KCKCC theater students to work at Black Hills Playhouse

Kenan Meadows, left, and Christopher Miller, right, are working as members of the Black Hills Playhouse this summer. (KCKCC photo)
Kenan Meadows, left, and Christopher Miller, right, are working as members of the Black Hills Playhouse this summer. (KCKCC photo)

by Kelly Rogge
Kansas City Kansas Community College Theatre Department students Kenan Meadows and Christopher Miller will be spending their summer working as members of the Black Hills Playhouse, a professional summer theatre company.

The Playhouse, located inside of Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota, was started in 1946 and is affiliated with the University of South Dakota. The mission of the BHP is to “enhance and inspire lives through professional theatre and learning experiences based in the Black Hills.”

Meadows and Miller will be employed as both actors and technicians for the entire Playhouse season from late May to late August. The Playhouse season includes “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “She Loves Me,” “Shrek: the Musical” and “Moonlight and Magnolias.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Kenan and Chris,” said KCKCC Theatre Department coordinator Charles Leader. “The Playhouse auditions people all over the United States, but they only pick 20 to use in their season. It is also a nice credit to the training they receive here at the college. Jason Reuter, the technical director and Dan Workman, the artistic director, were both impressed with the caliber of our students.”

The summer begins for both Meadows and Miller at the end of the spring 2015 semester as they will begin working on the first show upon their arrival in South Dakota. When they are not on stage rehearsing, they will be in the scene shop helping build the set. After the first show opens, work begins on the second. When the first play closes, the second one opens and so on until the final show opens in mid-August.

Leader will join Meadows and Miller in July when he begins rehearsals as the director for “Moonlight and Magnolias.”

“It will be fun to be working with them in such a wonderful environment,” he said. “I think they are going to really enjoy themselves. They will be working with theatre professionals and students from around the country.”

Kelly Rogge is the public information supervisor at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

Crews will temporarily close U.S. 69 bridge to remove concrete center pier of Fairfax bridge

Crews will continue the removal of the Fairfax Bridge with a controlled blast of the center bridge pier Friday, March 20, at approximately 1 p.m., according to highway officials.

In coordination of the controlled blast, the northbound and southbound U.S. Highway 69 Bridge will be closed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to a news release from the Kansas Department of Transportation. The blast will happen below the water line of the Missouri River. No public viewing will be available.

This is all part of replacing the current U.S. 69 Highway Bridge over the Missouri River, the KDOT spokesman said. A new structure will be constructed in its place and will include multiple lanes and bike/pedestrian access. It will be open to traffic in December 2016.

This project is shared by the Kansas Department of Transportation and MoDOT. Follow MoDOT on twitter at twitter.com/MoDOT_KC, #us69moriverbridge for more information.

Send your comments to news@wyandottepublishing.com.

Review: Play drew its inspiration from research at KCK Library

Nedra Dixon, right, plays Pearl Johnson and Vanessa Severo, left, plays Susanna Mullally in “Black Pearl Sings,” being performed at the Just Off Broadway Theater in Kansas City, Mo. (Photo by Jeff Rumans)
Nedra Dixon, right, plays Pearl Johnson and Vanessa Severo, left, plays Susanna Mullally in “Black Pearl Sings,” being performed at the Just Off Broadway Theater in Kansas City, Mo. (Photo by Jeff Rumans)

by William Crum

“Black Pearl Sings,” a play now being performed at the Just Off Broadway Theater in Kansas City, Mo., drew some of its inspiration from the author’s research at the Main Kansas City, Kan., Public Library.

A heartwarming and emotional experience, the play was written by Frank Higgins, an adjunct playwright professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Higgins got some of his influence from a VHS tape that he checked out in 2005 at the Main Kansas City, Kan., Public Library.

In late 2005 the first draft of the play was written, and in the spring of 2006 was the first reading of the play.

“I came across the video called, ‘Language You Cry In,’” Higgins said. “This was in early 2005. I have always wanted to write a play about this particular subject, but when I came across this video it was fate that truly made it happen. The first reading was in the spring of 2006. It wasn’t until 2007 the play first debuted in Houston, Texas.”

The play is about a prisoner named Pearl Johnson, played by Nedra Dixon, who is rescued by a young librarian, Susanna Mullally, played by Vanessa Severo.

In the play, two women of different cultures work together in a unique experience. The librarian is researching songs from the days of slavery, while Pearl Johnson is an inmate who sings and seeks her freedom.

A third actor, Jeannie Blau, who played a prison guard, also did a fantastic job.

If you want to see a play that is heartwarming and well done this in the play that everyone should definitely see. The acting, the set design and production is truly phenomenal. Personally after seeing the play, I think that people can learn about what it is to be a slave and how music affects us all, music that is handed down from our forefathers.

The play will inspire viewers to think about the world around them and how things are affected by different cultures. Theater-goers will feel the heartache that Pearl felt, and may even laugh and cry at the same time.

The play was produced by Spinning Tree Theatre Co., and it will end its run on March 22. Remaining performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 14; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 15; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19; 8 p.m. Friday, March 20; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 21; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 22.

I highly recommend this phenomenal, emotional and educational experience.