The myriad ways Kansas Citians influence the culture grow more impressive each day. This week’s roundup of the locals spans from Broadway to your local comic book shop.
▪ Don’t call it a comeback: “American Idol” season 7 winner David Cook, who grew up in Blue Springs, was in D.C. last week to lend support to the Race for Hope, which supports the National Brain Tumor Society. He said he returns each year to celebrate the life and memory of his brother Adam, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2009.
While on “Good Morning Washington,” Cook told the ABC affiliate the music industry had changed immensely since he was on “Idol,” which is rumored to be coming back.
“It’s an amazing platform,” said Cook, who now lives in Nashville. “It’s so easy to be heard and harder to get people to listen. And then there’s this platform where people can go on there and show their artistry and be listened to and gain a following. I think it’s fantastic.”
Watch Cook in the clip here.
▪ Tighten up: The Havana Maestros have taken KCK actress and singer Janelle Monae’s song “Tightrope” and set it to Cuban rhythms and instrumentation.
Billboard reports the song is included in the upcoming album, “Americuba,” which is due to be available May 26.
The album also includes covers of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On,” using the original vocal tracks set to music performed by master laud player Barbarito Torres, pianists Emilio Vega and Harold Lopez Nussa, timbalero Amadito Valdes, among dozens of other Cuban musicians, 42 in all.
The Havana Maestros’ cover of “Tightrope is now available on Spotify.
Listen to it below.
▪ To go with his Oscar: KC native Chris Cooper’s performance is one of the eight Tony nominations announced last week for “A Doll’s House, Part 2.”
In addition to Cooper’s best actor nod, the work received nominations for best play, direction (Sam Gold), actress in a featured role (two nominations in this category for Jayne Houdyshell and Condola Rashad), actress in a leading role (Laurie Metcalf), lighting design and costume design.
Cooper, a Mizzou grad, won a supporting actor Oscar and Golden Globe for 2002’s “Adaptation” and a Screen Actor’s Guild cast award for “American Beauty.”
▪ Paying tribute to Katniss: “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, who grew up in Lawrence, says Katniss Everdeen is partly to thank for the Amazing Amazon is finally making it to the big screen.
“Things like ‘The Hunger Games’ have already made a huge impact, and I think they helped open the door for us,” she told SciFiNow. “It’s finally saying: ‘Look, there are people making these things with female leads that doesn’t become a “chicks” film! It becomes a film for both genders!’ and so other people have opened the door, but I certainly hope that in the superhero genre this will change things.”
The film is due in theaters June 2.
▪ She the people: Singer/songwriter and Leavenworth native Melissa Etheridge tells the Vancouver Sun her father’s career as a high school government teacher ignited her passion for activism.
“It thrilled me about what our Constitution is and what our forefathers were,” she said. “They were deists who came over here and said that organized religion, all this stuff is hurting us. That each human being is free was a radical, radical thought 200 years ago. That radicalness is what raised this country. It’s the heartbeat of America. People lose sight of that. The heart of our democracy, of our Constitution, is brilliant, and worth fighting and dying for, I believe.”
▪ Home for “Hamlet”: Nathan Darrow of Netflix’s “House of Lies” and Fox’s “Gotham” is returning to his native KC this summer to star in “Hamlet” for Heart of America’s Shakespeare Festival.
The actor told KC Studio’s Robert Trussell the age-old question of how old Hamlet should be portrayed maybe changed in Shakespeare’s mind as he wrote.
“In one version it seems like maybe he’s about 18. And in another he seems more like 30,” Darrow said. “So, if you ask me, I’m going with 30. That feels right to me. It raises the stakes and makes it stranger and more difficult that he is not crowned king. And as the only son it also makes sense that he gets to this point in his life without being smacked in the face by death.”
“Hamlet” is planned to run June 13 through July 7 in Southmoreland park. More info at kcshakes.org.
▪ Are you readiest?: KC’s Rob Riggle is back for Holiday Inn Express’ new ad campaign, “Be the Readiest.” He’ll appear in ad content for the hotel chain on TV and social media. One of the first commercial spots is below.
▪ Surprise!: American Ballet Theatre principal dancer and KC native Misty Copeland surprised a group of ballet dancers late last month on “The Steve Harvey Show.”
Harvey lined up the girls from Chicago’s Mayfair Performance Company and asked if they knew of Copeland, who is the first African-American to be promoted to principal dancer for ABT. They nodded and said they did.
“One day, if you study this long enough, you could meet her,” he said. “One day you could be her. Wouldn’t that be exciting?”
Copeland then surprised the girls by joining them onstage. Naturally, tears were shed.
“It’s make me emotional,” Copeland said. “It’s not common and it should be to see beautiful brown women doing ballet.”
Watch the clip below.
▪ KC strips: The first issue of KC comic book writer Dennis Hopeless’ Marvel Comics series “Jean Grey” was released last week. The series focuses on the telepathic mutant member of the original X-Men, who also will be the subject of Fox’s new X-Men movie, “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” scheduled to be released in 2018.
On the way
▪ Branford Marsalis Quartet and Kurt Elling perform Thursday at Helzberg Hall. Tickets are $35.50-$75.50 through kauffmancenter.org.
▪ Chance the Rapper performs Saturday at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater. The show is officially sold out, but tickets were $29.50-$69.50 through providenceamp.com. Tickets may be available through resellers.
▪ Bonobo performs Saturday at the Granada in Lawrence. Tickets are $22 through thegranada.com.
▪ Soundgarden performs Sunday at Starlight Theatre. Tickets are $27-$87 through kcstarlight.com.
Stuff to do
▪ “9 to 5: The Musical” opens Thursday, May 11, at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. Tickets are $24-$54 through metkc.org.
▪ The Kansas City Ballet’s “Director’s Choice” performances open Friday at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre. Tickets are $35.50-$125.50 through kcballet.org.
▪ The Downtown Open Urban Golf Tournament is at 1 p.m. Saturday at Washington Square Park. Entry is $20; viewing is free. More info: eventbrite.com/event/33121920556.
▪ Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Anna Quindlen speaks Saturday at Mid-Continent Public Library-Woodneath Library Center. The event is free. More info: mystorycenter.org.
New this week
▪ Books: Jo Nesbo, “The Thirst”; Gail Honeyman, “Elanor Oliphant is Completely Fine”; Kimberly Tait, “Fake Plastic Love.” More here.
▪ Music: Harry Styles, “Harry Styles”; Zac Brown Band, “Welcome Home,” Warrant, “Louder Hardre Faster”; Todd Rundgren, “White Knight”; Seether, “Poison the Parish”; Pwr Bttm, “Pageant”; Paramore, “After Laughter”; B.o.B., “Ether”; Girlpool, “Powerplant”; Danzig, “Black Laden Crown.” More here.
▪ Movies: “Snatched”; “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”; “The Wall”; “3 Generations”; “Hounds of Love”; “Animation Show of Shows.”
▪ Video: “Fifty Shades Darker”; “Allied”; “Divorce: Season 1.” More here.