Al Portner is a retired career journalist and media executive. He has written for publication over more than 40 years. He has published daily newspapers in venues as far east as Washington DC, as far west as Honolulu HI, and a number of communities in between. His new book on the literary partnership of Ulysses Grant and Mark Twain will be available in 2018.
a?oeSensatia,a?? the Cirque Cabaret, is an incredible journey through multiple entertainment genres . The adult, ninety-minute presentation is immersive, erotic, surprising, and unlike any other experiential performance you are likely to enjoy.BWW Review: RAGTIME at Musical Theater Heritage October 13, 2019
a?oeRagtimea?? at Musical Theatre Heritage is more than just a great show. It has harnessed extraordinary power to move its audience and remind us of the idea that is America.The Last Romance at New Theatre Restaurant October 12, 2019
An evening at the theater does not get much better than New Theatre's “The Last Romance.” Joe DiPietro's “The Last Romance” is a rare example of a charming, tiny, four-person comedy-drama that rises to be an extraordinary production through the talent force of its actors and the care of its director.BWW Review: SWEET CHARITY at Theatre In The Park (Indoors) October 12, 2019
Opening this past Friday was the Theatre In The Park, indoor, community theater production of 1966's 'Sweet Charity' The show is best known for several Cy Coleman/Dorothy Field songs that have long survived the play's original run and several revivals. The most well-known tunes are 'Big Spender,' 'If My Friends Could See Me Now,' and 'There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This.'BWW Review: RISE UP at The Coterie Theatre September 22, 2019
Opening on Friday night at The Coterie Theatre inside Crown Center is a?oeRise Up,a?? a four person, seventy five minute play written by British playwright Lisa Evans. The subject is the 1961 a?oeFreedom Ridersa?? project designed by James Farmer's CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). The premise is a group of four contemporary secondary students recount a conflict in the struggle for racial equality in the U.S. for a school age audience.BWW Review: GROSS INDECENCY - THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre September 20, 2019
Kansas City Repertory Theatre opens its 2019-2020 season with an ambitious production of a difficult, intense, family drama by Tennessee Williams, one of the twentieth century's most renowned talents. a?oeCata?? won a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1955 and is said to have been Williams' favorite.BWW Review: DNR at Living Room Theatre September 9, 2019
Former Navy corpsman Bud McNamara (Gary Neal Johnson) lies sleeping in the hospital bed. Amanda Kalowsky (Jen Mays), a hospital volunteer, has agreed to comfort patients who are alone and terminal.
This is the basic setup to Victor Wishna's new play, a?oeDNA,a?? now enjoying its world premiere at The Living Room Theatre. a?oeDNAa?? is a dark comedy told in four scenes with a twist in the final stanza.BWW Review: CIRQUE DREAMS - JUNGLE FANTASY at Starlight Theatre September 7, 2019
Playing this weekend only at Starlight Theatre is the traveling version of the very successful a?oeCirque Dreams a?' Jungle Fantasy.a?? a?oeCirque Dreamsa?? is a family friendly, modern, circus production and was greeted with thunderous applause and warm approval from an almost full amphitheater. There can be nothing but praise for the wide menu of gymnasts, aerialists, jugglers, contortionists, and balance specialists.BWW Review: WIZARD OF OZ at Theatre In The Park August 5, 2019
This very week, eighty years ago, preview showings of the film a?oeThe Wizard of Oza?? opened on silver screens in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Audiences were wowed. The new a?oeTheatre In The Parka?? production of Dorothy and Toto's big adventure is every bit as spectacular and fun as the 1939 filmed version.BWW Review: A BRONX TALE at Starlight Theatre July 31, 2019
'A Bronx Tale,' playing this week at Starlight Theatre, is one of those hidden gems of a show that enjoyed a fairly limited Broadway run. And because the Broadway run ended last fall after 700 performances (for now), a good portion of the New York cast has signed up for the touring company and are performing for Kansas City audiences. These folks obviously love this show. It shows in the performance.BWW Review: KISS ME KATE at Leawood Stage Company July 15, 2019
Leawood Stage Company, the mainly city supported suburban, community theater program under the Leawood (KS) Park and Recreation District operates in several city controlled locations including the outdoor Ironwoods Amphitheatre. The current production, Cole Porter's "Kiss Me Kate," opened this past weekend and will be performed through July 20 at 8:00 p.m. nightly. Leawood City has provided everything needed to put on a great show. Tickets are free.BWW Review: MUSIC MAN at Theatre In The Park July 11, 2019
Meredith Willson's 'Music Man' at 'Theatre In The Park' could not be a more iconic community theater rendition of early twentieth century Iowa and Americana unless the entire forty-six member cast entered by running through a framed newsprint mock-up of Grant Wood's 'American Gothic.' As a matter of fact, the couple from Grant Wood's painting (complete with pitchfork) show up in the opening scene. BWW Review: CATS at Starlight Theatre July 10, 2019
A superb touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's classical-dance-musical opera 'Cats' from 1982 opened Tuesday evening at Starlight Theatre inside Swope Park for a week long run. 'Cats' unlike many touring shows makes maximum use of its huge venue and the stage possibilities made available through it.BWW Review: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at Starlight Theatre June 26, 2019
Jukebox musicals have become a too dominant form both on Broadway and for its touring cousins. The music is familiar and audiences flock to relive old favorites. "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" playing this week at Starlight Theatre is one of the best of this form. It is very entertaining and works very well on KC's huge, outdoor, crown venue.BWW Review: THE REVOLUTIONISTS at Unicorn Theatre June 10, 2019
The Queen of France, an assassin, and a freed slave woman run into each other at an artist's loft in 1790s Paris. 'The Revolutionists' is a comedy about the serious subject of female subjugation through the centuries.BWW Review: ANNIE at Theatre In The Park June 8, 2019
TTIP's Annie' is a solid, Tim Bair, community theatre production of a show that has inspired thousands of little girls to get up on a stage for the first time and belt 'The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.'BWW Review: ROCK OF AGES at Starlight Theatre June 1, 2019
Starlight Theatre's opening offering for the 2019 summer season 'Rock Of Ages' was the single most disagreeable theatrical experience in more than fifty years spent attending live theater. The performance of this rude, crude tribute to 1980s rock bands was probably OK, but it was impossible to hear. Seated directly behind us was a group of ten who competed with the performers with full voice sing-a-longs, continuous hoots-hollars, yelled commentary, hand clapping, and finger snapping. BWW Review: MORNINGS AT SEVEN at Kansas City Actors Theatre May 26, 2019
For audiences feeling the need for a pleasant, two-hour sojourn into a gentler time, Paul Osborn's 1939 comedy of manners 'Mornings at Seven' at Kansas City Actors Theatre inside Union Station will fill their collective nostalgia voids. Dennis Hennessy's KCAT production is blessed with nine excellent actors of appropriate age to bring this stylish 1939 play-script to life. BWW Previews: TONI STONE at Laura Pels Theatre May 22, 2019
Toni Stone was the first female to play professional baseball in a major American baseball league and she happened to be African American. Toni played for teams around the country including the fabled Negro League Baseball teams like the Kansas City Monarchs and the unlikely monikered Indianapolis Clowns. She is the subject of a new off-Broadway play by Lydia Diamond opening for previews beginning May 23 at Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre just off Times Square.