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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If it's summer, there must be farce, and if there's farce, the chances are good that it's at The Kechi Playhouse. See How They Run is a three-act comedy by Philip King, set in an English village just after the end of World War II. Laugh the night away at this fast-paced, door-slamming delight, on stage through July 29th.

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If you're a fan of jukebox musicals, it may interest you to know that a musical featuring the songs of Michael Jackson is currently in development, and is expected to hit the Broadway stage in 2020. Matching the talent in the music are two heavy hitters: Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon, as director and choreographer, and the twice-winning Pulitzer Prize playwright Lynn Nottage, who is writing the book for the production. The musical, which is yet to be titled, is inspired by the life of Jackson, with the cooperation of the Michael Jackson Estate.

At the 72nd annual Tony Awards ceremony on June 10th, the toast of Broadway was The Band's Visit, which took home 10 of the 11 awards it was nominated for, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book, Best Director, Best Lead Actor, Actress and Featured Actor. Based on an Israeli art-house film by the same name, the story transpires over a single night in a restaurant in a small town in the Israeli desert. The eight-man Egyptian Police Orchestra arrive at the town by mistake, having been booked elsewhere.

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Damon Runyon was born into a family of newspapermen in 1880, in Manhattan, Kansas. He was a journalist and a fiction writer who met Pancho Villa in a bar while covering spring training in Texas, and whose best friend was an accountant for the Mob.

Nominations for the Tony Awards were recently announced; the ceremony is scheduled for June 10th at Radio City Music Hall and will be hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban. Even Broadway audience-neophytes will recognize some of the names, which include Denzel Washington for The Iceman Cometh, Amy Schumer for Meteor Shower, Laurie Metcalf and Glenda Jackson for Three Tall Women, and Tony Shalhoub for The Band's Visit, among others.

Now that May has arrived and we're reasonably sure that snow is not in the immediate weather forecast, it's time to get out in the fresh air and enjoy some outdoor entertainment. One option is an annual tradition for the city, the open-to-all Opera on the Lake, brought to you by the Wichita Grand Opera. Hosted by Bradley Fair, the evening is an open-air event; you can bring a blanket or a lawn chair for free, or you can purchase a reserved seat, or you can go the VIP route, which includes a three-course dinner and seating on the patio at Newport Grill.

Hal Prince is the producer-director behind such musicals as Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and Cabaret

If you're a fan of comedy...and musicals...and romance...and murder, the Theatre League of Wichita is serving it up in the form of the award-winning A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.

Le Nozze di Figaro, or The Marriage of Figaro, is an opera buffa, or comic opera, in four acts, adapted from the stage comedy “The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro” by Pierre Beaumarchais. It was the first of three operas that joined the talents of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte; the other two collaborations were Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte.

Giuseppe Verdi created the opera La Traviata, or The Fallen Woman, set to the work of Italian librettist Francesco Piave. Originally titled Violetta, after the main character, the opera is based on the play “The Lady of the Camellias,” which was, in turn, adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils. The story concerns a dying courtesan who falls in love with a young man, and is persuaded to sacrifice her brief happiness to protect the young man's future. It made its onstage debut at La Fenice opera house in Venice on March 6th, 1853.

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