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FALL OF 2012: Top Picks In Music, Dance & Theatre

After one of the most gruelingly hot summers in Kansas City history, Our Town gets a fabulously hot autumn – culturally speaking, that is – with a sizzling selection of musical artists, dancers, visiting celebrities, vibrant drama, and raucous comedies available for your pleasure. Below are our highly opinionated suggestions of choices for the fall season. Enjoy!

 
August 9-26: Musical Theater Heritage presents its version – fast-paced, streamlined, without sets or costumes – of the crowd-pleasing The Music Man.  Tim Noland plays the title role with a 32-member cast at the Off-Center Theatre in Crown Center.

August 18: A beloved Broadway icon, the effervescent Bernadette Peters, returns to Kansas City along with her longtime musical director, Marvin Laird, who was born and raised in Our Town.  Both are making their musical debut at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

August 29-November 4: Television’s most endearing genie, Barbara Eden, celebrates her six decades as a performer by getting Social Security, the vibrant Andrew Bergman comedy, not the checks. The show, at New Theatre Restaurant, also features popular local performers Cathy Barnett, David Fritts, Craig Benton, and Cheryl Weaver.

August 31-September-14:  Kansas City Actors Theater goes into the mystery business with Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit, The Mousetrap, from August 4-26 at the H&R Block City Stage and then tackles a parody of the genre, The Real Inspector Hound, Tom Stoppard’s ingenious and witty one-act play from August 31st through September 14th.

September 5-30: A play with a title that can’t be repeated in polite company, The Motherfu**er with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis, was a Tony Award nominee in 2011. It kicks off the Unicorn Theatre’s new season in September, directed by Kansas City Shakespeare Festival’s artistic director Sidonie Garrett.

September 6-30: Kansas City’s Coterie Theatre has achieved national recognition for its stage programming for young audiences, but this fall’s Coterie at Night show, Broadway hit musical Spring Awakening, is for audiences ages 13 and over because of the mature themes presented. It’s a very topical modern rock musical, based on a play from 1891!

September 7-October 21: The comedies created by playwright Sean Grennan have become staples at the American Heartland Theatre over the last few years. His newest creation is Making God Laugh, “a comedy about home and family” featuring Our Town’s gifted Kathleen Warfel, Don Richard, Bryan Miller, and Jessalyn Kinkaid.

September 13-30: Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Three Tall Women is said to be based on his troubled relationship with his own mother; he called writing the play “a kind of exorcism.” The Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre will present the show through the month of September.

September 14-October 7: The title character of the 1972 hit musical Pippin is looking for “his corner of the sky” in the endearing Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson creation about a young prince looking for meaning and excitement in his life. The Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s artistic director Eric Rosen helms this revival of the enchanting show at the Spencer Theatre.

September 15-16:  For over two decades, Our Town’s Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company has presented a collection of innovative and fresh dance programs in the autumn. This year will be no exception; both performances will be held in White Recital Hall on the UMKC campus.

September 15-23:  The drama and intensity of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly promises to electrify audiences at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts when Cuban-American lyric soprano Elizabeth Caballero, who wowed Lyric audiences as Liu in last year’s Turandot, makes a triumphant return to Kansas City.

September 21-October 21: The economy was a sour note for America during the Great Depression, but Tin Pan Alley couldn’t have been more vibrant, with composers like George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Dorothy Fields creating song classics that gave the country something hopeful to sing about. Theatrical impresario  J. Kent Barnhart of the Quality Hill Playhouse honors the era with On the Sunny Side of the Street: Music That Made the Depression Great.

September 28: The renowned modern dance company, named for its founder and choreographer Mark Morris, makes a rare Kansas City appearance offering a repertoire that includes Silhouettes and Rock of Ages as part of the Harriman-Jewell Series at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

October 4-6: The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey present the Ailey II company in concert.

October 7-9: The music of Nordic composers will be celebrated when the Kansas City Chorale presents Northern Lights featuring tracks from artistic director Charles Bruffy’s CD of the same title.

October 12-13: The popular Carl Orff cantata, Carmina Burana, is choreographed by Toni Pimble for a production of the Kansas City Ballet at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

October 13: The celebrated Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with pianist Jeremy Denk will be presented by Kansas City’s Friends of Chamber Music at the Folly Theatre, the program will highlight the works of Bruch, Brahms and Dohnányi.

October 16: The first United States appearance of the National Symphony of Cuba will be presented by Our Town’s Harriman-Jewell Series in Helzberg Hall of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts featuring a planned program that includes Gershwin’s Cuban Overture and Rhapsody in Blue (with pianist Nachito Herrera), Lecuona’s La Comparsa, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4.

October 26-28: The Kansas City Symphony presents Eighth Blackbird, the distinguished contemporary chamber ensemble, performing at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Also on the program is Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.

November 10: The Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College hosts the groundbreaking Haitian dance troupe, Compagnie de Danse Jean-Rene Delsoin.

November 16: The dazzling  mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, a Prairie Village native, returns to the Folly Theater with baroque orchestra Il Complesso Barocco, as part of the Harriman-Jewell Series.

Paul Horsley, Performing Arts Editor 

Paul studied piano and musicology at WSU and Cornell University. He also earned a degree in journalism, because writing about the arts in order to inspire others to partake in them was always his first love. After earning a PhD from Cornell, he became Program Annotator for the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he learned firsthand the challenges that non profits face. He moved to KC to join the then-thriving Arts Desk at The Kansas City Star, but in 2008 he happily accepted a post at The Independent. Paul contributes to national publications, including Dance Magazine, Symphony, Musical America, and The New York Times, and has conducted scholarly research in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic (the latter on a Fulbright Fellowship). He also taught musicology at Cornell, LSU and Park University.

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