News Column

KC theater companies are filling in their 2013-14 schedules

August 14, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 14--Some of the small theater companies have put together interesting seasons, even as they wait in some cases for firm dates to be nailed down.

Spinning Tree Theatre, a nonprofit company that performs at different venues, had planned to open its season with Lydia Diamond's "Stick Fly," a contemporary dramatic comedy about a well-off African-American family gathering for a weekend on Martha's Vineyard. However, the rights were withdrawn, apparently because a TV movie version of the play is in the works.

By then, founders Michael Grayman and Andy Parkhurst had already approached a number of strong African-American actors. They decided to stage "Ain't Misbehavin'," a musical revue celebrating the Harlem Renaissance.

"We hadn't contracted any actors but we had spoken to some," Parkhurst said. "And we said, 'We have a really great cast for 'Ain't Misbehavin'' here.' And 'Ain't Misbehavin' was on our wish list for next year."

The show incorporates music by Fats Waller and others and runs Nov. 1-17 at the Just Off Broadway Theatre, near 31st and Broadway in Penn Valley Park. The cast includes Jennie Greenberry, Eboni Fondren, Linnaia McKenzie, Matthew King and Ron Lackey.

The season also includes " Motherhood Out Loud" by Beth Henley, Lisa Loomer, Theresa Rebeck and others, Feb. 6-16, 2014, at the Off Center Theatre at Crown Center. That show has not been cast.

The company closes its season with " A Little Night Music" by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, May 8-24 at the Off Center Theatre. The cast includes Melinda McDonald, Charles Fugate, Molly Denninghoff, Vigthor Zophoniasson, Lauren Braton, Liz Clark Golson and Kathy Wood.

For more information on the Spinning Tree season, call 816-569-5277 or go to SpinningTreeTheatre.com.

The Living Room, 1818 McGee St., will inaugurate its 2013-14 season with "The Mistakes Madeline Made," a comedy by Elizabeth Meriwether about a young woman who loathes her job as a personal assistant and expresses her rebellion through a series of unorthodox subversive steps. The production will mark actress/playwright Natalie Liccardello's directing debut and will feature Melissa Fennewald.

"We thought it would be great to open the season with a play by a woman," said artistic director Rusty Sneary. "We've been labled over the last few years as a male-oriented theater. So our team is focused on showcasing everything we can do here and showing more diversity."

"Madeline" runs Oct. 2-20.

Next will be David Mamet's "Race," a drama depicting three lawyers -- two black, one white -- debating whether to represent a white man accused of raping a black woman. Walter Coppage will make his directing debut with this show, which is slated to run Nov. 8-24.

In December, the Living Room will leave open a three-week slot for a reprise of a show yet to be determined from this year's KC Fringe Festival. Last year, the company invited Play On Productions to remount its production of "Skillet Tag," which was first seen at the 2012 Fringe.

Firm dates for the Living Room's spring shows are still to be nailed down, but they include Neil Labute's "Fat Pig," about a troubled romantic relationship between a young male professional and a heavy female librarian; "The Two Fridas," an original family-friendly piece created by Vanessa Severo and Alex Espy depicting young Frida Kahlo's relationship with an imaginary friend, with choreography by Severo; and "Master of the Universe," an adaptation by Kyle Hatley of the unfinished 19th-century German tragedy "Woyzeck."

For more information, call the Living Room at 816-533-5857 or go to TheLivingRoomKC.com.

Egads Theatre will stage "Carrie the Musical," based on Stephen King's thriller about a girl who uses her telekinetic powers to avenge her humiliation at the hand of high school bullies, Oct. 4-Nov. 4. Artistic director Steven Eubank said he planned a more-or-less straightforward production of the show, which was a legendary Broadway bomb. The show features Chelsea Anglemyer, Tara Varney, Stephanie Weinecke and Megan Herrera, among others, and will be performed at the Off Center Theatre at Crown Center. It will be followed by "Tell Me On a Sunday," a one-woman musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber featuring Shelby Floyd, Nov. 8-23.

For more information, call 816-842-9999 or go to EgadsTheatre.com.

To reach Robert Trussell, call 816-234-4765 or send email to rtrussell@kcstar.com.

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