On Stage

KMUW commentator Sanda Moore Coleman looks behind the curtain to give listeners (and play goers) a bit of history and perspective.

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Tchaikovsky was commissioned by the Director of the Imperial Theatre to compose the music for the ballet The Sleeping Beauty, with ballet master of the Imperial Ballet, Marius Petipa, as choreographer. This was Tchaikovsky's second ballet, following his first collaboration with Petipa, Swan Lake. It includes a prologue and three acts, and is the longest of Tchaikovsky's works, running nearly three hours without intermissions, and as such, it is frequently edited for time.

Wichita State University

The Importance of Ideas in Theatre originally aired on October 25, 2015.

I believe in the revitalization of straight theatre in Wichita, theatre that is not backed by a musical score. I believe, as well, that it is a mistake to underestimate the intelligence of the present, and potential, theatre-going audience. And I believe that the most exciting productions occur when the director has ideas—or at least a point of view.

The Santaland Diaries, an essay by David Sedaris, made its debut nearly 24 years ago on December 23, 1992. Sedaris read the essay on NPR's Morning Edition where it was so enjoyed by listeners that Sedaris later published the piece in two collections: Barrel Fever in 1994 and Holidays On Ice in 1997.

The Nutcracker has become a treasured holiday classic, but that was not always the case. After the collaboration between Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa which resulted in the creation of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890, the director of Russia's Imperial Theatres commissioned Tchaikovsky to make an evening's entertainment that would include both an opera—which would become Iolanta—and a ballet.

A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in a six-week flurry of inspiration. The story goes that upon visiting the industrial city of Manchester, Dickens was moved to write a tale that he hoped would help improve conditions for the poor, especially children. He hoped also to revive his career, which had fallen into a bit of a slump. He hurried it to publishers in early December 1843, and it came out in print on December 19. It has never been out of print since.

As we ease into the season of holidays, our thoughts turn naturally to fun, food, and drink, and local dinner theatre is where you can find it all. Mosley Street Melodrama is producing Holidays of Our Lives, an original script by local writer Carol Hughes that parodies soap operas and promises plenty of laughter, along with dinner, or without dinner, if that's your preference. The show runs from November 10th to December 30th.

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This commentary originally aired on November 9, 2015.

Diminishing audiences have been an increasing problem for theatre, for Broadway and regional stages alike.

In large part, the issue can be traced to cost. For a Broadway production, tickets to the hottest show can reach such stratospheric proportions, one has to wonder who, exactly, is attending at all, and what happened to theatre for the people. Even Shakespeare, after all, had a place for the Groundlings.

Nobody in musical theatre has pushed boundaries the way Stephen Sondheim has—whether it's a modern farce inspired by the farces of a Roman playwright, as in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; an intricate weaving of plot-lines that follow disparate fairy tale characters, as in Into the Woods; or the demon barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd-- Sondheim has a darkly comic song for all.

William Shakespeare has been inspiring artists through the ages and around the globe. You'll find Shakespeare not just in theatre, but in film, on canvas, in pointe shoes, and in just about any other art form you can think of.

Every person who has ever lived in Kansas knows “The Wizard of Oz.” Every person who has ever lived in Kansas and traveled anywhere else in the world knows that the first thing other people say to you when they learn you've lived in Kansas is a joke that references “The Wizard of Oz.” In the olden days, when I was growing up, the film version of “The Wizard of Oz” was broadcast on television every year, and it was an important family event.