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  • Overland Park, Kansas
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    Overland Park,

    Kansas

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    Overland Park (owe-VER-lin-PAH-rqe) is the second-most populous city in the U.S. state of Kansas. Located in Johnson County, it is also the second-most populous city in the Kansas City metropolitan area. As of the 2020 census, the population of the city was 197,238.
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    Overland Park Articles

    Inspiration

    A satire of Western movies that tours the U.S. this month was a surprise hit in Paris

    Paris may possibly be the furthest thing one can imagine from the Wild West. But for one month this fall, a rip-roaring show called "The Spaghetti Western Orchestra" brought a little bit of the mythical frontier to a corner of the 11th arrondissement. And the show comes to the U.S. for a tour toward the end of this month. The modern-day cowboys are actually a group of Australian musicians playing the songs of Ennio Morricone, an Academy-Award winning composer of American western films like A Fistful of Dollars (which starred Clint Eastwood). Even if you have not seen the movies, most of the songs are instantly recognizable. At one recent performance, even French members of the audience were able to join in for a sing-along of sorts to the theme of Le Bon, Le Brut et le Truand (from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly). "The show is popular wherever we play it," said Graeme Leak, one of the musicians, in an e-mail interview. "It reminds people of the old days of cinema when you left the theater with almost a euphoric feeling." Anyone who came to the show expecting a full orchestra may have been surprised to find just five musicians on the stage, although the performers do play 100 instruments between them. In addition to a full range of traditional instruments, the performance features sound effects using cornflakes, clinking bottles, and a rubber glove. "The Spaghetti Western Orchestra" also is not just a concert. The five musicians each play a character: the bank teller, the lie teller, the young feller, the "raconteur" (storyteller), and the mysterious "goldschmeller." Skits and stories are interspersed between the songs, both to pay homage to and poke fun at the old western films, complete with "gun shots" and creaky hinges. A sample skit: One of the characters has the "wrong" script, so they run a clothesline across the stage to transfer the script from one character to another. The lines of the character who lost his script are the same word over and over. ("Yeah." ..."Yeah." ..."Yeah.") The performers have perfected their cheesy Western accents, even though they are native Australians. In Paris, most of the dialogue was spoken in English, with a few terribly pronounced words in French thrown in to make the audience laugh. "Whenever we arrive in a new country it takes a few days for us to work in the right mix of language and references," said Leak, who plays the bank teller. "We are not multi-lingual, but we try to include some words and references in the language of our host country to bring the audience closer to us." The language barrier didn’t seem to be a problem in Paris, as the few hundred audience members laughed, clapped and sang along (with cue cards). At the end of the performance the musicians returned for three curtain calls, eventually leading to a standing ovation. The "Orchestra" first came together in Australia in 2000. Stints at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival and the 2007 Montreal Jazz Festival proved a great success, and the show has since played in in the German cities of Hamburg and Cologne. The American tour dates are as follows: October 24 at the State Theater in New Brunswick, N.J. October 25 at Proctors Theater in Schenectady, N.Y. October 27 at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vt. October 28 at the Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hanover, N.H. October 31 at the Carlsen Center in Overland Park, Kans. November 6 at the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts in Wickenberg, Ariz. November 7 and 8 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in Scottsdale, Ariz. November 10 at the UT Tyler Cowan Center in Tyler, Tex. November 11 at the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M; University in College Station, Tex. Ticket prices range from $20 to $55, depending on the venue. For more information, visit spaghettiwesternorchestra.com. —Liz Webber, reporting from Paris

    Product Reviews

    Bored? New site Goby searches for travel "experiences" in all 50 states

    Goby (GO-be) launched today as a clever search engine for finding fun activities to do in neighborhoods throughout the 50 states. Goby searches across hundreds of vetted websites for the lowdown on attractions, activities, events, restaurants, and lodging. While Google has one search box for you to type a question in, Goby has three. It asks you three questions: What?, Where?, and When? If you have a rough idea of what you're looking for, such as "sports" in "Overland Park, Kansas," plug it in. The site will fetch for you relevant listings contextualized with an interactive map. Everything you need to know to plan a trip is right there. For example, Goby told us that there are free guided walks by an avid bird ethusiast in Overland Park Arboretum that we could take advantage of. Can your favorite travel website also retrieve detailed information like that? Probably not. Very few travel sites help you plan the "experiences" you may like to have at your destination. Kijubi, Gowalla, and UpTake are rare exceptions. Goby is far from perfect. Its largest flaw right now is that it still new and has kinks to work out. It needs to gather more info that's relevant for travelers to be truly thorough and authoritative. The pickings for activities at any given suburban location can sometimes be slim. For my search for "sports" in "Overland Park, Kansas," Goby delivered only 30 activities for all dates. But a look at regional newspaper would find broader listings. I'm still rooting for Goby, though. Expedia and other companies generally overlook the smaller communities of America in their travel listings. Goby excels at breadth of geographical coverage and at its inclusion in free and affordable activities. In another perk, Goby is the first search engine I've seen that fetches so many B&B; listings and presents them in an easy-to-read way. One more big flaw: It doesn't yet work on the Safari Web browser, as a reviewer for PC World has pointed out. Good luck, guys! EARLIER TripIt launches a free iPhone app for travel planning

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