Tag Archives: Mark Edelman

Edelman: Thought Provoking Theater Trumps This Summer’s Political Farce

Turn off the stage antics of the Republican presidential nominee for a night or two… Kansas City stages are offering up some serious, honest stories that will move you to tears It’s not theater of the absurd but theater to be … Continue reading

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Edelman: KC Rep Puts it All Together for Season Opener

Bit by bit.. putting it together… You have to wonder if Rep Artistic Director Eric Rosen didn’t lose more than a few night’s sleep over those lyrics. After all, he had to figure out a way to shoe-horn Stephen Sondheim‘s … Continue reading

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Edelman: Forget March Madness, Great Theater Takes the Stage This Week in KC 

Before March Madness takes too firm a hold… Check out these excellent productions on Kansas City stages. It’s rare that we have so much good theater in town at one time. WOMEN PLAYING HAMLET (now thru March 29 at the … Continue reading

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Edelman: KC Hits ‘Homer’ Out of the Park

Kyle Hatley gets all of it in one of the most bravura performances I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness at KC Rep… If you want to see what a “tour de force” looks and sounds like, don’t miss AN … Continue reading

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Edelman: Life in the Slow Lane; UNICORN’S ‘Hands on a Hardbody’ Hits on All 4 Cylinders

For a touching taste of small town verities, you can queue up for David Cromer‘s celebrated production of OUR TOWN at the Rep…  But for my money, the real action (or inaction) is at the Unicorn, where Cynthia Levin and company … Continue reading

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Hearne: Theater League Honcho Gets Rise Out of Olbermann on Letterman

Was a time, ESPN host Keith Olbermann was considered cutting edge hip… But times flies and you gotta keep up. That was hardly the case when Olbermann weighed in on the World Cup and Major League Soccer on the Dave Letterman Show Tuesday with … Continue reading

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Review: Shakespeare Fest Goes ‘Game of Thrones” in ‘Winter’s Tale’

A jealousy-mad king, psychotic fathers, petty thieves, abandoned daughter and secret lovers– no, it’s not Season 5 of “Game of Thrones” Even better, it’s Heart of America Shakespeare Festival‘s THE WINTER’S TALE, ably directed by Sid Garrett, now thru Sunday … Continue reading

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Edelman: There is Life After Jardine’s for Kansas City Jazz

Rest in the Peace, Jardine’s

All that’s left of my favorite KC jazz spot is the occasional story about Beena‘s travails here in KC Confidential. With its liquor license coming due, I’m afraid that may be all she wrote for a club that gave up plenty of smiles in its long hey day (and kept alot of musicians working).

Beena gave us some great shows.

I had my "killing me softly" moment the first time I heard Karrin Allyson on the tiny Jardine’s stage. Billy Stritch, Marilyn Maye‘s musical director, brought the cool for a $5 cover– that would be $35 and a two drink minimum in NYC.  The Sons of Brasil (and  all of Stan Kessler‘s musical amalgamations), Alacartoona, Professor Cartwright‘s KC series, Julia Othmer, Bram‘s jumping septet, Friday nights with Angela and Saturdays for Ida McBeth–it all sounded good,

I, for one, miss the place.

Like the Reno Club, Tootie’s Mayfair, the Inferno, Milton’s and a hundred other nightspots, the doors are closed but the music lives on. Don’t despair; move on.

Speaking of which, here are some places to catch great jazz in Kansas City this week:

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Edelman: Not a Normal Week; KC Hosts Four New Broadway Musicals Starting Tuesday

It’s not every week that four new Broadway musicals come to town…

You’re more likely to find OKLAHOMA! in the park. But the six days starting this Tuesday (Monday’s “dark,” as we say in show biz) can boast just that.

The week gets started with a musical about a family dealing with their biopolar, prescription drug-addicted, possibly suicidal mom. No, MARY POPPINS doesn’t come to town til next year. The aforementioned musical is NEXT TO NORMAL (June 5-10 at the Kauffman Center) , an amazing journey through contemporary suburban life. Kids get high, Mom goes to therapy– and did I mention it was funny as hell? N2N won a passel of awards on Broadway, including the Tony for best music and book and the Pulitzer—one of only about 10 musicals to ever win that drama prize (RENT was the last one). Oh, and the show rocks—composer Tom Kitt scored Green Day’s Broadway entry, AMERICAN IDIOT and he wrote the music for BRING IT ON, which opens this summer in the Big Apple.

Definitely not your grandmother’s Broadway musical.

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Edelman: Unicorn Gets The Rapture (& Fred Phelps)

The far-from-friendly Fred Phelps family usually finds itself outside the theater, ranting on the sidewalk about some wacky message from God.

Well, welcome inside the Unicorn Theatre, oh my Topeka brothers—it’s probably not the one your Scripture had in mind, but the EVERYDAY RAPTURE (now thru June 10) has arrived and you’re in it.

When I saw this smart, hilarious yet touching show on Broadway, I thought the Unicorn would be perfect for EVERYDAY RAPTURE. After all—how many cutting edge theaters can you find within 100 miles of the Kansas state capital? Well, praise the Lord and pass the intermission—Cynthia Levin and company procured the rights to the first-ever production of this little gem outside NYC. Now you can see it and have fun with the Phelps’ kin yourself.

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Some first class acting in the service of an intriguing if not fully mature script makes THE WHIPPING MAN (now through April 8 at KC Rep on the UMKC campus) a thought-provoking two hours of theater.

Though by no means fearless or adventurous (when is the Rep gonna give up on those superlatives?), Matthew Lopez‘s new play– competently staged by Rep Artistic Director Eric Rosen— takes us back in time to what must have been one of the strangest moments in our country’s history.

It’s April, 1865.  One day, you’re a slave; the next, you’re free. One day, you’re a master– the next, just a guy with control issues.

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Edelman: Time for Disgruntled Musicians to Lay Down Arms & Return to Jardine’s

Remember when you were embarrassed to ask for something from, say, your old and sickly grandmother who barely had the energy to raise her hand and pat you on the head?

"I wish for world peace, Grammy," you’d respond, and leave it at that. I mean, the old gal couldn’t afford to get you a present. She was buying more drugs than Amy Winehouse on a tour of the Balkans.

Hanging out at Jardine’s Saturday night, I thought how nice a slice of that peace would be– peace between jazz musicians and club owners. It seems somebody told somebody something, and the next thing we jazz fans knew, part of the band at Jardine’s didn’t show up. The guys who did play worked their hands off; and Beena put a brave face on it.

But this was Saturday night at the best jazz club in town. We all deserved better (even without a cover).

This boycott Beena business is a dead end.

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Edelman: Karrin Allyson Amazes at Jardine’s, Catch Her last Shows Tonight

The word “brilliant” gets thrown around alot these days…

But for an hour plus of the real thing, don’t miss Karrin Allyson’s gig at Jardine’s tonight (two shows Tuesday, Nov 29 at 6:30 and 8:30). Great music doesn’t get much better than this.

Joined by two of KC’s best sidemen– guitarist Rod Fleeman and bass player Gerald Spaits— Allyson plays Beena’s intimate room like she owns the place.

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Edelman: Giving Thanks for Kansas City Jazz

Kansas City, say thank you for jazz…

The Chiefs may suck, Royals disappoint, politicians irritate, the economy drags us down— but then there’s jazz. Seven nights a week, fifty-two weeks a year, our town boasts a fine line-up of musicians and the dedicated (and daft) club owners who keep the lights on, booze flowing and stages lit.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful for that.

Jazz makes our town special. It’s what KC contributed to world culture, where we left our mark, what we’ll be remembered (and celebrated) for long after the Plaza becomes an outlet mall.

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For all of the hype and hemorrhaging, SPIDER-MAN, TURN OFF THE DARK turns out to be alot of fun.

Don’t expect to see Bono and the Edge rubbing elbows with Stephen Sondheim any time soon, though. The crew’s score is probably the weakest link in this opus (Foxwood Theatre on 42nd between 7th and 8th Ave in NYC). It’s Julie Taymor‘s brilliant vision for Spidey’s theatrical debut, as realized by an amazingly athletic cast, that make this new production a guilty pleasure that just might make back its $75 million capitalization.

Fans of THE LION KING and the movie Across the Universe will recognize Ms Taymor’s touch as soon as the house lights dim. We meet Peter Parker in school, where he’s delivering a book report on the Greek goddess Arachne. Turned into a spider by the jealous Athena, Arachne serves as a leitmotif, literally hanging over the entire evening. T.V. Carpio, the actress who played Prudence in Across the Universe, does a terrific job in the part– especially when you consider she spends the entire show eighteen feet off the ground.

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Edelman: Broadway Hit ‘Red’ Makes Thrilling Splash at Unicorn

"Make something new," the paint-splattered abstract expressionist Mark Rothko commands his assistant Ken in the Tony Award winning play RED...

Director Cynthia Levin must have been listening, because in her fine production of John Logan‘s new work (now through October 2 at the Unicorn Theatre, 3828 Main) she’s created a new star on the KC scene: Sam Cordes, the terrific young actor who plays Rothko’s assistant.

If the name Cordes rings a bell, it should. Sam is the off-spring of two of our town’s finest theater artists. Dad Scott Cordes is a versatile actor, as comfortable in Shakespearean threads as he is cracking wise onstage between dinner and dessert at the New Theatre Restaurant. Mom Lisa Cordes is a highly-regarded playwright and theater provocateur– her work at the Living Room and other boho spots around town is legendary.

So it should be no surprise that Sam’s got the old theater bug; but where he takes it is another thing entirely.

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Edelman: Stan Plesser, The Man Who Made Cowtown (1932-2011)

Before there was Chris Fritz, Jeff Fortier, AEG, Live Nation, whatever, an ex-shoe dog from NYC put our town on the rock and roll map and made this a cool place to live.

He’s gone now: Stan Plesser, club owner, band manager and KC’s first rock and roll impresario died Friday. They don’t make em like Stan anymore.

My first impression of the man was listening to his spots on KUDL or WHB in the 60s. Plugging his Vanguard Coffeehouse, Stan did his own voice-overs, hawking in that nasal Broadway accent his roster of talent. Danny Cox, Brewer & Shipley, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steve Martin— they all played the Vanguard. It was THE place to go to impress a date.

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I never could figure out why they called that store "Smart & FInal…"

I mean, it’s got all the same crap as a low rent Target. What’s so Smart and Final about that?

Then I checked out XANADU at Starlight this week– now THAT’s Smart and Final. The final show of Swope Park’s 2011 season is about as clever as outdoor musical theater gets. Like I said, Smart and Final.

Douglas Carter Beane writes terrific plays (THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED at the Unicorn several seasons back is more than proof of that). And his book for the musical of XANADU is a hoot. Instead of slogging through the sentimentality of your usual boy meets girl songfest, XANADU offers up "a children’s musical, but for 40 year-old gay men" (per Beane).

Its whipsmart send up of the horrible big budget film that set back movie musicals at least a decade (and killed off Gene Kelly)  is chock full of those kinds of zingers— including a few none too blunt barbs at the whole juke box musical genre of which XANADU is an audacious member.

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Edelman: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The King and I’ Shines at Starlight!

There’s a masters class going on at Starlight every night this week.

The subject: How to Write a Great Musical. The instructors: Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers. Enroll if you can.

Now, before you respond, "What are two dead white guys gonna teach me about writing a musical in 2011," remember that those irreverent South Parkers, Matt Stone and Trey Parker have borrowed liberally from Oscy and Dick for years. Their current Broadway blockbuster, THE BOOK OF MORMON, reads like the final term paper in R&H’s course on this subject. And why not?

Nobody does it like Rodgers & Hammerstein, and these guys were at their best doing THE KING & I (now through Sunday at Starlight).

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GREASE Takes GLEE Back to the 50s

Before Glee, Grease was the word.

Though Fox may have television’s biggest sitcom hit on its hands, Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele and company by no means invented testosterone-laden high school angst rendered musically in cool threads. That distinction belonged to Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, who decades ago hit upon the winning formula that made GREASE (now through Sunday at the Music Hall) one of the longest-running hits on Broadway.

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