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Professional Theater in the Midwest

Wichita Grand Opera

Wichita, Kansas

Just wrapping up its 2013-2014 season with Rossini’s “Barber of Seville,” Wichita Grand Opera (WGO) is helmed by Parvan Bakardiev, who sang with the Vienna Opera before making his way to the United States and starting his own company in Kansas, which he chose because it was one of two states that didn’t have its own opera company.

For its inaugural season in 2002, Bakardiev brought in Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo, and the theater has continued to attract top talent and world-renowned operas to Kansas, from Puccini’s “Tosca” to Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Bizet’s “Carmen.” In recent years, Bakardiev has also incorporated ballets, such as this season’s “Sleeping Beauty” and “Don Quixote,” into the theater’s offerings.

The theater offers two main types of group programs, one geared more toward students and the other for adult groups; they include dinner at the Wichita Country Club and orchestra seating. Backstage tours that explore how the ornate costumes, makeup and sets that support the show come to life as well as “meet the stars” receptions with the cast can be organized for either type of group.

Though the 2014-2015 program has yet to be announced and WGO has embarked on an ambitious growth campaign in recent years, Bakardiev is planning to bring a number of groundbreaking changes to the program in the coming year.


Indiana Repertory Theatre


Live theater requires a specific architectural configuration, so it’s rare to see theaters in reconfigured spaces; but the Indiana Repertory Theatre presents a space as distinct as its shows: a former 3,000-seat film theater split into two stages.

“Even if you aren’t able to take in a show, you should schedule a tour of the building,” said Catherine Cardwell, the theater’s marketing associate for group sales. “It’s one of the older buildings in the city, and you can take a custom tour of the space and, depending on what’s going on, see the set being built or how things are made in the costume shop. We’re located on the new cultural trail in Indianapolis, right next to other museums in the midst of downtown.”

Opening for group presale at the end of August, the 2014-2015 season will kick off with a tribute to Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary, “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” before moving on to other beloved classics — “A Christmas Carol,” “The Hounds of Baskerville,” “On Golden Pond” and several newer productions.

Room rentals for either private dining catered by one of the theater’s approved caterers or preshow talks are free with ticket purchase, according to Cardwell.