BWW Special Coverage: A TOAST TO U: OWNING OUR FUTURE Honors Supporters and Cynthia Levin at the Unicorn Theatre

A Toast to U: Owning Our Future was presented at the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, Mo. on Sunday August 17. The event was held to honor patrons who donated money to the theater, enabling them to buy the building and to officially rename and unveil The Levin Stage.

At the beginning of the 40th Anniversary Season, the Unicorn Theatre set out to raise one million dollars in 12 months to purchase the building they had occupied for over two decades. Cynthia Levin, Producing Artistic Director, stated on Sunday that they were able to complete the task in 11 months thanks to the generous contributions of patrons. The Unicorn Theatre unveiled a large sign identifying everyone who contributed any amount to the Owning Our Future Campaign in the lobby of the theater.

The purchase of the building will lead to a decrease in operating costs and enable the company to have complete control over the building. The Unicorn had made numerous interior improvements, including the building of the Jerome Stage, but structural concerns the previous owner failed to address continually plagued the production company.

On Sunday, the Unicorn Theatre Board of Directors and staff honored Cynthia Levin by renaming the Main Stage the Levin Stage. The board recognized Levin, who began her career at the Unicorn in 1979, for her vision, determination, passion, and leadership as she helped to mold the Unicorn Theatre in to one of the top performing arts venues in Kansas City.

The members of the board in a letter to Levin said, "we want to bestow this well-deserved honor upon you to show our gratitude for your dedication to the Unicorn Theatre and for your contribution to live theater in Kansas City. We honestly feel that without YOU (your talent, leadership, ambition, enthusiasm, tenacity, personal sacrifice, connections and vision), the Unicorn would not be here."

Playwright William Missouri Downs was on hand to greet and talk to guests at the theater. When introduced by Levin he quickly informed her and the gathering that he was donating one-half his royalties from Women Playing Hamlet to the Unicorn Theatre. He stated his generous contribution was out of respect and admiration for Levin and the work she has done with the theater.

Women Playing Hamlet runs at the Unicorn from March 4 through March 29, 2015. Downs said he has already been in Kansas City twice, once in May and this weekend for readings of the play. The play is a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere and features Katie Karel, Kathleen Warfel, Cathy Barnett, and Meredith Wolfe.

Hands On A Hardbody opens the 41st season for the Unicorn Theatre running from Sept. 3 through September 28. Missy Koonce directs the highly talented casts that includes Marc Liby, Sara Kennedy, Tim Scott, Daniel Beeman, Shea Coffman, Sam Salary, Jessalyn Kincaid, Julie Shaw, Matthew James McAndrews, Trista Smith, Francisco Javier Villegas, Victoria Barbee, Cathy Barnett, Vincent Onofrio Monachino, and Martin Buchanan.

Purchase tickets for Hands On A Hardbody and all of the Unicorn productions by calling 816-531-7529 extension 10 or by visiting the Unicorn Theatre website. Photograph of Cynthia Levin by Steve Wilson.

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