Missouri Rep Changes Name to Kansas City Rep, Announces World Premiere Jazz Play for 2004-05

News   Missouri Rep Changes Name to Kansas City Rep, Announces World Premiere Jazz Play for 2004-05
 
The board of trustees of Missouri Repertory Theatre announced May 5 that the 40-year-old resident Equity company will be known as Kansas City Repertory Theatre starting with its 41st season in 2004-05.

The new season will include classics such as A Christmas Carol, Little Women and plays by August Wilson and Harley Granville-Barker, plus a world premiere jazz play set in KC.

Peter Altman is the company's producing artistic director.

"The board adopted a new strategic plan in 2002 that recommended increasing awareness about Missouri Rep locally, regionally and nationally to enlarge the number of people attending performances and boost revenue for the theatre," according to the announcement. "At that same time, the board began considering the possibility of changing the theatre's name."

Why would a troupe change its public image as a theatre of a state to a theatre of a city? To be more inclusive, according to the theatre.

"Many trustees and others in the community had increasingly come to believe that 'Missouri Rep' did not fairly represent our many supportive patrons living in Kansas, and it was also apparent that the name didn't identify our location," said board president Topper Johntz. "I think we've made the right decision to change the theatre's name to Kansas City Rep, especially as our national reputation for excellence continues to grow." The 2004-05 season will include the world premiere of writer-director Eric Simonson's Carter's Way, with music by Darrell Leonard, June 3-26, 2005. Last season, the Rep commissioned Eric Simonson (director and co-author of Work Song: Three Views of Frank Lloyd Wright, 2002) to write "a new play set in Kansas City in the 1930s, at the height of the jazz era here," according to the season announcement. "The story he has created follows the career of a young black musician, Oriole Carter, who becomes involved with a white nightclub singer, and the consequences of their actions in a segregated Kansas City where crime syndicates controlled liquor and nightclubs. Carter's Way unfolds in a strong context of the historical events of its time, incorporating the rise of radio and the Depression."

The play will feature 10 original jazz compositions, incorporating influences of Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker and others to tell the story of Carter's musical evolution.

The 41st season also includes the American premiere of A Young Lady from Rwanda by Sonja Linden, April 2-May 8, 2005, presented at the intimate City Stage in Union Station.

"Inspired by the real life experiences and accounts of young Rwandan refugees in Britain, this remarkable new play is about resilience and survival, building a relationship of understanding over the divide between different cultures and the expressive power of art."

In it, a young woman who survived the Rwanda massacres of 1994 is living in London. "When she seeks the help of a writer-teacher about the manuscript she has written about her country's experience, she and her would-be mentor both make many surprising discoveries about life, hope and art."

The staging is being offered as "an option for subscribers." The play will be presented this summer at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland before its American premiere in Kansas City. Linden will be in residence at the Rep for rehearsals and the opening of A Young Lady from Rwanda.

The Kansas City Rep season will also include The Pirates of Penzancedirected by David Ira Goldstein in a co-production with Arizona Theatre Company, Sept. 24-Oct. 24; A Christmas Carol directed by Linda Ade Brand, Nov. 20-Dec. 26; August Wilson's Two Trains Running directed by Lou Bellamy Jan. 21-Feb. 13, 2005 (a Kansas City premiere); Marisha Chamberlain's adaptation of Little Women March 4-27, 2005; Harley Granville-Barker's The Voysey Inheritance directed by Carey Perloff in a co production with American Conservatory Theatre, April 29 May 22, 2005.

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