On Stage

KMUW commentator Sanda Moore Coleman looks behind the curtain to give listeners (and play goers) a bit of history and perspective.

Tune in on alternate Mondays or subscribe online at iTunes.  

You know it is well and truly summer when lighthearted musicals fill stages across the country. In this season of theatrical plenty, you have enough choices to fill your plate and more.

I like a Gershwin tune—how about you? Gershwin standards are the order of the evening in Music Theatre Wichita's production of Nice Work If You Can Get It. In addition to a musical score by George and Ira Gershwin, the book was written by Tony award-winning writer Joe DiPietro, built on work by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse. The story follows the exploits of wealthy, much-married Jimmy Winter, who is about to embark upon yet another marriage when his plans are interrupted by female bootlegger Billie Bendix and her gang.

The hippest, hottest ticket on Broadway, in case you hadn't noticed, is the hip-hop musical Hamilton, based on a biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the book, the music, and the lyrics for this juggernaut, and in the process, broke the record for the most Tony Award nominations, held previously by The Producers and Billy Elliot, surpassing the 15 nominations for those shows with a total of 17 nominations, including one for Miranda for Best Actor in a Musical.

“Rollicking” is probably not the first word that springs to mind when you think about opera, but The Pirates of Penzance is just such a light-hearted affair, with happy pirates, a love-struck couple, and a leap-year birthday that set the story in motion.

If the unpredictable spring weather has given you the blues, one solution is to go even bluer. An evening of entertainment by those cobalt-blue-bald-headed guys—yes, the Blue Man Group—can only be described as an experience.

On the list of influential choreographers of the 20th century, one name stands in bold relief: Bob Fosse. Born in Chicago in 1927, Fosse showed exceptional talent for dance at an early age, and was tap-dancing on vaudeville and burlesque stages before he was old enough to attend high school. As the only male at dance school, Fosse initially endured teasing and whistling, but the joking didn't last long. “I beat up a couple of the whistlers,” he said, “and the rest sort of tapered off after a while.”

The opéra-ballet, which combines dance with instrumental and vocal music, flourished during the French Baroque era. The emphasis was on spectacle, and common to the genre were exotic locales and ruminations on the nature of love.

Simon Annand

If money is no object, or you have passed your apparating test, the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is scheduled to open in London this July.


Classic date night is dinner and a show, but Prairie Pines adds a twist of fun with a murder mystery dinner theatre production of Wake Me When I'm Dead, which concerns the perhaps-not-accidental death of Sean O'Malley. As family members gather for an old-fashioned Irish wake, rumors fly regarding changes in Sean's will and what he may have known about the end of the rainbow. It's an evening of comedic mayhem accompanied by a four-course meal. Performances for general audiences are scattered through the months of March and April. 

Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King, was performed in Athens approximately between 430 and 426 BC. It was considered the best of the tragedies written by Sophocles, and the best example of drama that ancient Greece had to offer. Sophocles was a prolific writer—24 of his plays took first prize in contests, and he never placed lower than second. Sophocles was the first to introduce painted scenery, and he was the first to add a third actor to the stage. He also set the number of chorus members at 15.