Kansas City’s Best Shows of 2017 Kansas City’s Best Shows of 2017
As an amazing year of performance in Kansas City comes to an end, we’re wrapping up our picks for the best productions of 2017.... Kansas City’s Best Shows of 2017

As an amazing year of performance in Kansas City comes to an end, we’re wrapping up our picks for the best productions of 2017. We asked our critics which of the 66 shows we reviewed this year have truly stuck with them, and below are their favorites.

The following, in alphabetical order, are PerformInk’s Best Shows of 2017. Click the links to read the full reviews:

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE at Kansas City Actors Theatre 

“The cast of John Rensenhouse’s production is superb, each and every one. It’s a textbook ensemble piece, and from the smallest parts to the biggest (those that avoid death the longest), everyone turns in a solid performance. The design team fires on all cylinders — Mark Exline’s elegant set and Jonathan Robertson’s haunting sound design are particularly notable.” – Abigail Trabue

CASA VALENTINA at Spinning Tree Theatre 

“Rita (Jan Rogge), wife of George (John Rensenhouse), wrestles with great conflict over her role in her husband’s life, and feels as though she will always be third wheel to George’s alter ego, “Valentina.” Through their relationship, the show manifests how individuality in and of itself is not always righteous, and how others around become affected by those actions. Yet, our autonomy as people is what makes us who we are. This is a fine line to balance on, and CASA VALENTINA does a beautiful job displaying these conflicts.” – Lucas Crabtree

CONSTELLATIONS at Kansas City Repertory Theatre 

“Bree Elrod and Tuc Watkins are powerful as Marianne and Roland. Both are onstage and engaged for the entirety of the play. In addition to the emotional demands, these roles are incredibly challenging from a strictly technical perspective. Memorizing the same scene ten different ways and then keeping track of the order of all those variations is a unique test for an actor’s memory. The structure of the play and lack of intermission also mean that there is no chance for the actors to adjust or regroup offstage.” – Marie Warner

DUTCHMAN at Kansas City Melting Pot Theatre 

“A good play, a classic if you will, never stops having something to say, no matter what social or political world we live in. Baraka hit on something that has continued to ring true for over 50 years, and KCMPT has hit on something that the Kansas City community would benefit from seeing.” – Abigail Trabue

ECLIPSED at Unicorn Theatre 

“People of traumatic background don’t often get the luxury of calling it a “background.” Trauma bends the mind and heart to its will, and it is amazing what we as humans and especially as women are capable of in the effort to divine control from chaos and dignity from destruction. This play explains the transformation of the psyche in a disturbingly relatable way. It hits you and then dares you not to cry.” – Bec Pennington

FINIAN’S RAINBOW at Spinning Tree Theatre 

“Between the lighthearted story, diverse cast and apropos messages, FINIAN’S RAINBOW not only encourages us to look to the rainbow, but shows us how beautiful that rainbow can be. It is a show that needs to be seen and understood by as many people as possible.” – Marissa Carter

GEM OF THE OCEAN at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre 

“To me, GEM OF THE OCEAN is the greatest play of the 21st century, and August Wilson stands tall next to Williams, Miller, and O’Neill as one of the finest interpreters of the life experience the American theater has ever produced. He is a poet that will rip your heart in two and build it back into something stronger than it ever was. This masterpiece should be taught in high school english classes alongside Shakespeare, and time will only be kind to it.” – Jason Epperson

I GOT RHYTHM at Quality Hill Playhouse

“A revue/cabaret isn’t easy. You are asked to create individual moments with each song that may or may not connect to the moment that came before it, or will come after it. It’s a bit of a song study masterclass. When done well the show allows the songs, the actor and the moments to fly and I GOT RHYTHM does it well. It’s a beautiful thing to witness, and in Quality Hill’s intimate space we are treated to an evening of toe-tapping songs with genuine moments of understanding.” – Abigail Trabue

INTO THE WOODS at MTH Theater at Crown Center 

“The tight cast of 16 players exploits the hilarious script to full extent and deftly maneuver their multiple parts each with high energy and effortlessly perfect vocals. Extremely simple costuming and props provide just the right amount of materials for polishing each player’s change from one character or scene to another while remaining elegantly easy on the eyes; a table is a tree, a stage ladder is a tower, a pianist (center stage the entire performance in a bold display of endurance) becomes the woods themselves.” – Bec Pennington

MAN IN LOVE at Kansas City Repertory Theatre 

“The poetry of Anderson’s script is fully realized under the direction of Marissa Wolf, who somehow turns a simple set and small cast of six into a bustling, crowded city where it is easy to feel lost and invisible. Even the scene changes are impressive because of the way they blend in and add to the show instead of taking the audience out of the illusion.” – Marissa Carter

NEW MOVES at Kansas City Ballet 

“Young choreographers — females especially — have seen less opportunity in years past, but this is changing, and KCB’s efforts to promote and encourage new and diverse ballet choreographers is exciting.” – Bec Pennington

PHOTOGRAPH 51 at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre 

“The story of Franklin and Photo 51 is fascinating on its own, but in the hands of this incredible ensemble, we are given layer upon layer of complex choices and relationships. Attaway plays every inch of Rosalind with deeply felt honesty and crystal clear intentions. Attaway is moving, accessible and just so damn fiery. She allows us to see how many of Rosalind’s choices are due to being a product of her time, without making her a victim of her environment.” – Abigail Trabue

PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Lyric Opera of Kansas City 

“It’s supposed to be funny of course, but this particular production had the audience roaring from the beginning to the very end. The only break in laughter was during the stunningly executed “Hail Poetry,” which really has to be heard to be appreciated. It was one of those magical moments in live performance that cannot be substituted by any other means. The entire audience hushed, the players stood very still and facing out toward the crowd, softly blended a perfect blessing of harmonious chorus.” – Bec Pennington

STUPID FUCKING BIRD at Unicorn Theatre 

“The whole thing, in fact, is a treatise on depression as much as it’s about the state of the theater. It’s hilarious, but not afraid to go to the deep dark places that, frankly, had my wife and I rushing to Sonic afterward to shake it off and eat our feelings. I wondered if it needed to go that dark, but it works. It’s all just so true. Every moment of this piece is a deeply truthful observation, and I’m sure 5 or 6 hit each audience member in different yet powerful ways.” – Jason Epperson

SUNSET BABY at Kansas City MeltingPot Theatre 

“SUNSET BABY is a triumph for KC Melting Pot and firmly plants the company as a major player in Kansas City Theater. They continue to produce work that is relevant and speaks for a community that has long been underrepresented on our stages. If Kansas City is to cement its place on the national scene, we must further the effort to present works that give a voice to our minority communities, and we must diversify our stages. KC Melting Pot Theater is leading the charge and SUNSET BABY is a perfect example of why.” – Abigail Trabue


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