Performance | KCUR

Performance

U People Improv

“Subversive minstrelsy.” That’s how Brandey Chandler describes the inspiration for an upcoming performance at the Kansas City Improv Festival.

Chandler is one of nine members of the troupe U People, which was formed in February by a group of Kansas City-based black improvisers.

Jordana Sturaro

Imagine if a comic-con and a burlesque festival had a baby.

That’s how Annie-Mae Allure, the executive producer of this week’s Kansas City Nerdlesque Festival, describes the event, where performances will focus on themes such as science fiction and fantasy in what’s been billed as a “shame-free zone” at the Just Off Broadway Theatre.

Allure expects around 40 cast members, both local and touring, from as far away as Alaska and British Columbia.

Theater League / Warner Brothers Theatricals

People all over the world are obsessed with “The Wizard of Oz." But there is no place in the world where it has as much cultural value as in Kansas, where "Somewhere over the Rainbow" can be considered as much the state song as "Home on the Range."

“It's become synonymous with ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” says Mark Edelman, head of Theater League, which produced this latest version of the iconic story that opened Wednesday at Providence Amphitheater (formerly known as Sandstone) in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

Melanie Rodriguez

The 2018 KC Fringe Festival's final performance lineup included a Greek myth, Cirque du Soleil homage, and a "Rugrats"-inspired story of loss of innocence — all of which were created by local artists.  

The 14th annual, 10-day celebration of visual and performing arts ended on Sunday with repeat performances of the best-selling shows at each of the festival's 14 venues.

Jerry Jay Cranford

A couple of weeks before opening night of the hit Broadway musical "Newsies," two dozen young actors were flipping and twirling on stage at the Jewish Community Center’s White Theater. They ranged in age from 14 to 22.

Libby Hanssen / KCUR 89.3

When you see a stranger on public transit, what's your usual reaction? Do you make eye contact, even small talk, or studiously ignore them and play Pokémon Go on your phone?

Traveling with Megan Karson's The Stranger on the Train, reactions are a little different. When The Stranger trundles onto the #801 at the Kansas City Streetcar stop at Union Station, passengers stare, then laugh, at the surprising addition to their ride.

Segment 1: Kansas City's New Arts Festival.

For nine weeks, starting in August, KC's parks, galleries and stages will be transformed into a massive city-wide arts festival. Hear more about Open Spaces.

Segment 1: A talk with Kevin Willmott about his new film.

"BlacKkKlansman" just won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. It's based on the true story of a black cop who infiltrated the KKK in the 1970s. We catch up with the KU professor who collaborated on the film with Spike Lee.

Segment 2, beginning at 17:09: Looking back at the filming of "Kansas City."

Segment 1: The changing relationship between working artists and the Crossroads.

The Crossroads is a lively place, filled with condos, wine shops, doggie daycares and yoga studios. But back in 2000, it was much more quiet, inhabited by artists who brought their quirky vibe to the area. Now, the building that houses YJ's Snack Bar has been sold — and the longstanding café is moving. Is it the end of an era? What's next for the Crossroads and the artists?

Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

A particular role in the Unicorn Theatre's newest production is perfect for Kansas City actor Ahafia Jurkiewicz-Miles.

“I've always wanted to play someone like me on stage,” Jurkiewicz-Miles told host Gina Kaufmann on Tuesday's episode of KCUR's Central Standard. “The fact that I get to do that now makes it so exciting to go into work every day.”

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

As a kid growing up on his family’s farm in Louisburg, Kansas, David Wayne Reed just wanted to perform.

He wore his mom’s heels, a cinched-up shirt as a dress, and a wig to entertain visiting seed salesmen. He also choreographed dances for the hay crew.

“As kind of a slightly effeminate little kid, (farming) was hard, it was masculine, and I didn’t know that I really fit in. I kind of felt like a little bit of a square peg,” Reed told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Vi Tran’s journey has taken him from Vietnam to refugee camps in southeast Asia to Garden City, Kansas, and finally to a burger joint in Kansas City, Missouri, where he began telling his story and created a space for others' stories in all types of formats.

Past a row of pinball machines, at the back of the Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill, is a large room with concrete floors, black tablecloths draped over round tables, the smell of burgers and a bare-bones stage.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Lola Loquacious slides up through the audience, sashaying a multi-colored pastel tulle skirt as she stops at a few lucky spectators to seductively pull lollipops from her bejeweled cotton-candy pink corset.

Cameo’s 1986 hit (or synth-pop monstrosity) “Candy” blares as Loquacious hits the stage. Her tulle skirt is the first to go in a swirl of ethereal fluff. She’s carrying an oversized rainbow lollipop, which she licks with deliberate, confident glances at the audience.

Open Spaces, a two-month citywide celebration of visual and performing arts, is slated to launch in August.

Artistic director Dan Cameron announced the names of the 42 local, national and international exhibiting artists Friday. Some artists were invited, but others were selected out of a pool of more than 400 applicants. 

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

A new theater troupe in Kansas City is staging monthly play readings in an unlikely venue: a bar.

That’s part of the Kansas City Public Theatre’s mission. The group hopes to make theater more accessible by offering free shows in non-traditional venues.

Dan Rest / Lyric Opera of Kansas City

Carmen, Mimi, Norma, Tosca, Violetta, Cio-Cio-San, Medea, Liù, Aida, Lulu: Being an opera heroine is harrowing work.

For hundreds of years, opera's women have suffered: on stage from dishonor, ruination, madness and death; off stage from harassment, abuse, degradation, threats, and coercion.

Segment 1: A local dance troupe performs an original piece based on people's experience with cancer.

The Owen/Cox Dance Group has collaborated with Gilda's Club Kansas City and will perform a piece about how people's lives are impacted by cancer. We talk to the choreographer, and we hear from patients, survivors and caregivers.

Elizabeth Stehling / Kansas City Ballet

In an art form as brutal as it is beautiful, breaking through the tried-and-true blockbusters of classic ballet and strict company structure is difficult. New work and new talent is a risk. Creating new work not only requires learning new steps, but also changing perspectives, generating curiosity and challenging expectations.

J. Robert Schraeder / Courtesy of The Coterie Theatre

Playwright Laurie Brooks has tackled challenging subjects for young adults — from the Salem witch trials to bullying. Her latest play, The Secret of Courage, explores a teenager facing a health crisis ... with a little help from a magical world.

Courtesy of Unicorn Theatre

Playwright Karen Hartman knew her work "Project Dawn" dealt with intense material. Its story, about women with multiple prostitution convictions who are going through a treatment program in hopes of having their charges erased, is based on a real place in Philadelphia called Project Dawn Court.

Courtesy William Baker

“It could be said that Kansas City is blessed with as many fountains like Rome, many boulevards like Paris and many composers like Vienna,” says William Baker, the founder and director of his namesake William Baker Festival Singers.

Audiences get a chance to hear just a few of the pieces by those notable area composers, some living and some long gone, when Baker’s ensemble presents a Festival of Kansas City Composers this weekend.

Courtesy Andrew Schwartz / Veritography

A Thanksgiving feast in a Scottish castle was the cherry on top when Kansas City’s Fountain City Brass Band toured the United Kingdom last month as America’s highest-ranked brass band.

Fountain City is one of Kansas City’s strongest musical ambassadors, with a second-place finish at the prestigious Brass in Concert competition at Gateshead, England (placing ahead of top-ranked Cory) and a third at the Scottish Open in Perth. On their own turf, our homegrown ensemble held its own against bands with traditions dating deep into the 1800s.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

For 25 years, Kansas City’s newEar contemporary chamber music ensemble has been performing brand new music — some of it by composers who live here — in what has become a long and productive conversation between area musicians and composers. 

City and arts leaders on Monday announced a new two-month city-wide arts festival called Open Spaces 2018: A Kansas City Arts Experience

"It’s 60 days of city-wide visual and performing arts debuts on a scale previously unseen in the city," Mayor Sly James said at a press conference at the KCAI Crossroads Gallery in the Crossroads Arts District.

James said he expects the event will foster the city's reputation as an arts destination. 

Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Ten years ago, when Eric Rosen was angling for the job as artistic director of Kansas City Repertory Theatre, he pitched a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol. It was something he'd wanted to do for years while running a theater company in Chicago. Now he's finally bringing it to the stage.

"It's sort of a dream project in the sense of having a scope and a cast and a capacity to make something huge that we don't often get to do," Rosen says. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Victor Raider-Wexler, a venerable actor with a voice as deep as magma, has never performed as a woman before. 

“It’s a brand new thing," he says of his role in Spinning Tree Theatre's newest production. "But last Christmas I was Marley, and I’d never been a ghost before either.”

Jeff Ridenour

The opera Hansel and Gretel is based on a Grimm Brothers' fairy tale.

In this version of the story, the brother and sister are sent into the forest to gather strawberries. They get lost, encounter creatures like the Sandman and the Dew Fairy — and discover a mysterious gingerbread house where they're captured by a witch. 

A new University of Missouri-Kansas City production creates sets and costumes out of paper.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Granted, people tend to think about dressing up this time of year. But even those who don't normally consider donning Cleopatra’s headdress, waltzing in Cinderella’s ball gown or vamping like a starlet might find something they need at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City Opera Costume Sale

Vanessa Thomas

Sep 22, 2017
Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

Vanessa Thomas is a singer who is living her dream life in Lawrence. She's a vocal coach, a church music director and a mom of four. Oh, and she also tours the country to perform with the legendary Doc Severinsen. Hear her story: how she overcame the trauma of abuse through music, and how her hometown of Clay Center, Kansas, played a big part in connecting her to the world.

Guest:

Mike Tsai / Kansas City Actors Theatre

It was a year ago when the Kansas City Actors Theatre decided to produce Sam Shepard's play “A Lie of the Mind” this season. When Shepard died in July, company members were shocked at first, but then their feelings evolved.

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