Wichita abounds with activities and attractions this year, from theater premieres to life-size animatronic dinosaurs. Here’s a sampling of the performances and openings:
• Exploration Place: Fourteen life-size animatronic dinosaurs are coming to Wichita in “Dinosaurs Unearthed” from May 25 to Sept. 2. Two full-scale skeletons and 22 fossils will also be on view in a replica of a prehistoric setting. Museum-goers will be able to stand near a 23-foot roaring Tyrannosaurus rex or a feathered velociraptor while going on their own fossil dig. The exhibit is included in general admission and is free to members.• Kansas Cosmosphere, Hutchinson: The Cosmosphere is adding several family friendly activities and installing a seven-passenger simulator in the lobby. It also will broadcast the season premiere of the television show “The Big Bang Theory” in the Carey Digital Dome Theater.
• Kansas Aviation Museum: The museum will open the Boeing Science, Math and History Learning Center on March 16. The center will feature flight simulators, a play area, hands-on activities and educational computer games.• Chamber Music at the Barn: The first concert of the 2013 season will be chamber music June 19-21 featuring works by Gioachino Rossini, Bernhard Crusell and Peter Schickele. Schickele’s work is based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Chamber Music at the Barn will present both Schickele’s and Camille Saint Saens’ works at Wichita public libraries in June.
• Music Theatre of Wichita: The U.S. premiere of “Betty Blue Eyes,” a comedy featuring an uprising over a pig in a meat-rationed 1947 English village, will be July 24-28 at Century II. Other shows: “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” the Tony Award-winning musical based on “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” June 12-16; “Les Miserables,” based on Victor Hugo’s classic epic, June 26-30; “The King and I,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s hit musical, July 10-14; “Mary Poppins,” the regional premiere of the Disney classic, Aug. 9-11 and 14-18.
• Old Cowtown Museum: Visitors will be able to view the way a single female teacher in Wichita would have lived around the turn of the century in a teacher’s house opening in the fall. They will be able to see Civil War re-enactors on April 20. And an exhibit that explains the history of Cowtown will open in the Big Brown Barn on Main Street by early May.
• The Orpheum: The Orpheum is continually adding shows. On March 27, it will present the Trey McIntyre Project. McIntyre, a native of Wichita, is known worldwide for his innovative dance. “It’s a very visual performing arts experience,” said Jennifer Wright, president of The Orpheum.
In the fall, The Orpheum will bring in Momix: Botanica, an internationally renowned contemporary dance group that uses inventive botanical themes.
Among other performances, the theater will have Tracy Morgan on March 13, Smash Mouth on April 7 and Bill Cosby on June 21.• Sedgwick County Zoo: Wichita is getting some new residents this year. Two male rhinos and a few female gorillas are moving into the zoo this spring. Several of the zoo’s penguins and pelicans will become parents. A new exhibit featuring invertebrates is being developed for the jungle lobby area. This exhibit will feature a Brazilian salmon bird eater spider (tarantula), an Asian giant centipede and a Madagascan hissing cockroach.
• Tallgrass Film Festival: The festival will celebrate its 11th anniversary by adding an extra day to the Oct. 16-20 event. The theme will celebrate Wichita’s rich tradition of flight. From June 4 to 6, the festival will host the Smallgrass Children’s Film Screenings at Exploration Place during the River Festival.
• Tanganyika Wildlife Park: The park is revamping its rhinoceros area and adding a pair of southern black rhinos from Walt Disney World. A new mandrill monkey exhibit will open soon. And there will be lots of new babies, including a black jaguar cub arriving in March.
• Theater League: “Stomp,” featuring troupe members making rhythmic music using matchboxes, brooms, garbage cans and more, comes to Century II Concert Hall on April 9-10. Other shows: “Dreamgirls,” a revival of the Tony-winning tribute to Motown, March 19-21; “Million Dollar Quartet,” inspired by a jam session involving Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, Oct. 29-31; and “The Addams Family,” a musical comedy in which Wednesday Addams falls in love with a “normal” boy, Nov. 19-21.• Wichita Art Museum: Four times a year, the art museum plans to host Art Chatter, a lineup of seven-minute Pecha Kucha-style presentations by a variety of artists, from architects to dancers to chefs. Pecha Kucha is a presentation in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each.
“People have really embraced this new saucy program – ideas roll out rapid fire,” said WAM director Patricia McDonnell. The next one is April 19.
In June, the museum will unveil a Ray Turner exhibit that features more than 200 portraits on glass portraying a cross-section of the United States. At each museum on the national tour, Turner incorporates new portraits of people who embody some aspect of that locale.
• Wichita Grand Opera: The Russian National Ballet Theatre presents Pytor Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” on May 1 at Century II Concert Hall. Other performances include “The Marriage of Figaro,” the comic opera about betrayal and forgiveness, March 16; and Opera on the Lake, a free performance at Bradley Fair by artists of the Wichita Grand Opera, May 18.• Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum: The museum will feature the exhibit “C.A. Seward & Western Lithograph’s Art Press” starting March 29. It will also exhibit fashions by Howard Greer and an immigration show titled “Americans by Choice,” which will showcase immigrants who settled in Wichita, in July.
• Wichita Symphony Orchestra: The organization will host Symphony al Fresco at Fulton Valley Farms in Towanda on May 17. The money raised from the event will be used to benefit the symphony’s education programs. There will be live music, dancing and food.
Among spring performances: Pianist Markus Groh will play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “The Emperor,” during classical concerts April 6 and 7, and there will be a Simon and Garfunkel retrospective pops concert on May 4.• Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University: The museum is installing a new work by WSU professor Levente Sulyok on the building’s facade while the Miro mosaic is undergoing conservation. The piece is designed to be interactive and constantly changing.
In August, the multidimensional exhibit “Nature’s Toolbox: Biodiversity, Art and Invention” will open.