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REVIEW: KC Ballet presents varied program that reveals much about American dance

When a ballet audience gasps audibly at the sheer “look” of a piece, before the dancers have made a single move, you know you’re in for a ride. When the curtain went up on George Balanchine’s Serenade, the opening piece of the Kansas City Ballet’s final 2011-2012 production, the translucent azure lighting and ballerinas frozen in a tilted port de bras immediately warmed us to the classical beauty of this first American piece by the Russian-born choreographer.

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BIG 12

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2012: A DOZEN PRICELESS PERFORMANCES The year 2012 was a golden one for performing arts in Kansas City, part of an incredible flowering that has been going on for more a decade. This is not so much a “best of” list as it is a collection of performances that struck a nerve with me.

The Mousetrap (Kansas City Actors Theatre, August 4st through the 26th): Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, now in its 60thyear of continuous production, is as fun and as intriguing as ever.

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Gary Neal Johnson is one of Kansas City’s most respected actors, best known as Scrooge in the KC Rep’s A Christmas Carol. But his experience has ranged widely, and he is currently performing his first Willy Loman in the Rep’s Death of a Salesman, directed by artistic director Eric Rosen. We had an intriguing chat with Gary about the show, and below is an excerpt of that conversation.

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In Review

GETTING WITH THE PICTURE: Lyric production of early Wagner milestone has ups and downs
The Flying Dutchman is a tricky opera to get one’s head around, let alone bring to the stage, partly because its mythical story can easily come off as simplistic. A young girl, Senta, grows up infatuated with a fantasy-man whose portrait hangs, inexplicably, in her family’s living room.

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