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SOLSTICE DREAMS: Kansas City fills summer months with great music, theater, and dance

By Paul Horsley

 

JUNE

1-2 Te Deum; Sacred Banquet; Founder and Artistic Director Matthew Shepard conducts choral music of Palestrina, Arvo Pärt, and Olivier Messiaen and presents the world premiere of Composer-in-Residence Anthony Maglione’s commissioned setting of the Te Deum text, at Village Presbyterian Church (June 1st) and Visitation Catholic Church (June 2nd). Contact: te-deum.org. 

Christopher Kelts, music director of the Kinnor Philharmonic and other groups, was also recently appointed director of orchestras and assistant professor of music at the UMKC Conservatory.

2 Kinnor Philharmonic; Not Your Mother’s Mahler; Music Director Christopher Kelts presents a program of music “with a Jewish soul,” examining Mahler in the context of his Jewish heritage and culminating in a performance of the composer’s Symphony No. 1 (“Titan”); Lewis & Shirley White Theatre, Jewish Community Center. Contact: 913-327-8054 or thejkc.org.

6-23 Musical Theater Heritage; The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess; The American stage classic, which its creators called a “folk opera” in 1935, received a daring adaptation in 2011 by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre Murray, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival; Rodney Lloyd Scott directs; MTH at Crown Center. Contact: 816-221-6987 or musicaltheaterheritage.com. 

7 NewEar Contemporary Chamber Music Ensemble; Kansas City Contemporary Music Festival; The annual event, hosted by NewEar, is held this year on the First Friday of June and includes an array of newly composed works by local composers; ArtsKC Gallery. Contact: newear.org. 

11-29 Theatre for Young America; Tom Sawyer; This musical adaptation by Don Schlitz and Ken Ludwig, which stars young local talent, uses music to highlight the wit, wisdom, and exuberance of Mark Twain’s 1876 novel; H&R Block City Stage at Union Station Kansas City. Contact: 816-460-2083 or tya.org. 

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s cast for Julius Caesar will include Cinnamon Schultz, left, and Chioma Anyanwu, right, as Calpurnia; they are shown here with Jessica Andrews in the Festival’s 2022 production of Romeo and Juliet. / Photo by Brian Collins

11-30 Heart of America Shakespeare Festival; Julius Caesar; Shakespeare’s tragedy about the assassination of Western history’s most famous emperor — and its messy aftermath — notoriously bumps off the title character halfway through the play, and gives most of the action to Brutus, Cassius, Mark Antony, and the women; Sidonie Garrett directs; Southmoreland Park. Contact: 816-531-7728 or kcshakes.org. 

14-16 and 21-23 Kansas City Symphony; Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony and Stern’s Farewell; Michael Stern concludes his two decades as the Symphony’s music director with concert sets on two adjacent weekends: the first featuring features Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (June 14-16), and closing with a program of Mendelssohn, Barber, and Sibelius (June 21-23); Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Contact: 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

15-16 Heartland Men’s Chorus; Rise Up! This fierce celebration of Pride Month uses music and drama to explore the courageous activism of a few in the ongoing fight for equality — a struggle that is ongoing; Folly Theater. Contact: 816-931-3338 or hmckc.org. 

Punch Brothers are guitarist Chris Eldridge, banjoist Noam Pikelny, mandolinist Chris Thile, violinist Gabe Witcher, and bassist Paul Kowert. / Photo by Josh Goleman

18 Kauffman Center Presents; Punch Brothers; The Grammy Award-winning folk/bluegrass ensemble includes mandolinist Chris Thile, guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Paul Kowert, banjoist Noam Pikelny, and violinist Gabe Witcher; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Contact: 816-994-7222 or kauffmancenter.org.

18-August 4 Coterie Theatre; Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; This one-hour version of the musical, created especially for Theatre for Young America, mixes some of the hit songs from the film with additional music by Marc Shaiman (with lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman); Coterie Theatre, Crown Center. Contact: 816-474-6552 or thecoterie.org. 

28 Kansas City Baroque Consortium; Pearls of the Baroque: 2024 Summer Series; Kansas City’s professional early-music ensemble and its founding director, Trilla Ray-Carter, begin their summer with Music of Vivaldi, Corelli, Caldara, and Geminiani featuring countertenor Jay Carter; St. John’s United Methodist Church; the festival continues with concerts on July 19th (St. Peter’s Parish) and August 16th (Visitation Catholic Church). Contact: kcbaroque.org.

 

JULY

1 Kansas City Women’s Chorus, Heartland Men’s Chorus, Outside Voices KC, and Choral Spectrum; KC Pride Performing Arts Coalition Collaborative Concert; In anticipation of this coalition’s participation in the international GALA festival in Minneapolis, each of these four choirs performs separately and jointly; Church of the Resurrection-Brookside. Contact: kcpridealliance.org.  

Sachiko “La Chayi” Nishiuchi is known nationally for her mastery of various dance styles including that of the flamenco tradition. / Photo by Leslie Shank

3 Ensemble Ibérica; La Fuente del Flamenco; Let yourself be transported to the heart of Andalusia with guest dancer Sachiko “La Chayi” Nishiuchi, who has mastered the rhythm and soul of Flamenco; MTH Theater at Crown Center. Contact: ensembleiberica.org. 

5-September 8 New Theatre Restaurant; Disney’s Newsies; The durable Broadway classic is based on the true story of the newspaper strike of 1899 and the newsboys who stood up against the likes of media magnates William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer; New Theatre & Restaurant. Contact: 913-649-7469 or newtheatre.com. 

6-28 Summerfest; The 32nd season; Kansas City Symphony musicians and friends join forces on four July weekends to present engaging chamber music, notably this year Beethoven’s Septet Op. 20, Vaughan Williams’ Piano Quintet in C minor, and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time; Saturday evenings at White Recital Hall (except July 27th, which will be held at Leawood United Methodist Church) and Sunday afternoons at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. Contact: summerfestkc.org. 

6-28 White Theatre at the J; Disney’s The Little Mermaid; Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale and the 1989 Disney animated film, this heart-winning musical shows off the talents of Doug Wright (book), Alan Menken (music), and Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater (lyrics); Lewis & Shirley White Theatre, Jewish Community Center. Contact: 913-327-8054 or thejkc.org.

Audrey Crabtree

12-28 KC Fringe Festival; KC Fringe 20 Years; Kansas City’s annual ferment of theater, music, dance, film, and visual arts has for two decades served as a source of summer fun and at the same time an incubator for works that often make it to mainstage productions during the regular season; Audrey Crabtree is executive director, and performances are at various venues throughout the city. Contact: kcfringe.org. 

25-26 Moving Arts; Moving Arts 2024: Kansas City; The annual festival originally founded by former Kansas City Ballet members has grown into a nationally celebrated phenomenon; Folly Theater. Contact: movingartsco.org. 

23-August 4 Broadway in KC: Moulin Rouge! The Musical; Baz Luhrmann’s revolutionary film takes on a new life onstage, and the result (which won 10 Tony Awards) is a fresh mix with music by Justin Levine, a book by John Logan, and choreography by Sonya Tayeh; Municipal Auditorium Music Hall. Contact: americantheatreguild.com/kansascity. 

The Miami String Quartet is Benny Kim, violin; Cathy Meng Robinson, violin; Keith Robinson, cello; and Scott Lee, viola. / Photo by Tara McMullen

26-August 3 Heartland Chamber Music Festival; HCM Festival 2024; Kansas’ answer to pricey summer festivals is a prestigious but affordable local training program; it includes public performances by students and faculty members and a guest concert by the Miami String Quartet, this year’s resident quartet; Yardley Hall, Midwest Trust Center. Contact: heartlandchambermusic.org. 

26-August 3 Theatre in the Park; Sister Act; Based on the hit film and featuring music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater, this audience favorite shows Sister Deloris bringing new life to her convent community while in protective custody; Shawnee Mission Park Amphitheatre. Contact: theatreinthepark.org. 

 

AUGUST

2 and 4 KC VITAs; Now That’s What I Call VITAs: A Celebration of 10 Seasons; This smart choir and its founding director, Jackson C. Thomas, mark their anniversary with a program of new works and some of the better commissioned works from the ensemble’s decade-long history; Community Christian Church. Contact: kcvitas.org. 

5-23 Spinning Three Theatre: Young Playwrights Lab; The fourth annual event presents new works by gifted authors, ages 15 to 18, one of which will be chosen for a production in early 2025; Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center. Contact: spinningtreetheatre.com. 

6-11 AdventHealth Broadway Series/Starlight Theatre; Come from Away; The Tony Award-nominated musical by Irene Sankoff and David Hein takes a close look at acts of real-life kindness in the wake of 9/11, as 7,000 stranded airline passengers found distress, then comfort, in a small Newfoundland town; Starlight Theatre. Contact: 816-363-7827 or kcstarlight.com. 

Lynn King

7-25 Kansas City Actors Theatre; Trouble in Mind; Alice Childress’ pioneering 1955 play about a Black actress trying to navigate racist caricatures and dialogue as she prepares for a new play; Lynn King stars in this gem of American theater, which was revived on Broadway in 2021 and is co-directed here by KCAT company members Teisha Bankston and Darren Sextro; H&R Block City Stage at Union Station Kansas City; kcactors.org. 

9-18 The Barn Players; Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville; The jukebox musical, with a book by Gregg Garcia and Mike O’Malley fashioned from Buffett’s songs, opened on Broadway in 2018 and gained greater poignance in the wake of the singer-songwriter’s death in 2023; Kipp Simmons directs here; Black Box Theatre, Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center. Contact: 913-432-9100 or thebarnplayers.org.

10-11 Owen/Cox Dance Group; Creative Intersections; Come and see the Owen/Cox company members perform outdoors in the splendor of the Pilgrim Labyrinth & Butterfly Garden in Hyde Park. Contact: pilgrimcenterkc.org. 

Matthias Pintscher becomes the Kansas City Symphony’s fifth music director this fall. / Photo by Franck Ferville

21 Kansas City Symphony; European Tour Send-Off Concert; Music Director-Designate Matthias Pintscher and pianist Conrad Tao present music of Ives, Copland, and Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue) that the Symphony will be taking to Berlin, Amsterdam, and Hamburg the following week; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Contact: 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org. 

25 Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; Twelftb French Organ Music Festival; The annual event, curated by Director of Music and Organist Mario Pearson, highlights the Cathedral’s Ruffati Pipe Organ; Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Contact: kcgolddome.org. 

25 William Baker Festival Summer Singers; Ernest Bloch’s Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service); This ambitious musical setting of the Jewish worship service receives a rare local performance courtesy of one of Kansas City’s favorite choral ensembles, directed by Baker himself; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Contact: festivalsingers.org. 

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

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