Theater 

A Marvelous Party A full-on, piano-stomping revue featuring the blazing stars of 2 Pianos, 4 Hands and celebrating the songs and wit of Noel Coward, this premiere production from the Kansas City Repertory Theatre would have to make several thousand mistakes to fail to live up to its title. Digging deep into Coward's 400-song catalog, this party promises crisp dances, dry joke songs, sparkling innuendo and a clutch of wistful ballads such as "I'll Follow My Heart" and "Mad About the Boy." Expect craft, bite and a nostalgic ken for an age of sharp after-dinner talk that probably never really existed. Through March 23 at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, 4949 Cherry, 816-135-2700. (Alan Scherstuhl)

Nine Inspired by Fellini's 8 1/2, Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit's musical Nine details a great director's great crack-up, charting not only his failure to come up with a script worth shooting but also his attempts to free himself from from a host of earthly dilemmas. The stage teems with women who satellite about Guido Contini (Tim Cormack, who attacks his numbers with clarity and muscle). Some he romances; some he casts; most spill from one category into others. The result is a hard-eyed look at male narcissism, but with torch songs, showstoppers and some stabs at real feeling. Most of this tricky material is pulled off by the Barn Players: the ensemble singing is excellent, and Laura Jacobs and Melissa Anderson are inspired in a pair of spotlight numbers. Through February 28 at the Barn Players, 6219 Martway in Mission, 913-432-9100. (Alan Scherstuhl)

9 Parts of Desire A fractured portrait of fractured lives, Heather Raffo's monologue show confronts us with people who exist, for most Americans, one step beyond the forgotten: the women of Iraq. Over a quick 90 minutes, we meet a doctor and a painter, residents and exiles, secular urbanites and devoted believers wrapped in full hijab. Some support the war, some spit that Bush is a criminal, and the children make jewelry from bullets. Strong work from Cheryl Weaver, Jennifer Aguilar and Andi Meyer ensures that this is as much a play as it is news; director Cynthia Levin keeps the focus as much on the personal as it is on the political. It's packed with telling, horrifying detail; what's most affecting are the flashes of character that flourish even amid turmoil. Through March 2 at the Unicorn Theatre's Jerome Stage, 3828 Main, 816-531-7529. Reviewed in our Feb. 21 issue. (Alan Scherstuhl)

Sing Out, Sister! A Celebration of Women in Broadway and Pop Music Because the title comes so close to saying it all, maybe the folks at Quality Hill Playhouse should go the Fiona Apple route and just cram it with everything they've got, calling this show Another Tasteful, Sometimes Exciting Cabaret-style Revue, in a Soon-to-be-Expanded Theater That's Currently So Intimate You'll Hear the Gurgling Details of Every Cough and Sputter, This Time Featuring "God Bless the Child" and "Natural Woman" and Other Highlights of the X-Chromosomed Strain of the American Songbook, Hosted and Arranged by That Plucky J. Kent Barnhart and Sung With Distinction by Alison Walla, Julie Taylor and the Fantastic LeShea Wright. Through March 30 at Quality Hill Playhouse, 912 Baltimore, 816-421-1700. (Alan Scherstuhl)

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