By David Markham
You’re invited to attend a free laid-back party in Shawnee Mission Park when the third-annual Evening in the Park event takes place on the first Sunday in August.
“We are excited to host this free community appreciation event as a thank you to our community for all the ways they support JCRPD year round,” said Superintendent of Culture Susan Mong. “We are also grateful that ‘Evening in the Park’ was featured recently as a nominee in a top 5 list in Johnson County for ‘favorite public events.’ There is something for everyone to enjoy at this event. We look forward to welcoming the community back to Shawnee Mission Park to enjoy this beautiful space with some great music and a movie, all for free!“
Evening in the Park will include a 1.5-hour concert by Kansas City-based Grand Marquis. After the concert, the movie “The Princess and the Frog,” will be shown. Gates to the theater bowl open at 5:30 p.m., and the event will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 7 at the Theatre in the Park, located inside Shawnee Mission Park with a separate entrance at 7710 Renner Road, Shawnee. Concessions in the theater bowl will be open, and guests are also welcome to bring their own picnics to enjoy.
Please note that the Renner Road Bridge on Interstate 435 is being rebuilt and is not available for use at this time. This means patrons will need to access the theater by getting off at I-435’s 87th St. exit, and proceeding west to Renner Road and north to the theater. The other option for is to get off at Midland Drive exit, proceed east to Lackman Road, south to 79thSt., and west to Renner.
“We are proud to highlight local talent based right here in Kansas City, for the past 23 years,” Mong said. “Grand Marquis is a big brass powerhouse, weaving old stories in with new tales for the 21st century. With American roots styles from Kansas City blues to Memphis soul blend with the exuberance of a New Orleans second line party, Grand Marquis’ well-crafted original music features a mighty chorus of horns, a groove-heavy rhythm section, and big, soulful vocals. Their live performances are equal parts celebration of their collective musical heritage and hope for a brighter future together.”
Grand Marquis has played more than 2,200 shows across the US and released eight full-length recordings. The band also released vinyl recordings from Sun Studios in Memphis ("The Sun Session"), and a tribute to KC soul singer Tony Ashley ("Can't Put You Down"). Other highlights include being a finalist at The Blues Foundation International Blues Challenge in both performance and self-produced recording categories, as well as being the recipient of multiple Kansas City publications' ‘best of’ awards in both blues and jazz categories over several years. More information about the band can be found at grandmarquis.net.
Mong explained that music provides a connection between the musical entertainment and this year’s choice of films.
“The tie between Grand Marquis and the movie, “The Princess and the Frog,” is the style of music,” she said. “The movie features original songs in the genres of jazz and blues.”
The traditionally animated 2009 Disney film, "The Princess and the Frog," is set in New Orleans during the 1920s. In the story, a prince is transformed into a frog and accidentally curses a beautiful princess with an amphibian form as well when he kisses her in an attempt to break the spell. The two then go a wild journey through the bayous of Louisiana in hopes of finding a voodoo priestess who may be able to restore their true forms. The film is Rated G and has a runtime of 1 hour and 37 minutes.
Something new to this year’s event is the featured temporary public art which will only be on display for just a few more weeks.
“’Symbiosis,’ by Matt Dehaemers of Shawnee, is stunning both in the daylight and evening hours, and this event will allow the public to experience this unique piece of art once more before it is gone,“ Mong said.
Dehaemers’ artwork involves a tree slated for removal from a JCPRD park which was repurposed into this art piece. The term symbiosis is described as the interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both. Fascinated by this relationship and inspired by the prairie, Dehaemers’ goal for “Symbiosis” is to emphasize “how important humankind’s role is in its symbiotic relationship with the complex, magical, microworld beneath one’s feet.” This installation is located near the south entrance to the theater bowl. Find out more about Dehaemers’ work.
“We are grateful for the ongoing support of our community and partners,” Mong said. “JCPRD is proud to welcome over 10 million visitors annually through our 17 parks and 19 facilities across the county and we are committed to providing a thriving park and recreation system. We welcome guests to bring their chairs, blankets, picnics, a ball/frisbee, and enjoy the evening with family and friends. Food, wine, and beer will be available for purchase throughout the event from the Theatre in the Park concessions stand.“
For all the details on this year’s event, visit JCPRD.com/EveninginthePark.