondheim’s musicals, chances are you’ll enjoy the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s finely outfitted production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which runs through April 15th at Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus. Rep Artistic Director Eric Rosen, who directed the show, has a keen intuitive sense for staging […]

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CHORAL COMMITMENT: Festival Singers of KC marks 20 years of great music

In many ways it seemed inevitable that William Baker should become a choral director. Early in life two of the main strands of his existence, faith and music, began to merge through a series of unexpected events. When he was in his middle teens, a wise pastor coaxed the young Atlanta native back to the […]

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BOLD STEPS: Ballet celebrates 60 years by challenging itself to new heights

The Kansas City Ballet is about to embark on an artistic voyage as challenging as any it has navigated. As part of its 60th anniversary “Diamond Jubilee” season it will present six big, demanding works of contemporary ballet, all brand-new to the company and all to be performed within a two-weekend period at the Kauffman […]

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BOTH ART AND CRAFT: Lyric Opera to show off new Resident Artists in ‘American Voices’ program

People seldom become opera singers willy-nilly. It’s a step-by-step process not unlike the acquisition of any other professional skill. It’s also an art-form, and thus success can be more elusive. But these days there’s a fairly fixed course of action for a career on the opera stage, and at the center of this process is […]

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IN REVIEW: Lyric stages workaday ‘Rigoletto’

That Rigoletto is regarded as one of Verdi’s most beloved operas might seem surprising considering what an ugly story it recounts. First performed in 1851 but based on a tawdry Victor Hugo play from 1832 (which was banned from the French stage for half a century), it tells of a mean-spirited jester who serves in […]

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