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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Visitor 7 / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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.

Wichita State University

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.

Jerry Fritchman / Wichita Center For the Arts

The loss of Center Theatre at the Wichita Center for the Arts is not simply a loss for the theatre community, nor is it not merely a personal loss—I met my husband there—it also represents a larger problem for straight theatre in the city.

Recently, I read that a musical featuring a television cartoon character was headed to Broadway in 2016. Contributing original music are performers like Cindy Lauper, David Bowie and The Flaming Lips.

That sounds great—but at the risk of offending lovers of SpongeBob SquarePants, I consider this an excellent example of the umbrella problem hanging over theatrical entertainment. When money makes creative decisions, this is what we get: remakes, retreads, reboots, redundancy.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

“The course of true love never did run smooth,” as Shakespeare had the character Lysander observe in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and never has this been more true than in the love triangle at the center of the Verdi opera, Don Carlo.

ssierszyn / Flickr / Creative Commons

Ira Levin was a writer whose creative output crossed genres and expectations.

Born in 1929 to a New York toymaker, Levin was supposed to join his father in the business. But in his senior year of college, young Levin entered a competition for television screenwriting. He did not win, but he was a runner-up, and he later sold the script to the NBC program that had sponsored the contest.

Michael Taggart, flickr Creative Commons

It has been more than half a century since my mother entered me in a Beautiful Baby contest. I did not win, but as I have no memory of the event, I have been able to carry on quite nicely in spite of it.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Giacomo Puccini is one of opera's most beloved and widely recognized figures. His work has had such impact on modern culture that even today, many people who have never attended an opera recognize the music from such works as La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Turandot.


One of my favorite family stories comes from my father's childhood, and involves my grandmother preventing my father and his older brother from following their father into town by hooking the straps of their overalls over a couple of laundry lines. I don't know if this story is actually true. When I think too hard about it, the edges begin to fray and dissolve, so I don't dwell on the details. I just focus on the glorious notion of two small boys running up and down opposite clothes lines.


What is a better expression of summer than outdoor entertainment?

The Wichita Grand Opera is taking the stage at Bradley Fair for its annual "Opera on the Lake" on July 18th. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce youngsters and newbies to opera, with a range of seating and experience, from free, to reserved, to reserved-with-dinner. The program includes glimpses from the upcoming season, in addition to opera and pop favorites.