Editor’s note: The Lyric Opera of Kansas City is an advertiser with Startland News, though this report was produced independently by the nonprofit newsroom.
A touring production that sings the virtues and vices of tech icon Steve Jobs not only arrives to the Kansas City stage this month — it was literally built here.
“The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” explores the Apple co-founder’s journey from “hippie idealist” to world-changing entrepreneur in a show that runs March 11-13 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Presented by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the production tells the story of a complicated man “whose public revelations changed the world and whose personal demons created lasting consequences.”
“Every piece of Jobs’ life reveals more of the puzzle as we try to discern how a person whose devices have connected us in so many ways could struggle to make meaningful connections with the people closest to him,” a description of the show reads.
Click here for tickets to “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
A recording of its original stage run won a Grammy for best opera recording in 2019.
Community Conversations, a new series by Lyric Opera of Kansas City, answers the question: “Why does opera matter today in Kansas City?”
In collaboration with community partners and taking shape in a variety of formats, these experiences will explore the “here and now” implications of our productions and provide a path to further unlock the potential of opera.
Join the opera, Startland News and Orpheus KC for a networking happy hour at Spark Coworking Kansas City. Drinks and appetizers will be provided during a panel discussion exploring entrepreneurship as art, enjoy live music from “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs,” and network with fellow KC innovators.
Click here for tickets to the panel conversation.
This incarnation of the traveling production — initially delayed by COVID’s arrival in 2020 — debuted in February in Austin. The curtain opens in Kansas City next, with later shows planned for Atlanta, the Utah Theater in Logan, Utah, and Canada’s Calgary Opera.
But KC isn’t just a stop on the tour. The set was designed and built at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, led by technical director Brad Kanouse.
“It’s all in pieces,” Kanouse told Startland News, describing the solution needed to accommodate a show that could be repeatedly broken down and reassembled. “The walls are about 38 feet tall, but they all break down to 8-by-8 panels so they can fit in two semi trucks.”
Construction began Nov. 15 at the local group’s shop. Seven weeks later, the set was ready to ship to Austin for the first show — making its return a month later for set up in Kansas City.
But being built to travel was just one requirement, Kanouse said. The design needed to reflect creativity essential to telling Jobs’ complex story. Co-producers of the show in Atlanta and Austin played critical roles in bringing that goal to reality, he said.
“You’ll see a gray set that is made with all peg boards,” said Kanouse, describing the final product. “We usually don’t make sets out of pegboard. There are 28 TV’s mounted throughout with three different levels of the stage, the stage level, a platform landing, and the bridge.”
The set likely appears simplistic at the first glance, he said. Jacob Climer, set and costume designer, purposefully chose an all-white look to better replicate a real-life Apple store. The design also emphasizes themes of art and entrepreneurship, Kanouse said.
“During the show, the visuals show the artistic side,” he said. “Entrepreneurship is shown through scripting. It shows how Steve Jobs relates with his business.”
Supervising and coordinating the design and build process was a challenge, Kanouse acknowledged, noting the work of his intern, six carpenters, and three scenic painters, as well as input from the technical director at the Atlanta Opera.
Click here to learn more about the creative team behind “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.”
“Whenever I talk to people, they’re always like ‘I never realized how much goes into putting on a show,’” he said. “There are a lot of hands to make this happen backstage, in house, and with the administration.”
“It’s part of why I do what I do,” Kanouse continued. “I take away something from every show I do, and I’m happy with how it all turned out.”