FALL BOUNTY: Performing-arts groups offer quality, class, adventure

By Paul Horsley

We may be a tad hidebound in our cultural tastes at times, but here in KC we do a lot of things right and we don’t put on airs about it. Here are some Fall highlights to watch for.


20-September 5 Spinning Tree Theatre; West Side Story; This plucky young company takes on Bernstein and Sondheim’s gritty classic complete with Jerome Robbins’ jubilant original choreography. The Arts Asylum. 816-569-5277 or spinningtreetheatre.com.

26-September 20 Unicorn Theatre; The Oldest Boy; Sarah Ruhl’s play about a young boy whom a group of Tibetan monks believe to be the new Lama features the puppet artistry of Paul Mesner. 816-531-7529 or unicorntheatre.org.

30 Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College; Turandot; Wichita Grand Opera, celebrating its 15th anniversary, brings Puccini’s white-hot masterpiece for its KC-area debut, with Zvetelina Vassileva and Kansas native Samuel Ramey as Timur. 816-469-4445 or jccc.edu.


8 Harriman-Jewell Series; Itzhak Perlman, violin, and Emanuel Ax, piano; Two of the great artists of our time open the season with music of Mozart, Fauré and Strauss. Also, September 26 Audra McDonald; Broadway star and Harriman favorite performs in concert. Both at Kauffman Center. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

Itzhak Perlman appears with pianist Emanuel Ax / Photo by Christian Steiner

Itzhak Perlman performs with pianist Emanuel Ax on the Harriman-Jewell Series / Photo Christian Steiner

9-27 Kansas City Actors Theatre; At Home at the Zoo; Edward Albee’s expanded version of his classic 1959 one-act The Zoo Story is directed by Doug Weaver. City Stage, Union Station. 816-235-6222 or kcactors.org.

11-October 4 Kansas City Repertory Theatre; Sunday in the Park with George; Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s bracing classic about creativity and heritage is presented in collaboration with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where it is performed. 816-235-2700 or kcrep.org.

18-20 Kansas City Symphony; Ravel’s Boléro and Symphonic Soloists; Michael Stern invites KCS principal players to perform in concertante roles. Kauffman Center. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

26-October 4 Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Don Giovanni; Mozart’s anti-hero is portrayed by bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch, in a production that also includes local favorite Elizabeth Caballero as Donna Elvira. Kauffman Center. 816-471-7344 or kcopera.org.


2-November 1 Quality Hill Playhouse; Tin Pan Alley; J. Kent Barnhart and friends celebrate songs of Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, and others. 816-421-1700 or qualityhillplayhouse.com.

8-10 Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey; Ailey II; The vibrant young company presents a residency, a gala and public performances. Folly Theater. 816-471-4444 or follytheater.org. For gala tickets, call 816-471-6003 or visit kcfaa.org.

9-18   Kansas City Ballet; The Three Musketeers; The familiar tale is told with choreography by André Prokovsky and music by Giuseppe Verdi. Kauffman Center. 816-931-8993 or kcballet.org.

Soprano Ellie Dehn sings the title role in the Lyric Opera's 'Rusalka' / Photo by Victoria Janashvili

Soprano Ellie Dehn performs the title role in the Lyric Opera’s ‘Rusalka’ / Photo Victoria Janashvili

11 and 13 Kansas City Chorale; Shanah Tovah! Music of Jewish Tradition; A program devoted to a fascinating musical landscape. Temple Beth Shalom (October 11th); Unity Temple on the Plaza (October 13th). 816-235-6222 or kcchorale.org.

15-November 1 Spinning Tree Theatre; Turn of the Screw; Charles Fugate and Nicole Marie Green star in Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Henry James’ enigmatic story. Just Off Broadway Theatre. 816-569-5277 or spinningtreetheatre.com.

16 Friends of Chamber Music; András Schiff, piano; The Hungarian musical giant performs the very last sonata by each of the four Classic-period masters: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. Folly Theater. 816-561-9999 or chambermusic.org.

16-November 15 Kansas City Repertory Theatre; Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin; The world premiere of Michael Benjamin Washington’s play about non-violent civil resistance in 1960s Washington, D.C. is a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse. Copaken Stage. 816-235-2700 or kcrep.org.

17 Harriman-Jewell Series; Metropolitan Opera Rising Stars Concert Series; Brian Zeger, executive director of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artists Program, presents young singers on the verge of big careers. Folly Theater. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

27 Harriman-Jewell Series, The Chicago Symphony with Riccardo Muti; One of the great orchestras of the modern era and one of most interesting conductors today perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Mahler’s First. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.


6 Kansas City Chamber Orchestra; Shakespeare as Muse; Works inspired by, or set to, the bard’s poetry; with readings. Old Mission United Methodist Church. 816-235-6222 or 816-960-1324 or kcchamberorchestra.org.

Urban Bush Woman perform on the JCCC series / Photo by Ayano Hisa

Urban Bush Woman perform on the JCCC Performing Arts Series / Photo Ayano Hisa

7 Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College; Urban Bush Women; Under the leadership of KC-born Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, this company has presented some of the most interesting dance you’ll see anywhere in the world. Yardley Hall. 913-469-4445 or jccc.edu.

7-15 Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Rusalka; The company delves into Czech opera for the first time with Dvořák’s lush telling of the “Little Mermaid” story; Ellie Dehn sings the title role. Kauffman Center. 816-471-7344 or kcopera.org.

19-December 24 Quality Hill Playhouse; Christmas in Song; A holiday favorite with staying-power! 816-421-1700 or qualityhillplayhouse.com.

20-December 24 Kansas City Repertory Theatre; A Christmas Carol; Over the years this elaborate production has become a world unto itself. Spencer Theatre. 816-235-2700 or kcrep.org.

The great American conductor David Zinman leads the KC Symphony / Photo by Priska Ketterer

The great American conductor David Zinman leads the KC Symphony / Photo Priska Ketterer

20-22 Kansas City Symphony; Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms; Guest conductor David Zinman, one the great conductors of our time, performs works dear to him. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.


2-27 Unicorn Theatre; Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play; Anne Washburn’s futuristic comedy imagines popular culture (e.g., “The Simpsons”) as the Greek mythology of tomorrow. 816-531-7529 or unicorntheatre.org.

5-24 Kansas City Ballet; The Nutcracker; Artistic Director Devon Carney’s brand-new production features re-imagined sets, costumes and choreography. 816-931-8993 or kcballet.org.

11 Friends of Chamber Music; The Tallis Scholars; Britain’s dazzling choral ensemble presents holiday-themed music of Tallis, Pärt and others. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. 816-561-9999 or chambermusic.org.


To reach Paul Horsley, performing arts editor; send an email to phorsley@sbcglobal.net or find him on Facebook (paul.horsley.501) or Twitter (@phorsleycritic). 

At top: Washington, D.C.’s Signature Theatre produced ‘Sunday in the Park with George’ (also with Claybourne Elder, right), the quirky Sondheim musical with which KC Rep opens its season this fall. / Photo Margo Schulman.

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