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Porthouse Theatre stages fantasy ‘Starmites’

7/17/2014 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

Eleanor (Lucy Anders), at right, pleads with her mother (Colleen Longshaw) to not throw away her comic books in Porthouse Theatre’s production of “Starmites.”
Photo: Andy Eicher
CUYAHOGA FALLS — Aliens have landed at Porthouse Theatre. They seem to have stepped out of the science fiction comic books of my youth.

“Starmites,” which is now playing at Porthouse Theatre through July 19, evokes memories of hours spent pouring over comic books and wondering if space aliens would ever land on Earth.

The script brings comic books to life. The set represents pages from the comics, and the characters and plot evoke stories from the comics and from early TV shows.

“Starmites” focuses on Eleanor (Lucy Anders), who is addicted to comic books. Eleanor’s mother wants her to toss her comic books and spend more time studying. As Eleanor reviews her comic book friends, something dramatic happens. The characters come to life and involve her in a real space adventure.

Eleanor’s mother/Diva (Colleen Longshaw) storms the stage and is ready to do battle. The audience is fortunate, Diva also sings and she has the voice of a real diva.

“Starmites’ is a musical, and a small orchestra backstage supports the singing and dancing. The orchestra is composed of Jennifer Korecki (keyboard 1), Melissa Fucci (keyboard 2), Ryan McDermott (guitar), Don Day (bass) and William Sallak (percussion).

Barry Keating and Stuart Ross wrote “Starmites,” which opened off-off-Broadway in 1980 and moved to Broadway in 1989. The show was nominated for six Tony Awards but unfortunately did not receive any trophies. The Tony nominations were for directing, choreography and four for acting.

Costume designer Susan Williams captured the look of early science fiction comic books. Scenic designer Steve Pauna painted the floor and the walls of the set with blowups of science fiction comic books.

Choreographer Amy Fritsche designed the dances with a nod to popular dances of the 1950s and ’60s.

Director Michael McIntosh kept this interstellar adventure in a tight format so that it didn’t get out of control and fly off into space.

Unfortunately, “Starmites” isn’t up to the standards we’ve grown to expect from Porthouse’s summer productions. I applaud the company’s efforts to bring a new script to Porthouse, but this script and music don’t live up to the high standards Porthouse has established.

The young cast displays much talent as singers, dancers and actors. I would like to see them work with a better script.

For tickets, call the Box Office at 330-672-3884 or visit the website at www.porthousetheatre.com.


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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