Archive for Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Area arts scene flourishes

February 7, 2001

Imagine a place with soft paintings of Monet, Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Gogh and lining the walls. Envision a quiet Italian courtyard. Hear the trickle of a fountain, soft tinkling of glasses and hushed murmur of conversation.

Now picture a dark, luxurious theater. Feel the electric anticipation of the crowd as the lights dim and the orchestra begins to play the overture. This sounds like a place far away from northeast Kansas and the cold winter weather. It's not. This is not a description of Italy or New York but places in our area, only a short drive from home.

Between Kansas City and Topeka is a vast world of the arts waiting to be explored by people of all ages. To visit an Italian courtyard and see famous paintings, plan a day at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., one of the nation's premier institutions of art.

"The Nelson has one of the most wonderful collections of general art from many different cultures," said Meredith Thedinger, public information assistant at the Nelson, 4525 Oak St.

She said the Nelson's diverse offerings include something for everyone, from special family events such as the upcoming performance of "Dumbo and the Circus of Toys," to "Music From China," a concert for adults.

"A day at the Nelson is not just standing in the art gallery. We have classes, a beautiful Italian restaurant with live Jazz music on Fridays and many special events," Thedinger said.

She noted the "Winslow Homer and the Critics: Forging a National Art in the 1870s" exhibit that starts Feb. 18 and runs through March 6. Many events are free. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $2 for adult students, $1 for ages 6-18 and free for children under 6. Every Friday and Saturday, admission is free to all.

"People in the area don't have to spend lots of money on a trip to New York to see fine art," Thedinger said,

The Nelson has an extensive Web site at www.nelson-atkins.org that contains further information.

To enjoy a night at the theater without spending a lot of money, visit the Missouri Repertory Theatre, 4949 Cherry St.

"There is nothing else like it for miles and miles around," said Barbara Haviland, media relations for the theater.

She said seeing a play is a great way to get to know ourselves and the people around us.

"Theater is such a personal experience," Haviland said. "There is nothing more powerful or universal." Upcoming performances include "Machinal," a play Haviland feels many women can relate to. It's about a woman who feels trapped in machine-like society. Performances of "Machinal" will run through Feb.18. Ticket prices range from $10 to $38. More information is available at www.missourirepertorytheatre.org.

In addition to fine art and stage performances, this area is home to several professional orchestras, including the Topeka Symphony Orchestra, which has dazzled people for more than 50 years. The orchestra's season is comprised of seven concerts, including classical, family, holiday and children's concerts. The orchestra, directed by John Strickler, divides the concerts into two groups: Masterwork and Pops.

Tim Jones, the orchestra's general manager, said the Pops series are great starter concerts for people who have not attended a symphony.

"Pops concerts provide music that anyone will recognize and enjoy," he said.

The next Pops concert, "Bravo Broadway!" includes melodies from Broadway's finest musicals with selections sung from pieces by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim and many more. The concert is St. Patrick's Day, March 17, at the Topeka Performing Arts Center, 214 S.E. Eighth St.

Ticket prices range between $15 and $30 with discounts for students and groups. Tickets and additional information are available online at www.topekasymphony.org.

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