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Alan Portner

Alan Portner

Al Portner is regional editor for Broadway World – Kansas City.  He is a retired career journalist and media executive who has written for publication over more than 40 years. Portner has published daily newspapers in venues as far east as Washington DC, as far west as Honolulu HI.


BWW Review: SPECTACULAR CHRISTMAS SHOW at Musical Theater Heritage
December 12, 2021

One of the annual challenges inherent to creating an absolutely new “Spectacular Christmas Show” at Musical l Theater Heritage is how to differentiate this year’s production from the thirteen editions that preceded it. I have been privileged to see eight of the fourteen iterations and can promise you that each production is professional, well performed, entertaining and very different from earlier versions. Sure, you will recognize some of the music, but it is unlikely that the key will be one you are pre-programed to have heard before or that the various harmonies will be hackneyed.

BWW Interview: Scott Moreau of JOHNNY & JUNE at New Theatre Restaurant
December 8, 2021

“Johnny & June” at New Theatre Restaurant is an outstanding, original, tribute concert reminiscent of what TV audiences might have enjoyed at home between the premiere of the “Johnny Cash TV Show” in 1969 and the final “Johnny Cash Christmas Special” in 1985.   This New Theatre Restaurant original features Scott Moreau as Johnny Cash, Ashley Pankow, as June Carter Cash, and Cathy Burnett as Country Comedian, Minnie Pearl.  

BWW Review: JOHNNY & JUNE at New Theatre Restaurant
November 24, 2021

New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park has opened an original and very enjoyable, new production, entitled “Johnny & June.” The show is a country music tribute concert to Johnny & June Carter Cash with Scott Moreau and Ashley Pankow as the title characters and with Cathy Barnett as comedian Minnie Pearl along with a five piece band.

BWW Review: COMPANY at Musical Theater Heritage
November 7, 2021

Now through November 21, Musical Theater Heritage offers a super production of “Company,” Stephen Sondheim’s breakthrough 1970 musical. “Company” marks the first appearance of the indelible Sondheim musical voice we have heard so often since.

BWW Feature: VAN GOGH ALIVE at Stalight Theatre
October 26, 2021

Imagine, if you can, the ability to see beyond the strict confines of a framed piece of art. 'Van Gogh Alive,' a joint project of Starlight Theatre and the Nelson Atkins Art Museum, offers visitors a total immersion into Vincent's familiar, Post-Impressionist vision by way of massive, all enveloping, thirty ft. tall projections, backed by carefully selected musical score, and the specter of the artist's own words culled from hundreds of letters written in his final years.

Kansas City Theatres Reopen With Health Precautions
October 21, 2021

Kansas City live theater companies have mostly reopened after enduring eighteen months of dark stages and empty auditoriums. Curtains first rang down in New York and shortly here beginning March 12, 2020. As of today, October 21, 2021, more than 732,000 Americans have died as a result of one of several variants of the Covid-19 virus.

BWW Review: FOUR CHILDREN at Kansas City Actors' Theatre
October 11, 2021

The World Premiere production of “Four Children” has been brought to life by the Kansas City Actors Theatre on the City Stage inside Union Station as a minimalist, sadly shocking view of war against children and on a number of levels. It is not to be missed during its several week run. The playwright has taken snippets from the diaries of four childhood victims of successful or attempted genocides. Their testimony is woven together paragraph by paragraph into a seamless, searing whole despite each being separated by decades and thousands of miles.

BWW Review: ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE at Starlight Theatre
September 22, 2021

The final, outdoor, Broadway style show for the 2021 season at Starlight Theatre is Jimmy Buffet’s 2018 juke box musical “Escape to Margaritaville.” If you are a certified Jimmy Buffet fan, otherwise known as a Parrott-head, then this fun evening is absolutely for you.

BWW Review: MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL at New Theatre Restaurant
September 21, 2021

“Menopause The Musical” has opened with an expected “Hot Flash” for an eight week run at Overland Park’s New Theatre Restaurant. The jokes and song parodies are all gleefully inappropriate.

BWW Review: AN EVENING WITH SIERRA BOGGESS at Musical Theater Heritage
September 18, 2021

“An evening with Sierra Boggess” at Musical Theater Heritage’s Quixotic Theater is a delightful way to spend any evening. Sierra was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s choice to create the role of Christine in the original production of the “Phantom” sequel “Love Never Dies.” American audiences outside of New York will know her opposite Phantom Ramin Karimloo from the PBS twenty-fifth anniversary concert version of “Phantom.”

BWW Review: LIFESPAN OF A FACT at Unicorn Theatre
September 12, 2021

Unicorn Theatre Artistic Director Cynthia Levin enthusiastically welcomed a properly vaccinated, masked, and socially distanced audience to the Levin Theater for the first Covid delayed Unicorn production in eighteen months. The play is a dense, but extremely well performed ninety minute one act entitled “The Lifespan of a Fact.”

BWW Review: MOTHER OF THE MAID at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre
September 10, 2021

Metropolitan Ensemble Theater (MET) has reopened in an improved, more comfortable, and certainly more serviceable Warwick Theater. The building remains a work in progress, but marching toward an ultimate and stylish rebirth. The opening offering is a delightful, soulful, surprising, enjoyable, well-conceived, well-acted, and well-directed piece of theatrical storytelling in two acts called “Mother of the Maid” by playwright Jane Anderson.

BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET at Starlight Kansas City
September 8, 2021

It’s exuberant! It’s tuneful! It will make you want to dance! It is “On Your Feet,” the life story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan and their Miami Sound Machine. It is a happy exit from the lockdowns around the Covid-19 pandemic.

BWW Review: MARY'S WEDDING at Kansas City Repertory Theatre
August 27, 2021

It was their special place; a run-down barn somewhere in a Canadian prairie province. Mary, a UK transplant during the early second decade of the twentieth century, has returned here for a kind of exorcism. “Mary’s Wedding” is the first Kansas City directorial outing for newly minted Kansas City Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Stuart Carden. This small play, only 90 minutes long with a cast of two by Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte, marks the reboot of live theater for KC Rep. Because of Covid restrictions, it is being performed outdoors on the tiered lawn fronting the sunken entrance to the National World War I Museum.

BWW Feature: NEW THEATRE REOPENS at New Theatre Restaurant
August 24, 2021

New safety limitations and significant high tech investment at New Theatre Restaurant has allowed dinner theater to return to Overland Park and the Kansas City area. New Theatre Restaurant, one of America’s premiere dinner theater/restaurants, reopened with “The King In Concert,” starring Elvis Presley impersonator Victor Trevino Jr and with Dominique Scott in a reprise of his characterization of Jerry Lee Lewis from last season’s “Million Dollar Quartet.”

BWW Review: HAIR: THEN AND NOW at Musical Theater Heritage
August 9, 2021

Live, Indoor, Actor’s Equity sanctioned, precaution observed, musical theater has returned to Crown Center. Now running through August 22 is Musical Theater Heritage’s concert production of “Hair: Then and Now.”

ANNIE Brings the Sun Out at White Theatre
July 15, 2021

Now running on the stage of the White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center’s Overland Park campus is a very credible production of 1977’s “Annie.” It is the first new, full, live, Broadway Style indoor production to tread the boards of this very nice auditorium in sixteen months.

BWW Review: DEAD RINGER at Musical Theater Heritage
July 10, 2021

Live Theater has returned to Musical Theater Heritage with the World Premiere production of “Dead Ringer.” Starring in this one man tour de force is Canadian performer and Kansas City favorite Zachary Stevenson.

June 15, 2021

Now open at Kansas City’s Union Station is a huge, new, historical exhibition. The exhibition is fronted by one of the freight cars that once transported hundreds of thousands of souls to the Auschwitz death camp in southeastern Poland between 1940 and 1945.

BWW Review: DIXIE'S HAPPY HOUR at Starlight Theatre
January 28, 2021

Dixie Longate is back, at least virtually, at Starlight Theatre.  It’s a far reaching, no holds barred, brave ninety minute performance. 

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