One of Kansas City’s popular, yet small, theater venues, the Metropolitan Ensemble Theater, known for producing the classics and building loyal audiences each year as the theater continues to develop a loyal following, just recently announced their 2014 season with a list of plays guaranteed to please Kansas City patrons.
“Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s Ninth Season brings another slate of American masterworks to the stage in Kansas City. All Pulitzers and Tony Winners, these exciting plays rouse the emotions, stimulate the intellect and send you home humming great tunes,” Karen Paisley, founder and producer, said. “We hope you’ll join us on our journey to celebrate great Theatre for the People.”
Even though the state of Kansas is most fondly remembered for Dorothy and Toto, the Dust Bowl era of The Great Depression showed the grit of ranchers and farmers who saw their livelihoods challenged by drought and summer heat. And, it reminds everyone of the summer just past with the declared extreme drought and sweltering temperatures. The MET’s season opener relives those devastating days in those devastating days with The Rainmaker.
The Rainmaker, by N. Richard Nash, Sept. 12 – Oct. 6 2013
It’s hot as hell in Kansas, and it gets even hotter when Starbuck, a con-man, part poet, shows up on the Curry farm in the middle of a drought. Set in Depression era America, the play tells the story of a pivotal hot summer day in the life of spinsterish Lizzie Curry, her father and two brothers on the family cattle ranch. As their farm languishes under devastating drought, Lizzie’s family worries more about her lack of romance than about their dying cattle. Then Starbuck arrives and promises to make it rain. His imagination thrills, infuriates, and changes everything, daring others to dream with him, enabling Lizzie to see herself in a new light. Funny and romantic, this play is a theatrical gem. Watch Lizzie become starry-eyed and watch for Starbuck to reveal the depth of his character. And audiences who follow local theater expect greatness from Forrest Attaway who undertakes the role of Starbuck.
Traditionally, the MET offers a season-ending musical, but next season offers a surprise with two musicals slated for KC audiences. Recently revived on Broadway with Daniel Radcliffe and John Laroquette as the leads, the 60s musical satire on corporate America comes to the MET.
How To Succeed in Business Without Even Trying, by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, Willie Gilbert and Frank Loesser ,Nov. 7 – Dec. 1 2013
Capitalism and the American Dream come to life, complete with power, sex, ambition, greed… it’s just another day at the office! From the authors of Guys and Dolls comes one of the most delightfully irreverent musicals of all time. A satirical take on big business and all it holds sacred, How to Succeed… follows the rise of J. Pierpont Finch, moving to the top. Using a little handbook called How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying to climb the corporate ladder, Finch goes from lowly window washer to high-powered executive, tackling such familiar and potent dangers as the aggressively compliant company man, the office party, backstabbing co-workers, caffeine addiction &, of course, true love. A 1960’s comedy treat. Winner of the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and of 7 Tony Awards, plus the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. How to Succeed… melds wit, comedy, and romance together to perfection. “Great fun for everybody!” – Chicago Tribune.
First a drama, then a musical, and then a heart=wrenching drama again. Patrons get the full ride of the stage emotions as they view their way through the MET’s season. The smiles and laughs of the musical comedy outing is followed by M. Butterfly. Theater -goers not familiar with the story will be amazed as the story unfolds. Another Kansas City favorite, Robert Gibby Brand, stars in the surprising drama.
M. Butterfly, by David Henry Hwang, Jan 9 – Jan 26, 2014
All is not always as it seems . . . From his prison cell, former French diplomat Rene Gallimard recalls the story of how he came to be loved by Song Liling, a performer in the Peking opera. Assigned to Beijing in the 1960s, Gallimard encounters Song in a performance of Madame Butterfly. Dazzled by her beauty, he believes he has found “the perfect woman.” Their relationship develops into a passionate love affair that lasts more than two decades, yet when Song’s identity is revealed, Gallimard discovers far more than the submissive leading lady he wanted, and his personal and political realities dissolve before his eyes. Winner of the 1988 Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award as Best Broadway Play. “Of all the young dramatists at work in America today, none is more audacious, imaginative, or gifted …” —The New Yorker. “It will move you, it will thrill you, it may even surprise you. It is a play not to be missed, and it is a play once caught that will never be forgotten.” —NY Post.
Every season dedicated to classics needs something from one of America’s favorite dramatic playwrights, Tennessee Williams. As such, the MET offers one of his lesser known and produced shows, The Night of the Iguana, probably more famous from its movie version with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor starred in several of Williams’ plays turned into film, including her iconic portrayal of Maggie the cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She also starred opposite Katherine Hepburn and Montgomery Cliff in Suddenly Last Summer by Williams.
The Night of the Iguana, by Tennessee Williams, Feb. 20 – Mar. 9, 2014
The heat is on for Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon. Defrocked for sexual misbehavior, Shannon has landed at the Costa Verde hotel, near Acapulco, his nerves stretched to the breaking point. The hotel owner, a sexy old friend, is prepared to offer him a bed and more. But then the artists Hannah Jelkes and her grandpa arrive, prepared to trade art in return for lodging. There is a strange and immediate rapport between the discredited cleric and the lonely artist. One of Tennessee Williams’ most beautiful plays. Filled with poignance and enormous compassion, understanding grows between these two people in their mutual need for companionship, roots, & their final moments of nobility in small gestures of unselfishness to aid one another. “…Williams’ most mature work.” —NY Daily News.”…Tennessee Williams at the top of his form.” —NY Times.”…an awesome and powerful new drama.” —NY World Telegram & Sun.
Another Kansas City established actor returns to the MET stage in the lighter offering and promises to deliver a funny but touching performance in the beauty shop comedy/drama. Marilyn Lynch assumes the role of Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine in the movie) and patrons expect a strong and endearing performance. The show, always popular with audiences gives another opportunity for MET patrons to laugh after the Tennessee Williams play.
Steel Magnolias, by Robert Harling, Apr. 10 – May 4, 2014
This comedy found immediate critical and popular acceptance in its premier production by New York’s WPA Theatre. Alternately hilarious and touching—and, in the end, deeply revealing of the strength, love and friendship, and purposefulness underlying the antic banter of its characters. The action is set in Truvy’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where all the ladies who are “anybody” come to have their hair done. The outspoken, wise-cracking owner of the salon, Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to the town’s rich collection of characters. Filled with great roles for great actresses, the stage fills with laughter and deep feeling, filling the heart. A wonderful play on friendship. For women and the people who love them. “Sharp, funny dialogue builds to a conclusion that is deeply moving.” —NY Daily News. “…a skillfully crafted, lovingly evoked picture of the south” —Drama-Logue.
The acting, singing and dancing skills of actors Mykel Hill, Robert Gibby Brand and Karen Paisley bring the MET season to a close with a genuine favorite American musical classic in the form of The King and I. Everyone knows the story, yet the show draws large audiences to see Anna and the King of Siam sing and dance the ever-amazing polka, “Shall We Dance?” toward the end of Act II. The show requested and written as a star vehicle for stage legend Gertrude Lawrence turned into the discovery of a lesser known actor, Yul Brenner who soared to popularity as the King of Siam.
THE KING AND I, by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, June 5 – June 22, 2014
One of the most beautiful musicals ever written by one of the greatest musical theatre teams in the world takes MET’s stage to close the season. Based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam br Margaret Landon, the musical’s plot relates the experiences of Anna, a widowed British schoolteacher hired as part of the King’s drive to modernize his country. Passions run high between the King and Anna, marked by humor and conflict, cultural clash, learning, and love that neither can admit. As beautiful and poetic as it is simply magnificent. Winner of multiple Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Actress, Best Featured Actor and 5 Academy Awards.
Depend on the Metropolitan Ensemble Theater to select and produce quality shows and classics to the delight of their patrons. Individual tickets may be purchased for any show, but with strong and growing season ticket sales, no fans of classics want to miss one of the MET’s offerings. To purchase tickets, theater aficionados may call or email the MET office. The MET is in midtown, Kansas City at 3614 Main, KCMO 64111. To reach the box office or staff, call or email: 816. 569. 3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.