The Topeka Symphony Orchestra heralds its 66th year of performances, as well as the final season for conductor and music director Dr. John Strickler, with its upcoming 2011–2012 season. On opening night, "Czech Mates" tasks the professional soundsmiths with transmuting the pages of Dvorak's Symphony no. 6 and Tchaikovsky's violin concerto into an aural spectacle. Ivan Zenaty, an experienced maestro who currently resides in Dresden, leads the concerto's melodic charge and waves his baton with fingers nimble enough to play cat's cradle one-handed. "The 5th!" unfurls an ear-tickling soundscape that includes Beethoven's Symphony no. 5, as well as Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem and Rainbow Body by Theofanidis. White Concert Hall sports more than 1,000 seats, allowing patrons ample room to indulge in the orchestra's acoustic delights or privately conduct their own shadow-puppet rendition of Amadeus.
Spurred by a drive to instill children with a love for the arts and to build their self-esteem, professional actor Miles McMahon helms an array of educational programs at Theatre of the Imagination. He and his staff of local theater lovers build on more than 2,000 successful children's theatrical productions through creative summer camps, acting and performance classes, special workshops, and birthday parties for performers in prekindergarten through ninth grade. Miles writes a completely new work for each class and camp, using the script to immerse students in a cooperative, creative environment while freeing them from the pressures of lead roles, auditions, and autographer's elbow. Staff members can also conduct Movie Star Acting birthday parties, where they shoot a short film with the birthday child as the star.
Though it was once the sport of choice for the nation’s well-heeled gentry, croquet slowly found itself relegated to being a game played at family reunions with equipment found in your grandparent’s basement. Wanting to halt one of their favorite childhood pastimes slide into obscurity, the team at Kactus Creek Croquet Club decided to open up a six-wicket club specializing in these fun, less-formal games of American golf croquet. Greenery, a large waterfall—and the club’s namesake cacti—surround the USCA-certified club, creating a scenic spot for guests to learn the game under the helpful eye of an onsite instructor or hone their skills with an afternoon of match play. The club’s groundskeepers maintain the cushy hybrid bermuda grass to a fast golf-green quality with water supplied by caught rainwater, preserving the environment without having to buy pedal-operated golf carts.
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.
Dance Amore's chief instructor Deborah Loomis has been performing for more than 20 years, boasting a resumè that includes acting, dancing, and singing with the Massachusetts Allstate Choir and taking to the stage as a female lead in Bye Bye Birdie. At Dance Amore, she puts this experience to use helping children and adults alike tap into their melodious side through an eclectic curriculum. Her dance classes cover tap, ballet, jazz, and hip-hop for different age groups atop Harlequin floors. She also translates choreography into calorie-busting workouts with Zumba programs. At sessions for toddlers, she encourages freeform movement and the development of motor skills, outlining dance's foremost basics, such as refraining from repeatedly hitting the speakers to find the music inside. Deborah guides pupils in the process of making their own music, as well. She oversees beginner's flute, piano, and voice lessons that set the stage for future practice. Parents and loved ones keep abreast of their children's progress by attending yearly recitals, where each student showcases their burgeoning talent.
Fine Arts Theatres? four venues surround moviegoers with classic silver-screen ambiance as they present the latest independent and mainstream film offerings. Lovingly refurbished neighborhood movie palaces such as the early-20th-century Rio Theatre now boast surround-sound digital audio, high-backed rocker seats with arm-mounted cup holders, and movie trailers acted out by gregarious ticket takers. In addition to flicks opening each week, The Fine Arts Theatres hosts special independent screenings throughout the year including the Kansas International Film Festival (Oct. 10-16th) that features 55 films in 7 days and the Latin American Film Festival every September.