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Backstage And Beyond

SEND THE VERY BEST: Lyric to make history with fresh version of holiday classic

NOTE: Since the publication of this article, the Lyric Opera has announced that, in light of new Covid-19 restrictions, live performances of ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ cannot take place. However, the Lyric is filming the production, using the originally announced cast, puppeteers, and set designs. Beginning December 15th the company will offer a high-quality video […]

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BEING FRANK: Sky’s the limit for Kansas City-born actor

Frank Oakley III’s advice for aspiring actors is something we could all take to heart: Your value is not in your work, but in who you are. “Don’t put your identity and self-worth in the things that you do, even if you’re good at them,” said the graduate of Wyandotte High School and UMKC Theatre, […]

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MIRACLE ON THE MUDDY: Kansas City surprises nation with bold new venture

Suddenly, classical radio is back. Almost exactly 20 years after its disappearance from the FM dial, the music that Kansas City is becoming known for worldwide has made its way onto local airwaves again. On June 30th, 91.9 Classical KC went live, broadcasting 24 hours a day with a refreshing breadth of programming and with […]

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MAKING LEMONADE WITHOUT LEMONS: Despite challenges, arts groups have plenty to offer this fall

Artists have always delighted in playing notes that are not in the scale, or painting outside the lines, or staging plays is odd places. After a few weeks of hand-wringing, Kansas City’s performing-arts leaders dug in and created a fall season the likes of which we have never seen. Audiences will have access to a […]

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SING, DANCE, REJOICE: Choir with ambitious goals celebrates 25 years of success

Choirs always seem to bring joy into a room. And if the singers are feeling it, chances are it will spread to the listeners. “You dispel any myths or any idiosyncrasies about the other person,” said Ah’Lee Robinson, speaking of the communal experience of choral performance, where personal differences drop away. “I just want my […]

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CANE MUTINY: Symphony principal shows the saner side of being an oboist

When oboist Kristina Fulton spends hundreds of hours carving Mediterranean cane into paper-thin strips of reed, she has a single purpose in mind: to produce the most gorgeous sound possible. “I’ve always loved listening to opera singers, or even amazing jazz greats, Ella Fitzgerald or Nina Simone,” said the San Diego native, who has held […]

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GET ON YOUR FEET: A top-notch live band can make your reception into the party of a lifetime

Strategy, creativity, and a playbook drawn from years of observation: The success of a wedding band is more akin to Andy Reid’s playbook than you might think. A band throws out songs the way Andy tries crazy plays early in a game, just to gauge responses, adjusting the game-plan as he goes. A band ensures […]

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LOVE IS A MADNESS: Actors find Kansas City ideal for career and for ‘happily ever after’

Life doesn’t always imitate art, but it usually imitates Shakespeare. When Hillary Clemens and Matt Schwader first met in 2010 in Wisconsin, performing Rosalind and Orlando in the American Players Theatre’s As You Like It, they could hardly have known it would be the first of many such collaborations. “We got along really well, and […]

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AT A CROSSROADS: Conservatory finds ideal leader by following one simple rule

When Diane Helfers Petrella was charged with running the UMKC Conservatory, first as interim dean and then, in 2018, as full-time dean, she was so busy juggling the half-dozen crises facing the school that she barely noticed what was, for the public at least, the most newsworthy aspect of the appointment: She was the first […]

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A SECRET NO LONGER: International fame is shining light on sleepy Parkville

When you’re selling a somewhat offbeat product, sometimes the biggest challenge is explaining to people what it is and why they need it. When it comes to marketing, publicity, and fundraising for Park University’s International Center for Music, one obstacle to spreading awareness about it locally has been its uniqueness: There’s nothing quite like it, […]

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BUCKLE UP: After COVID-19’s bumpy stretch, Kansas City is in for the ride of a lifetime

The continued health of the arts in Kansas City has long been uppermost in our collective consciousness, and for months COVID-19 has kept us all preoccupied. Meanwhile, what is perhaps the most significant decision of the decade for our cultural future is already underway. Yet it has almost escaped notice. During the past 20 years […]

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FROM OUR TOWN TO YOURS: Kansas City Musicians Continue To Change The World

Ask anyone from Paris, London, or New York what they know of Kansas City music and they’re likely to mention jazz. But those of us who live here know that our contributions cover a range of genres, from pop to Country, Broadway to choral music, classical to hip-hop. “Kansas City has, throughout its history, has […]

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ART IN TIME OF CRISIS: Kansas Citians suggest balsam for wounded souls

The arts do more than console: They engage, stimulate, inspire. We asked a number of local performers, arts leaders, and community vanguards what energizes them during times of crisis. Specifically: “What album, song, artist, performance, or other work should we listen to or watch right now, and how has it given you solace and motivation?” […]

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COUNT THE WAYS: Six things you can do right now to support local arts groups (in the comfort of your own ‘quarantine’)

Nearly every day, arts-loving Kansas Citians receive notice that yet another performance has been canceled. As the Covid-19 virus has forced theaters and concert halls to go dark for the rest of the 2019-2020 season, we now begin to fear that even fall concerts are in question. Yes, these are unprecedented times in our history, […]

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PAWS IN THE ACTION: Pets both real and invented make their way onto local stages

If we could ever train animals to follow blocking and precise stage directions night after night, they might actually take over theater as we know it. Because nothing captures an audience’s attention the way a live animal does. Directors place animals onstage at their own peril, in fact: Once a dog or cat enters (or […]

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BALANCING ACT: Performing-arts groups battle daily to thrive and grow

Raising funds for the performing arts calls upon a whole toolkit of skills. You must come prepared not just with studies showing the benefits of arts to the community and to the minds of young people, but also with convincing evidence that society functions best when commerce, sports, and arts exist together in symbiosis. Most […]

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SHINE ON: Lyric Opera presents groundbreaking Stephen King opera

Note: Lyric Opera of Kansas City was compelled to cancel the final production of its season, an operatic treatment of Stephen King’s The Shining, because of the Covid-19 crisis. No further news has been announced as to a rescheduling, but please note that subscriptions for the 2020-2021 season (see below) are now on sale. In […]

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CAGED BIRDS: Tale of family conflict continues to reveal shared values

Note: Spinning Tree Theatre had to close its season early due to the COVID-19 crisis, and thus canceled its season-finale production of La Cage aux Folles. The 2020-2021 season (listed below) had already been programmed and licensed by this time. There is a possibility, however, that La Cage could appear “in a future season or as […]

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ODE TO JOY, PEACE, UNITY: Kansas City marks Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a fresh take

For some classical musicians and fans, celebrating Beethoven is a bit like celebrating air: It’s pretty much all around us, all the time. This year, as the world marks the 250th birthday of the most widely admired composer in Western history, many are seeking new perspectives on a man who has long been depicted as […]

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MUSICAL ALCHEMIST: Kansas City-based composer creates magic from diverse elements

Ed Frazier Davis has the Latin word “SOLVE” tattooed on the inside of his right arm, “COAGULA” on the left. “To take apart and to put back together,” said the 30-year-old composer, describing what has been called the Alchemist’s Motto: dissolve and re-coagulate. “Which is what we do as artists: We take the elements, and […]

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THE NEXT STAGE: Ballet hires major talent to lead Second Company

One of the harshest moments in a dancer’s life is the moment when he or she realizes the spirit is more willing than the body. “It took me about four years to retire,” said Christopher Ruud recently, with a laugh. “I could still do it at 42, but it was past time for me to […]

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