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An inside look at the Kauffman Center for Perfoming Arts

Let’s see where the magic happens.

Kauffman Aerial view

Isn’t it gorgeous? Trust us, the views are just as impressive inside.

Photo by @kansascityinphotos

Table of Contents

The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts seeks to bring the community together and celebrate the city’s rich arts culture, ever since its opening in 2011. While you may have been in the audience for a symphony or ballet performance, we are going to show you a whole new perspective of the Kauffman Center — beyond the stage. For all of our visual learners, you’re welcome.

A look from outside

The Kauffman Center - Outside in front

Isn’t she lovely.

Photo by KCtoday

The outside of the Kauffman Center is just the first glimpse at the grand and sophisticated design you experience insides. The two half shells of vertical arches that make up the building’s silhouette each house a performance venue with a shared backstage area (we’ll get to that).

The 27 steel cables on the south side of the building are set in anchors that weigh ~1.5 tons. The anchors are an extension of the foundation beneath the building. When the steel cables were pulled taut during the construction process, the entire steel structure shifted two to six inches to the south — sounds a little scary, but this tension is what provides stability to the structure and keeps the glass lobby securely in place.

Brandmeyer Great Hall

Kauffman Center Atrium KCtoday

Shine bright like the Kauffman Center.

Photo by KCtoday

The Brandmeyer Great Hall links Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall — and is one of our favorite views of the Crossroads. The hall provides access to both venues and serves refreshments before performances and during intermission.

Skyline from the Kauffman

This view + a show sounds like an ideal evening.

Photo by KCtoday

Helzberg Hall

Kauffman KCTODAY

Talk about a view.

Photo by KCtoday

Say hello to Helzberg Hall — a 1,600-seat, oval-shaped concert hall, home to the Kansas City Symphony. Because the stage extends into approximately one-third of the space, even the farthest seat in the house is only about 100 ft away.

Up top at Kauffman Center KCtoday

Organist requirement number one: don’t be afraid of heights.

Photo by KCtoday

Ever wonder what the view from the organ looks like? We hope you aren’t afraid of heights.

Organ at the Kauffman

Do we have any organ-playing readers?

Photo by KCtoday

The Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875

Organ Kauffman KCTODAY

Magnificent is the perfect word.

Photo by KCtoday

“The organ is magnificent within itself,” said Sarah Beatty, Director of Theater Operations.

Organ backstage Kauffman

Intricate is the organ’s middle name.

Photo by KCtoday

Accessed via an elevator backstage, fewer than 10% of the 5,548 pipes are visible to those in the hall. The largest pipe is 32 feet tall and weighs approximately 960 pounds — as seen above, that’s pretty tall.

Let’s go backstage

Backstage at the Helzberg

The colors on the wall indicate which side you are on: Helzberg or Muriel.

Photo by KCtoday

Backstage, the artists for both performance venues have dressing rooms, warm-up spaces, kitchens, and even a laundry room to utilize during their time at the Kauffman Center. There are also three green rooms in the facility with TV monitors that display a live stream of the stage.

Muriel Kauffman Theatre

Muriel Kauffman Theater KCTODAY

Fast forward to today, this theater is ready for performances of “The Nutcracker.”

Photo by KCtoday

The curtain was drawn while we were there, but the stage felt grand even without the view of the audience. The Muriel Kauffman Theatre seats 1,800 and was inspired by European opera houses, with multiple balconies along the sides of the theater. The theater is home to the Kansas City Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, as well as touring Broadway shows.

Behind the scenes at Muriel Kauffman Theatre

Big Door at KAUFFMAN KCTODAY

Have you ever seen a door this big?

Photo by KCtoday

Due to the nature of the performances, the Muriel Kauffman Theatre can take shape to many different needs of shows — hence this massive “elephant” door that allows set pieces to be transported directly from Broadway Boulevard.

Fly system Kauffman

This theatrical rigging system allows a stage crew to quickly and safely move stage components.

Photo by KCtoday

The 5,000-sqft stage also includes an orchestra pit (which can house up to 90 musicians) and has a 74-ft tall fly system seen above.

Don’t look down

The fly system KCtoday

Just a regular day in the office — 40 ft above the Muriel Kauffman Theatre stage.

Photo by KCtoday

Welcome to the grid of the fly system — which is used to lift (or fly) components such as scenery and lighting from the stage. Thankfully, we were feeling like dare devils this day and checked out the epic above-stage view. Usually one to two crew members, known as riggers, will be up here at a time operating the components of the fly system. This is one of the safest rigging spaces in KC due to the width of the slats that run across the grid (basically, no one can fall through). Talk about where the magic happens.

Top down view Muerial KCTODAY

Wait — weren’t we just down there?

Photo by KCtoday

Below the scenes

Below the Muriel Stage KCTODAY

Below the stage is home to set pieces and extra dance floor materials.

Photo by KCtoday

Literally. Remember that 5,000-sqft stage we were talking about? Well, you’re underneath it now. Fun fact: The stage is made up of “tiles” that can be removed to create illusions for the audience during a performance. Think: the Genie from “Aladdin” appearing from his lamp (or in this case, from below the stage).

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