Tag Archives: Mark Edelman
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
They can dish em out– but can they take em?
Taverns, I mean. Bars, clubs, boites, watering holes. Since when is that domain of day-after dread a hangover haven?
Tomorrow night from 7 to 11, that’s when, as Jardine’s (4536 Main) offers the unrequited amongst us a "Love Hangover." And they say "love means never having to say you’re sorry" (I’m guessing they’re open for you lovebirds, too).
You can bet Ellis Marsalis knows his jazz.
All you have to do is check out his progeny: Wynton, Branford and Delfeayo. So it’s a special night when the senior Marsalis vacates his usual New Orleans haunts and plays a gig up here in Cold Town. He’ll be warming the 88s Friday night at the Folly Theatre, 12th and Central downtown. Show starts at 8; they talk about it at 7.
Behind the headlines and beyond the soundbites, gays in the military have had a hell of a time getting any respect.
Marc Wolf’s compelling new play, ANOTHER AMERICAN: ASKING AND TELLING (now through next Sunday, Feb 6 at KC Rep on the UMKC campus), sheds the harsh flood light of reality on the predicaments of these patriots. Armchair generals be forewarned: this is not a story that’s going to make you proud to be an American.
I know what you’re thinking: Jazz in Leawood– you mean Kenny G playing "White Christmas" over the muzak at Chico’s in Town Center? Well, drop by West Chase Grill at 119th and Roe most any night this month. There’s music out there, man.
Chef/owner John Westerhaus has always put out a tasty spread. His lobster spring rolls are serious appetizer heaven; and he knows his way around scallops and sea bass. But it’s not a fish place by any means– steaks and chops reign supreme at West Chase, along with the tastiest (and most wallet friendly) Kobe Beef burger around (add the bleu cheese for a paltry three quarters of a buck– it’s worth it). Great wines– and at least 20 by the glass– and a mixologist who knows his stuff, and you’ve got one of JoCo’s happiest eateries.
And now you can add jazz to that receipe for some warm fun on a sub-zero night.
With all the talk on Broadway about SPIDERMAN’s mega-budget problems, it’s refreshing (and fun) to see what the second biggest payout in Broadway history hath wrought.
That would be Dreamworks’terrific new musical SHREK
. You’re in luck, Kansas City– the big green one is Music Hall bound. And whereas the Spidey show sounds like it’s full of angst, U2-ie important messages and actors breaking bones, SHREK is a musical comedy gas— and actors breaking wind.
‘Tis the season, and KC Rep gets it rolling with a pleasant new production of their holiday chestnut A CHRISTMAS CAROL (now through Dec 26 at the Spencer Theater on the UMKC campus). Break out the eggnog and holly—it’s tradition time.
With Artistic Director Eric Rosen off to Seattle supervising round two of his A CHRISTMAS STORY, staging chores for this year’s winter fete fell to Rep Associate A.D. Kyle Hatley. I thought Hatley did a wonderful job with last season’s BROKEOLOGY at the Copaken Stage downtown; but that was an intimate new play. I missed his big cast DEATH OF CUPID at the KC Fringe Festival this summer. Could Hatley lead sixty plus actors, designers and stagehands into the breach and out the other side, happy patrons and their money in hand? (The Rep counts on A CHRISTMAS CAROL for a big chunk of their annual box office).
I’m happy to report that Hatley brings it off. Introducing a new John Ezell design, replete with LES MIZ-style turntable, Hatley finds a lot more heart in his retelling of the Dickens classic. Gary Neal Johnson’s emotional arc feels more real, more satisfying in the playing. From his chilly reunion with dead partner Jacob Marley (a scary looking Mark Robbins) through the three ghostly visits and his ah ha moment at the story’s end, this Scrooge comes off less cartoon and more flesh, blood and feelings than I remember from past productions. Credit Hatley for making a difference
Tired of endless holiday muzak congealing in every corner of your life? Need a distraction, maybe? Cynthia Levin and her Unicorn cohorts have just the thing– Lisa Loomer’s very au courant new comedy DISTRACTED, now through next Sunday, December 12, on the U’s mainstage, 3828 Main in midtown. Talk about your pick me up…
Loomer has a sharp eye for the foibles of modern life and Director Levin and her company get all of the twists and turns in this often laugh-out-loud piece about a family’s coming to terms with their ADHD child. Wait.. did he say ADHD? Laugh out loud? Comedy?