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Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Many actors say they finally get into character when they put on their costumes. An effective costume design can transport audiences to ancient Greece or to the nifty 1950s of the musical Grease. The wardrobe created for the Unicorn Theatre's production of The Whale brings to the stage the life of a 600-pound shut-in. 

Courtesy Amanda Kibler / The Coterie

Advances in equal rights for LGBT people – along with the struggles that remain – filtered through the imagination of theatrically inclined teenagers should make for intriguing performances this weekend when the Coterie Theatre presents "Gears and Queers," the result of the third annual Project Pride.

Project Pride begins with group discussions and improvisation exercises, then culminates a few weeks later with a staged production of vignettes created and shaped by the teenaged cast.

Thought of as one of the most significant 20th Century songwriters, Cole Porter filled the American songbook with his compositions. His style was greatly influenced by his life experiences, many of which were in stark contrast to those of his contemporaries. 

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

What does it mean to be an American teenager? That's been a question posed everywhere from The Catcher in the Rye to Huckleberry Finn. It's also the subject of the Spinning Tree Theatre's production of the musical 13, a show about adolescents — with a cast made up of nineteen of them.

At a recent rehearsal for the company's production of 13, sets are under construction and the musical director is tinkering with the score.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

It's a rare person who can make a full-time living as a playwright in Kansas City. Nathan Louis Jackson is such a person. His gig as playwright-in-residence at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre was recently renewed.

Kansas City Repertory Theatre

In the 1930s and 1940s, many Jews in Europe lived in fear — or in hiding — from the Nazis. 

A cramped attic in Amsterdam served as a makeshift home for two years for Anne Frank, her family, and four others. 

This secret annex was discovered, and Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was the only one to survive the concentration camps – but their stories live on through Anne’s diary, first published in 1947. 

Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl, was turned into a play and a film in the 1950s. Now, decades later, there’s an update for a new era. 

The Enlightenment was a time marked by logical thought and a questioning of traditional authority. Among the great male minds of this period were some notable women. One in particular equaled, and often outshone, many men during the Age of Reason.

Guests:

Creative Commons

A food-borne virus traced to an Overland Park dinner theater has sickened even more people than originally thought, health authorities say.

More than 600 people have now reported symptoms of norovirus after attending the New Theatre Restaurant in mid-January.

Since the first reports of the illness, state and local health authorities have been working with the popular venue on cleanup and safe food practices.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

Thirty-five local playwrights will capture the mood of Kansas City's present and future at the city's first One-Minute Play Festival this weekend on City Stage at Union Station.

Founded in New York by producing artistic director Dominic D'Andrea, one-minute play festivals have spread all over the country, "with the goal of promoting the spirit of radical inclusion by representing local cultures of playwrights of different age, gender, race, cultures, and points of career," according to the festival's website.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

A new one-act play re-examines an enormous explosion that rocked Kansas City and killed six firefighters. The jury convicted five men of setting the 1988 fire, but investigative reporting has cast doubt on key facts in the case.

The process of producing the play, called Justice in the Embers, meant writing a script with a dogged journalist and visiting a convicted felon. 

Creative Commons / Public Domain Images

More than 100 people who attended the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park on Sunday, Jan. 17, reported becoming ill, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

In a news release Wednesday, the agency says it’s investigating an outbreak of norovirus infection. Symptoms of the extremely contagious virus include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.

KDHE says it’s conducting a confidential online survey of people who attended the matinee and evening performances staged that day at the popular dinner theater.

Many Kansas Citians still remember the morning of Nov. 29, 1988. That was the day a blast miles distant woke tens of thousands in the metro in a tragedy that claimed the lives of six Kansas City firefighters. Now, a stage production explores some of the mysteries that remain about the events leading up to the explosion.

Guest:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Starlight Theatre has been an integral part of Kansas City summers since 1950. But a new initiative is under way to stage shows when the theater is usually empty — during the winter. This year's January slate offers four Off-Broadway type productions. 

The impetus for the winter shows comes from Richard Baker, who took the job of president and CEO of Starlight in March 2014 after nearly three decades running the Fox Theatre in St. Louis.

A Year In The Arts In KC

Dec 23, 2015

This was the year the Kansas City Ballet re-imagined “The Nutcracker.” Henry David Thoreau and Barbra Streisand got theatrical treatments, and the Kansas City Symphony had a variety of soloists. On this edition of Up to Date, we turn a critical eye to the arts in the Kansas City area this year.

Guests:

Lydia Miller / The Living Room

At just 23 years old, Emma Carter is making a name for herself in Kansas City as a playwright.

By the close of this year, Carter will have had her work staged at several venues around town, including a production of her play Junk, opening this weekend at the Living Room downtown.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

After playing Bob Cratchit in Kansas City Repertory Theatre's A Christmas Carol for the past six years, it seems actor Walter Coppage was up for a change.

In this year's production, Coppage was asked to take on two new roles — as the ghost of the miserly Jacob Marley and as the generous businessman Mr. Fezziwig. And, like others he's taken on throughout his career, these characters offer some unorthodox challenges. 

J. Robert Schraeder Photography / The Coterie

Amid the vast genre known as holiday music, few classics stand out as much as A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack to the iconic Peanuts television special.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the TV cartoon is the Coterie Theatre's live production. Demand for tickets was so intense the show is now sold out until after Christmas (it runs through Jan. 3).

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A large crowd of supporters and donors gathered Friday morning in the freshly renovated lobby space of the Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus.

After a seven-month, $5.6 million reconstruction, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre's primary venue now has a new stage floor, new seats, updated lighting and acoustic design as well as an expanded lobby. 

Beth Lipoff / KCUR

You may remember Gary Sandy as the beleaguered program director from the popular TV show, "WKRP in Cincinnati." Sandy has since had a successful stage career, and joins the New Theatre Restaurant for their upcoming production, "Out of Order." 

'Out of Order' will run December  2 through February 14 at the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park. For tickets, go to newtheatre.com.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

For a solid 10 years, actor Don Richard performed on nearly every Kansas City stage. A production of the musical Jane Eyre that began in Wichita, Kansas, eventually landed in New York City on Broadway, where he often appears today. He's currently back in town for Musical Theater Heritage's production of Urinetown: The Musical. 

As part of the monthly series Actors Off Script, Richard, who's now based in Chicago, talks about his journey from modest parts in local theaters to the Broadway stage.

Courtesy Unicorn Theatre

Audiences at the Unicorn Theatre will see higher-tech productions thanks to a $100,000 grant, the theater has announced.

The grant, from the David Beals Charitable Trust, will support technology upgrades in lighting, sound, projection and electrical systems.

“We’re going to be able to do some things we couldn’t do before,” said Cynthia Levin, the Unicorn’s producing artistic director.

He stood alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in the fight for civil rights, yet the name Bayard Rustin remains largely unknown. We hear the story of this important figure in history. 

Guests:

The Telling Project takes the stories of local veterans and veteran family members and turns them into scripts. Those same vets and family members then rehearse those scripts and present them in their community. Two participating area veterans and the founder of The Telling Project talk with Steve Kraske about the Kansas City version.

Guests:

In 2007 in Cleveland, Johanna Orozco was raped and shot in the jaw by her ex-boyfriend. Coverage of the shooting inspired new legislation in Ohio targeting teen-on-teen violence and a play based on Johanna's experience. Steve Kraske speaks with the journalist who covered the event and the playwright of "Johanna: Moving Forward."

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Anyone staging Charles Busch's play Die, Mommie, Die! is advised to cast a male actor as its lead female character. Playing the fading movie star Angela Arden at Musical Theater Heritage in Crown Center is Late Night Theatre veteran De De DeVille, whose given name is David Krom.

As part of our monthly series Actors Off-Script, Krom talks about a 20-plus year career that began on a dare. 

You grew up as David Krom. What was your journey like to becoming De De DeVille? When did that happen?

Julie Denesha / KCUR

As a young child, Helen Keller lost her vision, hearing, and ability to speak. Her teacher, Annie Sullivan, gave her the tools to communicate with the world. Theirs was a friendship that lasted for five decades – and the play about that relationship, The Miracle Worker, opens this week at the Coterie Theatre. 

As part of our monthly series Actors Off-Script, Vanessa Severo (Annie) and Josephine Pellow (Helen) talked about some of the challenges of bringing this story to the stage. 

His character, Jerry, was the butt of numerous jokes on NBC's Parks and Recreation which ran for seven years. Actor Jim O'Heir fills in Steve Kraske on what went on at last weekend's Emmy Awards, what it was like working on Parks & Rec and the reason he's in town.

Jim O'Heir appears in 'You Can't Take It With You' at the New Theatre Restaurant September 24 through November 29. For more information go to newtheatre.com

Julie Denesha / KCUR

T’khara Jones and her younger sister KhaTera Jones wanted to take dance lessons.

Their older sister won gymnastics and dance trophies, and they had an aunt whose dancing mesmerized them.

"I just thought, 'Wow that looks so much fun, it just looks beautiful," says T'khara. "I always wanted to do it."

Same went for KhaTera, a year behind her in school.

"One of my friends took dance classes and I thought it was really cool. When I first started wanting to take dance classes, it was maybe fourth or fifth grade."

courtesy of A to Z Theatrical Supply and Service

After five decades in the Waldo neighborhood of Kansas City, A to Z Theatrical Supply and Service has moved to a long-vacant building in east Brookside. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

In Sarah Ruhl's play The Oldest Boy, a suburban couple's life is turned on its ear when they learn their 3-year-old son may be the reincarnation of a high Buddhist lama. Playing the boy's mother in the Unicorn Theatre production is Katie Kalahurka. 

For our series called Actors Off-Script, Kalahurka spoke with me about motherhood and the innovative way her character's son's story comes to life.

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