Stage Capsule Reviews


Brigadoon Before Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe wrote a handsome little cash cow called My Fair Lady, they had fairly decent luck with this show. It’s a fairy tale of a musical about two American tourists who stumble upon a small Scottish town that comes to life only once every 100 years. Though it chalked up 581 performances on Broadway after its 1947 debut and was filmed in 1954 with the great Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, it has never really made the leap from modest musical to one of the classics people clamor for. June 3-19 at the Lawrence Community Theatre, 1501 New Hampshire in Lawrence, 785-843-7469. (S.W.)

For Colored Girls The full title of Ntozake Shange’s poetic theater piece — For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf — hints at both its intensity and hope. The show is a fluid collection of 20 of Shange’s poems told by seven women from such cities as Chicago, New York and St. Louis. Since its premiere in the mid-1970s at a women’s bar outside Berkeley, California, the show has been seen on Broadway, on film and in hundreds of theaters in as many places. InPlay’s production is directed by Jacqee Gafford, who steered last year’s Raisin in the Sun to near perfection. June 9-12 at Just Off Broadway, 3051 Central, 816-729-8863. (S.W.)

A Gathering of Gangsters Seventy years before Kansas City had its first gangsta, it was teeming with gangsters — the kind whose bling consisted of white spats and a fedora. Union Station is the hub for the kickoff show from a new theater troupe whose interactive mysteries (with dinner) befit the historic setting. The first one’s set in 1933, the year of the infamous massacre, and concerns a gang of ne’er-do-wells whose train is nearing the station. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through July 9 at Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Rd., 816-813-9654. (S.W.)

The Good Doctor If Anton Chekhov isn’t exactly known for his rollicking comedies, leave it to Neil Simon to build from the former’s stories a house of mirth. Given Simon’s résumé from television’s golden era, it’s no coincidence that the tales sound like setups for old variety-show sketches. There’s the guy with the toothache visiting a dentist, the Don Juan whose potential conquest is unexpectedly worldly, and the fumbling nihilist willing to throw himself into a river for three lousy kopeks. All that seems to be missing is a chorus of “Take my wife … please!” June 10-12 and 16-19 at the Barn Players, 6219 Martway in Mission, 913-432-9100. (S.W.)

Grease In the musical’s well-known song “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” Rizzo, the promiscuous ringleader of the Pink Ladies, unfavorably compares virginal Sandy to the perky movie princess. On the heels of Dee’s death in February, this Wyandotte Players production could resonate with some unexpected weirdness. If not, there’s still a virtual homecoming parade of energetic numbers and fun stock characters, such as the poured-in-his-pants Danny Zuko and his idiotic homeys. One can only hope that the climactic transformation of sweet Sandy into a hot babe is half as delicious as Olivia Newton-John’s onscreen metamorphosis. June 3-12 at Kansas City, Kansas, Community College Performing Arts Center, 7250 State Ave., 913-449-2301. (S.W.)

Life Is a Cabaret Since the death of Fred Ebb last year, the musical legacy of his work with Kansas City native John Kander has become even more precious. For a concert packed floor to ceiling with Kander and Ebb tunes, the Heartland Men’s Chorus will be joined by the Omaha Central Dance Theater and local chanteuse Angela Hagenbach. Sure, there will be the obvious selections from shows such as Cabaret and Kiss of the Spider Woman and the films New York, New York and Funny Lady. One can hope that the chorus will sample from lesser known shows such as 70 Girls 70 and Steel Pier, which, despite their supposed lack of stature, offer a few wonderful songs. June 11 and 12 at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., 816-931-3338. (S.W.)

On the Record The folks at Disney won’t tell you directly (the company is tight-lipped), but surely they’ve had it up to you know where lately with bad press. Good news comes in the form of a new musical revue of songs from the Disney vault of films — animated and not — and the Broadway musicals spawned from them. Promised from among the sometimes syrupy catalog are tunes from such female-focused shows as Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and a sampling of shows with themes that skew a little more butch, such as Tarzan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Not recommended for the family-squeamish. June 14-19 at Starlight Theater, 4600 Starlight Dr., 816-363-7827. (S.W.)

Picnic Independence, Kansas is the setting for native son William Inge’s classic play about the psychological cost of settling. Thanks to the arrival of a hunky, horny drifter, a few deceptively simple locals get in touch with their repressed dreams, sexual tension and, perhaps just below the surface, the stifling backwardness of small-town life. Inge certainly got out of there when he could, but, as his tragic suicide years later attests, maybe he really never did. June 2-12 at the City Theatre of Independence, Roger T. Sermon Center, 210 N. Dodgion, 816-325-7367. (S.W.)

Proof The 2001 Pulitzer Prize for drama justifiably went to David Auburn’s solid play, which is at once a prickly character study, a thwarted love story, and a mystery steeped in, of all things, mathematics. Its heroine is Catherine, a 25-year-old Chicago woman who is outwardly hostile, deceptively layered and always fascinating. As the play delves into questions about the authorship of some brilliant new mathematical proofs, it opens another mystery: Is Catherine a little crazy, a little brilliant, or both? June 2-18 at the Bell Road Barn Players, 8700 River Park Dr. in Parkville, 816-587-0218. (S.W.)

Quid Pro Quo Director Beate Pettigrew saw Garret Zuercher’s new play (his senior thesis, actually) at the Kennedy Center and promptly snatched up the rights for the Barn Players of Johnson County, which stages two performances of the show as a benefit for the theater. As a deaf playwright, Zuercher has said he found the most famous “deaf” play, Children of a Lesser God, pretty annoying. He strives here to bridge the hearing and nonhearing worlds of his two characters by using sign language, as expected, but he has also created a show that approximates what deaf audiences experience when they attend a show that isn’t signed. June 3-5 at the Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd. in Overland Park, 913-469-4445. (S.W.)

Tuesdays With Morrie Mitch Albom, recently on the best-seller list with The Five People You Meet in Heaven, first gained national attention with the book that Oprah Winfrey turned into an Emmy-winning TV movie. Craig Benton plays the character based on Albom, a sports writer who makes weekly pilgrimages to the bedside of his dying mentor, played by Richard Alan Nichols. If it ends up being something more than the equivalent of a Lifetime movie on testosterone, the thanks can go to director Donna Thomason, whose last project was the unexpectedly fabulous Affluenza. Through June 26 at the American Heartland Theatre, 2420 Grand, 816-842-9999. (S.W.)

The Wizard of Oz It’s standard practice for writers never to assume that their readers are hip to every reference, even to fairly well-known plays, books or movies. But, please — The Wizard of Oz? Granted, there have been many versions since L. Frank Baum’s first book in 1900, the latest a couple of weeks ago on TV with Muppets and former gangsta moll Ashanti. Odds are that Theatre for Young America is going with a less urban take on the story of a Kansas girl named Dorothy who gets conked on the head during a tornado and has dreams that would make Timothy Leary — the ’60s-era professor who used LSD a lot — envious. June 7-26 at Theatre for Young America, 5909 Johnson Dr. in Mission, 913-831-2131. (S.W.)

Categories: A&E