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JOLLY HOLIDAY, AND MERRY: A season for music, dance and theater

By Paul Horsley

Beginning in just a few days, Kansas City will be offering holiday programs of all sorts, so no sitting around the house with year-end blues! Get on your feet, get up and make it happen, as Gloria Estefan might say! Here are a few of the more notable choices.

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NOVEMBER

18-December 24: Kansas City Repertory Theatre; A Christmas Carol; Remarkable staging, clever set designs and fresh casting keep this holiday classic alive year after year. Spencer Theatre. 816-235-2700 or kcrep.org.

25-December 24: Quality Hill Playhouse; Christmas in Song; This holiday favorite (for 17 years!) deftly combines sacred and secular in a cabaret of witty and at times serious fun. 816-421-1700 or qualityhillplayhouse.com.

25-December 11: Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre; It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play; Kudos to the MET for designing an all-new holiday tradition, bringing to life the beloved Frank Capra film in the form of a vintage radio play ca. 1945. 816-569-3226 or metkc.org.

Wynton Marsalis / Rob Waymen Photography
Wynton Marsalis / Rob Waymen Photography

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DECEMBER

1: Harriman-Jewell Series; Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Band Holidays; A living legend blows the roof off this holiday show, with vocalist Catherine Russell. Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland. ALSO: December 15: WindSync: Simple Gifts, A Holiday Sampler; The talented young artists of this “brave new wind quintet” will perform carols, folk tunes and selections from The Nutcracker. Free Discovery Concert. Folly Theater. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

1 & 4: Kansas City Symphony; Messiah; Guest conductor Laurence Cummings joins the KC Symphony Chorus, the Independence Messiah Choir and top-drawer soloists for a world-class version of Handel’s masterpiece. Helzberg Hall. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

Stile Antico / Photo by Marco Borggreve
Stile Antico / Photo by Marco Borggreve

2: Friends of Chamber Music; Stile Antico: A Wonderous Mystery: Flemish and German Carols. One of the world’s great early-music ensembles performs in one of the most gorgeous churches in the Midwest. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. 816-561-9999 or chambermusic.org. ALSO: Pre-concert performance by Te Deum Chamber Choir. Same venue, beginning an hour earlier. info@te-deum.org.

2-4: Mesner Puppets; The Nativity; Each year more than 40 puppeteers gather for this moving, lavish holiday display, in which larger-than-life puppets recount the Nativity story. Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral. 816-235-6222 or mesnerpuppets.org. ALSO: December 12-23: Songs of the Season; Mesner Puppets guide you through songs of Christmas, Hanukkah and more. Mesner Studio, 1006 Linwood Blvd. 816-235-6222 or mesnerpuppets.org.

3: Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College; Ten Tenors, Home for the Holidays. How to describe the Australian musical sensation? Take Luciano, Plácido and José then multiply them by 3.33. Yardley Hall. 913-469-4445 or jccc.edu.

3-4: Spire Chamber Ensemble; Christmas with Spire; An uninterrupted flow of holiday music, from chant to carols, Brahms to Britten, featuring a world premiere by Artistic Director Ben A. Spalding. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (12-3) and Village Presbyterian Church (12-4). ALSO: December 23: Handel’s Messiah; The voices of Spire Chamber Ensemble are joined by Spire Baroque Orchestra. Kauffman Center. 816-944-0360 or spirechamberensemble.org.

3-4, 10: Heartland Men’s Chorus; Kansas City Christmas;  This year’s “traditional, non-traditional” holiday concert features a new arrangement for male choir and brass of John Rutter’s Gloria, plus fun and sizzle. Folly Theater (12-3 and 12-4) and Yardley Hall (12-10). 816-931-3338 or hmckc.org.

The Kansas City Ballet's new 'Nutcracker' / Photo by Rosalie O'Connor
The Kansas City Ballet’s new ‘Nutcracker’ / Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

3-24: Kansas City Ballet; The Nutcracker; Devon Carney’s lavish new version, introduced last year and featuring new sets and costumes by Alain Vaës and Holly Hynes, is bringing the classic to a new generation of Kansas City audiences. Kauffman Center. 816-471-8993 or kcballet.org.

4: Musica Sacra; Christmas Concert; Featuring a Magnificat by the 17th-century Italian abbess and composer Isabella Leonarda. Arrupe Hall Auditorium, Rockhurst University. 816-235-6222 or rockhurst.edu.

6: Kansas City Chamber Orchestra; A Very English Christmas; Music by candlelight, with Bruce Sorrell leading top Kansas City instrumentalists and the excellent singers of Musica Vocale, for a performance of Finzi’s In Terra Pax and other works. Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral. 816-235-6222 or kcchamberorchestra.org.

7: Harriman-Jewell Series: Joyce DiDonato and Il Pomo d’Oro: In War and Peace, Harmony through Music; One of the great singers of our time joins one of the world’s top early-music ensembles for a program of Baroque and newer works addressing the issues of war: literal or figurative, physical or emotional. Folly Theater. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

8-24: Kansas City Repertory Theatre; The Santaland Diaries; David Sedaris’ one-man show presents a department-store elf recounting cynical but strangely heartwarming holiday experiences. Copaken Stage. 816-235-2700 or kcrep.org.

9, 11 & 13: Kansas City Chorale; Hello, Holidays! One of the great choirs of America sings traditional and contemporary carols. Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church (12-9), The 1900 Building (12-11) and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (12-13). ALSO: December 10: A Chorale Family Christmas, featuring the Chorale and choirs from KC-area schools. St. Michael the Archangel Church. 816-235-6222 or kcchorale.org.

9-23: Musical Theater Heritage; A Spectacular Christmas Show; The annual presentation features music, stories, and a visit from That Guy in Red. Crown Center. 816-221-6987 or musicaltheaterheritage.com.

10-11: Owen/Cox Dance Group; The Nutcracker and the Mouse King; The raucous “ballet alternative” features top-rank dancers and musicians playing just enough Tchaikovsky to get them into hilarious trouble. Polsky Theatre, Johnson County Community College. 913-469-4445 or owencoxdance.org.

Jim Brickman
Jim Brickman

9: Kansas City Symphony; Jim Brickman with the Kansas City Symphony; The award-winning pianist joins the band for holiday favorites and some new tunes as well. ALSO: December 15-20: Christmas Festival (with KCS Assistant Conductor Jason Seber); AND: December 21-22: Screenland at the Symphony: Home Alone; View the classic film while listening to John Williams’ virtuosic, at times strangely haunting score performed live. All are at Helzberg Hall. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

17-18: Kansas City Women’s Chorus; We, Angels and Mortals … Seeking Peace; This adventurous choir presents a program of wide variety including a newly commissioned work by Anthony Maglione, set to texts of Maya Angelou. Rose Theatre, Rockhurst High School. 816-822-2344 or kcwomenschorus.org.

17-18: Kantorei KC; Heaven’s Gate; This excellent local choir presents a blend of holiday fare with serious choral music, including Josquin’s magnificent Missa Ave Maris Stella. Chris Munce directs. Westport Presbyterian Church (12-17) and Visitation Catholic Church (12-18). kantoreikc.org.

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At top: KC Rep’s A Christmas Carol / Photo by Don Ipock

To reach Paul Horsley, performing arts editor, send an email to paul@kcindependent.com or find him on Facebook (paul.horsley.501) or Twitter (@phorsleycritic).

 

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