9 Events to Take In

Recitals, theatre, art exhibitions make the list

We are Kansas City’s university, and our hometown’s energy influences everything that happens here. We welcome our community to campus for an array of events, and we’re also happy to recommend opportunities on behalf of our alumni and friends. These activities are part of what give UMKC a vibrant campus life, and make UMKC an arts and culture powerhouse.


1. Conservatory Performances

Conservatory students and faculty continue their end-of-year performances.


Check the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance calendar for a list of recitals and performances. Some events are free and some may have a fee.

2. UMKC Theatre: ‘Letters from Freedom Summer’

Letters From Freedom Summer is a collaboratively developed play with music, based on the heroic 1964 non-violent student movement that brought black and white young people together from across the country and helped change the way blacks in Mississippi became able to vote and participate in our democratic society. Written by Ricardo Khan; Sibusiso Mamba from Southern Africa; and Denise Nicholas, originally from Detroit and who was one of the more than 1,000 students who were part of the Mississippi movement that year, Freedom Summer has enjoyed a uniquely collaborative process among its highly acclaimed writers. And throughout its development, as a commission of UMKC Theatre, it has been also able to benefit from two years of script development workshops involving students of UMKC’s professional training program.


Performances run now through May 13 in Spencer Theatre, Olson Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry St., Kansas City, Mo. Tickets can be purchased from the Central Ticket Office.


3. 2018 UMKC Student Exhibition

The UMKC Gallery of Art announces the 2018 UMKC Student Art Exhibition, which features the work of 28 graduate and undergraduate artists. All currently enrolled students at UMKC were eligible to submit work across a variety of media, including painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking, graphic design and video.


The Student Exhibition runs through Thursday, July 27. The UMKC Gallery of Art is located in the Fine Arts Building, Room 203, 5015 Holmes St. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Student Art Exhibition is free.


4. Unicorn Theatre: ‘Vietgone’

In Vietgone, award-winning pioneer playwright Qui Nguyen brilliantly chronicles the love story of his parents’ meeting in an Arkansas refugee center after fleeing Vietnam. It’s a buddy story, an all-American romance, and a motorcycle road-trip adventure that revisits how we think about the heroes and victims of the Vietnam War. Vietgone skips through time and roams the globe with snarky humor, hip-hop and lots of sex. It’s one ironic, foul-mouthed, bad-ass new play.

Good to know:

Three UMKC Theatre graduates started Unicorn Theatre.


The play will run now through May 13 on the Levin Stage, 3828 Main Street, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 816-531-PLAY (7529).


5. The Coterie: ‘Jack and the Bean Mágico!’

The classic fairytale, “Jack and the Beanstalk,” is told with the audience’s help, who assist Jack as he climbs the beanstalk to the giant’s rich and fertile land. While there, Jack discovers the source of the trouble with his farmland, learning how to make it fertile again by understanding and balancing the life cycle. Young audiences will become tiny bugs in the giant’s garden. The giant loves the bugs because they help keep his soil and plants so healthy!

Good to know:

Two UMKC graduate theatre students founded The Coterie.


The performance runs through May 20 at The Coterie, Crown Center, 2450 Grand Ave., Suite 144, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 816-474-6552.


6. KCRep: ‘Brother Toad’

Mellon Foundation KCRep Resident Playwright and Kansas City, Kansas resident, Nathan Louis Jackson (Sticky Traps, Broke-ology, When I Come To Die) asks us to bear witness to the humanity behind the choices made regarding guns and family in our city’s black community. Nathan Louis Jackson and Kansas City Repertory Theatre are participants in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation multi-year National Playwright Residency Program (NPRP).


The production runs through May 27 on the KCRep’s Copaken Stage, 1 H&R Block Way, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets can be purchased online.


7. Jay McShann’s Kansas City

Jay McShann is recognized as one of the last great pianists fluent in the Kansas City jazz style, and his far-reaching influences as a musician, bandleader and mentor still impact the jazz world. His archives are housed in UMKC’s LaBudde Special Collections, and these documents give valuable insight into McShann’s musical life. This semester, a team of UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance graduate students has explored the collection to create an exhibit showcasing the diverse experiences and contributions that explain McShann’s life and legacy.


Experience the exhibit, rich in history and images, now through September in the LaBudde Special Collections Gallery, third floor, UMKC Miller Nichols Library. The exhibit is free and open during library hours.


8. A Look Inside Our Antique Bookplate Collection

As one of the more seemingly ephemeral works of graphic arts, bookplates nevertheless can wield a powerful visual presence in a small amount of space. Bookplates are printed labels that indicate ownership of a book, and are usually affixed to the inside cover of a volume. While the bookplates in this exhibit offer a cross-section of the collection, there are nearly 600 unique bookplates available for viewing in the LaBudde Special Collections.


This free exhibit is on display now and will run through the spring semester. It is on the Fourth Floor, Dean’s Gallery, Miller Nichols Library, 800 E. 51st St.


9. ‘Sister Act’

When disco diva Deloris witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in a convent! Using her unique singing talent, Deloris breathes new life into the community but blows her cover in the process. Soon, the gang gives chase. From the composer of “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and more, “Sister Act” was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Good to know:

Co-owners Dennis Hennessy and Richard Carrothers are both UMKC graduates; the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences presented both honorary doctorates in 2012.


The production runs now through July 8 at New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster
Overland Park, Kan. Tickets can be purchased online.


Check the following for other upcoming events:

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