As UMKC’s resident theater company, Kansas City Repertory Theatre performs professional-grade productions under its nationally lauded artistic director, Eric Rosen. This season’s theatrical selection features the musical classic
Cabaret, alongside the thought-provoking, one-man show Another American: Asking and Telling, the Obie-award-winning comedy Circle Mirror Transformation, and the famously “impossible to produce” adventure Peer Gynt. Check the regular season showtimes and seating charts to plan your visit; call to reserve your tickets all at once, or schedule your trips separately, in accordance with your celestial horoscope.
Charlie Parker's Grafton saxophone, Louis Armstrong's trumpet, a sequined gown worn by Ella Fitzgerald?at the American Jazz Museum, each of these artifacts represents a mark on a musical timeline. Established in 1997 at 18th and Vine, the museum immerses guests in jazz via several mediums: films, sheet music, album covers, and concert posters, to name a few. Listening stations emit interviews and samples of classic tunes, but to hear entire songs, you can visit Jazz Central, the in-house musical library of more than 100 recordings.
Preserving the jazz stylings of the past is not the museum's only mission, however. At mixing boards, visitors can create their own melodies without bringing their stand-up bass from home. As for live jazz, there are more than 200 yearly performances and events at the museum, such as the annual Kansas City's 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival. There's also the Blue Room?a smoke-free jazz club inside the building itself, where musicians play at least four nights a week.
Shawnna Journagan and Rusty Sneary founded The Living Room to bring theater to audiences in the friendliest, most accessible way possible. Shows range from old B movies adapted into musical comedies to performances that confront serious issues such as mental illness. The venue keeps evenings casual, peddling popcorn, sodas, and cocktails in the lobby to fuel enjoyment of the performance and postperformance applause to the tune of Flight of the Bumblebee. In addition to plays, the stage also hosts live bands for evenings of entertainment, many of whom are friends with the owners.
City in Motion Dance Theater is small but mighty. Founded in 1985, it’s one of the oldest dance organizations in Kansas City, second only to the Kansas City Ballet. In addition to offering children’s and adults’ dance classes, the nonprofit hosts the City in Motion Dance Performance Series, which provides audiences with three family-oriented, contemporary dance performances every year.
Bodies turn and twirl in the air, suspended from the rafters with colorful silks. Whether during a performance or class, the staff and students of Voler?Thieves of Flight Aerial Academy inspire awe with aerial dance and acrobatics. The academy?s professional ensemble includes ballet and modern dancers, along with circus artists, all of whom add their skills to lofty choreography on swings, silks, and hoops. The Voler ensemble has also performed at more than 30 notable locations including the Kansas city and Chicago fringe festivals and the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.
The academy?s primary purpose is teaching, of course, and three levels of classes instruct participants on the finer points of contorting on silks and practicing spirals, suspension, and falls.
Founded in 1957, Kansas City Ballet holds rank amongst the top ballet institutions in the U.S. At its two locations?including one at the newly renovated Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity?the company divides its services between two divisions. On the Academy side, more than 20 instructors utilize their varied performing backgrounds to school aspiring professionals in dance, beginning with children ages 3 and up.
But you don?t have to yearn for the spotlight to tap into Kansas City Ballet?s wisdom. For recreational steppers, or those simply hoping to make trips to the grocery store more interesting by pirouetting down the aisles, the company also features a Studio division aimed at dancers of all ages and abilities. There, fitness and fun get blended into a schedule of classes that includes ballet, Zumba, yoga, jazz and more.