Quality Hill Playhouse parts its curtains through October 23 for Noël and Gertie, devised by Sheridan Morley and featuring the words and music of Noël Coward. One of six musicals and cabaret revues the theater puts on annually, Noël and Gertie is based on Coward's own diaries and musical compositions and delves into the friendship of two former stage personalities, Noël Coward (Robert Gibby Brand) and Gertrude Lawrence (Melinda MacDonald). The witty and occasionally heartfelt performance celebrates the fun and sophistication of the roaring '20s without the drawback of state-mandated lessons to learn the Charleston. Quality Hill Playhouse's intimate 153-seat theater ensures patrons don't miss a single sight or sound, and the newly renovated lobby bristles with casual elegance. Multiple performances take to the stage each week in order to accommodate busy schedules and revisit important plot points for forgetful goldfish.
The performance begins with Kansas City Symphony Music Director Michael Stern leading the ensemble through Maurice Ravel's 1919 Le Tombeau de Couperin, a four-movement orchestral homage to baroque composer François Couperin. Next, the evocative melody of Samuel Barber's 1947 lyric rhapsody for orchestra and voice, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, fills the air as Ms. Murphy narrates scenes from author James Agee's dreamlike childhood memoir. After a brief intermission for flutes of champagne and handfuls of de-sloppied sloppy joes (also known as Dapper Dans), Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 sneaks into the concert hall with the jingle of two sleigh bells, then erupts into a ghostly scherzo that builds to a solemn march before finally reaching a gentle conclusion with the soprano's bucolic, childlike warbling.
The next time you’re at Paul & Jack’s Tavern, sidle up to the bar and ask the local sitting next to you to describe the tavern’s original owners. Following an initial smile, you’re likely to be met with a blank stare. That’s because brothers Paul and Jack founded their eponymous bar and grill all the way back in 1948—a time when North Kansas City still lacked a laid-back tavern where the neighborhood’s diverse crowd could gather for live entertainment and old-fashioned American burgers and chili.
Though the tavern’s popularity has climbed steadily in the six decades since the brothers opened their doors for business, its menu remains a testament to mid-century Americana. The dining room tends to be rowdiest around lunchtime, when crowds descend to sample footlong hot dogs, deli sandwiches, and bowls of chili still made according to a 50-year-old recipe. Later in the evening, after dinners of USDA Choice steaks and deep-fried catfish, guests can head out to the enclosed back patio and throw bouquets of hot wings at the live-music performers they most enjoy.