Being affiliated with Kent State University's School of Theatre and Dance – one of the Top 30 musical theater programs in the country, according to On Stage Blog – is both a blessing and a curse for Porthouse Theatre during these trying times.
Though a professional theater that taps talent from New York and elsewhere, Porthouse is also a summer training ground for KSU’s full-time students and members of its summer musical theater academies. Unlike other theaters, where the season is hopefully just delayed or detoured, KSU’s April announcement of the cancellation of the academies put an end to the Porthouse season, which was to include youth-heavy productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Bklyn the Musical and West Side Story.
“All but a couple of roles were cast and the design process was just about complete,” recalls Terri Kent, the producing artistic director at Porthouse and head of the Musical Theatre program at KSU. “Having to tell all those designers and actors that there was no work this season was really, really difficult.”
Ever the optimist, Terri is more inclined to talk about the blessings, like how Porthouse’s affiliation with an academic institution guarantees funding for the next season – “an umbrella of protection” – on top of the theater’s sizable and remarkably loyal subscriber base that she calls “family.”
She has already secured the rights to these three musicals for next season and has informed her cast – even the graduating seniors – that they have the right to first refusal to coming back to their roles, “though it is very likely they will have moved on to better and bigger jobs.”
“Much of the work has already been done on these shows and they will be so worth waiting for.”
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