Young stars take stage at Porthouse
Cabaret production a treat
|Kyle Kemph performs “Sara Lee” in Porthouse Theatre’s production of “The World Goes ’Round.” Also shown is Lauren Culver.
|Photo: Bob Christy|
The production now playing at Porthouse is the most interesting show the Porthouse team will offer this summer. “The World Goes ’Round” is cast with those performers who are in the background — call them chorus or ensemble. These performers are learning how to be big-show stars.
Move over Liza, the world is spinning ’round and the cast members are providing a major treat for Porthouse audiences until July 21.
The show is a cabaret production of some of the music of John Kander (1927-) and Fred Ebb (1928-2004). Kander and Ebb, one of the most remarkable duos in musical theater, are known for “Chicago,” “Cabaret,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and other shows. Minnelli was their muse for major parts of their careers. Kander and Ebb wrote “Flora, the Red Menace,” “Cabaret” and “Chicago” for Minnelli. In addition, they wrote her TV specials and concerts.
Now musical theater history is being made at Porthouse. Sean Morrissey (director and choreographer) worked with a cast of 12 and a four-piece combo to create an exciting two-hour production of Kander and Ebb’s music. And any reference to their music will, of course, evoke thoughts of Minnelli.
Morrissey told me he would be interested in watching this cast as each member launches his or her career. This production provides an opportunity for young performers to step out of the chorus and take a star turn. This provides each performer an opportunity to prove to themselves and the audience just how talented each is.
Morrissey has a different directing and choreographic style than what we’ve grown to expect at Porthouse, and his work makes for fascinating performances.
Michael Glavan, who played Joe in “Damn Yankees,” is back in the spotlight singing, dancing and having a good time entertaining the audience.
Nathan Mohebbi is one of the most talented people to step on the Porthouse stage this summer. He has a spectacular singing voice and dances well. As the gum-chewing Arthur in “Arthur in the Afternoon,” he plays a sleazy tennis coach who entertains ladies in the afternoon. Mohebbi acts his songs in a style that indicates he received good training at Marshall University in West Virginia. In addition to his stage credits, he has film credits, too.
Kyle Kemph will be a sophomore at Kent State University in the fall. He has extensive stage experience. He almost stopped the show with his love song to “Sara Lee.” Kemph has a good sense of humor that fills the theater.
One of the best performances of a song was the work of Lauren Culver and Mackenzie Duan, who sang “Class.” Unfortunately, “Class” was cut from the movie version of “Chicago.” The two performers, wrapped in gaudy feather boas, sat with their feet propped up on a bar room table, swilling beer from a bottle and singing about the lack of class in society.
Anastasia Arnold and Lisa Kuhnen have a charming duet titled, “The Grass is Always Greener.” Arnold and Kuhnen sing several solos and are excellent singing and dancing in the ensemble numbers.
Jack O’Brien makes “Mr. Cellophane” personal and emotional. He holds one note for almost a minute. Unfortunately, the audience started applauding and killed the conclusion of this interesting song, which needs to be performed more than sung.
This production doesn’t have one weak link. Lucy Anders, Parke Fech, Jennie Nassar and Sam Rohloff are at the top of their form in their solos and ensemble work.
The weakness in the show is the great Kander and Ebb songs that are not included. “The World Goes ’Round” could last another hour and, with this cast, hold the audience’s interest.
Make reservations by calling 330-929-4416. Minnelli won’t be on the stage, but that’s OK. “The World Goes ’Round” and round and round at Porthouse Theater — and with this cast and director, that’s a treat.
David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.
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