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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September is within our grasp and the rich harvest that is local theatre offers a variety of delicacies to please the most discerning palate. Choose a bowl of laughter with the tender coming-of-age comedy Moon Over the Brewery, onstage at the Kechi Playhouse from September 2nd through the 25th.  In this Bruce Graham play, a single mother waits tables by day, paints at night, and copes with her gifted teenage daughter, all while searching for love.

Whatever your opinions might be on the subject of the jukebox musical, there is no question that Mamma Mia took the creative form to a level of success not previously enjoyed by many of its predecessors, and not replicated by many of those that came after.

Just about everyone in the post-modern world is familiar with the term “meta.” It is a Greek word, meaning “after” or “beyond.” With regard to the stage, meta-theatre describes theatre that is self-referential—theatre that refers to and comments upon itself. This includes plays and musicals that are not simply about plays and musicals, but go beyond that to also acknowledge the presence of the audience, the actors as actors, the artifice inherent in stage productions, and the literal experience of theatre itself.                             

DZ Productions brings the coming-of-age song cycle Edges to the Crown Uptown Theatre from July 21st to the 23rd. A song cycle is a unit of songs meant to be presented together, and in a particular sequence, in order to advance a story line, a theme, a mood—a unifying coherence from the combination of musical pieces.

If it's farce that you want—and come on, who doesn't?—then consider a trip to the Kechi Playhouse, where long-time audience favorite Charley's Aunt is playing throughout the month of July. The show, written by Brandon Thomas, had an original run in London of a record-breaking 1,466 performances, beginning onstage at the Royalty Theatre in December of 1892, then moving to the larger Globe Theatre in January of 1893 to accommodate the show's popularity.

You know it is well and truly summer when lighthearted musicals fill stages across the country. In this season of theatrical plenty, you have enough choices to fill your plate and more.

I like a Gershwin tune—how about you? Gershwin standards are the order of the evening in Music Theatre Wichita's production of Nice Work If You Can Get It. In addition to a musical score by George and Ira Gershwin, the book was written by Tony award-winning writer Joe DiPietro, built on work by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse. The story follows the exploits of wealthy, much-married Jimmy Winter, who is about to embark upon yet another marriage when his plans are interrupted by female bootlegger Billie Bendix and her gang.

The hippest, hottest ticket on Broadway, in case you hadn't noticed, is the hip-hop musical Hamilton, based on a biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the book, the music, and the lyrics for this juggernaut, and in the process, broke the record for the most Tony Award nominations, held previously by The Producers and Billy Elliot, surpassing the 15 nominations for those shows with a total of 17 nominations, including one for Miranda for Best Actor in a Musical.

“Rollicking” is probably not the first word that springs to mind when you think about opera, but The Pirates of Penzance is just such a light-hearted affair, with happy pirates, a love-struck couple, and a leap-year birthday that set the story in motion.

If the unpredictable spring weather has given you the blues, one solution is to go even bluer. An evening of entertainment by those cobalt-blue-bald-headed guys—yes, the Blue Man Group—can only be described as an experience.

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