He performed the memorable Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Ol’ Man River” from Showboat with feeling, passion, and emotion, yet Paul Robeson’s personal life and struggles separate themselves from normality of fame and fortune and serve as the premier production for the Kansas City Repertory Theater’s 2014 season.
“During my six years at the Rep’s artistic helm, we’ve taken on a variety of challenging issues from civil rights to wars to global warming, and we’ve balanced those demanding topics with comedies, musicals and family fare,” Eric Rosen, Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director, said.
The Tallest Tree in the Forrest Spencer Theatre Aug. 30-Sept 28
The Tallest Tree in the Forrest opens the season for the Rep. The play, a world premiere, written and performed by Daniel Beaty, and directed by Moisés Kaufman debuts at the Spencer Theatre on the University of Missouri at Kansas City’s campus, Aug. 30-Sept. 28.
Internationally-renowned vocalist and star of stage and screen, Paul Robeson was one of the world’s best-known African American artists in the early 20th century. Through his singing and acting talent, he found popularity and wealthy; but as a champion for human rights, he became despised by his people and his country. Featuring excerpts from some of Robeson’s signature songs, including “Ol’ Man River” and “Steal Away”, The Tallest Tree in the Forest showcases award-winning playwright and performer Daniel Beaty in a show that explores the bold choices that defined Robeson’s life.
Next, it’s time for some good hearty laughs and the next production, The Foreigner fills the bill. The play opened in 1984 in New York, completing a run of 686 performances and won accolades and awards as the best Off-Broadway production.
The Foreigner Spencer Theater Oct. 17-Nov 3
The Foreigner written by Larry Shue and directed by Jerry Genochio comes to the Spencer Theatre Oct. 17- Nov. 3 and brings a comedy to the UMKC Spencer Theater stage.
Charlie Baker needs to get away, and his friend Froggy knows just the place—his favorite fishing lodge in rural Georgia. To give Charlie much-needed peace and quiet, Froggy convinces the locals Charlie doesn’t understand English. But the plan backfires when the lodge’s inhabitants reveal deep secrets and diabolical plans in front of their quiet, foreign guest. Misunderstandings and nonstop hilarity ensue, building to an outrageously funny climax.
Special 2013 Holiday Events include two holiday themed productions, A Christmas Carol and The Santaland Diaries running simultaneously at the separate venues, The Spencer Theater and The Copaken Stage.
Traditional Charles Dickens favorite, A Christmas Carol with the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge whose cold heart transforms like magic overnight graces the Kansas City stage, again craftily directed by Kyle Hatley, who repeats as the show’s director at the Spencer Theater, Nov. 22-Dec. 26, 2013.
A Christmas Carol Spencer Theater Nov. 22-Dec. 26
Gather your family and friends for the legendary spiritual journey of Ebenezer Scrooge when Kansas City’s favorite holiday tradition returns for its 33 season. Experience compassion for Ebenezer as a boy, delight with him as a merry young man, and possibly see a little of yourself in Ebenezer, the miser – but don’t dismay, hope and redemption await.
The Santaland Diaries Copaken Stage Nov. 29-Dec. 22
The Santaland Diaries, written by David Sedaris and directed by Jerry Genochio, comes to the downtown Copaken Theatre, Nov. 29 through Dec. 22, 2013 for an added seasonal fun romp for the holidays. Yep, the Rep slated both holiday shows to run from Thanksgiving to Christmas, basically, so everyone may choose what best fits their season wishes.
Does anyone remember the Christmas train at The Jones Store at 12th and Main? How about the Macy’s Christmas Window just down the street at 11 and Main? What about the Fairy Princess at Kline’s on Main? Some still remember, but how about the people who worked in those places?
David Sedaris’ funny tale of elfin’ woe is a one-man send-up of his brief, misguided career as a Macy’s elf. The show skewers our sentimental love of all things Christmas – the happy children, the spritely elves, the gifts, and the good cheer. The Santaland Diaries shows us the other side of what it’s like to work at Santaland; the result is merrily subversive, but always fun.
Romeo and Juliet Spencer Theater Jan 17-Feb. 9
Hamlet’s famous question: “To be or not to be?” applies in the Rep’s third production Romeo and Juliet where star-crossed young lovers’ unrequited love leads to tragic ends. Is their love to be or not to be? That is the question. Though the story continues to attract audiences and the outcome known by all, still the question occurs of whether enough love conquers insurmountable odds.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, directed by Eric Rosen, opens at the UMKC Spencer Theatre, Jan.17 and continues through Feb. 9, 2014. Eric Rosen, Kansas City Rep’s artistic director since 2007 undertake direction of the timeless classic.
In the midst of a bloody feud, fragile love unfolds. Defying their warring families and their closest friends, two young lovers risk everything to be together. Shakespeare’s most thrilling and romantic play is a masterpiece of poetry and emotion, with stunning visuals and daring swordplay.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike March 14 – April 6 at Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus.
Kansas City’s Repertory Theatre’s upcoming season just got bigger and grander with the addition of this year’s Tony Award Winner for Best Play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike to fill out the slate of plays selected for production in 2013-14.
According to Kyle Hatley, associate artistic director at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the show had been under consideration for a while, but securing the rights and getting all the contracts signed took some time. Kansas City Repertory Theater made the announcement of the added play at the end of last week to fill the remaining slot previously labeled as TBA.
“This wacky comedy has been hailed by The New York Times as ‘Deliriously funny! Comic acting raised to the level of high art,” a press release from KC Rep said. The show plays March 14 – April 6 at Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus.
The play concerns three middle-aged sisters, Vanya, Sonia, and Masha who lived in a Pennsylvania farmhouse until Masha left to become to movie star. Masha returns a few years later with her young boy toy, Spike. Meanwhile, their housekeeper Cassandra prophecies a wild weekend of rivalry, anger, regret, and laughter. A young, aspiring actress, Nina, adds to the madcap mischief as she irritates Masha.
“The theater erupts in booming gusts of laughter that practically shake the seats,” –The New York Times.
When I Come to Die Copaken Stage April 11-May 11
Moving on, the work of Kansas City, KS playwright, Nathan Louis Jackson comes to the Rep stage as his show, When I Come to Die opens. Jackson, whose humble beginnings in KCK, graduated from Washington High School, Kansas State University, The Julliard School, forged the path to his success.
When I Come to Die, by Nathan Louis Jackson, features the direction of Kyle Hatley, whose most recent success, Carousel, caused a sensation for Kansas City audiences and created an extended run.When I Come to Die, on the Copaken Theater in the H & R Block building in downtown Kansas City, MO, runs April 11-May 11.
The play, When I Come to Die, provides a provocative and inspiring story about the power one action can have over a life, and the depths from which meaning and redemption can be attained. After surviving a lethal injection in prison, death row inmate Damon Robinson searches for faith and struggles to understand why his life has been spared.
“I’m proud to say that next season we will continue to examine some of life’s most challenging issues: social injustice, love, family dynamics, and soul-searching redemption. All tempered with riotous fun, holiday surprises and the promise of a musical experiences that we can’t release the name of at this time. And, we are adding a holiday bonus, in addition to our perennial production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.”
For subscription and ticket information for Kansas City Repertory Theatre, please contact the Box Office at 816-235-2700 or visit www.KCRep.org.