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he Kansas City performing arts scene is a thriving, vibrant cosmos of stars – large and small. There are big names in our midst such as the Symphony, the Lyric, KC Rep, the Ballet, The Kauffman Center and many more. But there are also lesser-known gems such as Quality Hill Playhouse, located in the heart of downtown at 10th and Broadway, behind a marquis proclaiming its name and current show information. Shining brightly now in its 21st season, QHP (as it is affectionately known) and its commander-in-chief, J. Kent Barnhart are a force to be reckoned with in the musical landscape of Kansas City. In 1995, Kent and his newly created nonprofit, Quality Hill Productions, signed a lease on the Playhouse, which had previously been in the hands of Mark Edelman and Theatre League. With Kent’s musical theater history dating back to 1989 and his production of Music At The Simpson House (co-produced by Deborah Ausemus), and his off-Broadway work, it was time to produce a full-scale season of cabaret revue-style music for the masses. Since then, QHP has been dedicated to bringing musical theater, as well as fully staged plays, to this intimate 153-seat theater every year. As Kent will happily relay through conversation and/or song, his mission and the mission of the Playhouse is to keep the American Songbook alive, and expose patrons of all ages to the magic of American composers and lyricists. In his view, the American Songbook is a group of standards, or a body of work, collected and performed since the beginning of the 20th century. They are songs that have been performed and recorded many times, and have now become a part of popular culture and an enduring musical legacy. According to Barnhart, “Keeping this music alive is about telling wonderful stories through music, and the live experience is living art.” And, indeed, the experience at QHP is akin to sitting in someone’s living room with talented singers and musicians on tap for one’s own enjoyment. A typical season at QHP will find a theme of some sort… songs of Broadway; Century CONTINUED >

March 2016 | Leawood Lifestyle

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Leawood March 2016  

March 2016 Issue of Leawood Lifestyle

Leawood March 2016  

March 2016 Issue of Leawood Lifestyle