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

Mar 6 – Apr 30

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.

Theater Review: “My Fair Lady”


  • The Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • February 7, 2023
My first musical was “A Chorus Line,” in 1980, which I saw here in Kansas City with a then unknown Bebe Neuwirth as Cassie.  My first musical on Broadway was “42nd St.”  In the four plus decades since I’ve done my best to see what could be called THE CLASSICS.  My bucket list includes such critically acclaimed shows as “The Music Man” and “West Side Story.”  I love the music.  I love the films.  I’ve just never had the opportunity to see them live.  I was able to cross a major show off my list this week when I caught an outstanding production of “My Fair Lady.”
For those who may be unaware of the story, it centers around Eliza Doolittle (Madeline Powell), a brassy flower “merchant” whose loud and abrasive accent annoys the ears of Professor Henry Higgins (Jonathan Grunert), who claims that he can take a common guttersnipe and present her to royalty in six months.  Soon Eliza is spending all of her time working on her vowels and pronunciation.  The classes are interrupted by some of the greatest songs in musical theater history, and this is where the show shines.  Such classics as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Get Me to the Church on Time” and “On the Street Where You Live” are performed by a top-notch cast of performers.  The two leads are well supported by an ensemble cast whose enthusiasm radiates from the stage.
Ms. Powell is both annoyingly brash and quietly shy as Eliza while Mr. Grunert is both pompous and assured.  They compliment each other well and keep a show that, with intermission, runs almost three hours, moving along.  Standouts in the supporting cast include John Adkison as Colonel Pickering, Nathan Haltiwanger as the love-sick Freddy and the true audience favorite, Michael Hegarty as Eliza’s father, Alf.    The show has a cast of (28) and each and every one of them help bring the show to life.
The sets are beautifully designed and, as mention above, the music is amazing, brilliantly performed by a top notch orchestra, which plays so beautifully you may find yourself singling along (I know I did.)
“My Fair Lady” runs in Kansas City through Sunday, February 12th.  For tickets at this stop or later on the tour, click HERE.  

Theater Review: “Pretty Woman: the Musical”



  • Music Hall – Kansas City, Missouri
  • December 6, 2022




Hundreds of newcomers receive this greeting daily.  For some new arrivals, it’s the beginning of fulfilling a dream.  For Vivian Ward (Jessie Davidson), it’s a daily reminder of the life she now leads.  A daily reminder that she has yet to find her prince. Yet?


There have been so many musicals in the pipeline recently – coming soon, shows based on “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and “The Nutty Professor” – and some are, to be polite, not very good.  So please take this as a great compliment when I say that “PWTM” is much better than I expected.  Based on the 1990 film that unleashed Julia Roberts on an unsuspecting world, “PWTM” is a very funny, and well produced, show that is carried squarely on the shoulders of the writers and the performers.


For those of you who may not be aware of the story, it’s the tale of Vivian, a working girl trying to drum enough business to help pay the rent.  A chance meeting with Edward Lewis (Adam Pascal) leads her to an arrangement she cannot turn down.  However, as things progress, unemotional business begins to take a backseat to actual feelings, as two lonely people connect.


Adam Pascal has one of the most powerful and recognizable voices in musical theater history (again, for those of you who don’t follow theater, he was Roger in the original production of RENT, as well as in the film).  Pascal gives Edward a sense of decency that helps make the character likeable.  Ms. Davidson also works some magic in making Vivian a true heroine of the story.  It’s hard to create a fairy tale out of cutthroat businessmen and prostitutes, but together Pascal and Davidson pull it off.  They are assisted greatly by a strong ensemble cast, including Jessica Crouch as Vivian’s roommate, Kit; Kyle Taylor Parker, as the overzealous greeter, proved an audience favorite.  And I want to give a special shout out to Trent Soyster as the limber and mischievous bellboy Giulio.


A fun night at the theater, PWTM is playing in Kansas City through December 11th.  For information on this stop of the tour, or upcoming shows, please click HERE.

HAMILTON: Be in the Room Where it Happened

The wildly popular, award-winning musical Hamilton returns to the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando, Florida for an almost one-month run from October 26-November 20. Hamilton is the story of America in its infancy, told by America now. With a score that seamlessly blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton tells the story of the birth of America through the eyes of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers. With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton has won multiple Tony®, Grammy ®, and Oliver Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Having the opportunity to see Hamilton live for a second time with the touring cast, I was nervous it wouldn’t pack the same punch as the Broadway version. My nerves increased a bit more when I noticed that three (3) of the main characters – Eliza Hamilton, George Washington, and Hercules Mulligan – were all being played by understudies, and it was only the second night. Once the show began, however, I quickly realized that it was silly to worry as every actor on that stage brought the themes and story to life in a way where you felt the real emotions. By the end I had changed my tune to “Understudies: They get the job done.”

Each of the 34 songs (you read that right, 34 songs) were written in a way that it enhanced the story being told and eliminated the boring stereotype that tends to come with a historical narrative. In addition, Dr. Phillips Center used Gala Pro – and app which provides captioning on your personal mobile device – for this show, which allowed individuals with hearing impairments the ability to read and understand the, at times, very fast lyrics. For a show that celebrates diversity and the strength it brings to us as a country, it was great to see it was accessible for those with hearing impairments as well.

Tickets are still on sale for the remainder of the Hamilton run at Dr. Phillips Center, and before you think to yourself “What’d I Miss,” I highly recommend you find the time to “Take a Break” and see this “Non-Stop,” inspirational musical before it plays “One Last Time” on November 20th. I promise you that you will walk out of the theater “Satisfied.”

SIX: The Musical You’ll Lose Your Head Over

The 23-time award winning musical SIX brings its Euphoric Celebration of 21 st century girl power to the Dr. Phillips Center Broadway series in Orlando now through October 9 th . Re-writing “herstory,” the SIX wives of Henry VIII go from Tudor Queens to Pop Icons in this non-stop, 80-minute concert-style show that will keep you dancing and entertained the entire time.

Having the opportunity to see SIX for the first time on its opening night in Orlando was phenomenal. There weren’t any set changes or costume changes (okay, maybe one costume change) leaving the music and story of the show as the main characters. The diverse cast of women who played The Queens – Khaila Wilcoxon as Catherine of Argon, Storm Lever as Anne Boleyn, Jasmine Forsberg as Jane Seymour, Olivia Donalson as Anna of Cleves, Cassie Silva (alternate) as Katherine Howard, and Gabriela Carrillo as Catherine Parr – not only exuded confidence in their period-inspired pop star attire, but also kept the energy high with their amazing vocal talents and dedication to telling the stories of these women. Feeling

inspired and empowered as I left the theater, I wanted nothing more than to listen to The SIX: LIVE ON OPENING NIGHT Broadway album as I couldn’t get enough.

If I had to give one complaint, it would be that the show itself was not long enough. When The Queens sang “for five more minutes we’re SIX,” I felt a tinge of disappointment as it was as if the show just hit its peak and then it ended, leaving me wanting more. Would this keep me from seeing the show again, ABSOLUTELY NOT! Just ask my husband who I have been begging to go see it again with me before its final curtain on Orlando 9th .

Kansas City Theater Review: “Sister Act”


  • AUGUST 16, 2022                


Over the past couple decades there have been a number of Broadway musicals that have been based on popular films.  “Hairspray,” “The Producers,”  “Beetlejuice,” “Rocky,” and “Young Frankenstein” are just a small fraction of the shows that have hit the Great White Way – with new productions of “The Nutty Professor” and “Mr. Holland’s Opus” currently previewing in smaller cities.  Some have gone on to Great success, while others have faded away.  One of the better ones has just arrived in Kansas City.


Based on the very popular 1992 film that starred Whoopi Goldberg, “Sister Act” is the story of lounge singer Delor1s Van Cartier (an excellent Tamyra Gray), auditioning to perform in a club owned by her gangster boyfriend, Curtis (Benjamin H. Moore) on Christmas Eve 1977.  However, despite her obvious talent, she is told she is “not ready” to play the club yet.  This does not phase Deloris, whose dream is to be a star.  She knows she has the talent and the desire.  She just needs the opportunity.  When Deloris accidentally walks in on Curtis and his henchmen immediately after they have killed someone, she runs to the police, who decide that the best thing to do is to hide Deloris where no one would think to look for her.


Smartly written, with a great score by multiple Oscar-winner Alan Menken and Grammy award winner Glenn Slater, “Sister Act” is a combination of laughs and music.  Ms. Gray brings a belter’s voice and a Catskill veteran’s comic timing to the role of Deloris and genuinely makes it her own.  Other outstanding turns by Mr. Moore, Anne Tolpegin (Mother Superior) and Susana Cordon (Sister Mary Robert) are accompanied by a supporting cast that keeps the show moving swiftly. 


If there was one drawback to the evening, it was one that had nothing to do with the performances.  In each city, local “celebrities” appear on stage in the silent role of the Pope and on opening night we were treated to Kansas City Mayor Quentin Lucas in all of his Papal glory.  Unfortunately, due to some local political issues, some idiots in front of the stage felt the need to stage a protest, causing security to escort them out and taking the fun out of the closing number. 


That aside, I highly recommend you catch “Sister Act” when it comes to your town.  It is, dare I say, a divine evening at the theater.


“Sister Act” runs through Sunday, August 21 at Starlight Theater in Kansas City. 

Kansas City Theater Review: “Anastasia”


  • Starlight Theater – Kansas City, Missouri
  • August 11, 2022


Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been obsessed with the fall of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. Whenever I see works for fiction and literature ignoring the facts, I simply assume it’s a day and go back to the books I have on my shelf like Edvard Radzinsky’s The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II.


It’s doubtful that anyone who watched the Starlight Theater’s current production of Anastasia expected a history less. Thankfully, the touring play consistently delivers eye candy worthy of a Faberge egg.


The musical from writer Terrence McNsally, composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens (the trio behind Ragtime) draws its inspiration from 1997 cartoon, so the visual pizazz is to be expected. Thanks to a series of backdrops and projection, the play can change location and time as easily as movies can.


The history be damned tale starts in 1917 St. Petersburg, just before the Russian Revolution and quickly moves ahead a decade where the renamed city Leningrad is abuzz because the heir to the Russian throne , the Grand Duchess Anastasia might still be alive.


The play never answers how she survived when the rest of her family perished, but the ambitious Deputy Commissioner Gleb (Ben Edquist) sees her as a threat to the fragile order of the new Soviet Union. Meanwhile, two struggling con artists Dmitry (Sam McLellan) and Vlad (Bryan Seastrom) think they can convince the still-grieving Dowager Empress (Gerri Weagraff) that just about any woman living in the streets of Leningrad could pass as her missing granddaughter.


The search for the proper imposter proves more difficult than anticipated even though Vlad himself has spent decades posing as an aristocrat. Their most promising candidate is a street sweeper named Anya ((Kyla Stone), who takes to Vlad’s instruction with astonishing ease. Ironically, the ruse may be easier for her because she’s an amnesiac, so the invented history might actually be true.


Because she projects the right blend of innocence and latent sophistication, Stone effortlessly anchors this current touring production. Her clear, confident singing voice certainly doesn’t hurt.


The late McNally has retooled the storyline of the animated movie in a manner that is both more logical and entertaining. The less said about the cartoon’s version of Rasputin, the better. Gleb makes a lot more sense as an antagonist and Edquist has just enough charm to make viewers tolerate how slimy and single-mined he can be.


The romance between Anya and Dmitry feels as if it were copied and pasted from another musical. It’s more fun to watch the wily Vlad woo a countess (Madeline Raube) than it is to watch the leads discover each other.


The weather on Tuesday night was pleasant, but occasionally motorcycles reminded me why the outdoors and musicals may not be the best of combinations.


At the same time it was rewarding to see the play in the Swope Park surroundings where the scenery could compete with the images on stage.



Theater Review: “aint too proud” – Kansas City


  • Music Hall, Kansas City, Missouri
  • June 21, 2022


My new definition of irony:  while going to see “ain’t too proud” I was telling my wife about the members of the group.  I rattled off Melvin Franklin, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and Dennis Edwards.  I told her there was one more but I couldn’t for the life of me remember his name.  Now I’ll never forget it.


The show opens outside the historic Fox Theatre in Detroit and we meet Otis Williams (played brilliantly by Marcus Paul James).  Otis talks about his young life and his dream to put together a singing group.  Through trials and tribulations he puts together a group of amazing singers.  A chance meeting with Berry Gordy (Michael Andreaus), the founder of Motown Records, and a group name change, and the dream comes through.  But unfortunately, not all dreams are good ones.

Bursting with over 30 classic songs, and featuring Tony-award winning choreography, “Ain’t Too Proud” is that rare look at success, that also includes the pitfalls that come with it.  Whether it’s something petty, like trying to solve an issue democratically, or serious, like deciding to kick a member out of the group, the road to success is seldom smooth.


As the story moves forward we not only meet the Temps, but also get acquainted with other musical legends like Smokey Robinson, the Supremes and Tammi Terrell.  The performances are amazing, with the vocals being backed by a first-rate orchestra.  It’s not the Funk Brothers, but they do their memory proud. Special shout out to the bass player who, on songs like “Ball of Confusion” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” laid down the groove.


The Temptations remain  among the greatest and most popular musical groups of all time.  The story of how they achieved that acclaim, and the obstacles they did their best to overcome, is one that needs to be experienced.


“ain’t too proud” continues at the Music Hall in Kansas City through June 26, then continues on through August 2023.  For information on when it’s coming your way, click HERE

Theater Review: “Hairspray”

Starlight Theatre
Kansas City, Missouri

With one of the most energetic productions you could ever hope to see, “Hairspray” is a beat you just can’t stop. Currently playing at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, the national tour of the hit Broadway musical, which won eight Tony Awards in 2003, is a delightful show overflowing with wonderful dance choreography, terrific vocals, and a timeless story about the power of love.

In 1988, the first incarnation of “Hairspray” was released in movie theaters with Ricki Lake in the lead role as Tracy Turnblad. Crafted by director John Waters, the film’s screenplay was based upon a 1950s and 1960s era Baltimore dance party television program called the “Buddy Deane Show.” That real life program served as the inspiration for the fictional “The Corny Collins Show,” an equally popular show in our story set in June 1962.

An overweight high school girl named Tracy Turnblad (Niki Metcalf), who gets in trouble at school for having “inappropriate hair height,” dreams of being on the dance show. So, it’s no surprise that she begs her shy, overweight mother, Edna (Andrew Levitt) for permission to go to an audition being held for a newly opened dance spot. Edna refuses out of fear Tracy will be ridiculed because of her weight. However, Tracy gets permission from her happy-go-lucky father, Wilbur (Christopher Swan) who is always encouraging her to pursue her dreams.

Edna’s world changes forever after her arrival at the television studio where Corny Collins (Billy Dawson) hosts his show. She swoons over teen heartthrob Link Larkin (Will Savarese), gets in the crosshairs of the show’s racist producer Velma Von Tussle (Addison Garner) and her prima donna daughter, Amber (Kaelee Albritton), and sees firsthand the ugliness of racism, which ultimately pushes her to be an agent for change.

Metcalf is nothing less than a pure bundle of delightful energy while on the stage. Her vocals were spot-on all the while she was seemingly forever dancing across the entire Starlight venue. Still, the most memorable moments of the opening night performance came first during a duet between Levitt and Swan. Their characters are suddenly destitute, but they express with humor and love how they can never part from one another in the sweet song “You’re Timeless to Me.” It easily produced some of the night’s biggest laughs. The moment that completely stole the show, though, came when Sandie Lee as Motormouth Maybelle, a confident and strong-willed downtown record shop owner and host of “Negro Day” on “The Corny Collins Show,” belted out “I Know Where I’ve Been.” After lots of humor, it was a starkly serious moment in the production as Motormouth sings about the struggles against racism. It was powerful and soul stirring. If it had been at the end of the show, it would have brought about a standing ovation from the audience. Lee’s voice was superb and the emotions she put into the song struck a chord with everyone there.

Overall, “Hairspray” provides a rousing night of entertainment for all.

“Hairspray” will run through June 12th at Starlight Theatre.

Theater Review: “Jesus Christ Superstar” – Kansas City


  • The Kauffman Center – Kansas City, Missouri
  • March 29, 2022


I have a very special place in my heart for the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar.”  I’ve had it since I was 13 years old when, while visiting my grandfather – who I called Bapa, which is now how my grandchildren refer to me – in Florida, I asked to go see the movie, which was playing at a nearby theatre.  A quick phone call to my parents to make sure it was ok with them, and off I went.  For those of you who may not have seen the film, I won’t let on how it ends.  Let’s just say the ending haunted me on the way home and evolved into a long conversation with my Bapa.  Years later I had the opportunity to see the show a couple of times with both Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson, who played Jesus and Judas, respectively, in the film.  I was a guest backstage when I met both of them.  I told Ted Neeley about my conversation with Bapa and his thoughts and kindness will remain with me for the rest of my life.


Rolling into Kansas City this week is the 50th Anniversary Tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and it is a fine addition to the show’s great history.  A totally sung dramatization of the last week of Christ’s life, this production is very barebones, with an almost empty stage.  Also, while normally presented in two acts, there is no intermission here.  It’s a quick 80 minutes or so, but if you like to stretch your legs you’re out of luck.


The cast was excellent, both vocally and physically.  There is a lot of dance and movement here and nobody missed a beat.  Vocal standouts include Omar Lopez-Cepero (Judas), Jenna Rubaii (Mary) and Alvin Crawford (Caiaphas), whose amazing baritone shook the house.  The score is one of the best ever written and the orchestra, perched high above the stage, was outstanding.  Even the guys in the sound/light area could be seen grooving to the music.


The show continues in Kansas City at the beautiful Kauffman Center through Sunday, April 3rd.  If you’ve never seen the show, I urge you to take a chance.  If you have, see it again.  You won’t be disappointed.

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