Contribution of Kansas-City Area Performers and Production Companies Makes Opening Weekend Celebration a True Artistic Union of Local and International Talent

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts announced the addition of more Kansas City-area artists to the Grand Opening weekend lineup, including its three resident companies, as well as more than 40 diverse local performance groups.

The additions make the Grand Opening weekend an unprecedented collaboration of local and international artistic talent, and build on a Kauffman Center priority to promote and celebrate Kansas City’s vibrant and diverse arts community.

“Kansas City has a long, rich tradition of performing arts, and it’s very important that the Kauffman Center reflects and augments Kansas City’s already vibrant arts community,” said Jane Chu, President and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. “Thanks to the participation of our resident companies and so many outstanding local performers, our Grand Opening performances will be an important step in making the Kauffman Center a true Kansas City icon.”

The Kauffman Center engaged internationally recognized Baruch/Gayton Entertainment Group as Executive Producers to create and produce the Grand Opening celebration, specifically because they integrate local talent, history, and culture into each of their events. As part of that mission, Wayne Baruch and Charles Gayton worked with Kansas City’s best creators and performers to plan and produce the events.

On Friday, September 16, the Grand Opening of the Muriel Kauffman Theatre will feature The Kansas City Ballet in a preview of the brand new three-act ballet of ‘Tom Sawyer’, of which they will give the world premier performance in October. That same evening, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City will preview the finale of its spectacular new production of Puccini’s gripping opera ‘Turandot’. And when world-renowned opera singer Placido Domingo inaugurates the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, he will be joined by Kansas City’s own Lyric Opera Chorus and Kansas City Symphony, conducted by Michael Stern.

The evening will also feature a series of “Showstoppers” hosted by multiple Tony Award-winning performer, director and choreographer Tommy Tune, as well as a special guest performance by star of stage and screen Patti LuPone. The Conservatory of Music and Dance at UMKC will deliver one of the greatest Broadway Showstoppers of all time: the “Tonight” quintet from West Side Story. The Kansas City Symphony will accompany the entire performance at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

To cap off the Friday evening event, Baruch and Gayton collaborated with Quixotic Fusion to create a post-concert outdoor multi-media extravaganza combining large-scale projections and live performers. They also reached out to Kansas City’s T2+BackAlley Films to create unique post-concert indoor visual projections for both Friday and Saturday evenings.

The Kansas City Symphony returns in full force for the Grand Opening of Helzberg Hall, on Saturday, September 17, to accompany world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman and Grammy Award-winning pianist/singer Diana Krall. In addition, the 156-voice Kansas City Symphony Chorus will perform both a capella and with the orchestra for the opening of Helzberg Hall. And, in a stunning tribute to Kansas City’s Jazz History, the symphony will be joined UMKC’s very own Bobby Watson, who Baruch and Gayton commissioned to arrange an original work that will be performed by a 17-piece American Jazz Museum jazz orchestra comprised of a diverse group of Kansas City musicians.

The Grand Opening weekend culminates with a free community open house, Sunday, September 18, with more than 40 of Kansas City’s finest performing arts groups, composed of approximately 600 individual artists. Doors open at 11 a.m. and performances will run from noon until 5 p.m. on four outdoor stages, as well as in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall.

Combining their international expertise with local know-how, Baruch and Gayton created an extensive Kansas City-based production team to support the work of the entire Grand Opening weekend. They turned to two lead production organizations to manage the two opening night pre and post-concert celebrations and free Sunday open house: O’Neill Event Management, headed by Keli Wenzel, whose considerable experience ranges from elegant gala events to major public occasions, including their annual Irishfest; and The Wellington Group, headed by Joan Wells, which has a wide range of top rank corporate and special event clients in Kansas City and throughout the United States.

In addition to O’Neill and Wellington, Baruch and Gayton also pulled together visual, creative and culinary artists such as T2+BackAlley Films, Harvest Productions, PB&J Restaurants, Aramark, Lon Lane Inspired Occasions, and Matney Florals.

Reflecting on the experience, Wayne Baruch and Chuck Gayton said, “As executive producers of the overall Grand Opening, we will be working with the best of the best in Kansas City. Today, on the doorstep of the Grand Opening, artistic Kansas City has done itself proud. The opening celebration will truly be an artistic union of local and international talent.”

Kansas City event planning and production collaborators include:

•     O’Neill Marketing & Event Management

•     The Wellington Group

•     Conservatory of Music and Dance at UMKC

•     Kansas City Art Institute

•     Kansas City arts entrepreneur Gary Maltbia

•     Recording artist and educator Kevin Mahogany

•     American Jazz Museum

•     Quixotic Fusion

•     T2+BackAlley Films

•     Harvest Productions

•     Chuck Matney (Matney Florals)

•     Townsend Communications

•     Hallmark

•     Aramark

•     PB&J Restaurants

•     Lon Lane Inspired Occasions

•     All Seasons

•     Kansas City Convention Center/Bartle Hall Ballroom

•     Kansas City Downtown Council

For more information on Kauffman Center’s FREE public Open House, click here.