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The state of filmmaking and watching is an ever-moving target. There are the concerns about filmmakers, even those with heavy-hitting last names like Spielberg and Lucas, struggling to get Hollywood to back their projects. Then there are concerns that the studios are pricing themselves out of the market because they expect all cinema houses to have digital projectors. That in turn forces the theaters to charge $16 for a popcorn and soda combo. And if you want to catch a new release in the theater, do so on the first week because if the box office returns aren’t high enough, the film will have a short theater life and the hope is to capture those dollars in rentals, movie purchases and overseas distributors.
Filmmaker and film professor Mitch Brian agrees the problems start at the top, “The studios are well-financed arms of massive corporations so by demanding theaters to go digital they know they are pricing many small theaters out of the business. They want to control all aspects of the industry and are in a business model that demands their movies make hundreds of millions of dollars just to break even. They spend because they can. It is one of the few things Hollywood can still do better than anybody else.” Brian is joined by fellow film professors Lyn Eliot and Kevin Willmott in teaching film studies and continuing their film art form in the metropolitan area.
Film critic and aficionado Bob Butler says the other significant plus and minus, in the big picture, is the international market. “Those films that fail in America often make it internationally. They are the films with sex, violence and action. The downside is that while these films transcend cultures, we start seeing more films crafted in big, predictable patterns which doesn’t allow for much room for the independent filmmaker and his voice. The upside is that the bigger films keep Hollywood going and that allows the decision-makers to give us a movie out of the usual patterns from time
KANSAS CITY IN THE LIMELIGHT
For Kansas City audiences and filmmakers, being in the Heartland has a few benefits. Within the metropolitan community, several film organizations support and nurture directors, screenwriters, actors and production crew. Some of the groups include the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City, Film Society of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City Women in Film and Television, CinemaKC and Films For Action KC.
With the Film Commission of Kansas City, Board Chairwoman Heather Laird, who leads her own casting company and directs, has been serving as the de facto film commission. “We have not had a film commission supported by the city in about 10 years,” she says. “With no film commission, someone needs to answer questions. As chair, I am the one who gets the phone calls and the e-mails. We run the gamut of experience on our volunteer board so I draw on them to help with the questions I get. Often television and commercial production are the areas of interest.”
Several times a week, they are fielding questions from shows like America’s Got Talent. “None of us is qualified to sell Kansas City. If an America’s Got Talent came to Kansas City, think about what they would spend in the city and what the free advertising would
look like.” The organization has done some preliminary research that has shown the companies in town were impacted by more than $100 million in 2012 because of commercial and television productions.
“We aren’t a qualified research team, but the billings from our local companies look good. We do the math and extrapolating the results, we are going to take these numbers to the mayor and the city council,” she says. The organization wants to be an active part of the Mayor’s Task Force for the Arts. “I came back 21 years ago from Los Angeles and my records from production over the last 20 years show we have averaged three movies a year around the Midwest.”
Michelle Davidson Bratcher helps Laird as a member of the commission. She is also the past president of the KCWIFT. She’s also an actress, producer, morning talk show host and film writing partner with local filmmaker Patrick Rea. She sees the excitement not only in the independent short films she writes and produces, but also in the television, web series and regional commercials. “I agree that a city staff person who could sell the city would be best. Think about all the visually appealing area. There’s the Plaza, the Crossroads, and more. If we are going to stand on the idea that we are the Creative Crossroads, we need to stand up and show off our potential.”
WHAT LOCAL DIRECTORS SAY
Two local directors concur that today’s access to film equipment is good and bad. “Cameras and editing equipment is so accessible to so many people. Canon and Nikon are making cameras affordable and that puts filmmaking in many people’s hands,” says actor and director Damon Lee Patterson whose film, Art Saved My Life, has been getting great buzz around the city and film festivals.
Writer and Director Patrick Rea, whose film Nailbiter has taken many awards and found a circuit at horror film festivals, says the increase in availability of cameras saturates the market, especially in horror films. “People can make them cheaper, but that is the disconnect. It’s all about story and acting, the right lighting … I honestly think it harder than film with the digital cameras. Film is forgiving, but digital can be video-like and cheap. Directors have to work extra hard to make it look good.”
Patterson says the inundated technology also extends to how film is shown. “There are outlets like YouTube, Vimeo and the film festival market. Film can be in accessible, but at the same time, multimillion dollar studios can’t seem to take too many risks.” He thinks the playing field may even out if independent filmmakers catch up with independent music makers. “They have the grassroots marketing down. They put together sales out of their trunk and use social media in huge ways. When independent filmmakers adapt, it will open up more. There are so many more venues for musicians and fewer for movies. What makes a film venue – it’s a projector screen, a projector and a sound system. In terms of presentation, you need some chairs and perhaps a concession area.”
Rea says horror films have been some of the most successful with lower budgets and higher box office returns. “We don’t have to recoup millions. If a film builds the buzz, then it takes off. “We still root for the surprise hits like District 9. Sure people are more judicious about spending their money to go to the theater, but there will always be movies people want to see on the big screen.”
KANSAS CITY’S FILM FUTURE
Laird says, “We will always be a film city. We have a strong production company and we have a big advertising community. Those two combined help the area. There are jobs for crews and for actors. Young and independent filmmakers are the energy that drives a really exciting filmmaking community here in Kansas City.” For bigger budget films to return, the state must reinstate tax credits. “It’s strictly economics. These filmmakers need to get the biggest bang for their buck. However, there is the television component. Sure 10 years ago, television shows didn’t go outside of L.A., but reality television has changed that. While they bring in a lot of their own crew, there is still an economic impact as they eat in our restaurants, stay in hotels and put our city on the air.”
Even through the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association, requests come in for inquiries for B roll. “They want to know what signposts, locations and such are iconic. They want to put our city on national television. Kansas City is film friendly and ripe for the economic impact. We need someone in City Hall with the materials to convince a group to come here. That is the piece of the puzzle that is missing.”
Bratcher believes the future of film is something that many are trying to figure out. The growing film festivals are important, she says. “We need more people to continue supporting film and that audience needs to grow. It needs to be seen as another art form. People are still going to the movies to experience the collective laugh, scream or cry.”
Butler figures people will continue visiting movie theaters as the human experience from centuries past dictates that people enjoy sharing. “The history proves back to when the Greeks saw theater as a sort of religious celebration. While film is not this, there is still that group experience where a collective gasp or laugh is so much better than alone.” He believes non-mainstream movies will continue as long as an audience shouts their support and attends the movies. “Ironically theater has returned to the movie houses with Jerry Harrington at the Tivoli bringing in the videotaped plays from groups like the Royal Shakespeare Company.”
Kansas City’s film future could be what Austin, Texas has now. “There’s not an Austin school of filmmaking, but the environment allows for filmmakers to find and refine their cinematic voices.” Butler applauds the filmmakers here too. He likes Rea’s horror films. “It’s just a matter of time before a filmmaker makes his or her mark on Hollywood.”
Meagan Flynn-Mesmer, an actress, producer and director, is also active in KCWIFT. She served as vice president last year. She has taken on overseeing the annual screenplay contest.
She agrees with Butler that Austin may be the right role model for Kansas City. “We also have a terrific arts and philanthropy scene. We have progressive smaller theater such as Fishtank or The Living Room. Film could be the same here. We have filmmakers like Kevin Willmott and Patrick Rea who make sure they are using local talent. The trick is to always have a quality product and that starts with good screenplays. Then we need to keep an active film commission. It’s not necessarily about studio blockbusters, but creating good films.”•
12 pubs. 12 pints. 3 ultra comedy nerds. 1 golden mile. I’m in.
Rounding out the final installment of director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (named so due to the three different flavors of the popular ice cream that have been featured in all of the films – Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and now this film) is The World’s End, an adventurous riff on the classic mid-life crisis motif with some Invasion of the Body Snatchers mixed in for a bit of fun. This time around, the dynamic duo of Pegg and Frost try to recreate a past experience from their childhood (with some extremely talented friends tagging along) and accidentally stumble upon an alien invasion.
What’s the past experience? A mythical beast of an endeavor called the “Golden Mile.” You see, back in 1990, five friends started a quest to have 1 pint each in 12 different pubs along one glorious mile that surrounded their home town. However, while the evening did have it’s fun, the cause was lost and the final pub – The World’s End – was never reached. Fast-forward to 2013 and while four of the friends have moved past their young debauchery, one is still yearning to reach that epic goal.
While, in my opinion, not as strong an outing as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (in terms of really skewering the pop culture references of the films theme) I really enjoyed this film. Admittedly, I am a Pegg fanatic and have been since first watching the television Spaced … so possibly, I am a bit biased … but with World’s End, I was not disappointed. Quips are shot at sonic speeds and, since most of the actors involved have personal relationships, you can feel an aura of genuine fun throughout the film. Side references and easter eggs to past films fall in and out of scenes proving why this team of filmmakers are truly at the top of nerd-culture. At the same time, what quickly could have turned into a sad-sack story about missing your youth, never falls into that trap and maintains that, while very flawed, the characters are there to drink, make jokes and beat the hell out of human simulations (sorry – watch the film … you’ll understand then.)
Rounding out the cast of leads is some of Britain’s best. Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and (the crazy gorgeous) Rosamund Pike all come add to the madcap mix and each leave their own personal marks in the entourage. Hell, even Pierce Brosnan (yes, I know, he’s not British) makes his way in and leaves you wanting more.
In comparison however, I didn’t think this film was as sharp as the other two in the trilogy. Specifically, the other two films really pinpointed the genre they were going after and used that base to tell their own unique story. Here in World’s End, there is a mismatch going on in terms of the themes and while it may be easy to connect the thoughts between the crisis of growing older and an alien race with a purpose to make humans better, I didn’t feel that the two balanced each other out. In contrast, the movie Paul (2011,) directed by Greg Mottola and also starring Pegg and Frost, was stronger in terms of taking the alien-movie theme and playing with that theme.
At the same time, when the film really gets going and the main characters discover the trouble they are in, there are fight scenes thrown in that seem, at times out of place. I will admit that, the first encounter is genius fun. However, the second, third, fourth and maybe fifth seem more of the same and out of place considering, these are five just regular dudes not warrior maniacs here to protect the earth. I’m not saying that it was overly silly or unwanted – watching Frost drop the “People’s Elbow” on an enemy is pretty classic – I will say that it was a bit more than needed in some cases.
With that being said, I still enjoyed this movie a lot. A hell of a lot. The confidence of the filmmakers is abundantly apparent and they know how to be true to the story they want to tell while entertaining their fan base. Along with that, I appreciate that, while certain relationships are similar (in terms of best friends), the characters that Pegg and Frost have played are vastly different from film to film and includes here.
The bottom line:If you’re a fan of the ever-budding nerd-culture and of Wright’s previous films, you will enjoy this. A master at making cult classics right from the start, The World’s End is a film that will be shared, referenced and laughed about for year’s to come. With another wonderful weekend here, there’s no better way than to grab seat, order a pint and tag a long through the Golden Mile.
4 out of 5 Marmalade Sandwhiches
This past month (May) has been a busy one.
I have reached out to more than 1,000 people doing lectures and workshops in and around the Kansas City area. Recently I was a part of an effort to raise resources and awareness for a school in Kansas City called DeLaSalle. This is a school that is literally around the corner from where I live in Hyde Park.
It is on Troost – a “dividing line”; I have never understood this idea. I do remember the first time that as I child, I went from one state to another. In school we learn the lines on a map and as a child I was waiting to see the actual line when we got to the border of New York State (where I grew up) into Pennsylvania, but when I got there, I only found a sign dividing the two.
So how do you know when you have crossed over? I can be in Kansas on one side of a street and Missouri just by crossing that street. Ideas are powerful!
So how do you blend and mix ideas? I find is always easier when you can think of ideas as flavors. Working with youth is a unique experience and often with them I have to cross imaginary lines in my mind. Going into a high school is different then going into a grade school, or is it? I would say “no,” because I need to remain open to ideas from young people and what they have to share. I am raising a teenager and although I see the growth in her, she is learning just the same as when she was 5 years old and I know this because she is willing.
I spoke to more than 200 teens in an auditorium setting … the challenges, get over myself and speak honestly, let go of ideas and respect the audience and their needs. There are times when maybe I will only connect with 1 in 200 and that is OK. This school is offering hope across the lines that divide. I was able to work with some of these youth to create artwork that blended creative ideas into a piece of artwork all out of portraits of themselves. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry create amazing experiences when put them together. In the course of a class period allowing teenagers to show who they are in a portrait and putting all of the portraits together in one whole piece showed the beauty and power in all. I want to commend the parents, teachers, and students for coming together to show what it really takes to break the lines that divide us, one creative flavor
at a time.
A Film Review of Man of Steel by Alexander Morales
Opening to great hype and a legion of future movie deals on its back is the Man of Steel, DC Comics’ Hail Mary pass to try and keep its film franchise relevant. Unfortunately, do to a Swiss cheese-like plot and cringe-inducing dialogue, this modern day Messiah falls well short to its potential.
Let’s start with the good. Henry Cavill as the title hero is fantastic. Cavill’s portrayal of Kal-El, Clark Kent/Superman is epically perfect and he both looks and plays the part the way it should be. Discretely humble, every moment he fills the screen you simply can’t take your eyes off of him. Every moment he is allowed to be “super” is breathtaking and it’s a shame that this film does not live up to his performance. At the same time, Antje Traue (Pandorum) is strikingly gorgeous as she is deadly. As the heavy’s right hand enforcer, Faora-Ul chews up the screen with her limited time and, next to Cavill, steals the show. I was smitten with her villainy.
Along with that, surprisingly Kevin Costner gives an emotionally strong turn as Jonathon Kent – Kal-El/Clark’s adopted father. I was both surprised and pleased to see such sweet exchanges between a boy and his father that I honestly felt a little teary-eyed during one scene in particular.
In terms of the special effects – wow! Superman flying has never looked this good and the massive amounts of destruction that occurs is spectacular. While more restrained in terms of his visual style for this film, Zach Snyder (300, The Watchmen) knows how to sculpt a scene. Substance … well that’s another thing.
Unfortunately, now it’s time to move on to the not so positive aspects. Pretty much everything else.
More “alien invasion” than super hero film, Man of Steel spends so much time setting itself up and jumping from one set piece to the next that it never really allows the audience to get comfortable. In some genres, this is a good thing. But not here. Instead of a simple roller coaster ride of entertainment, detail after monotonous detail is thrown at the audience making it difficult to just enjoy the film. Every moment leads back to the same father/son lesson, repeated over and over again throughout the hero’s lifespan while overly complicated DNA genetics crap buries the moments making the audience either irritatingly say “OK, I got it!” or “Who cares?”
The plot falls a part so easily that it is nearly laughable. Convenience is the best (and possible only way) to describe the story arc which works directly against how the the filmmaking team of Synder and Christopher Nolan (with writer David S. Goyer) described their motivations for the film. “A more realistic look” or some other buzz-filled quote was what we were promised but the delivered product was not even close. Yes, I know it’s a character based on a comic book, but nothing from the way military acts to even the mass destruction and death of thousands of people seems realistic or believable. Why was Lois Lane allowed on the ship? Oh, just so she can do that. Why is the ship over Metropolis? Oh, just so these characters can seem in harm’s way. It’s all just matters of convenience versus real motivations.
Speaking of Lois … what a waste! Not that Amy Adams does a bad job with what she is given, but she is never really allowed to be the Lois Lane fans would both expect or want to see. Sure, they give her a gun for part of it, but it’s not even close to enough. At the same time, Michael Shannon as General Zod is never really given the chance to be the badass he needs to be. Confused zealot is possibly the best way to describe him in the film and unfortunately, we’ve seen this before. Nearly the exact same character as Agent Nelson Van Alden from Boardwalk Empire, I expected to him to go into his spaceship and begin flogging himself for his sins.
However, the most glaringly negative aspect that can’t be denied is how much this film steals from the Matrix film franchise. With an art direction that looks stolen from Geof Darrows’ rejection pile from 1998 and the exact character template as Keanu Reeves’ Neo, Man of Steel is extremely lacking in the originality department. Babies get harvested by machines, Christ-like overtones (not even undertones) and a final fight scene that is such a complete retread that if Neo and Agent Smith were inserted into this film, you wouldn’t even notice. There’s even a machine that looks exactly like the squid-like robots that Superman has to fight near the end. Save for the near 60 minutes of explosions that Man of Steel pours into your eyeballs, this film falls just a short of its promised potential as Matrix: Revolutions. Other creative properties that were pick-pocketed include, but are not limited too Avatar, Invincible (the comic book which kind of stole from Superman but then was robbed for this film) and Alien.
Too long in terms of run time and too little in terms of substantial story, Man of Steel comes nowhere close to representing the 75 years of legendary character that DC Comics has built. Is it a better film than Superman Returns? Most definitely. Can it contend with Marvel’s wave of super hero films? Not really. Lacking fun and vibrancy, Man of Steel is as dull as the metallic black and grey color palette that overwhelms the film.
I will say, even with all of these negative aspects, I was still entertained. I can’t say enough about how Cavill and his performance and presence helped keep the film engaging. This really is impressive considering the lagging moments of boredom that occur and a character decision that the story has Superman make that is exactly the same thing that he is trying to stop Zod from doing. (No spoilers.)
Also – there is no reason to see this movie in 3D. Headache inducing hand-held camera work and nearly zero 3D effects make that a waste of money.
Overall, while nowhere near what we were hoping for, Man of Steel will probably still make its money. Flocks of people want to see this film and hopefully some of them enjoy the experience more than I did. Word on the street is that they are already fast tracking a sequel … so good for them. Bad for Superman aficionados. My heart skipped a beat when Clark wears both a Royals and University of Kansas shirt (Rock Chalk!) in the film, but that just wasn’t enough to win me over. Poor storytelling, heavy dialogue and a lack of originality kept this Man of Steel from being my summer movie hero.
3 out of 5 Flying Krypton Creatures
The outrageous musical comedy is “lovingly ripped off” from the film classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail. With music and lyrics by the Grammy-Award winning team of Eric Idle and John Du Prez, Spamalot tells the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they embark on their quest for the Holy Grail. Show-stopping musical numbers include Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and Find Your Grail.
Monty Python’s Spamalot is the winner of three 2005 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Director, as well as the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Musical. The original cast recording won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show.
“You do not have to be a fan of Monty Python to enjoy Spamalot,” said Denton Yockey, Starlight President and Executive Producer. “In fact, if you don’t know anything about Monty Python or the Holy Grail, Spamalot is a great introduction. For those who are Monty Python fans, there is a good chance they’re going to go nuts when they see this show.”
Although Spamalot does not directly follow the original film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it is just as irreverent with similar language, jokes and gags. “It’s a show that adults and teens will enjoy together,” Yockey said.
Monty Python’s Spamalot is a co-production between Starlight and Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) in Houston. “TUTS is a well-respected leader in the musical theater industry. It has been a joy working with TUTS to bring this production to Kansas City,” he said.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
Taking the stage as King Arthur will be Tom Hewitt who has been nominated for both a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for his work in Broadway’s The Rocky Horror Show. His other work on Broadway includes Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago, Dracula: The Musical and The Lion King. He has toured nationally in Peter Pan, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (at Starlight in 2005) and Urinetown. Janine DiVita who grew up in Overland Park will play The Lady of the Lake. She counts Grease, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Anything Goes among her Broadway credits. She also appeared in the national tour of Young Frankenstein. Brian Sears who plays the Mayor/Patsy/Guard 2 also grew up in Overland Park. His Broadway credits include The Book of Mormon (original company), Lend Me A Tenor, Finian’s Rainbow, Grease and All Shook Up. He last appeared at Starlight in Hello Dolly!
Other talented cast members with Broadway credits include Jonathan Hammond (Ragtime), Brian Shepard (Spamalot, Follies, Guys and Dolls, Young Frankenstein, Peter Pan and Annie Get Your Gun); Kevin Covert (Spamalot, Memphis and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying); Jeremy Webb (The Visit) and Adam Monley (Mamma Mia!).
Completing the cast are Lindsay Bracco, Sam Burkett, Caitlin Cannon, Danny Dyer, Kayla Hall, Afra Hines, Laura Henning, Andrew Hodge, Logan Kesler, Sam Kiernan, Julia Krohn, Alissa LaVergne, Robin Masella, Patrick O’Neill, Chuck Ragsdale, Buddy Reeder, Michaeljon Slinger and Borris York.
Marc Robin is the director and choreographer. He is the recipient of 16 Joseph Jefferson Awards, three Barrymore Nominations, a Carbonell nomination, 13 After Dark Awards, a Broadway World Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Light Opera Works. Jeff Rizzo is the musical director and conductor. Also joining the creative team are Kit Bond, sound designer, and Richard Winkler, lighting designer.
Tickets are available at kcstarlight.com, by calling 816-363-STAR (7827) or in person at Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road. Box Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Peter Frampton, B.B. King and Sunny Landreth to share the stage at Muriel Kauffman Theatre
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts announced that Peter Frampton, famed British rocker with top hits such as Show Me the Way and Baby, I Love Your Way, will perform at the Kauffman Center’s Muriel Kauffman Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 18. Frampton’s Guitar Circus tour features fellow guitar legend B.B. King and will open with slide blues guitarist Sonny Landreth. Tickets go on sale May 31.
“Kauffman Center is excited to have Grammy Award-winning guitarists Peter Frampton and B.B. King share the stage for one very special performance. It is a unique opportunity to hear these two distinguished musicians perform together in Muriel’s Theatre,” said Jane Chu, President & CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Ticket prices for this event range from $59 to $139 and will be available through the Kauffman Center Box Office at (816) 994-7222 or online at www.kauffmancenter.org.
ABOUT PETER FRAMPTON
Beginning his career as a teenager, United Kingdom native Peter Frampton remains one of the most celebrated artist and guitarists in rock history. At age 10, Frampton co-founded one of the first super groups, seminal rock act Humble Pie. At age 16, he was lead singer and guitarist for British teen band, The Herd. His fifth solo album, the electrifying Frampton Comes Alive! is one of the top-selling live records of all time. His 2006 instrumental album Fingerprints won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
ABOUT B.B. KING
From the 1950s to today, there has been only one King of the Blues: Riley B. King, affectionately known as B.B. King. Since King started recording in the late 1940s, he has released over 60 albums; many considered blues classics, like 1965′s definitive live blues album Live At The Regal, and 1976′s collaboration with Bobby “Blue” Bland, Together For The First Time. Over the years, King has developed one of the World’s most readily identified guitar styles. He borrowed from Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, integrating his precise vocal like string bends and his left hand vibrato, both of which have become indispensable components of the rock guitarist’s vocabulary.
Charlotte Street is pleased to host Sycamore House, a series of performances presented and curated by Kansas City composer and musician, Shawn Hansen. This May 4th showcase is the third in the series and features performances by local and out of town artists. For this spring installment of the Sycamore House Series, the focus is on improvisation. The spirit of improvisation is a part of all music making and creative endeavors. The Sycamore House Series strives to support improvisation across all genres. This spring show celebrates improvised music in one of its purest forms. The collaboration of out-of-town percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and saxophonist Michael Doneda focuses on exploration of sound and the pulse while not adhering to conventional rhythms and song structures. A different way of organizing sound comes out in every performance while still searching for and challenging what we see, hear, and describe as beautiful.
Date: Saturday, May 4, 2013
Time: Doors open at 8pm, show starts at 9pm
Venue: Paragraph / 23 East 12th St. KCMO 64105
Tickets: $8 suggested donation
Out of Town – Tatsuya Nakatani, percussionist; and Michael Dondea, saxophonist
ABOUT TATSUYA NAKATANI
Tatsuya Nakatani is a creative percussionist originally from Osaka, Japan. He has been residing in the USA since 1994 and is currently based in Easton, PA. Since the late 1990s, Mr. Nakatani has released over sixty recordings in the USA and Europe and has performed countless solo percussion concerts through intensive touring.
Nakatani’s approach to music is visceral, non-linear and intuitively primitive, expressing an unusually strong spirit while avoiding any categorization. He creates sound via both traditional and extended percussion techniques, utilizing drums, bowed gongs, cymbals, singing bowls, metal objects and bells, as well as various sticks, kitchen tools and homemade bows, all of which manifest in an intense and organic music that represents a very personal sonic world. His approach is steeped in the sensibilities of free improvisation, experimental music, jazz, rock, and noise, and yet retains the sense of space and quiet beauty found in traditional Japanese folk music. His percussion instruments can imitate the sounds of a trumpet, a stringed instrument or an electronic device to the extent that it becomes difficult to recognize the source of the sound. He has devoted himself to a musical aesthetic where rhythm gives way to pulse, often in a way that is not always audible or visible, in currents that incorporate silence and texture. Nakatani’s primary music activities include solo percussion performance, N.G.O. (Nakatani Gong Orchestra) and collaborations with musicians and dancers both in live performance and recordings.
ABOUT MICHAEL DONEDA
Over the years, Michel Doneda (b. 1954) has developed one of the most extensive musical vocabularies in free improvisation. A specialist of the soprano saxophone, he has gradually moved from left-field jazz to the fringes of free improv ever since he began to lead his own sessions in the early ‘80s. His playing can be at turns lyrical, playful, or raucous, and can switch from the liveliness of street melodies to circular breathing, microscopic sounds, or shrieking outbursts. His most frequent recording and performing partners over the years have included singer Beñat Achiary, percussionist Lê Quan Ninh, hurdy-gurdy player Dominique Regef, and bassist Barre Phillips.
ABOUT CHARLOTTE STREET
Over 16 years, Charlotte Street has challenged, nurtured, and empowered thousands of artists, almost $900,000 in awards and grants to artists and their projects, and connected individual artists to each other and to the greater Kansas City community. Charlotte Street – with its community of artists – strives to be a primary catalyst in making Kansas City a vibrant, creative metropolis, alive with collaboration, passion, ideas, and surprise. For more information about Charlotte Street, its awards, programs, and initiatives, visit www.charlottestreet.org
Performances during May and June First Friday in the Kansas City Crossroads District
The 2013 Song and Dance Project is a captivating collaborative performance between Kacico Dance and Kansas City Irish Band, Flannigan’s Right Hook. Five out of seven company dancers have created new and innovative choreography to covered and original songs by Flannigan’s. They will perform an hour long concert, live, during May and June First Friday’s celebration in the Kansas City Crossroads District. The Song and Dance Project continues Kacico’s tradition of interdisciplinary collaboration offering opportunities to talented performance artists in the greater Kansas City area.
2013 Song and Dance Project
1.) Date: Friday, May 3, 2013
Time: Show starts at 7 p.m.
Venue: The Promise Wedding and Event Space, 1814 Oak Street, Kansas City, MO 64108
2.) Date: Friday, June 7, 2013
Time: Show starts at 7 p.m.
Venue: The Bauer, 115 W. 18th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108
Tickets: Free to the public/Accepting donations
Featuring: Kacico Dance and Flannigan’s Right Hook
Performance details: www.kacicodance.org
ABOUT KACICO DANCE
Kacico Dance is a professional nonprofit contemporary dance company from Kansas City, Missouri under the co-artistic direction of Allison McKinzie, Holly Noel Harmison, and Maggie Osgood Nicholls. These three artists are dedicated to preserving and developing the artistic excellence of the company. Kacico creates and maintains a diverse dance repertory facilitated by artistic skill, knowledge, creative questioning, experimentation, and collaboration. The company perpetuates the existence, exploration, and education of modern dance and its developmental forms. Kacico presents public concerts and programs locally and regionally in a variety of presentational forms for audience enjoyment, enrichment and cultural education. Kacico has presented work at the Folly Theatre, Gem Theatre, H&R Block City Stage Theatre, The Carlsen Center, and numerous non-traditional dance spaces in the Kansas City Metro Area over the past 8 years. Company dancers are Allison McKinzie, Holly Noel Harmison, Maggie Nicholls, Leigh Murray, Mallory Gittemeier, Chelsea Koenig, and Katie Metzger. Kacico Dance is currently a Charlotte Street Foundation Urban Culture Project Studio Resident. For more about Kacico, go to: www.kacicodance.org
ABOUT FLANNIGAN’S RIGHT HOOK
Flannigan’s Right Hook is a Kansas City band with Irish, Rock, and Folk influences. Band members Cameron Russell, Shane Borth and Michael Cochran started the band in 2006. Current play lists by the boys include classic Irish standards – ballads and tunes – and also a whole slew of songs from the world of American country music, classic tracks, bluegrass, as well as original compositions and songs. You can hear Flannigan’s Right Hook at several establishments across the Kansas City Metro area. They can be seen at Tom Foolery’s on the Plaza, Kelly’s Pub in Westport, The Dubliner in the Power and Light District, Lylwelyn’s and The Roxy in Overland Park, and O’Malley’s Pub in Weston. For more about Flannigan’s Right Hook go to: www.facebook.com/flannigansrighthook
Quality Hill Playhouse embraces the music of the Baby Boomer era with its latest production, You’ve Got a Friend. The title song of the concert-style revue, written by Carole King, was a hit for both King and James Taylor on their respective 1971 albums Tapestry and Mud Slide Slim. It is fitting that the revue prominently features music by both artists, with nearly half of the first act devoted to Taylor (Fire and Rain, Sweet Baby James, Carolina In My Mind, Shower the People) and more than half of the second act devoted to King (Up on the Roof, I Feel the Earth Move, It’s Too Late, Will You Love Me Tomorrow?).
Additional hits from the singer-songwriter era included in the production are Blowin’ in the Wind (Bob Dylan), American Pie (Don McLean) and Puff the Magic Dragon (Peter, Paul and Mary). Popular Kansas City actor-singers Molly Hammer, Jessalyn Kincaid and Tim Scott perform these 1960s and ’70s classics, with J. Kent Barnhart at the piano, Julian Goff on drums and Brian Wilson on bass.
You’ve Got a Friend: Music That Raised the Baby Boomers runs through May 19 at Quality Hill Playhouse, 303 W. 10th Street, Kansas City, Mo. For tickets, call 816-421-1700. To purchase tickets online or for more information, visit www.QualityHillPlayhouse.com
This is the penultimate production is a series of cabaret revues exploring how American popular music has been influenced by – and in some cases, influenced – important historical and social events in our nation’s history. The final production, Great Big Broadway, celebrates the music in the over-the-top spectacles that have been the mainstay of Broadway since the 1970s – Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Lion King and more. Great Big Broadway runs May 31 through June 30 and features Lauren Braton, Sarah LaBarr, Tim Noland and Barnhart.
About the Performers
Molly Hammer rapidly has become a Playhouse audience favorite, following stand-out performances in Pete ’n’ Keely, Closer Than Ever and Lullaby of 42nd Street. A versatile performer, Hammer performs in various local restaurants and will be seen in The Bikinis at American Heartland Theatre this summer. www.mollyhammer.com.
Jessalyn Kincaid has turned in critically-acclaimed performances on stages across town, including Kansas City Repertory Theatre, The New Theatre, American Heartland Theatre, Coterie Theatre and Musical Theater Heritage. This summer Kincaid returns to The Coterie for their production of Lyle The Crocodile. www.JessalynKincaid.com
Tim Scott appeared at QHP in Pete ’n’ Keely and Life Is a Cabaret last season. Other local credits include Musical Theatre Heritage, The Coterie, American Heartland Theatre and Unicorn Theatre. This summer Scott will be appearing in Footloose at Starlight Theatre. www.timmyscott.com
J. Kent Barnhart has served as Executive Director of Quality Hill Productions since he founded the nonprofit theater in 1995. Throughout his career, he has worked as pianist, musical director, stage director and/or producer for more than 200 musicals, plays and cabaret revues.
Wait … I think I’ve seen this before. Post apocalyptic future … check. Robots doing clean-up on a desolated and deserted planet … check. Tom Cruise doing stuff that Tom Cruise does … double check.
Yup I’ve seen it before. But, ah heck, I’ll watch it again.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the visual mastermind behind Tron:Legacy, Oblivion brings together a hodgepodge of nearly ever successful sci-fi story and theme that we have been witness to over the last, oh say, 25 years or so. Based on a unpublished graphic novel of the same name, Oblivion is highly successful in certain aspects, but falls short in a few others. Luckily, the good stuff easily makes up for the bad.
Picture this: the year is 2077 and Earth is a quiet wasteland, watched over by the last two humans on the planet. In the aftermath of an intergalactic war, humans have won but alas, have had to leave our precious planet due to the fallout. Now, giant moisture machines draw necessary resources from the sea and are closely guarded by Tech 49, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), his communications officer, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) and their intimidating, well armed army of flying drones. Their mission: Protect the resources getting drawn from the planet by keeping the drones working. Their only contact: A daily video feed from Sally (Melissa Leo), the missions control officer who is housed on the giant “Death Star”-like way station called the Tet, that stores the resources prior to sending them off to the newly inhabited planet or moon. With relief coming in two weeks, the affects of a memory wipe (a tool used to aid the duo in keeping focused on the mission) are starting to wear off and Jack is starting to remember something … or someone. Like all good things, something bad happens and Jack finds out there is much more to his mission than meets the eye.
As a leading man, you can’t get any better than Tom Cruise. Seriously, the man is 50 and looks like I want to look. He’s charismatic, likeable and, like always, he plays the confused hero perfectly. Coupled with the highly sexual Riseborough, the two play off each other nicely – him using his instincts to succeed on the ground and her for keeping him … ahem … stimulated above. It’s not until more of the human cast is introduced that the film begins to waiver.
With little dialogue (for most of the film) the soundtrack crafted for the film is out of this world (sigh … did I really just type that?). Music aficionados will probably say different, and while not quite near the level of what Daft Punk did for Tron: Legacy, I still contend that the score by Anthony Gonzalez (M83) and Joe Trapanese is strong. Coupled with the spectacular sound effects – specifically from the drones – the audience is given a mood enhancing background that becomes as much a character as it’s physical counterparts.
At the same time, the technology and special effects are consistently strong. While clearly inspired by the video games Portal and Portal 2, the look and feel of the film is gorgeous. While futuristic white and grey have been over-used, the overall designs fit well together and luckily, will never go out of fashion. I especially liked the drones. Like I said before, the sound effects from the drones are fantastic and the way they interact, move and sound in the environment is both fun to watch and menacing at the same time. When I saw it draw its weapons for the first time, I immediately thought of the Enforcement Droid 209 (ED-209) from the Robocop franchise.
And then there’s the action. While few and far between, when the action heats up, it really gets going. Always at the core of the action, the drones add a very high level of tension due to their lack of emotion and every time they spring into action, your eyes are glued to the screen. At the same time, as the movie evolves, the tension and emotion, surprisingly grows and while most people will be able to figure out what’s really happening 10 minutes into the film, I still found myself happily interested in the development of Jack and his his motivations.
The film is just way too long. We get it … he flies in his ship. We get it … he remembers something. We get it. Move along please. Over and over the audience is bashed over the head with scenes of him traveling or him remembering a moment on the Empire State Building and it just gets old. Maybe this was a device to represent the monotonous aspects of the mission but damn … move along please.
At the same time and as I mentioned before, once other humans are introduced, the dialogue and overall intrigue kind of goes away. I was fascinated by the relationship between Jack and Victoria, and this neat triangle thing happens half way through the film. However, when Morpheous … I mean Morgan Freeman shows up with Jaime Lannister … shoot, did it again … I mean Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, stuff gets convoluted for a bit and honestly, I just started to lose interest. Luckily those incredible action scenes happen, and I found myself right back in.
Lastily, the story is … a bit weak. Not in terms of its overall arch, but in terms of holes. I can’t get really into it without spoiling the plot, but if people have negative opinions of the film, the story will get the brunt of it.
Nothing. There’s nothing ugly about this film. It looks good, sounds good and most of all it will fit well into a season of big-budget movies.
While not perfect, Oblivion is a solid outing for Kosinski. Cruise keeps the epic from getting out of control and grounded in belief while the supporting special effects and score heighten the experience. As the film progresses, other human characters kind of get in the way, but overall still an entertaining movie experience. Critics will dissect for not being terribly original and for its transparent story, but audiences will be kinder and find more enjoyment from this futuristic tale.
3.5 out 5 Stuffed Gorillas Seemingly Just a Little Dirty and Hardly Worn Out After 60 Some Years
In a brightly lit studio off of Front Street in Bonner Springs, young singers congregate. Some scurry in with a few minutes to spare before rehearsal while others wait and do homework. Whichever student, all are welcome at the Allegro KC space. More than 220 students from third grade through high school populate five choirs and the program is getting ready to expand to a chamber orchestra and summer camps.
Founder and Artistic Director Christy Elsner started a small choir of 38 voices in 2000 and just last fall, she and her ever-growing artistic staff and students moved into a dedicated space in Bonner Springs, Kan. Don’t worry about the drive or location. Students and parents from all over the metropolitan area find Elsner and the other directors. Students come from Kansas City-North to Olathe and many are homeschooled as well as students at private and public elementary, middle and high schools.
“The opportunity to work on power and strength of the voice draws students here,” Elsner says. “Growing up provides challenges and a different dynamic is found here. We have fabulous challenges with treble voices. The variety of music also appeals to the singers. We do everything from Baroque to contemporary music. It’s not uncommon for singers to sing in at least four to five languages.”
Elsner wanted her own choirs, her own space and her freedom to unite these even while student teaching. Her next goal, to unite students singing with an orchestra, will be fulfilled with the creation of a chamber orchestra. And now she also has introduced an all-male choir for changed voices that joins the rich women’s choirs. “Success for me continues when I get to pull these voices together and strive for excellence in everything we do,” she says. “We encourage the singers to take this idea with them in all things. Every choice can be excellent from the decision to make their beds in the morning to how they study for school.” Elsner directs Allegro con Brio and Allegro con Moto choirs.
Allegro offers numerous community concerts each season as well as four major concert performances. Allegro singers have performed in Canterbury Cathedral, England; St.Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City; Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas; Carnegie Hall in NYC and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. They even had the chance to perform at the White House last late fall. The group’s spring show returns to the Kauffman Center April 14.
Composer-in-Residence Andrea Ramsey works with Elsner and creates annual themes. This year, Woven Together, looks at folk music and spirituals. The five choirs sing separately, but also join forces for several songs. “We aim for overall character development. The students who participate with us have an understanding about the commitment they make. If they don’t practice, it impacts their neighbors. They also learn poise and grace. It’s also about how to stand and how to shake a hand. The Midwestern values we possess are crucial. They will carry these values into their adult lives.”
The students also participate in community service hours. The HALO Foundation has benefited from various drives by Allegro KC. HALO provides food, water, shelter, clothing, education, art therapy, caretakers, medical services, and vocational training to orphans and at-risk children worldwide. HALO has recently opened learning centers for at-risk, homeless, and foster care youth in Kansas City and Denver. Parents also perform service hours too.
Poco choir director Briana Swift works with students from second grade to fourth grade. She is also an alumna of Allegro, having sung with Moto and Brio from the eighth grade through her senior year in high school. Swift is currently a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying music education. “Not many choirs are like Allegro,” she says. “There’s something so great about teaching kids three French songs while talking about the importance of showing up and studying their music. I am helping to create the foundation.”
Like Swift, Maia Schoenberg, 17, a Blue Valley High School junior, has sung in Moto and is now in Brio. “This is my fifth year. It’s beyond the singing; the atmosphere is like family. Allegro is good company. I want to be an opera singer so I like to be exposed to as much music as I can. Musical theater also appeals to me.”
The White House trip in December sticks with Schoenberg. “We were able to go based on seniority. The DC singers are staying together and rehearsing as well.” She hopes to attend the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
Catie Tucker is a senior at Staley High School in Kansas City-North. “I have been a part of Allegro since eighth grade too. The level of beauty and professionalism we can achieve keeps me coming back each year. I participate in the choirs at school too, but I learned years ago about responsibility and dedication. It’s more work than you expect, but when you get to sing a world premiere, it’s a beautiful moment for all of us.”
Auditions for the 2013-2014 concert season will be held in mid-April for the choirs. Allegro con Fuoco (lively with fire), new high school string orchestra for grades 9-12, will hold auditions April 29 and 30. The openings include violin, viola, cello, bass and keyboard. There are also plans to hopefully create summer camps as well. For details, visit www.allegrokc.org.