Kansas City Theater Review: “CATS”

  • CATS
  • Starlight Theater, Kansas City, Missouri
  • July 9, 2017

Back in the early 80s, when I was still trying to make a living as an actor, I spent many a day going on auditions. Any time I saw a casting call for a musical production, it always included four words: “Bring music. NO “MEMORY.” Which was kind of upsetting because, even today, I can sing the hell out of that song!

Opening on Broadway in 1981, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “CATS” won 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. And rightly so. Based on T. S. Elliot’s book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the show tells the story of a group of felines who meet once a year at the Jellicle Ball. One by one they tell their story, each one more fantastic then the previous.

The production at Starlight was fantastic. As the curtain rose, a bright moon hung over original production designer John Napier’s iconic junkyard set. Character after character took to the stage (and wandered among the audience), some of whom you know by name. My favorite “cat” has always been Rum Tum Tugger and, as portrayed by Mcgee Maddox, he was truly the cat of the walk. Other stand outs in the cast included Timothy Gulan, who plays three characters, including Gus the theater cat, TionGaston as Mistoffolee and Caitlin Bond as Victoria. Ms. Bond has the most stage time in the show and proves herself to be an amazing dancer. And of course, you can’t ignore Keri Rene Fuller, who has the role of Grizabella. It is she who sings “Memory” and her rendition, especially in Act II, brought tears to my eyes, rivaling previous renditions by two theater legends, Elaine Paige and Betty Buckley.

Two notes here for those seeing the show at Starlight. First, pay attention to the license plate nestled in the junkyard. The letters N A P are for set designer John Napier. The number 11A marks which show it’s from. 11A is modeled after set 11 with one big difference. It’s inflatable, making it easier for touring versions of the show to set it up. Second, this is one time where the video monitors on the top sides of the stage are useful, the close-ups provided allowing the audience to see the small and subtle facial expressions of the characters.

“CATS” was advertised as “now and forever” and, after running for 18 consecutive years (it is currently the 4th longest running show in Broadway history) that wasn’t far off. “CATS” runs at Starlight through July 14th. For tickets to this or later performances, please click HERE.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Stuber”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at 20th Century Fox and the Walt Disney Company to give (75) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first in Kansas City to see the new comedy “Stuber.”

The film will be shown on Wednesday, July 10th at the Cinemark Theatre in Merriam, Kansas and will start at 7:00 pm.

To attend, all you have to do is click HERE. The first (75) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When the allotted number of passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended. Some of us at Media Mikes have already seen the film and, take it from is, it’s pretty damn funny! Good luck.

“Stuber” opens nationwide on Friday, July 12th.

Kansas City Theater Review: “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”

  • BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL
  • Starlight Theater, Kansas City, Missouri
  • June 24, 2019

REVIEW BY J.R. DEETER

An amazing thing happened as I watched “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” this past Tuesday evening at Starlight.  I realized that the songs being played had been some of my favorites, starting from childhood.

  Opening at Carnegie Hall, circa 1971, King (played beautifully by Sarah Bockel) sings “So Far Away,” which takes us back to the beginning of the story of the rise of one of pop music’s icons.  It’s 1958 and 16-year old Carole has found her way to the offices of one “Donnie” Kirshner hoping to sell him a song she has written.  Kirshner likes what he hears and signs her up.  He teams her with an aspiring lyricist named Gerry Goffin and soon the hits begin to flow.  Songs like “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Up on the Roof” and “The Locomotion” are soon climbing the charts.  The partnership soon becomes much more and King and Goffin marry. 

But they weren’t the only ones toiling in the Brill Building.  We also meet Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who created such hits as “Walking in the Rain,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.”   Eventually, Carole and Gerry’s love fades and, when she discovers Goffin is cheating on her, King and her children leave New York for California.  She begins writing new songs, using the highs and lows of her own life as inspiration.  History is made when King, now singing her own songs, releases the album “Tapestry,” still one of the biggest selling albums of all time.  

The performances across the board were excellent, with stand-out work delivered by Dylan S. Wallach (Goffin), Alison Whitehurst as Ms. Weil and Jacob Heimer as Barry Mann.  The musical ensemble was also quite entertaining, portraying such 60’s performers and groups like The Drifters, The Shirelles, Little Eva and The Righteous Brothers.   “Beaufiul” runs at Starlight through Sunday, June 30th.  For information and tickets for these shows, or future performances, please click HERE.

Kansas City Theater Review: “HAMILTON”

“Hamilton”
Music Hall, Kansas City, Missouri
June 19, 2019

Sometimes when you get too excited about seeing a show, you leave the theater wondering what all of the hub-bub was about. I was very fortunate to see “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway right after it opened and I was blown away! On the other hand, my only memory of seeing “Starlight Express” was that I noticed (and intercepted) Andrew Lloyd Webber heading towards the men’s room and got him to autograph my Playbill. It’s been almost 4 years since HAMILTON opened on Broadway and you’ll have to have been on Mars to have not heard about it. So while I was looking forward to seeing it, I went in wondering whether or not my fondest memory would be spotting Lin-Manuel Miranda in the lobby. Happy to announce that I was NOT disappointed.

© Joan Marcus – 2018

If you’re familiar with the name Alexander Hamilton, it’s probably because he’s the face on the $10 bill. In reality, he was much more. As an orphan he traveled to the colonies and earned an education. In his adventures he meets Aaron Burr and their lives continue to intertwine literally to the end. In between he falls in love, fights for Independence and devises a treasury system that is still in use. And the stories and songs behind these achievements make learning as much fun as an old episode of “Schoolhouse Rock.”

Joseph Morales is Alexander Hamilton. © Joan Marcus – 2018

A few years ago, Jimmy Kimmel informed show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda that he was a national treasure. He may have been selling him short. HAMILTON is an amazing combination of sight and sound telling familiar stories in a new way. The cast on this tour is amazing. As Hamilton, Joseph Morales runs the emotional gambit of joy and sorrow. His Hamilton is at first naive, eager to learn but by the end jaded from all he has seen. Marcus Choi is first rate as George Washington, portrayed here not as an independent leader but one who needed help in becoming the Father of our Country. Kyle Scatliffe does double duty as both French General Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. Act 2 begins with what is essentially a rap battle between Jefferson and Hamilton and Mr. Scatliffe caps his words with, quite possibly, the first mic drop in history. But to me the standout performance belongs to Nik Walker, who portrays Aaron Burr. Always seeming to be on the wrong side of major events, Burr holds the distinction of being the only Vice-President to kill a man while in office, sadly an honor that kept him off the ticket when Jefferson ran for reelection. In fact, this show could have easily been called “Burr.” Mr. Walker gives the show an extra burst of energy whenever he is on stage and his performance of the song “The Room Where It Happened” vaulted that song to my list of all-time favorite show tunes.

Nik Walker is Aaron Burr. © Joan Marcus -2018

HAMILTON plays in Kansas City through July 7. For ticket information on this stop of the tour and later cities, click HERE.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Spider-man: Far From Home”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Columbia pictures to give (5) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Spider-man: Far From Home.”

The film will be shown on Wednesday, June 26th at the AMC Studio 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas and will begin at 7:30 pm.

All you have to do is click HERE. (5) random entries will be chosen and will receive a pass for (2) to attend the film. This contest runs through June 24, 2019. On that date, those chosen will be notified by email. Screening is overbooked to ensure a full house. Seating is not guaranteed. Good luck!

“Spider-,man: Far From Home” opens nationwide on July 2, 2019.

#SpiderManFarFromHome

“Toy Story 4” Summer Road Trip Rolls into Kansas City on June 23rd

 Attention “Toy Story” fans, this announcement is for YOU!

  On Sunday, June 23rd, the “Toy Story 4” Summer Road Trip will be making a stop in the Kansas City area. A “Toy Story 4”-themed RV will roll into Kansas City, featuring photo opportunities for fans, film-themed prizes, carnival games and lots of family-friendly fun.     

Local “Toy Story” fans are invited to take part in the activities. Two film ambassadors will be on hand to share details about fan-favorite characters—Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep—as well as new characters coming to the big screen—Forky, Bunny, Ducky and Duke Caboom, among others—learn more about this all-new adventure.     

The event will be held at the AMC Town Center 20, 11701 Nall Ave. in Leawood, Kansas and will run from 10:00 am through 3:00 pm.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Annabelle Comes Home”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Warner Brothers to give (20) Kansas City area readers and their guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Annabelle Comes Home.”

The film, starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, will screen on Wednesday, June 19th at the Cinemark Theatre in Merriam, Kansas. The screening will begin at 7:00 pm.

All you have to do is click HERE. The first (20) 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!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Late Night”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Amazon Studios to give (25) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Late Night.”

The film, starring Emma Thompson and Mandy Kalling, will be screened on Wednesday, June 5th at the AMC Studio 28 in Olathe, Kansas and will begin at 7:30 pm.

All you have to do is click HERE. The first (25) people to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When the allotted passes have been claimed, the giveaway is over. Good Luck!

“Late Night” opens nationally on Friday, June 7th!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Shaft”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at New Line Cinemas to give (15) readers and a guest the opportunity to be among the first to see the new film, “Shaft.”

The screening will be held on Monday, June 10th, at the Screenland Armour Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall and Richard Roundtree and starts at 7:00 pm.

All you have to do is click HERE! (15) random entries will be selected and they will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. Winners will be notified by email on June 9th. Good luck.

“Shaft” opens nationwide on Friday, June 14th.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Dark Phoenix”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at 20th Century Fox to give (35) fans in Kansas City the chance to be among the first to see the latest X-men adventure, “Dark Phoenix.”

The film will be shown on Tuesday, June 5th at the AMC Barrywoods Theatre in Kansas City. It will begin at 7:00 pm

All you have to do is click HERE. The first (35) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once all passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. GOOD LUCK!

Kansas City Theater Review: “Rock of Ages”

ROCK OF AGES
Starlight Theater - Kansas City, Missouri
May 31, 2019

My first Broadway show was “42nd Street” in 1981. Yes, I’m old. But I’m also able to tell people that I saw Jerry Orbach on Broadway. And Julie Andrews. And Chita Rivera. But enough about me. I’ve seen plenty of shows in the past three-plus decades but I have never seen anything as fun and exciting as “Rock of Ages.”

Our story begins in the small town of Paola, Kansas. Yes, it’s a real town and, yes, it’s really small. My son’s baseball team used to play there every year and I remember the big hoopla when Walmart showed up! We meet Sherrie (Katie LaMark). She’s a small town girl…living in a lonely world. And her dream is to make it to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. Despite her parent’s disapproval she heads west and ends up on the Sunset Strip. She is soon mugged and is rescued by Drew (Anthony Nuccio). Drew works at the Bourbon Club, famous for helping launch the careers of many a band. Drew gets Sherrie a job and soon….well, you’ll have to see the show.

Drew (Anthony Nuccio) and Sherrie (Katie LaMark) share a dream of stardom.

I’ve been seeing shows at Starlight for years, and this was, by far, the BEST one I’ve ever seen there. I had only seen the film so I wasn’t prepared for my evening at the Bourbon Club. The music is all classic 80s rock and metal hits. Pretty much every band you can remember is represented. Except, ironically, Def Leppard, whose hit song gives the show it’s name. We are told by the Narrator (an amazing John-Michael Breen) that there is no Leppard in the show because the band wouldn’t license their music. Ironic, isn’t it?

The performances were also outstanding. As Sherrie and Drew, LaMark and Nuccio have a strong chemistry and an underlying sweetness that has you rooting for them. Both also have great voices. During “Oh, Sherrie” Mr. Nuccio held one note for an amazing 33 seconds, which brought the already enthusiastic audience to near euphoria. I would love to see him tackle the lead in “Jekyll and Hyde.” And extra credit to Ms. LaMark for dealing with a major technical glitch (her face mic was not working at the beginning of Act II and, with her character having to remain on stage for some time, delivered a strong performance using a hand-held microphone. Also credit to the tech crew because, in the few seconds she was able to go off-stage, the problem was corrected. Fine performances were also delivered by the supporting cast, with many in the audience falling under the spell of Sam Harvey, who plays quintessential (and problem child) front man Stacee Jaxx – which is possibly the coolest rock star name ever. And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the kick-ass band that provides the music.

John-Michael Breen

I’m saving this paragraph for the highlight of the show – John-Michael Breen. He not only narrates the show but appears as the Bourbon Club’s sound guy, Lonny. Lonny loves three things. Rock and Roll and his Fogmaster 5000 fog machine are two of them. Mr. Breen gives the show the majority of it’s laughs and both the cast and the audience feed off of his enthusiasm. I will definitely keep an eye on his career and hope to catch him on stage in the future.

As I said in the beginning, I’ve seen some great Broadway shows, from “Phantom” to “Les Miz” – from “Cats” to “Spamalot – and “Rock of Ages” has definitely jumped onto my all-time favorites list.

Curtain Call

“Rock of Ages” is only in Kansas City through Sunday, June 2nd. For information on upcoming tour dates, click HERE.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “Men In Black: International”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Sony Pictures to give (25) random readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see one of the summer’s most anticipated films, “Men In Black: International.”

The film starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson, will screen on Tuesday, June 11th at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m.

All you have to do is click HERE. (25) random entries will be selected and each will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. Good luck!

“Men In Black: International” opens nationwide on Friday, June 14th!

#MIBI

#MenInBlackInternational

#MIBIKC

*Disclaimer: Limit one entry per person. Void where prohibited. Screening is overbooked to ensure a full house. Seating is limited to theatre capacity and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Receiving a screening pass does not guarantee seating.  Theatre is not responsible for overbooking.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “John Wick: Chapter 3”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Lionsgate to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new Keanu Reeve's action film "John Wick:  Chapter 3 - Parabellum."   

The film will be screened on Tuesday, May 14th at the Screenland Armor Theatre in North Kansas City and will begin at 7:00 pm

To attend, all you have to do is click HERE. The first (50) people to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the (50) allotted passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. Good luck!

John Wick 3: Parabellum opens nationwide on Friday, May 17th.


John Wick 3: Parabellum
Screenland Armor Theatre, North Kansas City, MO
Tuesday, May 14th - 7:00 pm


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Kansas City Concert Review: Little River Band

 
LITTLE RIVER BAND
Ameristar Casino - Kansas City, MO
May 3, 2019

Maybe it’s my age but to me the best music ever created was done so in the 20th Century.  Great music.  Great lyrics.  Amazing voices.  Today the majority of what I hear I can’t understand, even when it’s Autotuned!  Which made my first time listening to the Little River Band live so amazing.

If you grew up in the 1970s/80s (I graduated high school in 1978), then LRB was surely part of the soundtrack of your life.  Their musical gifts, and incredible harmonies, made songs like “Reminiscing,” “Lonesome Loser,” “Cool Change” and “The Night Owl” so memorable.

Now led by bassist/singer (and Kansas City native) Wayne Nelson, who joined the Australian band in 1979, the show was an amazing retrospective of both their greatest hits and some newer material.  Their song “The Lost and the Lonely,” from the band’s 2014 album “Cuts Like a Diamond,” a tribute to the troops, was well received, as was an extensive piano intro by keyboard maestro Chris Marion before the band played “Cool Change.”

An enjoyable evening was capped off by the band coming out front and greeting the fans, which I found to be a pretty incredible thing, especially after playing a 90 minute gig!  If you’re a fan of “classic” rock and pop, then LRB is a band you’ll want to catch.

For more information on their current tour, click HERE.

Win Tickets to the Kansas City Screening of “Poms”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at STX Entertainment to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new comedy, “Poms,” in Kansas City.

The screening will be held on Wednesday, May 8th at the AMC Studio 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas and will start at 7:00 p.m.

All you have to do is click HERE. The first (50) people to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the film. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When the (50) passes have been claimed, the giveaway is over. See you at the movies!

“Poms” Opens in Theatres on Friday, May 10th

@POMSmovie

#POMSmovie