Theater Review: “ROCKY”


  • Musical Theatre Kansas City, Shawnee, Kansas
  • April 14, 2024


It’s my second favorite film of all time.  The story of a boxer and his million to one shot.  So, when I first heard a few years ago that ROCKY was coming to Broadway, I was ecstatic.  I never made it to NYC to see it, but a friend of mine sent me the Original Cast CD and I liked what I heard.  So I was happy to see that the talented people at MTKC was staging the show locally.


November 1975.  Club fighter Rocky Balboa (a well-cast Drew Starlin) is making his living as a “debt collector” by day and a club fighter by night.  As he tells his manager, Mickey (Rick Averill), “it’s a living.”  But he wants more.  More includes Adrian (Jasmine Hall,” the shy sister of Rocky’s best friend, Paulie (Chris Clements).  When the forementioned “million to one shot” lands in his lap, Rocky finds himself in the biggest fight of his career.


Based on the film script by Sylvester Stallone, with a book by Stallone and Thomas Meehan (the Broadway shows “Annie,” “The Producers,” “Hairspray”), ROCKY is a very faithful adaptation of the film, The actors on stage are accompanied by a pretty impressive multi-media background, giving even the simplest set a larger feel.  This is most evident during the final fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed (Shane St. James).


The songs, by Stephen Flaherty (“Seussical” and Lyn Ahrens (“My Favorite Year,” “Ragtime”) capture the emotion of the situations unfolding onstage.  The cast is strong, especially Mr. Starlin and Ms. Hall, who, rather then doing an impression of the original film’s actors, give the characters a sweetness and vulnerability that extends throughout the show.  And a special shout-out to Mr. Clements, who truly captures the mixed emotions felt by Paulie.


A few technical glitches aside, the presentation was smooth and the audience I was in cheered at all the right places.


On a scale of zero to five, I give ROCKY ★★


ROCKY continues at MTKC on Friday, Saturday and Sundays through April 28th.  For tickets and more information, click HERE.

Theater Review: “Clue – A New Comedy”

  • CLUE – A New Comedy
  • The Kauffman Center, Kansas City, Missouri
  • April 2, 2024


Last week audiences at the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City learned the answer to a mystery: Could the laughs from Jonathan Lynn’s 1985 movie adaptation of the game Clue work on stage?


It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes, Jessica Marple or even Beniot Blanc to know the answer was yes. Because Lynn’s movie had a single location and was set in roughly real time, it didn’t take much effort for Sandy Rustin, Hunter Foster and Eric Prince to make the tale work in another medium.


In many ways Clue is funnier live. Watching the cast scampering from a potential killer seems sillier on stage because there isn’t far for them to run. In addition, any fisticuffs that occur during the play seem amusingly innocuous. Greg Balla’s fight choreography ensures the struggles don’t stray into the sadistic or macabre.


Lynn’s storyline and much of his dialogue remains. A group of anonymous strangers have been lured to a mansion by a series for letters. Professor Plum (Jonathan Spivey), Mr. Green (John Shartzer), Miss Scarlet (Michelle Elaine), Mrs. White (Tari Kelly), Mrs. Peacock (Joanna Glushak) and Col. Mustard (Jon Treacy Egan) are not using their real names, and there is a good reason for it. All have managed to run afoul McCarthy-ite witch hunts in 1954 and have additional issues that would be golden for a blackmailer.


Their host, the butler Wadsworth (Mark Price), reveals that they are the victims of a blackmailer named Mr. Body (Alex Syiek). He appears and informs them his demands are going to increase. When the lights in the New England mansion go out, so does the chaos that ensues receives some help from Lee Savage’s sets, which morph into different rooms with interrupting the action. As a result the story leaps floors and covers more ground.


The original movie featured a dream team of character actors (Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn), but the current touring cast is up for the task as well. Shartzer and Elaine, in particular, seem to enjoy sinking their teeth into their roles and lead viewers to hope their characters aren’t the ones who made Mr. Body live up to his name. There are no intermissions in the current production, so the play is a test of the cast’s endurance, and they handle the demand of being “on” constantly effortlessly.


For fans of the game there are dozens of little nods to how a round of it would proceed. The weapons come straight for the box that Hasbro sells.


As of this writing, the current producing is in Cleveland, and audiences there are in for a treat. Clue manages to be a frothy delight despite the fact it involves fatalities. If the game Ais afoot in your city, you won’t have to be a Hasbro stockholder to enjoy the fiendish plot unraveling.


Theater Review: “Mamma Mia!”

  • “Mamma Mia!”
  • Music Hall – Kansas City, Mo  
  • March 5, 2024



Borrowing a phrase from the classic Alka Seltzer commercial, “MAMMA MIA!  That’s a spicy musical!”


What a totally enjoyable presentation for the 25th Anniversary Tour celebration of the London premier in 1999.   The jukebox musical pulls you in from the opening notes and flows through the hits of ABBA one after another, and you know them all…of course you do, or you probably wouldn’t bother being in the audience.


The show presents the story of Sophie (Alisa Melendez) a young woman who has been raised by her single mother Donna (Christine Sherrill) on a Greek Island and who is planning her upcoming wedding.  Sophie has a dilemma; she doesn’t know who her father is, and to make matters worse, neither does her mother!


Donna is an aging “wild child” of the 70’s who, along with her two besties, Tanya (Jalynn Steele) and Rosie (Carly Sakolove) were once Donna and the Dynamos.   However Donna, after finding herself pregnant, has lived a quiet, reclusive life running a café’.   Sophia sneaks into her mother’s diary and discovers entries that may point to who the father could be…. Harry, Bill or Sam, all of which Donna had “intimate moments” with 20 years ago.   Sophie sends them invitations to her wedding without telling her mother…and as the guests begin to arrive for the wedding, all three men appear, and Sophie starts to deduce which one is her father.  Hilarity ensues.  All is well in the end and everyone finds what they were searching for.  The acting woven throughout the musical numbers is done well, show stealers for me were the Dynamo Girls, and Bill from the “dads”.


Musical highlights:   Dancing Queen, The Name of the Game, SOS, and of course Mama Mia.  But the curtain call encore is a rousing party montage of Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, and Waterloo, with full ABBA style costuming, choreography and invitation for participation, and the audience at this performance sure did.


On a scale of zero to five I give “Mamma Mia!” ★★1/2


“Mamma Mia!” continues at the Music Hall in Kansas City through March 10th.  For tickets to this and upcoming shows on the tour please click HERE.

Kansas City Theater Review: “TINA: The Tina Turner Musical”


  • The Music Hall – Kansas City, Missouri
  • December 5, 2023


I first fell in love with Tina Turner as a 15 year old boy after seeing her in the film “Tommy.”  I didn’t know I was in love until she rocketed back to stardom in the early 80s.  Then I was hooked.  I went to her shows, bought her albums and tried to devise a way to ask her to marry me.  My crush on her was so powerful that when she sadly passed away earlier this year, friends who I hadn’t heard from in years sent me condolence messages.  Which brings me to this week at the Music Hall in Kansas City where I attended opening night of TINA: The Tina Turner Musical.”


Opening with a gospel themed rendition of “Nutbush City Limits,” “TINA” is a nearly three-hour journey into the often tragic life of one of the most powerful voices in rock and roll history.


For those unfamiliar with the story, Anna Mae Bullick left her Tennessee home to join her sister Alline in St. Louis.  There she met Ike Turner a musician with a bad temper.  As the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, they toured the country, appearing in concert and on television.  However, behind the scenes, it was a living hell.

Parris Lewis

A show is only as good as its cast, and the cast of “TINA” was amazing.  Every character has a chance to shine, from young Anna Mae to the hard dancing Ikettes.  I apologize her for not naming the young actress who played Anna Mae.  There are two young ladies playing the roll and there was nothing inserted into the “Playbill” to tell me which one it was.  Whoever you are, young lady, you were amazing.


It’s a testament to the talents of actor Wildlin Pierrevil that, when he took his curtanin call as Ike Tuner, some in the audience booed him.  Not the performance, mind you, but Ike Turner the man.


There are also two actresses playing Tina Turner, and this performance featured Parris Lewis, who seemed to have absorbed Tina Turner into her DNA as she gave one of the best performances I have seen on stage this year.  Brava!!


I will warn readers who may hope to influence the younger generation with Tina’s music by taking them to the show, it does get a little dark thematically at times.  It’s well documented that Ike Turner was an SOB, and there are scenes of domestic violence that had the audience cringing.  However, it’s those early scenes that make Tina’s triumphs even sweeter.  She really was, as she sang, Simply the Best!


On a scale of zero to five, I give “TINA: The Tina Turner Musical” ★★★★★


“TINA: The Tina Turner Musical” runs in Kansas City through December 9th.  For tickets to these or future shows, please click HERE.


To check out my interview with actresses Parris Lewis and Ari Groover, please clickHERE.



Theater Review: “To Kill a Mockingbird”


I must confess that as soon as I heard that the Broadway National Touring presentation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” was coming to Kansas City I knew I would be in attendance.


I first became aware of the story as a young man through the 1962 film version of Harper Lee’s novel, where I was moved by the Academy Award winning performance Gregory Peck, who plays attorney Atticus Finch.  I immediately went to the local library, read the novel, then read it again.  I’ve read it several times since. The Pulitzer Prize winner is my all-time favorite novel. The film is on my Top Ten Best Film List.  So, I was excited to see a live performance, with the role of Atticus Finch played by none other than Richard Thomas, forever remembered as John Boy Walton to my generation.


Even though I was anxious to see the show, I must admit that from the first moment Scout (played by Melanie Moore) took the stage, I suddenly felt uneasy.  Uneasy about how anything could top the film, or how could a new vision (by Aaron Sorkin) in any way convey the feelings generated by the novel.  I needn’t had worried. 


Richard Thomas was exceptional.   No one, for me, will ever be Atticus Finch more than Peck, and it’s obvious that Thomas understand that.  He brings his own experience to the stage, and it was spot on for this version.



Scout, Jem (Justin Mark) and Dill (Steven Lee Johnson) were very good as the three young children (and adults) who lead the audience on the show’s journey.  The entire ensemble cast played well, especially Ted Koch as Bob Ewell and Jacqueline Williams as Calpurnia.   The bonus highlight of the cast is that Mary Badham – who earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Scout in the film version – plays the role of Mrs. Henry Dubose.    


The presentation is set as a series of flashbacks, taking the audience inside the trial of a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a young white girl, and the subsequent horrific end to his life at the hands of a racists mob.  The story flows in and around the courtroom scenes, the children, and their efforts to get a look of the reclusive neighbor Boo Radley and of course, the climactic ending with an attempted murder of the Finch children, the death of Bob Ewell, and the end of the summer that changed their lives forever. 


In the end, I greatly enjoyed  this telling of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  I would encourage everyone to read the novel, watch the movie, and if given the chance…. see this play.


On a scale of zero to five, I give “To Kill a Mockingbird” 4.5 stars.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” runs in Kansas City through October 29th.  For tickets to these and future performances, please click HERE.  


Theater Review: “Jagged LIttle Pill – the Musical”


  • Starlight Theater,  Kansas City, Missouri  
  • August 1, 2023



Reviewed by J. R. Deeter



It has been nearly 30 years since Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album was released.  30 holds a strange mental impact on most people….you dread the fact when you turn 30…you’re now old.  The Mom & Dad kind of old, not elderly, but not a young person either.


I remember thinking when I first heard Morissette’s Grammy award winning songs that they were the stories of someone who had been hurt, deeply, and I couldn’t quite understand how someone so young could relate to the things I was hearing.   The musical “Jagged Little Pill” has put it all into a perspective that I never thought of.   The experience can relate to anyone, of any age.


I liked the fact that the show’s book, connecting Morisette’s songs, was written by Diablo Cody (2020 Tony award winner) and overall, it did flow easily.  What I didn’t care for was the cliché of the family members – mom is a drug addict, dad is a workaholic, the son is a pressured overachiever and the daughter is confused sexually.  That is not to lessen the impact of the subject matter and issues address by the story, they are legit and continue to be but it just seemed too forced on the viewer.


Another “get off my lawn” moment for me was the choreography of the supporting cast.  Why does everyone have to always be all herky-jerky in their movements ?  The one bright, shining moment was the number “Smiling” as mother Mary Jane, (Heidi Blickenstaff) suffers through searching for her drug fix, then progressing through her day, when suddenly everything flows intricately slowly in reverse, back to the house where it started.   That segment is the highlight of the show.


The remaining family cast members performed admirably, but the show stealer was Jade McLeod in the roll of Jo.


“Jagged Little Pill: the Musical” receives a total of three out of five stars. 


“Jagged Little Pill” plays at Starlight through Sunday.  For tickets to see this or future shows, please click HERE

Theater/Concert Review: “RAIN – a Tribute to the Beatles


  • JULY 21, 2023


I was 9 years old when the Beatles broke up, almost four years after the band stopped touring so I never had the opportunity to see them perform live.  As a child of the 1960s, I was swept up in Beatlemania.  The very first record I ever bought with my own money was the “Hello Goodbye” 45 single.  I have a couple of older friends that did see the band live, one of which grew up in Liverpool and had the band play his school dance, back when the lineup included Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe.  I’ve seen Paul McCartney live many times, and it’s always great to hear him do a Beatles song, but I always thought that was the closest I’d ever come to seeing the band on stage.  I was wrong!


A musical/multimedia celebration, RAIN is a two hour journey through the adventures of the Fab Four, from their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show’ to their final roof top concert.  Each song is performed flawlessly, both musically and vocally.  The show consists of four featured mjsicians – Steve Landes on vocals/rhythm guitar, Paul Curatolo (vocals/bas), Aaron Chazza (drums) and Alastar Mcneil (vocals/lead guitar).  Landes and Curatolo also handle piano duties.  They are joined by a very talented Mark Beyer, who handles the background instruments, including piano, strings and horns.    I look at him like Billy Preston.


If you are wondering why I don’t list Mr. Landes as John, Mr. Curatolo as Paul, etc it’s because that is not how they are identified in the program.  I know from doing research on a Beatles themed book that the lads are very protective of everything of theirs, including their names.  Over newsreel footage from the past, familiar quotes by the lads are heard, but they are recreated comments.  The boys are even protective of their voices.


Each member is outstanding on their instruments, with Mr. Chazza providing a perfect backbeat.  Mr. McNeil had the licks down perfectly, but was indeed playing the “quiet” Beatle as none of Harrison’s songs were performed.  I do see that a couple of Harrison’s songs are noted In the program, so maybe the set lists change nightly.  One thing that did catch my attention was that, even though “Paul” was playing bass left handed, when he brought out the acoustic guitar to solo on “Yesterday,” he was playing right handed.  Which to me, someone who plays guitar, is an amazing feat!  I’ve never heard of an ambidextrous musician before, but Mr. Curatolo excelled on both instruments.


RAIN runs through July 23rd at Starlight Theater.  For tickets to these or future shows, please click HERE.


RAIN receives five out of a total of five stars!   

Kansas City Theater Review: “Legally Blonde: the Musical”

Finding a silver lining can sometimes be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. In the case of touring Broadway musical “Legally Blonde,” currently playing at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, the vein of silver comes in the form of actress Carrie St. Louis who plays the lead, Elle Woods. A tremendous onstage talent with a powerful vocal range, St. Louis was joy to watch on opening night (July 7th). However, everything else about the production was plagued by flubs with dialogue, occasionally disjointed choreography, and an overall storyline that frequently broke away from its original core anthem of female empowerment.


Loosely based upon the 2001 novel of the same name by American author Amanda Brown, “Legally Blonde” was adapted for the silver screen that same year starring Reese Witherspoon, who reprised the role in 2003’s “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.” It was later adapted again in 2007 as a Broadway musical and received seven Tony nominations, although it did not win any.


Elle Woods (St. Louis) is a 4.0 GPA student at UCLA and a member of the Delta Nu sorority. She is giddy at the prospect of being proposed to by her longtime boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Luke Hamilton). To her great disappointment, Warner dumps her and announces he is heading to Harvard Law School. Determined in an obsessed, borderline restraining order type of way, Elle follows Warner by managing to get into Harvard Law as well. From there, Elle must traverse the challenges of being a fish-out-of-water and overcoming the stigma of being a stereotypical California blonde.


The whole purpose of “Legally Blonde” was to promote a sense of empowerment. To show that women can do anything they set their mind too and shatter any glass ceilings in their way. The musical, though, often diverges from this inspirational legacy crafted by Brown. One such example, punctuated by a song called “Snap and Bend” does the opposite by presenting women as sexual objects who should use their sexuality to get what they want rather than their brains. Overall, the theme of female empowerment, which is so powerful in the film version, is derailed in the musical production by so many distractions that it becomes lost in the forest.


“Legally Blonde” will run through July 13 at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City.  For ticket information, click HERE

Kansas City Theater Review: “Jesus Christ Superstar” – 50th Anniversary Tour



  • JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR – 50th Anniversary Tour
  • Starlight Theatre – Kansas City, MO  
  • June 20th, 2023


Review by J.R. Deeter



What’s the Buzz?   A Superstar for the 21st Century


2023 marks the 50th Anniversary of touring productions of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and the current version presented at Starlight Theatre is a worthy take on the story of the Passion of Jesus Christ and his final week on earth as a man.


The talented cast, including Jack Hopewell as Jesus and Faith Jones as Mary, were very good, but in my opinion the two best performances were delivered by Elvie Ellis in the role of Judas, who gives an animated and passionate portrayal of the quintessential betrayer, and Grant Hodges booming voice as Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest.


Musically, the well-known Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice score and songs flow, featuring a heavy emphasis on electric guitar over the lyrics which sometimes  made it difficult to hear the words at times, the exception being during Jones’ acceptable performance of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”  Unfortunately, Jones’ version pales in comparison with Yvonne Elliman’s emotion-packed rendition on the original soundtrack album, though to be fair,  no one ever will.


With a run time of just over 90 minutes, the pace is very quick as the story moves from one scene into another.  The choreography is excellent, with the ensemble cast moving fluidly about the stage with moves that gave the audience an exhaustive workout just watching.


On a scale of zero to five, “Jesus Christ Superstar” receives four stars. 



Kansas City Theater Review: “Tootise – the Musical”


  • TOOTSIE – the Musical
  • Starlight Theater
  • Kansas City, Missouri


While men often played female characters in the time of Shakespeare, it didn’thappen a lot in the late 20th Century.  Then came the 1982 film “Tootsie” which is often regarded as one of the funniest films ever.   The story:  Michael Dorsey is an actor who overthinks everything, from the smallest stage direction to the back story he has created for a character.  His reputation is such that he can’t find a job.  Until one day he puts on a dress and some makeup and is hired as an actress.   The rest, as the saying goes, is history.


Michael Dorsey (an excellent Drew Becker) is celebrating his 40th birthday with his two closest friends, former girlfriend Sandy (Payton Reilly) and his roommate Jeff (Jared David Michael Grant).  He is also celebrating his being fired from another show.  As he works with Sandy for an upcoming audition she has, he bemoans the fact that people don’t understand his talents.  When his agent tells him that no one will hire “him” he auditions for the role Sandy was up for and gets the job.  And the fireworks begin.


It’s had to believe that four decades after it premiered the ordeals of women working in male dominated roles continue.  As newly cast Dorothy Michaels, Michael has to deal with the sexism that exists in pretty much every aspect of his chosen profession.  However, that doesn’t stop “Dorothy” from interjecting her ideas into the new show – a musical based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, with Juliet survivng and falling for Romeo’s brother, Craig – from updating the time period to changing the costumes.  However, where Michael’s input would be seen as meddling, “Dorothy” has the support of the show’s femiale producer and soon the show is built around her.


“Tootsie – the Musical” won the Tony Award for its book, and deservedly so.  The story is altered enough from the film that it seems fresh, combining the best jokes from the film with some hilarious new bits.  The songs are well constructed and move the story along.


The show is well cast, with Mr. Becker pulling double duty as Michael/Dorothy.  Not only does he have to speak as both characters, but he has to sing also.  He is able to make both characters come to life as if you are watching two different performers.  Comedically the standouts were Mr. Grant as Jeff and Adam Du Plessis as Ron, the show director.

“Tootise – the Musical” continues in Kansas City through Sunday, May 21.  For tickets to these performances, or future shows on the tour, please click HERE.

Kansas City Theater Review: “Les Miserables”


  • Music Hall, Kansas City, Missouri
  • May 2, 2023


It is often referred to as one of the world’s most popular musicals.  And it is, with good reason.  In 1985, “Les Misérables,” a musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel, premiered.  Full of brilliant music, amazing production design and a cast for the ages, the show became a phenomenon wherever it played.  That includes the current National Tour, which opened in Kansas City this week.


After 19-years of hard labor, Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell) is released from prison.  His crime?  He stole a loaf of bread to feed the hungry children in his family.  Free, but on parole, he clashes with one of his guards, the strict Javert (Preston Truman Boyd).  Once released, Valjean quickly steals again, but an act of kindness leads him to change his life.  And his name.  He becomes a prosperous businessman, but soon finds he will never escape the vengeful Javert.


Javert (Preston Truman Boyd) confronts Jean Valjean (Nick Cartell) (photo by Johan Perrson)


I’ve seen the show a few times, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to review it.  And where do I start?  From a fan’s perspective, it is pretty much the perfect musical.  Not a false note – no pun intended.  The show is scaled back some from previous tours, but it is still a spectacle in every sense of the word.


The show is carried by the performances and amazing voices of it’s two leading men.  Both Mr. Cartell and Mr. Boyd put their own touch on roles that have been played the world over, taking the familiar and making it their own.  They successfully mix raw emotions and musical skills in two extraordinary performances.  Other stand outs include Haley Dortch as Fantine, Christine Heesun Hwang as Eponine and audience favorites Christina Rose Hall and Matt Crowle as Madame Thenardier and her crooked husband.


To sum it up, this production of “Les Misérables” is an amazing night at the theater, one that you will never forget.  

“Les Miserables” receives a score of 5 out of 5 stars.


To read my conversation with actor Preston Truman Boyd, please click HERE.


“Les MIserables” continues in Kansas City through Sunday, May 7th.  For informtion and tickets for this and future shows, please click HERE.  

Kansas City Theater Review: “Annie”


  • Kauffman Center, Kansas City, Missouri
  • April 18, 2023

The first professional musical I saw was the first National Tour which came to Kansas City in 1981.  Reid Shelton, who had originated the role of Oliver Warbucks on Broadway, was in the cast along with future Tony Award winner Gary Beach, who played Rooster.  I had played the album endlessly for years so it was an amazing opportunity to see the show live.  42-years later, the show returned to Kansas City and I made sure I was there!

If you are not aware of the show “Annie” or the song “Tomorrow,” you definitely were not around in the late 1970s.  The show took the world by storm, running for an amazing 2,377 shows and was so popular that the name of the Alvin Theater, where the show ran, was temporarily changed to the ANNIE.  For those not familiar with the show, it tells the story of Annie, an orphan in depression-era New York City who lives in an orphanage with other parentless children.  The place is overseen by Miss Hanigan, a woman who really has no reason to be raising children.  When billionaire Oliver Warbucks decides to have an orphan spend Christmas with him, Annie is chosen.  The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Like any musical, the show is only as good as the people in it, and here “Annie” did not disappoint.  From the ragtag orphans to FDR, they did not miss a beat.  As someone that knows the score by heart, I was pleased at how the performers made the songs their own, adding an additional pause or small nuance to familiar songs, giving the show a new, but familiar, feel. 


Among the standouts – Christopher Swan as Warbucks, Stefanie Londino as Miss Hannigan, Julia Nicole Hunter as Grace Farrell and, of course, Ellie Pulsifer, who plays Annie with a little more street smarts then usual.  I also enjoyed the comic performance of Aidan Ziegler-Hansen, who played radio host Bert Healey. At least I hope it was Mr. Ziegler-Hansen.  On the cast board it was noted that the role of Bert Healey was being played by a different actor.  I didn’t write the name down becuase I expected a little note to be inserted in the Playbill.  Unfortunately, non-of the Playbills had one and by the time the show let out the board had been taken down.  Mr. Ziegler-Hansen is listed as the understudy for the role so that is who I’m tipping my hat too.

In 1993 I caught an early performance of the short-lived “Annie Warbucks,” a sequel to the original show, with a cast that included Donna McKechnie, the original Cassie in “A Chorus Line.”  Though well received, the show never made it to Broadway.  Oh well.  Maybe Tomorrow…it is only a day away!

I give “Annie” 5 stars out of 5.  A fun night at the theater for young and old!


“Annie” runs in Kansas City through April 23rd.  For tickets to this or future shows, click HERE.

“Annie” plays kc through.  buy tix here.

Kansas City Theater Review: HAMILTON

  • Music Hall
  • Kansas City, Missouri
With an ensemble cast that is second to none in terms of talent, the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” has taken the Music Hall by storm. Impressive set and lighting designs, terrific costumes, and well-executed choreography on the stage makes this popular production a definite crowd pleaser.
Based upon the 2004 biography “Alexander Hamilton” by American biographer Ronald Chernow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2010 work “Washington: A Life,” “Hamilton” the musical premiered off-Broadway on January 20, 2015, at The Public Theater in New York City. Adapted for the stage by Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, who originally starred as the title character, “Hamilton” exploded from its humble beginning and went on to received 16 nominations at the 70th Annual Tony Awards in 2016 and won 11 categories including Best Musical.
Following the life of one of our nation’s founding fathers from the Revolutionary War until his untimely death in 1804, “Hamilton” explores the complexities of Alexander’s life, most notably his increasingly strained relationship with his eventual killer, Vice-President Aaron Burr. In two lengthy acts, his story is told through fast-paced song and rap lyrics. The latter of which can be difficult to understand at times, especially for those that are new to the show, and consequently makes the story a little challenging to follow.
The performance quality was a team effort as no one cast member necessarily outshined the rest. However, some of the biggest crowd responses occurred when King George III (Peter Matthew Smith) came onto the stage during the first act with the songs “You’ll Be Back” and “What Comes Next.” Also of note was the powerhouse vocals by Alysha Deslorieux as Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander. Her vocal range and control were nothing short of extraordinary.
Overall, the musical stays mostly true to the biography that inspired it with only a few inaccuracies or liberties taken – as when Burr is among those who confront Hamilton about money he used to hush up an affair. Burr was not present during the confrontation nor were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as the production portrays. Be that as it may, “Hamilton” is worthwhile theatrical experience that you must have.
“Hamilton” will run through April 2 at the Music Hall in Kansas City and is currently touring through June 2024.  For ticket information, please click HERE.

Theatre Review “The Spongebob Musical” @ Orlando Repertory Theatre

Gotta admit, I am not the biggest SpongeBob fan. I have seen a few episodes and the two movies that have been released and that’s really it. I never watched religiously over the years…yet I have always respected the show that has been on the air nearly 25 years and going strong. I am however a sucker for musicals when I saw that “Spongebob Squarepants” was becoming not only a musical but an acclaimed musical, my interest was peaked. Especially when I saw that “The Spongebob Musical” was going to be at the Orlando Repertory Theatre, I knew I had to go. I ended up taking my 11 year old daughter and let me tell you we both had a blast at this showing. The show was fun, colorful and full of amazing songs that had you nearly up and dancing in your seats.

Official Premise: Are you ready, kids? The hit Nickelodeon show has become a big, splashy Broadway musical! Dive into the undersea town of Bikini Bottom with SpongeBob and his quirky circle of friends and neighbors – Patrick, Sandy, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and even Plankton – in this dynamic stage musical with songs from music’s most legendary artists. Chaos erupts when SpongeBob and all of Bikini Bottom face the total annihilation at the threat of Mt. Humongous. Just when all hope seems lost, a most unexpected hero rises up and takes center stage. The power of optimism really can save the world!

When I mentioned the music, there are amazing original songs by Yolanda Adams – Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith – Sara Bareilles – Jonathan Coulton – Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – The Flaming Lips – Lady A – Cyndi Lauper – John Legend – Panic! At the Disco – Plain White T’s – They Might Be Giants – T.I. and songs By David Bowie – Tom Kenny & Andy Paley. My favorite has to be Bikini Bottom Day, which kicked off the show and also act 2 in reprise. Like I mentioned the song were just so energetic and fun. Definitely not what I expected from a Spongebob musical but I was pleasantly surprised.

The sets at the Orlando Repertory Theatre were very impressive as well. There were filled with color and really added a lot to the show. The cast was also amazing especially Joel Hunt, who played Spongebob, who was all over the stage including doing back flips and running into the aisles. My daughters favorite was Squidward, played by Liam Joshua Munn. Though I got to admit, the entire ensemble was very talented. I love coming to shows at the Orlando Repertory Theatre because there is always a diverse cast and I have never been let down in terms of quality of performances. I can’t wait to see what they have planned next. And if you can I would highly recommend catching a performance of “The Spongebob Musical” before it closes out on April 30th, you won’t be disappointed.

Theater Review: “Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation”

Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the 100 Acre Wood have always been a favorite of mine since I was a kid and straight through my adult life. Whenever there is a movie or anything relating to Pooh I immediately have to see it. When I heard about the Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation in NYC, I was dying to see it. I am currently 40 years old and the magic has never left me. Having a daughter myself, I have been able to introduce her to this world and pass it on to another generation. This show was recently held at the beautiful Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, FL and it was adorable, fun and left us singing as we left the theater.

All of Disney’s iconic characters were featured in this show, Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Owl and Tigger too! It was amazing seeing them come to life in this beautifully crafted musical stage adaptation. This beautiful stage adaptation is told with stunning life-sized puppetry through the eyes of the characters we all know and love, in a brand new story from the Hundred Acre Wood. All the puppets featured in the show were designed and constructed within the walls of Rockefeller Productions by a talented team of artists, designers, patternmakers, builders, welders and fabricators. It also featured the timeless music of the Sherman Brothers along with further songs by A.A. Milne.

Inspired by Disney’s original character designs, each character is literally brought to life by its puppeteers perfectly. This production is created by renowned family entertainment creator Jonathan Rockefeller, and made by Rockefeller Productions alongside Disney Theatrical Productions. The theater was filled with families of all ages exposing them to the beauty of these characters and the classic Grammy winning music. The show itself ran for a straight solid hour with no intermission and left me wanting more, which is not a bad thing. If you are able to catch this show when it comes to a city near you I would highly recommend it for sure. It is nothing short of magical.

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