theater | KCUR


After nearly 30 years with Fox Associates, in St. Louis, Mo., Richard (Rich) Baker will take on a new role as president and CEO of Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Mo. in March.

Fox Associates owns and operates the 4,500-seat Fox Theatre, as well as MetroTix, an online ticket broker, and Fox Theatricals, which runs Briar Street Theatre in Chicago, Ill.

J. Robert Schraeder / Courtesy the Coterie Theatre

For more than three centuries, Salem, Mass., has been linked to the infamous witch trials. In 1692, at least 20 men and women died after being convicted of witchcraft; it was then considered a crime punishable by death. Hundreds more faced accusations.

A new production at the Coterie Theatre, Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, provides the story behind the girls — the accusers, who started it all.

Afflicted is written by Laurie Brooks, a longtime Coterie collaborator. She says the play is "not easy. It’s subtle, it’s complex. It's about relationships."

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The one-woman play, Grounded, by George Brant, explores the destructive power of modern warfare through the eyes of a female combat pilot. After an unexpected pregnancy, she's reassigned to a windowless trailer in the Nevada desert as the desk pilot of a military drone.

The Unicorn Theatre's production marks the third in a series of "rolling world premieres" presented by members of the National New Play Network, dedicated to the development of new work.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol has a large cast, including about three dozen children and young adults. Rehearsals start in early November, and the hours can be long and demanding. There are song lyrics, and sometimes lots of lines to learn. It’s a challenging job for the young actors - and for the staff charged with keeping track of them.

Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

This week, the Unicorn Theatre opens the play Clybourne Park, which has the distinction of winning the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize. Its two acts take place in the same house 50 years apart, and examine with equal humor and drama all the varying shades within the phrase, "There goes the neighborhood."

A house divided

This season, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre has added a second show to their holiday schedule. The Santaland Diaries is a dark comedy written by David Sedaris and adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello. The one-man show is a prickly retelling of Sedaris’ stint as a Macy’s elf during the Christmas season.

Marc Baptiste / Courtesy of Atlantic Records

At 28, rising pop star Janelle Monae has collaborated with musical royalty, like Erykah Badu and Prince. Last summer, she was featured in Fun’s runaway hit We Are Young, and recently played Saturday Night Live, with songs from her new album Electric Lady, which debuted as number 5 on Billboard’s 200

But the Kansas City, Kan., native had her first local headliner at the Uptown Theatre on November 15. It was a boisterous, sold-out party attended by dozens of her family members and former teachers.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

In this scene, singer Eboni Fondren performs 'I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling' in Spinning Tree Theatre's production of Ain't Misbehavin' at Just Off Broadway Theatre.

"Ain't Misbehavin is a celebration of the music Fats Waller wrote, performed, and made famous during the 1930s Harlem Renaissance," says co-director Andy Parkhurst.

Brian Paulette / Kansas City Actors Theatre

Most theater productions comfortably nest in traditional, familiar venues, with a proscenium arch, a set taking up three walls, and the audience making up the fourth. Occasionally, though, the material calls for a stretch of the boundaries.

Such is the case with Kansas City Actors Theatre's Three Viewings, a play set in a funeral home whose three-week run will perform at Muehlebach's Funeral Home.

Dearly departed

“Wicked”: “Wizard of Oz” prequel about the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good 7:30 Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday Music Hall, 301 W. 13th Tickets: Start at $30

Amy Whitmore / Egads! Theatre Company

While area theaters often stage shows with Christmas or Hanukkah themes around the year-end holidays, it seems October has taken a lesson from December. Currently at Crown Center, Coterie Theatre is offering a version of Dracula, while at Off Center Theatre, the Egads! Theatre Company is staging a bloody show with a notorious reputation - the musical version of Stephen King's horror novel, Carrie.

High school confidential

J. Robert Schraeder / courtesy of Coterie Theatre.

Between this month and next summer, The Coterie Theatre will unveil three world premieres, including a new play inspired by the classic novel The Red Badge of Courage. Playwright Melissa Cooper calls the play Red Badge Variations, and rather than revisit the book's Civil War setting, she was given the go-ahead to update it in order to tell the story of five soldiers serving in present day Afghanistan.

Soldiers' stories

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A festive crowd gathered Saturday evening at Roanoke Park with blankets and lawn chairs for the 15th Annual "Dance in the Park" presented by City in Motion Dance Theater. Local companies presented a diverse range of dance ranging from modern to classical ballet, and East Indian to Afro-Brazilian capoeira.

Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

In its 40th year, the Unicorn Theatre continues its mission of bringing new American plays to Kansas City audiences. Among the themes explored this season are racial identity, family dysfunction, and, with its kickoff production, Venus in Fur, the ever-shifting power dynamic between men and women.

Don Ipock / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre launches its new season this week with a history lesson wrapped inside a musical. Called The Tallest Tree in the Forest, it examines both the contributions and controversies of Paul Robeson, who at the height of his acting and musical career was perhaps the most famous African-American man in the world.

Brian Paulette / Kansas City Actors Theatre

Playwright William Inge, the Independence, Kan. native who went on to win a Pulitzer and an Oscar, would have turned 100 this year. To honor that birthday, Kansas City Actors Theatre is staging Picnic, set in the 1950s in small town Kansas. The rehearsal process has revealed that it's a play much deeper and darker than the company originally believed.  

Julie Denesha / KCUR

In this scene from Picnic, 18-year-old Madge Owens (Emily Peterson), universally acclaimed as the "prettiest girl in town," and her 16-year-old sister, Millie (Alisa Lynn), discuss the upcoming Labor Day picnic.

Millie, a tomboy, is uncharacteristically wearing a dress. As Madge paints her toenails, Millie interrogates her sister about how to handle boys.

Dyan Cannon On Stage, Screen & Life

Aug 5, 2013
Beth Lipoff/KCUR

Heaven can wait for Dyan Cannon. The actress still has plenty she’d like to do, including a guest spot at the New Theatre Restaurant, starting later this month. 

On Tuesday's Up to Date, we talk with the three-time Academy Award-nominated actress. She’s also known for her three-year marriage to actor Cary Grant, who was 33 years her senior.

After conducting a nationwide search, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre has chosen Angela Lee Gieras as its executive director. This marks a newly created position for the nearly 50-year-old regional theater.

Scott Boswell is the chair of the Rep's board of directors and served on the search committee. In a release, Boswell says, "Angela (Gieras) has a strong background in theatre, not-for-profit strategy, finance and development."

Flickr/Bob DiBono

The golden age of radio drama might have been in the 1930s and 40s, but practitioners say the genre is alive and kicking in podcasts, audiobooks, and even video games.

Next weekend, Kansas City will host Hear Now: The Audio Arts and Fiction Festival, which will draw old-timey radio voices as well as younger producers. 

Do you hear the sound of coconuts? Or is that the hooves of a horse? It's actually the cast of Spamalot coming into town to perform the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at Starlight Theater. Starlight decided to add the musical to its summer schedule after frequent requests from members and theater goers at Starlight.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

New theater companies and performance spaces are increasingly popping up in Kansas City. So when the American Heartland Theatre announced it was closing its doors in August, it was a startling development, especially to an actor like Debra Bluford, who has spent a good deal of her acting life there.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This Sunday, the lawn of The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art will be transformed into the main stage for the larger-than-life puppets of StoneLion's puppet pageant "Mother’s Day for Mother Earth." 

Don Ipock / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

"A Christmas Story, the Musical" received three Tony nominations, including one for Best Musical. The work had its world premiere at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre in 2009.

Richard Thompson @ The Folly

Apr 28, 2013

On June 6 Cypress Avenue will feature Richard Thompson at the Folly Theater in Cypress Avenue Live. This week on program, we look at Thompson's storied recording career.

'Kansas City Swing'

Apr 23, 2013

Kansas City's role in the integration of baseball is a popular subject these days. The recent release of 42, the movie about Jackie Robinson's integration into Major League Baseball premiered in Kansas City, home of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, this month. UMKC Theatre is also tackling the subject with the debut of its play Kansas City Swing.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The play Kansas City Swing is set in Kansas City in 1947 when the nation was on the cusp of great change.

J. Robert Schraeder / courtesy of Coterie Theatre

Traditional ideas about theater for young audiences can get stuck in a library full of mischievous animals and recycled fairy tales. But the Coterie Theatre -  named by Time magazine as one of the top five theaters for young audiences in the United States - strives to be more adventurous, as in its new show for elementary school students that discusses jazz, the Depression, and racism.

It was an unexpected announcement on April 4 that the American Heartland Theatre on the 3rd level of Crown Center would close after 26 years.

courtesy American Heartland Theatre

The American Heartland Theatre announced Thursday it would close in August at the end of its 26th season.