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Category Archives: Performances

We’ve officially opened KCAT’s Blithe Spirit at Union Station.  It is a hilarious riot of ghosts, wives, and whiskey.  Come check it out!  We run until August 26th!

The critics and audiences are having a wonderful time.  Witty entertainment seems to be the catchphrase.

Here are a couple of excerpts from recent reviews:

Bob Evans of KC Appaulds says:

It seems many theatres end their season with their biggest show so as to build for the finale, but with “Blithe Spirit,” KCAT serves notice that the bar has been raised for any forthcoming KC Metro shows. Doug Weaver placed this play in the hands of the most outstanding cast and allowed them to embolden each character. The cast brings flavor, color, and nuance to each part. All technical aspects demand attention from start to fade out. An old play looks shiny and fresh with this effort by Weaver, the cast and crew.

Paul Bolton at Broadway World says:

KCAT casts a talented ensemble (directed by Doug Weaver) to tackle Coward’s cynical humor. […]  If there’s a single element to this show that makes it a “must see” it is the expertly executed love triangle performed by Coleman CrenshawCinnamon Schultz, and Vanessa Severo. The strong trio capture the vulnerability of the characters (that Coward so wittingly constructed) as their words become shockingly unfiltered and honest. The dialogue is still current today and, as Coward wrote, “It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”

Bec Pennington at PerformInk says:

Coleman Crenshaw successfully portrays the poor husband in over his head and demonstrates great timing with a sense for his audience. Cinnamon Schultz develops her character expertly, obviously enjoying the shift of tone in her final scenes. Margaret Shelby is raucously funny as the incompetent maid, Edith, as Jan Rogge is the perfectly silly Madame Arcati, and Matt Rapport and Cheryl Weaver are great as supporting characters (Cheryl’s talent begs for more lines). Vanessa Severo’s Elvira would steal all the scenes if she could, and we would let her. Her sparkling, fast-paced exchanges with Crenshaw keep the play moving, and my hat’s off to anyone who can pull that kind of high energy performance in those heels. Still, it’s hard to pick a standout performance, everyone in the cast seems to relish their role. Even Kelli Harrod’s set is enthusiastic, designed to surprise.

In a role I’ve been excited to play a very long time, Charles Condomine, I am pleased to share a few extra personal performance selections from these reviews.  Thank you for the kind words, Mr. Bolton:

Coleman Crenshaw (Charles Condomine) is solid in his portrayal of the confused novelist and it helps that he seems to be enjoying himself “immensely”. His charm keeps the cynical sarcasm controlled enough to maintain his likability, yet he’s energetic enough to drive the pace of the piece quite well.

And Mr. Evans:

Crenshaw delivers a comedic interpretation that just screams Cary Grant or David Niven (who actually starred in the movie classic). Suave, sophisticated, aloof, mostly disengaged until the twist of fate engulfs him in the love triangle, Crenshaw shows a new level of comedic timing, facial expression, and physical movement.


Abigail Trabue, the managing editor of PerformInk KC, has named the MET’s Photograph 51 her Critics’ Pick.  Come see the show while you still can and see what the critics are raving about!  Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sun, Jan 29th at 2pm at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre.  Closing Feb 4th.

Here are a few words from Abigail’s review:

Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s production of PHOTOGRAPH 51 is only the second time in my life I’ve left a theater, sat in my car and cried. If you are fortunate enough to be moved to tears by theater than you are fortunate enough to have witnessed something incredible.

[…] a complicated, honest, messy, humorous, and engaging production that fits perfectly into MET’s changeable storefront space. We get staging that is engaging, that flows seamlessly and creatively, that is motivated and clean. You see actors who’ve have formed a strong ensemble, and more than once I found myself marveling at the pace. It’s clear Paisley (who also served at lighting and set designer) understands what this play is about, the kind of hand needed to guide it, and along with Prop Designer Marc Manley and Costumer Shannon Regnier, created a world for the actors and the story of PHOTOGRAPH 51 to live in. […]

There’s a quote in PHOTOGRAPH 51 from THE WINTER’S TALE: “Come, poor babe, I have heard but not believed/The spirits o’ the dead may walk again.” PHOTOGRAPH 51 is the forgotten historical footnote of Rosalind Franklin and, in the hands of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, is the kind of art we should be creating.

Read the full review here.

Photograph 51, by Anna Ziegler, makes its regional debut at The Metropolitan Theatre Ensemble, running through Feb 4th.  This tight 90-minute play guides us through what could be a dense, dry scientific journey detailing the discovery of DNA’s double helix.  Instead, audiences are treated to a tense, fast -paced, entertaining exploration of a forgotten female scientist and the relationships that influenced her and the groundbreaking genetic discoveries of the 1950s.  Rosalind Franklin is given new life and, in an age suddenly endangering female rights, makes her story even more apropos and vital.

On stage Wed-Sat at 7:30, Sunday (Jan 29) at 2pm at the MET in mid-town Kansas City.

Here’s what the reviewers are saying:

Robert W. Butler at the KC Star says:

Talk about fortuitous synchronicity!

On the same weekend that millions of women around the world marched to assert their rights, Kansas City’s Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre debuted “Photograph 51,” a hugely insightful and unexpectedly moving play about a groundbreaking woman scientist who never got her due.

“Photograph 51” is less about the nuts and bolts of scientific discovery than it is about the struggles of the human heart and psyche.

[Amy] Attaway’s Franklin pulls us in not because she’s charming but because she’s so rigorous and scrupulously honest. There’s virtue in her approach, if not much humanity. Only late in the proceedings do we sense Franklin’s regrets about the ascetic, practically monkish life she has chosen.

[Robert Gibby] Brand, on the other hand, is both hugely amusing and borderline heartbreaking as Wilkins, who evolves from privileged pomposity to a genuine appreciation of his colleague that borders on romantic love. It’s a performance overflowing with small gestures and stifled frustrations, alternately comic and near-tragic.

But then all six players are superb.

Read more here.

One lady not remembered enough: British chemist Rosalind Franklin.
KC audiences are fortunate to get a glimpse of this Photograph, staged in London’s West End in 2015 and set to open on Broadway later this year (with Nicole Kidman in the role of Franklin in both productions). The piece is timely, a story not only about science and its protagonists but also about politics — the who’s-in and who’s-out in the struggle for influence, recognition and an individual’s rightful place.
The dynamic performances that Paisley elicits from a strong cast are what keep us engaged in this one-act play’s fact-based story.
Read more of Deborah’s article here.

Or Robert Trussell‘s thoughts on KC Studio in his review (click the below title for full review):

Good Performances Buoy Unique Drama About Science, Love and History

Good performances across the board elevate Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s thoughtful production of Ziegler’s 2008 play about sexism and professional competition among a group of British and American scientists who established the molecular structure of DNA in the 1950s. Director Karen Paisley stages the piece with admirable economy and precision.

One could argue that Franklin’s character is less developed than it should be, but Amy Attaway brings the role to life with remarkable precision. Her performance is an impressive succession of smart choices, resulting in a series of indelible physical and emotional snapshots. Even more noteworthy, she holds her own with the formidable Robert Gibby Brand, who plays Watkins as a man possessed of a keen intellect but precious few social graces. Nobody in town plays educated Brits better than Brand and here he delivers one of his finest performances. Indeed, Brand and Attaway together find a beating heart in a play about chilly, eccentric science nerds.

No weak links are to be found among the supporting players: Jordan Fox brings stolidity and muted passion to Don Caspar. R.H. Wilhoit, as Gosling, is a frequently comic presence whose humor never undermines the drama. John Cleary finds honest comedy in his portrayal as the excitable, impassioned Watson. And the reliable Coleman Crenshaw is memorable as Crick. Nice to see quality ensemble work.

As directed by Karen Paisley, “Photograph 51” is a fascinating, edge of your seat rendering of one woman’s fight to establish her value as a scientist and as a colleague.
A strong cast of six in “Photograph 51” at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre spins an unfamiliar, but excellently told tale of a female scientist in 1950’s Britain. Playwright Anna Ziegler recounts the work of crystallographer Dr. Rosalind Franklin and her difficult struggle for equal treatment in the workplace.
Read Alan’s full review here.

“Photograph 51″ shines light into the 1950s research and ground-breaking discoveries in DNA mapping and understanding with brilliant performances by Amy Attaway and Robert Gibby Brand.
Read full review here.