Performing Arts

KC Fringe Festival brings an adventurous spirit to classical themes

“Lil Women: A Rap Musical” is a fresh retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved book.
“Lil Women: A Rap Musical” is a fresh retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved book.

The American mainstream often stereotypes classical fans as stodgy and stuck in the past. But I know better. Lovers of classical music are some of the most intellectually curious and culturally adventurous people around. They’re just the sort of audience for whom the KC Fringe Festival was created.

This year’s festival, which runs July 19-29, has many diverse offerings that should appeal to a smart classical music audience. For example, there’s “Overture the Musical” by Krista Eyler, which tells the story of the grass-roots effort to save the Kansas City Philharmonic in 1953. This is a fascinating piece of Kansas City classical music history of which few are aware.

Classical mythology is the source of inspiration for at least two Fringe productions: “After Persephone” and “Medea: An American Tragedy.” Both plays use Greek mythology to cast light on contemporary issues.

Fans of Shakespeare should find two shows particularly interesting. “And God Did Shake the Pear” is a one-man show by Scott Cox, who directs Living Shakespeare, a rehabilitative theater program at Lansing Correctional Facility. Cox will draw on his years of experience using the wisdom of Shakespeare to answer life’s questions.

Rehearsal shot Miranda_ One Woman Tempest
“Miranda: One Woman’s Tempest” is based on Shakespeare’s classic, told from the perspective of a 15-year-old girl through the use of mask, dance theater and aerial silks.

“Miranda: One Woman’s Tempest” will be performed by Imaginez. “They’re a group from Wisconsin,” said Cheryl Kimmi, executive director of KC Fringe. “They’ve been here before when they did a show called ‘Take Flight,’ which was absolutely charming and amazing. With ‘Miranda,’ they’re reimagining Shakespeare’s “Tempest” through aerial arts and masks.”

This year’s festival also shows how the aerial arts, which have gained such prominence in recent years, are evolving to tell dramatic, even tragic stories, like “Rise,” which is based on actual cases from Kansas City anti-human trafficking organizations. There are other provocative productions, too, like “Intrusion,” a one-woman play by Qurrat Ann Kadwani. The play grew out of Kadwani’s obsession with the fatal gang rape of Jyoti Singh in New Delhi in 2012.

But there’s a lot of silly fun in store, too, like “Lil Women: A Rap Musical” and “The Greatest Show at Fringe,” which uses dance and aerial arts to hark back to P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth.

“This is an opportunity to experience other types of art and try something different,” Kimmi said. “There’s a little bit of everything, so I would encourage people to find something that’s comfortable, but then challenge them to find something they’ve not experienced before and test those waters and see what they think. They might be very pleasantly surprised.”

Onstage at the KC Fringe Festival

These are just a few of the shows and other events at this year’s KC Fringe Festival, which runs July 19-29 at multiple venues. Tickets for most shows are $10. Attendees also must purchase a $5 button. For a complete schedule, tickets and more information, visit kcfringe.org.

persephone 2
Hades (Calvin Arsenia), God of the Underworld, approaches the young maiden Persephone (Diana Edwin), intent on taking her away with him and making her his queen in “After Persephone: A Musical.”

▪ “After Persephone: A Musical.” Written by Donna W. Ziegenhorn with music by Marcy Smalley. Performed by Calliope Collaborations.

8 p.m. July 20 and July 25; 2 p.m. July 21; 6:30 p.m. July 26; 9:30 p.m. July 28. At Arts Asylum, 1000 E. Ninth St.

▪ “Medea: An American Tragedy.” Adapted from the classic Greek tragedy by Nathan Bowman. Performed by Kansas City Public Theatre.

6:30 p.m. July 21 and 27; 2 p.m. July 22; 8 p.m. July 24; 5 p.m. July 28. At Arts Asylum.

overture Character Lily
Krista Eyler plays a ticket-seller for the Kansas City Philharmonic in “Overture the Musical.” Eyler is also composer and co-book writer of the show about the grass-roots effort to save the Philharmonic in 1953.

▪ “Overture the Musical” by Krista Eyler. The story of the grass-roots effort to save the Kansas City Philharmonic in 1953.

6:30 p.m. July 20, 22 and 25; 9:30 p.m. July 21; 2 p.m. July 28. At Arts Asylum.

▪ “The Greatest Show at Fringe.” Aerial arts and dance combine in a modernization of the three-ring circus. Performed by Kansas City Aerial Arts and VidaDance.

8 p.m. July 20 and 25; 2 p.m. July 21; 6:30 p.m. July 22 and 28. At Bolender Center for Arts and Creativity, 500 W. Pershing Road.

rise
“Rise” is based on actual cases from Kansas City anti-human trafficking organizations.

▪ “Rise.” Based on true stories from Kansas City anti-trafficking organizations.

9:30 p.m. July 20; 3:30 p.m. July 21; 6:30 p.m. July 26; 2 and 8 p.m. July 28. At Bolender Center for Arts and Creativity.

shake the pear
“And God Did Shake the Pear: Shakespeare for Everyday Living” is a one-man show by Scott Cox, founder of a rehabilitative theater program at Lansing Correctional Facility. In it, he draws on his years of experience using the wisdom of Shakespeare to answer life’s questions.

▪ “And God Did Shake the Pear: Shakespeare for Everyday Living.” A one-man show by Scott Cox, founder and director of Living Shakespeare.

9 p.m. July 21; 3 p.m. July 22; 6:30 p.m. July 26; 7:30 p.m. July 27; 6 p.m. July 28. At Just Off Broadway, 3051 Penn Valley Drive.

▪ “Intrusion.” A solo play by Qurrat Ann Kadwani with special meaning for the #MeToo era that explores politics, the media, the legal system, psychology and more. Performed by QK Company.

9 p.m. July 20; 10:30 p.m. July 21; 6 p.m. July 22 and 25; 3 p.m. July 28. At Squeezebox, 1519 Oak St.

▪ “Lil Women: A Rap Musical.” The title says it all. It’s been making the Top 10 lists at fringe festivals in Orlando, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Performed by Lil Theatre Company.

4:30 p.m. July 22; 6 p.m. July 23 and 27; 7:30 p.m. July 25; 9 p.m. July 28. At Union Station City Stage, 30 W. Pershing Road.

▪ “Miranda: One Woman’s Tempest.” Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” touched by the sorcery of aerial arts, poetry and masks. Performed by Imaginez.

7:30 p.m. July 21 and 2; 1:30 p.m. July 22; 6 p.m. July 26; 9 p.m. July 27. At Union Station City Stage.

Kansas City Baroque Consortium

charles metz
Charles Metz will join the Kansas City Baroque Consortium in a concert July 20.

Trilla Ray-Carter and her Kansas City Baroque Consortium do their part to make summers more interesting. Their summer concerts provide an opportunity to hear early music performed on authentic period instruments. On July 20 at Westport Presbyterian, they’ll present “Outside the Baroque Box.”

Charles Metz, an outstanding harpsichordist who has studied with Igor Kipnis and Trevor Pinnock, will bring his gorgeous mahogany fortepiano decorated with gold leaf to play the similarly ornamented music of Haydn, Mozart and C.P.E. Bach with the Consortium.

7:30 p.m. July 20. Westport Presbyterian Church, 201 Westport Road. $18-$30. kcbaroque.org.

You can reach Patrick Neas at patrickneas@kcartsbeat.com and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at www.facebook.com/kcartsbeat.

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