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Scenes of Summer: What’s onstage at 13 theaters across KC

Musicals take center stage, but you’ll also find Shakespeare and a drama or two.

Scenes of Summer: What’s onstage at 13 theaters across KC

Chioma Anyanwu makes her entrance as a motel housekeeper who encounters Martin Luther King Jr. (Walter Coppage) in “The Mountaintop,” playing through June 30 at Unicorn Theatre.

The national tour of the Broadway musical “Catch Me If You Can” has landed at Starlight Theatre. Tour Company is part of the summer season at Starlight Theatre.

Early risers can catch a unique performance opportunity at Gorilla Theatre’s annual Greek show on the Nelson steps.

New Theatre Restaurant’s will revive its popular production of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.” The nostalgic bio-musical runs June 20-Aug. 25.


Here’s what summer theater in Kansas City means: musicals, heat, musicals, air-conditioning, musicals, Shakespeare, musicals, drama, musicals, comedy, musicals and more musicals.

And summer 2013 is shaping up to be firmly in that tradition.

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

The annual mix of elevated language and accessible entertainment returns with “As You Like It,” one of the Bard’s comedies. It was also staged by the festival in 2000.

As usual, artistic director Sidonie Garrett has assembled some of the best actors in Kansas City as well as out-of-town performers who have worked with the festival before. Carla Noack, John Rensenhouse, Mark Robbins, Bruce Roach, Todd Carlton Lanker and Cinnamon Schultz lead a cast that includes Matthew Rapport, Michael Linsley Rapport, Jacques Roy, Scott Cordes, Jake Walker and Emily Peterson, among others.

“As You Like It” runs June 18-July 7 in Southmoreland Park, just west of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Call 816.531.7728 or go to kcshakes.org.

Starlight Theatre in Swope Park

In terms of musicals, the big gorilla is in Swope Park. Starlight offers six shows through the summer and into September. The remaining lineup: “Catch Me If You Can,” through June 16; “Flashdance the Musical,” July 9-14; “Disney’s Little Mermaid,” July 23-28; “Footloose,” Aug 5-11; “Miss Saigon,” Sept. 7-13. Call 816.363.7827 or go to kcstarlight.com.

The New Theatre

“Weekend Comedy” wraps June 16. Then the theater reprises one of its most popular shows: “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.” The nostalgic bio-musical runs June 20-Aug. 25. Call 913.649.7827 or go to newtheatre.com. The theater is at 9229 Foster St. in Overland Park.

American Heartland Theatre

The comedy “Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating & Marriage” runs through June 23, followed by the last show in the Heartland’s history: “The Bikinis,” about a ’60s girl group reunion, July 12-Aug. 25. After that the Heartland will close. Crown Center officials have announced no plans for the 420-seat playhouse that opened in 1987. Call 816.842.9999 or go to ahtkc.com.

Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre

“Ragtime,” the epic award-winning musical based on E.L. Doctorow’s acclaimed novel, runs through June 16 at the intimate theater at 3614 Main St. The show, which is the venue’s final show of the season, features a book by Terrence McNally and a score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. The MET production is directed by Karen Paisley. It’s a big cast that includes Robert Gibby Brand, Charles Fugate, Michael Dragen, Alan Tilson, Justin G. McCoy and Teal Holliday. Call 816.569.3226 or go to metkc.org.

Quality Hill Playhouse

The current season closes with the revue “Great Big Broadway,” running through June 20. The theater is downtown at 10th and Central streets. Call 816.421.1700 or go to qualityhillplayhouse.com.

Off Center Theatre

Musical Theater Heritage, which performs in the theater on the third level of Crown Center, presents a concert performance of the classic musical “Hello, Dolly!’ Aug. 8-25. The show features Debra Bluford and Gary Neal Johnson. Call 816.842.9999 or go to musicaltheaterheritage.com.

Chestnut Fine Arts Center

The Olathe theater runs its current production, “Banjo on My Knee,” through June 23, followed by “America’s Veterans,” a musical salute to men and women who served in the military, July 11-Aug. 25. The theater also will offer a special performance, “Gulley and Granner,” featuring operatic singers Ben Gulley and Nathan Granner, Aug. 12-14. The theater is at 234 N. Chestnut. Call 913.764.2121 or go to chestnutfinearts.com.

Unicorn Theatre

Lest you think summer theater is all fun and games, consider “The Mountaintop,” a drama by Katori Hall that speculates on the last night of Martin Luther King’s life. The show runs through June 30 at the Unicorn Theatre, 3828 Main St. It features Walter Coppage and Chioma Anyanwu and is directed by Mykel Hill. Call 816.531.7529 or go to unicorntheatre.org.

H&R Block City Stage in Union Station

Kansas City Actors Theatre is offering two American classics, “Picnic” by William Inge and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by Eugene O’Neill. “Picnic” runs Aug. 6-25; Mark Robbins will direct a cast that includes Melinda McCrary, Kathleen Warfel, David Fritts and Emily Peterson. “Long Day’s Journey” runs Sept. 3-15. The cast includes Jim Birdsall, Merle Moores, Brian Paulette, Doogin Brown and Jessica Franz. Call 816.361.5228 or go to kcactors.org.

KC Fringe Festival

Slated July 18-28, the annual event is a place to see new, alternative theater. For a schedule go to kcfringe.org.

Coterie Theatre

Younger audiences can check out the musical “Lyle the Crocodile,” co-directed by Ron Megee and Missy Koonce, on the first level of Crown Center. The show runs June 18-Aug. 4. Call 816.474.6552 or go to thecoterie.org.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Gorilla Theatre will present its 22nd annual Greek show, “Aristophanes’ The Knights” at 7:30 a.m. June 29 and 30 on the south steps of the museum between Oak Street and Rockhill Road south of 45th Street. The performances are free. For more information go the company’s Facebook page.


The Music Hall in Municipal Auditorium

301 W. 13th St.



Twitter: @KCMOConvention

Fun fact: If performing arts aren’t your thing, you can also see the KC Roller Warriors at the Municipal Auditorium this summer.

Fishtank Performance Studio

1715 Wyandotte St.



Twitter: @AtTheFishtank

Fun fact: “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein” will be one of the venue’s shows this summer, which certainly sounds enticing.

Living Room

1818 McGee St.



Twitter: @thelivingroomkc

Fun fact: The seating is as comfortable as the theater’s name suggests.

Spencer Theatre at UMKC Performing Arts Center

4949 Cherry St.



Twitter: @UMKCCons

Fun fact: This is one of two venues that KC Repertory Theatre calls home. The other is the Copaken Stage.

Copaken Stage

1 H&R Block Way, near 13th and Walnut streets.



Twitter: @KCRep

Fun fact: Right across the street from Power & Light District, your pre-performance dinner choices are as numerous as your post-performance bar choices.

The Kauffman Center

1601 Broadway



Twitter: @KauffmanCenter

Fun fact: More than 475,000 people visited the center during its first year.

Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College

12345 College Blvd. in Overland Park



Twitter: @JCCCtweet

Fun fact: The venue houses Yardley Hall, Polsky Theatre, a black box theater and a recital hall.

The Lied Center at the University of Kansas

1246 W. Campus Road in Lawrence



Twitter: @liedcenterks

Fun fact: The first performance at the center was “The Secret Garden.”

White Theater at the Jewish Community Center

5801 W. 115th St. in Overland Park



Twitter: @JCCKC

Fun fact: If you loved the movie “Hairspray,” you can see it live here in July.

Theatre in the Park

7710 Renner Road in Lenexa



Twitter: @TTIPkansas

Not-so-fun fact: Alcohol is definitely not allowed at the outdoor venue. Pets aren’t cool, either.

Starlight Theatre

4600 Starlight Road



Twitter: @KCStarlight

Fun fact: The outdoor theater traces its origins to the queen of Romania’s visit to Kansas City in 1925.

New Theatre Restaurant

9229 Foster in Overland Park



Fun fact: The founders were Hollywood producers for about 10 years.

American Heartland Theatre

2450 Grand Blvd.



Twitter: @AHTKC

Not-so-fun fact: The 420-seat playhouse will be closing after “The Bikinis” ends.

Quality Hill Playhouse

303 W. 10th St.



Twitter: @TheQHP

Fun fact: If you’re looking for cabaret revues in Kansas City, this is your place.

Off Center Theatre

2450 Grand Blvd.



Fun fact: The theater holds an improv festival every year.

Unicorn Theatre

3828 Main St.



Twitter: @UnicornTheatre

Fun fact: All of the actors and technicians at the Unicorn are from the Kansas City area.

H&R Block City Stage at Union Station

30 W. Pershing Road



Twitter: @UnionStationKC

Fun fact: The stage is also a great venue for children’s plays, and right now it’s showing an adaptation of the classic “Boxcar Children.”

Coterie Theatre

2450 Grand Blvd.



Twitter: @CoterieTheatre

Fun fact: Time magazine named it one of the five best theaters for young audiences.

Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre

3614 Main St.



Fun fact: The MET is one of the newer and more intimate venues in the area.

Chestnut Fine Arts Center

234 N. Chestnut St. in Olathe



Fun fact: The executive director of the venue also founded a Christmas caroling company that performs in costume.

Ted Hart, Ink


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