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Black Violin and Champions Of Magic Are Must-Sees this Fall

Classical-meets-hip-hop duo and five world-class illusionists
take the Muriel Kauffman Theatre stage 

Classical-meets-hip-hop duo, Black Violin, returns to Muriel Kauffman Theatre for their Impossible Tour on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. 

Black Violin is led by classically trained string players Wil Baptiste (viola) and Kev Marcus (violin). The band uses their unique blend of classical and hip-hop music, often described as “classical boom,” to overcome stereotypes and encourage people of all ages, races and economic backgrounds to join together to break down cultural barriers.  

For 16 years, Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste have been merging string arrangements with modern beats and vocals. The two were classically trained on the violin and viola through their high school and college careers. Post-college, they reconvened to produce beats for South Florida rappers, and began building an audience in local clubs. They later went on to win Showtime at the Apollo in 2005 and eventually sold-out headline performances at venues across the country, including a sold out two-night headline run at The Kennedy Center in 2018.  

Black Violin continues to inspire youth through their nonprofit organization The Black Violin Foundation. The organization is dedicated to empowering youth by working with them in their communities to provide access to quality music programs that encourage creativity. Each year the foundation’s inaugural program provides scholarships and grants to youth who would like to continue their musical education through a program of their liking that fosters musical creativity and innovation. Black Violin has spent the last year finding creative ways to share their music with fans during the pandemic lockdown, aiming to uplift spirits and connect with fans from afar during a time of uncertainty. 

Black Violin’s Impossible Tour will spread the message that anything is possible and there are no limits to what one can achieve, regardless of circumstance. Tickets for this event range from $29 to $59, plus applicable fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Kauffman Center Box Office, by calling 816.994.7222, or online at 

5 World Class Illusionists, 1 Incredible Show. Direct from London’s West End, Champions of Magic performs their dazzling show on the Muriel Kauffman Theater stage on Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 4 p.m. 

Champions Of Magic started touring in October 2013, and has since completed six U.K. tours, and a U.S. tour in 2017. Their skills have been featured on-screen worldwide, with appearances on The CW’s Penn & Teller: Fool Us, NBC’s Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon, The Today Show, and  Access Hollywood Live. 

The group has more than 30 million online views, in addition to a live, worldwide audience reaching the hundreds of thousands. Each team member specializes in a different type of magic: illusionists Young & Strange, close-up magician Kayla Drescher, escapologist Fernando Velasco, and mind reader Alex McAleer. 

The Champions Of Magic team shares incredible interactive magic, an impossible escape from Houdini’s water torture cell, a mind-blowing prediction that must be seen to be believed, levitation high above the stage, and a finale beyond explanation. From unbelievable mind-reading and stunning close-up tricks, to massive stage-filling illusions, these magicians were born to bend minds. 

Tickets for this event range from $25 to $45, plus applicable fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Kauffman Center Box Office, by calling 816.994.7222, or online at 

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Top-Hit Artists Martina McBride, Madeline Peyroux & Paula Cole Take the Stage this August and September

Martina McBride, and Madeleine Peyroux and Paula Cole
to perform at the Kauffman Center this fall

Grammy-nominated Martina McBride has sung her way to the top of the charts with six No. 1 hits and has sold more than 18 million albums since her rise to fame began in 1993. McBride will bring her repertoire of country hits to the Kauffman Center on Aug. 29, 2021, on the Muriel Kauffman Theatre stage. 

In 2017, McBride celebrated her 25th year of touring, and she certainly has something to show for it. McBride has secured fourteen Gold, nine Platinum, three Double Platinum and two Triple Platinum certifications after she released hit albums such as Wild Angels and Evolution. McBride has been nominated for and received a multitude of awards including four wins from the Country Music Association and three Academy of Country Music Awards for Female Vocalist of the Year. She has also earned the honor of performing on some of the biggest stages in music, including at the Grammys and the Country Music Awards. 

McBride continued to make music over the years while expanding her reach into the world of food with two cookbooks: Around the Table and Martina’s Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life. McBride has inspired many as she developed her Team Music is Love charity initiative. This initiative focuses on fundraising and volunteer projects that support causes such as hunger relief, cancer research, combating domestic violence and helping children in need. McBride has been awarded the Covenant House Beacon of Hope Award and Music Business Association’s prestigious Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award for her philanthropic efforts on behalf of domestic violence. 

Tickets for this must-see performance range from $39 to $119, plus applicable fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Kauffman Center Box Office, by calling 816.994.7222, or online at 

Next, join the Kauffman Center for an unforgettable evening featuring two legends performing hits from their illustrious albums. Paula Cole joins Madeleine Peyroux on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. on the Helzberg Hall stage in celebration of Peyroux’s breakthrough album, Careless Love, and Cole’s double-platinum album, This Fire 

Madeleine Peyroux brings her distinctive blend of swing-era jazz, country, blues, gospel and other acoustic forms to her hit Careless Love album. The album, which took only three months to create, debuted in 2004 and sold 500,000 copies within its first year. In contrast to her first album in 1996, Careless Love conveys a mature, emotional depth and highlights Peyroux’s rhythmic pliability.  

“2004…2005…the date stamp on any music performance can be a distracting thing. The more inspired and singular the music, the less that seems to matter. Timeless is what we call music that reaches the heart and stops the clock. Few are able to attain that, fewer with consistency. For the ones who do, it can take a while navigating one’s career path to get there, to make timeless happen. Madeleine Peyroux achieved it on her second album.” 
—Ashley Kahn, American Music Historian, January 2021  

In 1996, Paula Cole released her self-produced, second album, This Fire. It was incendiary, a double-platinum smash. The first single, Where Have All The Cowboys Gone? catapulted to the Top 10. Cole is a seven-time Grammy nominee and was the first woman to be nominated as Producer of the Year with no collaborators. Her second single, the anthemic I Don’t Want to Wait, dominated charts for a year and then lived again as the well- loved theme-song for Dawson’s Creek 

Cole pushes boundaries and touches hearts and minds with her songwriting. She has performed the world over, for the Troops in the Persian Gulf, to coffee houses in small towns across America, to stadiums with Peter Gabriel, to elegant theaters. Now, 25 years later, Cole will perform songs from her ground-breaking album, This Fire—a rare opportunity to witness her historical work.  

These two talented artists join forces on the Helzberg Hall stage this September. Tickets for this event range from $39 to $69, plus applicable fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Kauffman Center Box Office, by calling 816.994.7222, or online at 

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High School Students Go Behind the Scenes with Backstage Intensive Program

Students from William Chrisman High School are introduced
to audio design with a behind the scenes tour from
Audio Production Supervisor Palmer Jankens.
Photo by Sarah Milosevich.

Journey behind the curtain and witness the magic that goes into executing a live performance. Through the Backstage Intensive program, an Open Doors Spotlight on Youth initiative that is supported by a grant from Cerner Charitable Foundation, the Center bridges the gap between the arts and youth in communities throughout Kansas City. Now available virtually in addition to its traditional in-person format, Backstage Intensive educates students about the various careers open to them in the performing arts and non-profit industry. From arts administration to technical theater, the Backstage Intensive program shines a light on the real-world career opportunities at the Kauffman Center and other performing arts venues.

Now, students can engage with the program via the virtual portal launched in January 2021. With this portal, the Kauffman Center continued engaging students despite physical distance and widened accessibility for the program to reach more students. The virtual Backstage Intensive website portal contains four video demonstrations, each about 20 minutes in length, that explore various production elements and roles. Watch an expert demonstrate the art of sound engineering and lighting design through virtual video tours, which give students an up-close look at the technical elements of live theater. Learn how the scenic crews rig and fly scenery and hear staff explain the glamour—and challenges—of managing a complex theater production. Each video has several accompanying resources to further enhance and enrich the experience including vocabulary practice, discussion questions, classroom activities and more.

The virtual Backstage Intensive portal (pictured above) allows classrooms to explore all the videos and resources at their own pace, tailoring the experience to their students.

“Kauffman Center’s virtual Backstage Intensive was an invaluable resource to my Stagecraft classroom,” said a theater teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School whose students participated virtually in 2021. “The lessons and activities provided fit seamlessly into class. Students new to the area of lighting, audio and rigging gained useful information that they were able to put into practice. My experienced students learned new information about a different space and were able to start developing new ideas for our performance space. I intend on being involved in the Intensive in future years.”

Educators at William Chrisman High School, Olathe West High School, Lee’s Summit North High School, Raytown South High School and Grandview High School all opted to utilize the virtual Backstage Intensive program in their classrooms during the spring semester. The program has reached 48 students throughout the metro thus far in 2021.

In a video demonstration, Production Services Manager Eric Miller demonstrates the capabilities of different types of lighting instruments.

“The kids enjoyed the videos and they said they learned a lot from them,” said a theater teacher at Olathe West High School. “They didn’t feel like the work was overwhelming or super difficult – just right. I loved getting a chance for them to see backstage and learn from other theatre technicians!”

Additionally, the in-person Backstage Intensive program brings students to the Kauffman Center for a two-day experience. First, participating schools are introduced to the Center through a front-of-house experience where they attend a school matinee. On a second visit, students return to explore all the behind-the-scenes roles that exist within the venue and the technologies used by each. Students may go on a backstage tour, participate in technical theater demonstrations or engage in arts administration discussions with staff members.

Students dive into the staging aspect of technical theatre as
Theater Operations Manager Sara Beatty oversees their work.
Photo by Sarah Milosevich.

“I learned a lot about Kauffman [Center] history, jobs and jobs in theater in general,” an in-person student participant from Van Horn High School said. “I recommend this program to those who want to learn more about theatre and careers beyond acting.”

Theater is so much more than what the audience can see and, through the Backstage Intensive program, local high school students can be introduced to the many careers that are needed to execute a flawless performance. To learn more information about both the in-person and virtual Backstage Intensive programs, visit or email

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Youth Performance Groups Revealed for Virtual Future Stages Festival

Get ready for youth artists to dance, sing and perform their way into your living room during the weekend-long virtual Future Stages Festival June 12 and 13.

We are excited to announce the talented youth performance groups that will take the stage (virtually) at our eighth annual Future Stages Festival. On June 12 and 13, audiences will enjoy engaging, free digital content and do-it-at-home arts activities. 

Similar to the 2020 virtual festival, audiences will explore an online portal of riveting youth performance videos. However, new this year is the opportunity for viewers to interact with content and their community in new ways. Five youth groups pre-recorded performances on the Kauffman Center stages, and these videos will premiere June 12 on the Center’s Facebook page. Viewers will revel in the ribbon twirling, pirouettes, rhythmic drum lines and more!  

This interactive platform will give attendees an opportunity to connect with the content by commenting in real time. For the first time, the Future Stages Festival webpage will offer an applause wall that allows viewers to give kudos and shout out their favorite performances and activities by posting on social media with #VirtualFutureStages. Additionally, families can follow along with livestreamed activities led by staff and community partners, as well as enjoy a family-friendly activity booklet full of crafts, coloring pages and other engaging projects for all ages. 


Youth performance groups that will join the 2021 festival include:  

  • 18th Street Combo from Kansas City Jazz Academy
  • AileyCamp the Group
  • Chilanka School of Dance
  • Crescendo Conservatory
  • Gurukul Dance Company
  • Heart of America Youth Ballet
  • HK Chinese Folk Dance Group
  • Harmony Project KC
  • Ice Studios School of Dance
  • Kansas City Ballet School
  • Kansas City Boys Choir/Kansas City Girls Choir
  • Kansas City Movement
  • KC Youth Percussion Ensemble
  • Lawrence Ballet Theatre
  • Lily Zhang Li Taylor Dance Academy
  • Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of Kansas City
  • MSA Crescendo Project Orchestra
  • Pythons Drill Team
  • String Sprouts KC
  • The A-Flat Youth Orchestra
  • The Culture House Conservatory of Dance Youth Ensemble
  • Youth Symphony of Kansas City, Symphony Orchestra

Arts content and activities generously provided by: 

  • American Institute of Architects Kansas City
  • American Jazz Museum
  • American Theatre Guild
  • Drum Safari
  • Global FC (Futbol Community)
  • Heart of America Shakespeare Festival
  • Jan Kraybill
  • Kansas City Ballet
  • Kansas City PBS
  • Kansas City Public Library
  • Kansas City Symphony
  • Kathak Aura
  • Katie Minion, DoodleStation
  • Lyric Opera of Kansas City
  • Mattie Rhodes Center
  • Saint Luke’s Health System
  • Science City
  • StoneLion Puppet Theatre
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • The Whole Person
  • Three Trails Taiko
  • UMKC Conservatory Academy
  • Vania Soto

 Stay up to date about virtual Future Stages Festival, and RSVP for this year’s event here.

Virtual Future Stages Festival is presented by Premier Partner Saint Luke’s Health System. 

This project is sponsored in part by the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts – Commerce Bank Trustee, Anonymous, National Endowment for the Arts, the Marlese and Robert Gourley Children’s Fund, the Frank and Margaret McGee Fund, Missouri Arts Council, JE Dunn Construction and the NuWin Foundation. 


The Kauffman Center Open Doors  program connects young people to the arts through three major components: 

  • The Open Doors  Spotlight on Youth  initiative offers year-round programs and engagement opportunities that connect young people with the Kauffman Center. 
  • The Open Doors  Community Tickets  program offers free and reduced price performance tickets to underserved audiences through local social service agencies and schools. 
  • The Open Doors  Transportation Fund  helps schools offer high-quality performing arts experiences to students by eliminating or defraying the costs of bus transportation. 

More information about Open Doors programs is available at: 

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Diving into Spring with Ensemble Business Members

Kauffman Center Ensemble business members recently enjoyed a virtual happy hour prior to the March 30 National Geographic Live presentation, Mysterious Seas. Kauffman Center staff delivered goodie bags to members filled with nautical-themed hors d’oeuvres and a cocktail pairing crafted by Executive Chef Laura Comer.

PNC Regional President Dale Klose welcomed members to the happy hour, and Kauffman Center President and CEO Paul Schofer provided an insider update about the organization. Director of Marketing and Community Outreach Bess Wallerstein Huff  shared a behind-the-scenes look at the success of the Kansas City National Geographic Live series—one of the most successful series in the country–and speaker selection process.

Following the happy hour, Ensemble members were invited to take a deep dive with National Geographic presenters and leading marine biologists David Gruber and Diva Amon as they shed light on deep-sea creatures and their recently discovered habitats.

Thank you to PNC Bank for sponsoring this extraordinary group of business leaders.

The Ensemble business membership program brings together Kansas City area companies that value a thriving, creative and innovative economy. We connect members, their clients and employees to inspiring activities and performances at the Kauffman Center throughout the year. To learn more, visit or contact Janet Mark, Vice President of Development at 816.994.7235 or