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July 12, 2012    Publication: The Kansas City Star

The Unicorn Theatre will produce the world premiere of a new play with music by Ron Simonian, depicting a televangelist. “The Soul Collector” will be performed Dec. 6-23 and is not part of the Unicorn’s regular 2012-2013 season. Simonian, also an actor, will play the central character, a television preacher trying to prepare viewers for the rapture. Simonian, who is based in Kansas City, is an unpredictable playwright whose work has been staged at the Unicorn before. Unicorn viewers have seen Simonian’s “Next of Kin,” “Slight Defect: Desert Holiday” and “Thanatos,” among other titles. Simonian also has produced his work independently at other venues. His subject matter has included contract killers, drug dealers, pimps, hookers, disaster relief workers, traveling commode salesmen, dysfunctional families and a host of delusional characters. Simonian said “The Soul Collector” reflects to some degree his own experience as a youngster attending the Church of the Nazarene and performing in a Christian youth band. “I was gonna be a preacher,” Simonian said. “That’s what I wanted to do. I don’t think it would have worked out very well. But I did study all of this. … I got kicked out of the Nazarene youth band because I apparently couldn’t stay still enough when I was playing the bass.” Simonian watched clips of a wide range of televangelists as he wrote the piece, which he said would probably run about 100 minutes without an intermission. He has written about 12 songs, although the set list is far from final. “The Soul Collector” was written as a one-man show, but Simonian said the televangelist’s wife is now a character. That role hasn’t been cast. Cynthia Levin, the Unicorn’s artistic director, will stage the show. “It’s a different kind of musical,” he said. “It’s a TV evangelist rock musical. It’s not an antireligion play. It attacks those who use religion as extortion, you might say. It’s too negative to be done in a church and too conservative to be done in a theater. ”Which is another way of saying that Simonian intends to play the role straight, no matter how outrageous the character’s sermons may seem to some viewers. “Basically we’re gonna touch on the issues of gay marriage, abortion, different fundamental ideas of what getting to heaven truly requires,” he said. “There’s nothing that’s totally made up. These are indeed things that are preached. “But these are not things you would expect to hear spoken in an American theater. I present this as true realism. I’m saying things that almost make me sick to my stomach but I have to commit to them. ”Simonian said that immediately after the Unicorn engagement, the show moves to Chicago for a run at the Prop Thtr. The Prop and the Unicorn are members of the National New Play Network. Follies at the Folly The New Century Follies Vaudeville Revue returns to the stage of the Folly Theater on First Friday as a benefit for the historic playhouse.  Among the entertainers on the bill are actor Ron Megee; female impersonator Daisy Buckët; actress/singer Katie Gilchrist; pantomime artist Damian Blake; burlesque performers Annie Cherry and Sweet Louise; aerial acrobats Voler; actress and clown Heidi Van; tango artists Louis Bar and Lauren LaPointe; and the People’s Liberation Big Band led by Brad Cox. Two performers from St. Louis, physical comic/ performance artists Xander Lovecraft and burlesque queen Foxy LeFeelion, are also on the bill. The doors open at 7:30 p.m. The show starts at 9. Tickets are $20 for general admission or $250 for a theater box with seating for four patrons and special perks. A cash bar will be available. Tickets may be purchased at . The Folly is at 12th and Central streets. Call 816-474-4444.Negro Leagues on stage Theatre for Young America opens “Fair Ball: Negro Leagues in America” on Saturday at the H&R Block City Stage in the lower level of Union Station. The play with music depicts Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Jackie Robinson and Josh Gibson, among other African American baseball legends. The cast includes Danny Cox, Lonnie McFadden and Evan Lovelace. The show runs through July 27. Call 816-460-2083 or 816-460-2020, or visit or .Bingo fever Performances begin Friday for “Bingo the Musical” at the American Heartland Theatre. The show has not been performed here before, but if the collective track record of the artists involved counts for anything, it should be quite the lively affair. Director Steven Eubank, founder of Egads Theatre, is known for his eccentric sense of humor, and the cast includes Jeanne Averill, Debra Bluford, Stash Case, Jennifer Mays, Emily Shackelford and Rick Williamson. Worth noting: The costume designer is Cheryl Weaver, who happens to be a fine actress in her own right. The show runs through Aug. 19. Call 816-842-9999 or go to . Kansas City Star, The (MO) Date: July 4, 2012 Copyright (c) 2012 The Kansas City Star

Unicorn to stage world premiere of ‘a different kind’ of musical - Unpredictable playwright to portr: News
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