Kansas City’s Planet Comicon Is Back and Better Than Ever!

 

PHOTOS BY DAN LYBARGER

The past two years have not been good for fans of Pop Culture in Kansas City.  Due to COVID, 2020’s Planet Comicon was cancelled.  Last year’s event was well received but there was just something that felt a little off.  I attributed that feeling to the world still recovering from the issues of 2020.  With that being said, I’m happy to report that the 2022 Planet Comicon came and was a tremendous event.

Ralph Macchio addresses his fans.

One of the oldest, and premiere, events in the Midwest, Planet Comicon once again boasted an eclectic roster of celebrity guests, some making their first Kansas City appearance.  After William Zabka and Martin Kove greeted throngs of fans last year, the Karate Kid himself, Ralph Macchio, was a guest this year, completing the “Cobra Kai” triumvirate. 

Also making their first appearances this year were Brandon Routh (“Superman Returns”), Mark-Paul Gosselaar  (“NYPD Blue”) and former NSync member Joey Fatone.  As I made my way through the crowds I was amazed at the diversity of Pop Culture Planet Comicon features yearly.

As with every Planet Comicon, there was an amazing array of dealers offering everything from Pokemon trading cards to your very own R2-D2.  I’ve never had the nerve to attend the show as one of my favorite Pop Culture characters – though I think if you excused the beard I could pull off a good Chief Brody -but the range of Cosplay characters I saw was impressive.  That’s the beauty about this event.  You can be WHO you want to be.

If you’ve never attended Planet Comicon, I urge you to get in line now for next year’s show.  FYI, it will run March 17-19, 2023.  BE THERE!

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” co-stars John de Lancie and Gates McFadden answer fan questions.

Win Passes to the 2022 kansas City Planet Comicon

 

 

 

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at the Kansas City Planet Comicon to give (5) readers the chance for them and a guest to attend the show this weekend (April 22-24).

 

All you have to do is let us know below what celebrity guest you’d like to see at a future show.  Pretty simple.

 

(5) random entries will be chosen and those chosen will be contacted by email and advised how to receive their passes.   GOOD LUCK!

Theater Review: “Jesus Christ Superstar” – Kansas City

 

  • JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
  • 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.

Concert Review: All Star Tribute to “Rubber Soul/Revolver” – Kansas City

 

  • ALL STAR TRIBUTE TO “RUBBER SOUL” and ‘REVOLVER”
  • The Kauffman Center, Kansas City, Missouri
  • March 27, 2022

 

In October 2019, I had the great pleasure of attending an all-star tribute concert to celebrate the Beatles White Album.  With a top notch band including Todd Rungren, Micky Dolenz, Christopher Cross, , Chicago’s Jason Scheff and Joey Molland from Badfinger, the show was an amazing celebration of music.  Not only did they deliver the goods on the Beatles music but each one also performed a couple of their own hits.  I should also note that, in my review, I lamented how Todd Rungren was not a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I also started an on-line petition to correct this error.

Tonight the band was back together, celebrating two other of the Fab Four’s classic albums, “Rubber Sou” and “Revolver.”  Dolenz didn’t make the trip this time, but he was ably replaced by Moody Blues and Wings co-founder Denny Laine.  Again, the Beatles music was great to hear live, but the real treat was getting to hear some of the other hits the musicians had been a part of.  Two of the non-Beatle highlights were Laine’s rendition of “Band on the Run,” with a vocal that rivaled Maccas and a blistering “25 or 6 to 4” with a guitar solo that would have made Terry Kath proud.

 

The music was infectious, and the crowd responded by dancing in their seats and giving a well deserved standing ovation at the concert’s end.  They also stood after the afore mentioned rendition of “25 or 6 to 4” and after a sing-along to Rungren’s “Hello It’s Me.”  As I left the show, I was already praying that next year brings an “Abbey Road/Let It Be” tour!

 

Incidentally, this time around Todd Rungren IS a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Just saying!

 

SET LIST

 

Drive My Car, I Want to Tell You, Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, If I Needed Someone, Go Now, Band on the Run, I’m Only Sleeping, No Matter What, Baby Blue, Good Day Sunshine, In My Life, AYou Won’t See Me, Sailing, Ride Like the Wind, And Your Bird Can Sing, Here, There and Everywhere, Girl, Michelle, I Just Saw a Face, Norwegian Wood, Hard to Say I’m Sorry, 25 or 6 to 4, For No One, Nowhere Man, I Saw the Light, Hello It’s Me, Dr. Robert, Got to Get You Into My Life, Tomorrow Never Knows, The Word, Yellow Submarine. 

 

Theater Review – Mean Girls: The Broadway Musical” – Kansas City

 

  • MEAN GIRLS
  • The Music Hall
  • Kansas City, Missouri

 

“Mean Girls” captures the pitfalls of trying to fit in
Since its release as a feature film in 2004, “Mean Girls” – starring Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried and Lindsay Lohan – has achieved and maintained a cult following during the years since its moderately successful theatrical run. Nowhere was this more evident than on Tuesday night at the Music Hall in downtown Kansas City, Missouri where an abundance of teen to twentysomething women were dressed like characters from the Tina Fey-written comedy.
Based partly on the 2002 book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” by Rosalind Wiseman, “Mean Girls – The Broadway Musical,” also written by Fey with music by Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin, begins with North Shore High School students Janis Sarkisian (Mary Kate Morrissey) and Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman) breaking the fourth wall with powerful voices to invite us on a “cautionary tale.”
As in the original film version, young Cady Heron (Danielle Wade) moves from Kenya to Chicago with her parents when her mother gets a new job. Being the new girl in a large high school, Cady has a hard time fitting in, something anyone who was a teenager can identify with. She is helped, though, by Janis and Damian, a pair of loners who take her under their wing. The song “Where Do You Belong?” punctuates the process of finding out which clique she belongs to and is a poignant reminder about what those days were like.
As belted in “APEX Predator” by Morrissey, the one group they don’t want Cady to join is a trio of girls known as “the Plastics.” Consisting of the most feared girl in school Regina George (Nadina Hassan), her keeper of secrets Gretchen Weiners (Megan Masako Haley), and the stereotypical dumb blonde Karen Smith (Jonalyn Saxer). They are intrigued by Cady and she is invited to join them for lunch, something that never happens to anyone else in school.
Janis sees this set of circumstances as a means to get revenge on Regina for a past transgression. So, she convinces a reluctant Cady to spy on Regina for her. Mix in competing affections for a dreamy boy named Aaron Samuels (Adante Carter) and the stage is set for a chaotic series of events that cause nothing but heartache and ruined friendships. However, can simple, heartfelt apologies overcome the emotional damage and allow them to accept each other’s differences?
Overall, the production value was what you would expect from a Broadway touring show – nothing but solid. Good performances were sprinkled throughout the well-written show, highlighted by Morrissey who dominated the stage with her power vocals. Additionally, the entertaining Hubbard played off her with ease as the duo shared the best onstage chemistry of the entire cast. The other cast member who often stole the show was Saxer who absolutely nailed the role of Karen and generated some of the night’s biggest laughs.
Whether it’s in Kansas City or some other city on its current tour, “Mean Girls” makes for a fun night of entertainment.
“Mean Girls – The Broadway Musical” will run through March 20th at the Music Hall.

 

Theater Review: WICKED – Kansas City

 

  • WICKED
  • The Music Hall
  • Kansas City, Missouri

 

Here’s some musical theater trivia that a lot of people are stunned by.  Did you know that “West Side Story” did NOT win the Tony Award for Best Musical?  That’s right.  One of the most beloved musicals of all time did not take home the big prize.  That honor went to “The Music Man,” also one of the most beloved musicals of all time – and currently running on Broadway starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster.

 

I mention this to not only promote the new film version of “West Side Story,” but to point out that another show whose title begins with the letter W, “Wicked,” also did not win the Best Musical Tony Award.  That year the Best Musical was “Avenue Q.”  The more you know.

 

“Wicked” comes to Kansas City in top form.  The previous engagement for this company was in Cleveland and, due to COVID, seven understudies were given their chance to shine.  At tonight’s performance, everyone was where they should be and the show was fantastic.

 

I’ve seen the show before, and what I like about this production is that not a lot has changed.  I’ve seen some shows where lines and songs have been altered over the years but here the show was presented just as it was when it debuted on Broadway 18 years ago.

 

The cast was in great form as the story of witches Glinda (Allison Bailey) and Elphaba (Talia Suskauer) unfolded.  With  well known songs such as “Popular” and “Defying Gravity,” the audience tapped their toes to every note.  Another standout was Cleavant Derricks as the Wizard.  Mr. Derricks created the role of James “Thunder” Early in the original production of “Dreamgirls” and deservedly won a Tony for his performance. 

 

If you haven’t seen “Wicked,” what are you waiting for?  If you have seen it, see it again.  It is definitely a show that shouldn’t be missed. 

Kansas City Concert Review – James Taylor/Jackson Browne

  • JAMES TAYLOR w/ JACKSON BROWNE
  • December 5, 2021
  • T-mobile Center – Kansas City, Missouri

 

James Taylor and Jackson Browne have been major parts of the soundtrack of my life.  I played Taylor’s “JT” album repeatedly in my youth and, after saying “I do” to each other my wife Juanita and I walked back up the aisle while my best friend Matt played Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is (To be Loved by You).”

 

As for Mr. Browne, I’m dating myself here by saying that “Running on Empty” was the first album I owned on cassette, vinyl, 8-track and compact disc.  In that order.  And yes, I had an 8-track player in my sweet 1969 GTO.  You know you love something when you make sure you have it with you ALWAYS.  When I play along with the Facebook post that asks, “If you were going to be stranded on a desert island, what 10 albums would you take with you?” “Running on Empty” is always near the top of the list.

 

Loving these two amazing artist’s music as much as I do, I was overjoyed when I heard they were coming to Kansas City in one amazing show.  And amazing it was.

Mr. Browne took the stage first, opening with his hit “Somebody’s Baby,” which was featured in the film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”  He was in great voice and his band was tight. 

 

For the remainder of his set he mixed in some popular classic songs (“Late for the Sky,” “Doctor My Eyes”) with a selection of songs from his new album – which I heartedly recommend – “Downhill From Everywhere.”  During one song from the album, “The Dreamer,” he was joined on stage by singers Tiffanie Cross and Alethea Mills.  Together the trio had the crowd in the palms of their hands with their harmonies.  Taylor surprised the audience by coming on stage on joining Browne in a fine rendition of “The Pretender” and the set ended with a lively singalong to “Running on Empty.”

The second half of the show began with a short video highlighting the music of James Taylor.  He took the stage to a loud round of applause and he and his band kicked off the set with a country-tinged medley of “Fiddle and Drum/Country Road.”

Like Browne, the set was a well divided combination of newer material and classic songs.  As he notes in “That’s Why I’m Here” – one of my favorite JT tunes, sadly inspired in part by the tragic death of John Belushi (a neighbor of Taylor’s on Martha’s Vineyard), people “Pay good money to hear Fire and Rain again and again and again.”  Before the break Taylor and his band did a rousing “How Sweet It Is” causing my wife and I – and a lot of others – to slow-dance in the aisles.

When everyone returned to the stage, Jackson Brown came with them and the two combined for a mellow version of “Take it Easy,” a song Browne co-wrote with Glenn Frey and was a hit – gulp – nearly 50 years ago for the Eagles.

 

As the show concluded, Taylor led the audience in a moving rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend,” which inspired the crowd to hold their lit cellphones high above their heads (where have you gone, Bic disposable lighter?).

To sum it all up, it was a great night of great music – one I highly recommend you take in when they come to your town. 

 

SET LISTS

 

JACKSON BROWNE

 

Somebody’s Baby, Barricades of Heaven, Long Way Around, Fountain, Downhill from Everywhere, TheDreamer (with Tiffanie Cross and Alethea Mills), Until Justice is Real, Doctor My Eyes, Late for the Sky, The Pretender (with James Taylor), Running on Empty.

 

JAMES TAYLOR

 

Fiddle and Drum/Country Road, Copperline, That’s Why I’m Here, Mexico, You Make it Easy, Line ‘em Up, Steamroller, Rolling Off, Sweet Baby James, Fire and Rain, Carolina, Shower the People, How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved by You), Shed a Little Light, Take it Easy (with Jackson Browne), You’ve Got a Friend, Close Your Eyes

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “Antlers”

 

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Searchlight Pictures to give (10) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new horror film “Antlers”

The screening will be held on Wednesday, October 27th, at the AMC Studil 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas.

All you have to do is click HERE.  The first (10) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening.  This is a first come/first serve giveaway.  Once the allotted number of passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended.

Enjoy the show!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “The French Dispatch”

 

 

 

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Searchlight to give (10) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the  latest film from Wes Anderson, “The French Dispatch.”

The screening will be held on Monday, October 25th at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City, Missouri.  The film begins at 7:00 pm

To attend, just click HERE.  The first (10) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening.  This is a first come/first serve giveaway.  Once the allotted number of passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended.

Enjoy the show!

Win Passes to Planet Comicon Kansas City

If you’ve never experienced the biggest (and best) Comicon in the Midwest, Media Mikes is giving you the chance to win passes to the upcoming Planet Comicon Kansas City to see first hand what all of the fuss is about!

The event, which runs from August 20th through the 22nd, is an amazing gathering of fans of all mediums together under one roof. Whether you’re an avid comic book reader, fan of a certain television program or film or have a special celebrity you’ve always wanted to meet, Planet Comicon Kansas City is the place where you can do it all.

Celebrity guests this year include William Zabka and Martin Kove from “Cobra Kai,” 70’s television icons like “The Brady Bunch” star Barry Williams and “Laverne and Shirley’s” Cindy Williams to a film legend like Paul Sorvino. As I said, a little bit of something for everyone.

Thanks to our friends at Planet Comicon Kansas City – and I call them friends since I’ve been attending since the very first show in 1999 – we are giving away FIVE admit (2) passes to both Saturday and Sunday, August 21st and 22nd.

All you have to do is let us know below what celebrity guest you’d like to see at a future show. That’s it. Leave your choice, and also note which day you want to attend – Saturday or Sunday. It’s that easy!

Five (5) random names will be chosen and they will receive passes to the event. This contest runs through Wednesday, August 18th at 10:00 pm EST. Winners will be notified by email and told how to retrieve their passes. GOOD LUCK!

For further information about the Con, including a full list of Celebrity guests and ticket information, click HERE.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “The Protege”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Lionsgate to give fifteen readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film, “The Protege,” starring Michael Keaton, Maggie Q and Samuel L. Jackson.

The screening will be held on Tuesday, August 17th at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City. The film will start at 7;00 p.m.

All you have to do to attend is click HERE. The first fifteen readers to do so will receive a pass for two to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once all allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended. GOOD LUCK!

Confrontation turns deadly when the world’s most skilled assassin becomes entangled with an enigmatic killer. Catch “The Protégé,” starring Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson, in theaters August 20th.

Social: @TheProtegeMovie … Hashtag: #TheProtégé 

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “The Night House”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Searchlight Pictures to give fifteen readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “The Night House.”

The screening will be held on Monday, August 16th at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City and will begin at 7:00 p.m.

To go all you have to do is click HERE. The first fifteen readers to do so will receive a pass for two to attend the screening. This is a first come, first serve giveaway. Once all allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended. GOOD LUCK!

THE NIGHT HOUSE

Screenland Armour
408 N. Armour Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64116

Reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in the lakeside home he built for her. She tries as best she can to keep it together – but then nightmares come. Disturbing visions of a presence in the house calling to her, beckoning her with a ghostly allure. Against the advice of her friends, she begins digging into her husband’s belongings, yearning for answers. What she finds are secrets both strange and disturbing – a mystery she’s determined to unravel.

Social: @nighthousemovie #TheNightHouse #Searchlight

Theater Review: “Godspell” – Kansas City

  • GODSPELL
  • Starlight Theater
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • June 22, 2021

45 years ago tonight, the musical “Godspell” opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theater.  It had been performed in workshops and on the road since 1971 so this year actually marks the show’s 50th Anniversary.  What a great show to celebrate the return of live musical theater to Kansas City.

Most people know the show thanks to the song “Day by Day,” which was a hit on the radio in the summer of 1972, but may have never seen the show.  The story basically tells the story of Jesus, from beginning to end, in song and with a surprising amount of humor.  Obviously the show has been “punched up” since 1971, and jokes revolving around COVID, Netflix and the Kardashians hit their mark.  There’s even a brief mention of one of the “other” biblical musicals, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” which, along with “Jesus Christ Superstar,” completed the Biblical Musical Trifecta!,

With a musical score by Stephen Schwartz, who also created “Pippin” and “Wicked,” the show is an ensemble extravaganza, with each cast member creating their own identity.  What made the show special was that every actor on stage had Kansas City roots.  The entire cast was brilliant but I’d like to give special mention to Eric Geil (Jesus), Patrick Lewallen (Judas) and Shon Ruffin (Shon), whose amazing voice reminded me of the great Nell Carter. 

As usual, Starlight was most accommodating to the audience, with a beautiful night to go along with a beautiful presentation.  “Godspell” continues its run in Kansas City through Sunday, June 28.  You can buy tickets HERE.

Quite simply, “Godspell” is a blessed return to musical theater!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “Summer of Soul”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Searchlight Pictures to give (15) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the musical event of the summer, “Summer of Soul.”

The film, directed by Questlove, the film will screen on Tuesday, June 29th at the AMC Town Center 20 in Leawood, Kansas. The screening begins at 7:00 pm.

To attend, all you need to do is click HERE. The first 15 readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended. Good luck!

SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED)

In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and

transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that

celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just

one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park

(now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten–until now …

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”

Media Mikes has teamed up with Lionsgate to give (50) of our readers and a guest not one but TWO opportunities to be among the first in Kansas City to see the new film “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson.

The first screening is this Tuesday, June 8th at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City, Missouri.

The second screening will be held of Thursday, June 10th at the AMC Studio 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas.

Both screenings begin at 7:00 p.m.

All you have to do is pick the screening you want to attend and click on the links below:

For June 8th at the Screenland Armour, click HERE

For June 10 at the AMC Studio 28, click HERE

This is a first come/first serve giveaway and is limited to (25) admit two passes per screening. Once all passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended.

Please note that some Covid Protocols are still being enforced and must be followed for entry, including having to wear a mask.

Good luck, and welcome back to the movies!!