December 10th, 2023

come from away spotlightA scene from the Apple TV pro shot production of “Come From Away.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Most people throughout the world have at least some memory or story of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and where they were. Monday commemorates the 22nd anniversary of the event and earlier this week, I wanted to find something to review that related to that. 

Being a musical fan, I ultimately decided on the pro shot of the show “Come From Away,” which tells the true story of 7,000 people from many different countries and walks of life who were stranded in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland after all flights into the US were grounded the week of Sept. 11, 2001. As the people of Newfoundland graciously welcome the “come from aways” into their community in the aftermath, the passengers and locals alike process what’s happened while finding love, laughter, and new hope in the unlikely and lasting bonds they forge. I’d heard of the show before, and I’d only listened to the cast recording once or twice before hearing of the pro shot being available, which came to Apple TV in 2021. With that in mind, I actually went into the show somewhat blind, which ultimately ended up being a benefit. 

Overall, the show is absolutely beautiful and I was taken in right from the opening number, “Welcome to the Rock,” which shows how everyone thought 9/11 was going to be another average day, even all the way in Canada. It’s very energetic and captures the feeling of going about a normal day before the chaos to come, and that shift is very subtly felt as the song goes on. I enjoyed the rest of the music throughout the show and found it all absolutely stunning, particularly a scene later on in the show when the characters make their way to houses of worship around the town which features a few different religious songs. The scene is an absolutely stunning show of how religions CAN (and should, in my mind) coexist in the world and I have to admit I shed a few tears. The show’s epilogue and final scenes are also very emotional and stunning and capped everything off perfectly. 

exit west spotlightColorado-based group Exit West will be returning for this year’s High Plains Music Fest in Hugoton. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Audiences will see a familiar face at this year’s High Plains Music Fest with Exit West. This year’s High Plains Music Fest fun is scheduled from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Sept. 9 at Dirtona Raceway in Hugoton. 

As band member Alan Mullineaux tells it, the group is excited to be making its way back to Southwest Kansas. 

“We're really looking forward to it. It's been five years since we've been through there, and we're really excited. There's actually a really fun backstory to the last time we were there – back in 2018, my oldest son (who's also my bass player) and his wife were expecting their first child, and right after we finished our set, he got a call from her saying she was going into labor, but we were still way out there in Hugoton,” Mullineaux said. “So we were scrambling to get our gear together and grab everything of ours so we could get on the road ASAP and get back, and we were hauling it back, and we ultimately made it in time. That's the story of my grandson's birthday, and we're going to have him with us at the show and introduce him to the audience at some point during the show. This will be our first time back in Hugoton since we were there last. We stay pretty much in Colorado, but we do perform in North Texas and Eastern Kansas and some other places out of state, so we do stay pretty busy overall, and that helps keep us doing what we do. Jan [Leonard] contacted me a few months ago when he was working to finalize the lineup and wanted to know if we had an available spot that would let us be in Hugoton. We did some rearranging and ultimately made it so we would be able to be part of this year's High Plains Music Fest, and we're really excited.”

six spotlight pageHenry VII’s ex-wives join together onstage in a past production of the Tony-winning musical “SIX.” The show will be making its way to Wichita’s Century II in September. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


History will soon again be making its way to Wichita’s Century II. 

The Tony Award-winning show 'SIX' will be making its way to Wichita's Century II the week of Sept. 19. Performances are Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23 at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 24 at 1 and 6:30 p.m. The show follows the SIX wives of Henry VIII, each of whom take the microphone to turn heartbreak into a celebration of empowerment.

As two of the show’s Queens tell it, they are excited to be making their way to Wichita for the first time. 

“I'm always really excited to explore the cities we visit and get into the food, I call the other Queens my 'Taste Buds,' so we're excited to chow down on Wichita's best,” Terica Marie (who portrays Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anna of Cleves) said. “We're also excited to get to know the audiences themselves and be able to present this beautiful show to a new city, which is always the best part.”

“I would totally have to agree with that, I also like tasting my way through the cities we go through. I've never been to Wichita, so I'm excited to be in a new city and see what all there is!” Gerianne Perez (who portrays Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon) added with a laugh.