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Backstage And Beyond

WOLF IN MASCOT’S CLOTHING: Symphony’s education programs reach thousands in KC each year

An orchestra is more like a sports team than you might imagine. If a lone violinist starts a piece two beats before everybody else, you’re bound for disaster. If an athlete grandstands to the detriment of a team effort, defeat lurks. These simple truths form one of the premises of the Kansas City Symphony’s upcoming […]

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FOUR GO FORTH: Kansas City’s new resident quartet aims high

Determination is usually the main factor that decides whether or not a new arts group will thrive. That’s why there’s good reason to believe that Opus 76, Kansas City’s new “resident string quartet,” is on course to blaze a trail as the most significant local professional quartet in recent memory. Now in its first season, […]

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RUSSIAN SOULS, AMERICAN ACCENTS: Symphony to feature homegrown violinist in all-Russian program

Maria Ioudenitch has spent most of her 23 years in Overland Park and, more recently, in Philadelphia and Boston, but she feels her artistic soul is Russian to the core. And, in fact, the aspiring violin virtuoso, who performs the Glazunov Concerto with the Kansas City Symphony from January 11th through the 13th, was born […]

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BUT HOW DID SHE FEEL? Joyce and Yannick are breaking all the rules for Harriman-Jewell

Great artists are frequently blessed with the most inquisitive of minds. For two decades, Prairie Village native Joyce DiDonato has established herself not only as one of the great singers of our time but also as an artist constantly exploring fresh repertoire, innovative formats, and artistic landscapes where operatic mezzo-sopranos have dared not tread. On […]

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LEAN ON ME: Maverick company presents fresh take on ‘holiday spirit’

One late night a few years back, as playwright Harvey Williams was leaving the Just Off Broadway Theatre where his KC MeltingPot Theatre is based, he noticed the familiar flicker of “campfires” in the Penn Valley woods. A handful of Kansas City’s homeless were nestled up there, trying to stave off winter’s chill, as far […]

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TOP OF HER GAME: At 90, Kansas-born superstar still finding new fans

One of the great things about living long is that sometimes you get to see trends you thought were lost forever make surprising comebacks. Marilyn Maye, the Wichita native who got her start some 70 years ago performing what we now call the “American Songbook” (a genre that was pushed aside for a number of […]

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FINDING HOME: MET mounts American epic by Texas original

There is nothing flashy about Horton Foote’s language. He writes the way people talk. Yet his plays and screenplays have the power to move strong men and women to tears. Small wonder he has won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama (for The Young Man from Atlanta), two Best Screenplay Oscars (for To Kill a Mockingbird and […]

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IN REVIEW: Choreographed version of Oz story bursts with visuals, stagecraft

It’s amazing, really, that in the dazzle of costumes, projections, puppetry, lighting and even a mechanical Toto, Septime Webre’s new The Wizard of Oz still managed to remain a ballet. The Cuban-American dance maker, who recently left a longtime post at Washington Ballet to take a position at Hong Kong Ballet, is a gifted choreographer, […]

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BRICK BY YELLOW BRICK: KC Ballet and renowned choreographic storyteller build brand-new ‘Wizard’

When Septime Webre set about to create a ballet of The Wizard of Oz, he recognized the challenge facing anyone who adapts L. Frank Baum’s story: Audiences come with certain expectations. The key, as he and his designers had to confront right off the bat, is to satisfy those desires and to push us to a […]

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IN REVIEW: The Coterie’s scintillating new MLK play is a must-see

What strikes you first about Kevin Willmott’s Becoming Martin, which the Coterie Theatre commissioned it for its 40th anniversary, is the sharp craftsmanship and concise economy of its language. The play’s portrait of the teenaged Martin Luther King, Jr. uses dialogue that sounds so natural that you can easily believe that, although this is technically […]

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IN REVIEW: Lyric’s ‘West Side Story’ shines light on the show’s real star

West Side Story remains a bit of a conundrum. More than 60 years after its first appearance, it continues to fascinate for its mixture of conventional musical theater with ballet, witty lyrics on a Gilbert-and-Sullivan level, and a healthy dose of “opera.” Francesca Zambello’s high-end production, which opened at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City on […]

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FORMULATING THE DREAM: Coterie marks 40th anniversary with new play by prominent KU author

If there was one thing that 15-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., knew for certain when he enrolled at Atlanta’s Morehouse College in 1944, it was that he did not want to become a minister like his father. As headstrong as he was precocious, the eager teenager felt that life as a church pastor could never […]

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LYRIC OPERA STEPS OUT: Landmark of American musical theater pricks our collective conscience more than ever

It’s hard to imagine a more apt time to be reviving West Side Story. For not only does 2018 mark the birth-centenaries of composer Leonard Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins, whose contributions to this revolutionary work helped redefine American musical theater, but the themes of this path-forging “choreographed musical” are as relevant today as they were […]

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SPREADING OUR WINGS: ‘Open Spaces’ charts international course for KC arts

If you haven’t heard of Open Spaces yet, chances are you’ll be getting an earful in the coming weeks. This sprawling, nine-week celebration of the visual and performing arts, which runs from August 25th to October 28th, will be dominating the city’s cultural scene this Fall with dozens of exhibits around Town (showing the work of […]

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NEW WIGS ON OLD MUSIC: Local Baroque ensemble explores Versailles’ fresh excesses

At least once a year, some enterprising Kansas Citian comes up with an idea for an arts organization that has us slapping our foreheads saying, Why didn’t we think of that? Our Town has certainly seen no shortage of visiting early-music groups (thanks to the efforts of several well-established arts presenters), and smaller groups have […]

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HEY, LET’S PUT ON A SHOW: KCDF is fulfilling early promise, and then some

When Anthony Krutzkamp and Logan Pachciarz welcomed the audience to the Kansas City Dance Festival’s inaugural performance in June 2013, some doubted that such an endeavor could thrive in KC’s previously uneventful summer months. But these two former Kansas City Ballet dancers made it crystal-clear that KCDF was here to stay. “In our first curtain […]

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MYTH AS MUSICAL: Re-envisioned Persephone story embodies Fringe Festival’s adventurous spirit

When stories linger in our collective imagination for thousands of years, told and retold in ever-evolving versions, it’s generally because they’ve touched a nerve. In theater, tales from myth and historical antiquity continue to crop up largely because writers find they contain ever-current truths about the human condition. From Jean Anouilh’s Antigone to Cole Porter’s […]

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PIPES ALL AROUND: International musicians to descend on KC

If you think you’re up-to-date about music in Kansas City but have ignored the world of the pipe organ, you aren’t really seeing the whole picture. Our city now boasts three of the most prominent pipe organs in the country (those at the Community of Christ Auditorium and Temple in Independence, and the new Casavant […]

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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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