‘Sister Act’ to kick off Porthouse Theatre’s 2016 season

Benjamin VanHoose

Kent State’s outdoor summer venue the Porthouse Theatre is set to open its 48th season Friday with “Sister Act.”

Based on the 1992 film of the same name starring Whoopi Goldberg, the musical follows nightclub singer Deloris after she witnesses a crime and is placed under protective custody in a convent. It’s there that Deloris’ disco style conflicts with the nuns, infusing newfound energy into the church.

“Sister Act” is directed by Eric van Baars, interim director of the School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State and executive producer of the Porthouse Theatre.

Van Baars said the play is “perfect summer fare.”

“It has a rare combination of heart and soul, and is very funny,” Van Baars said. “We are doubly blessed to have a fabulous company, led by the magnetic Colleen Longshaw.”

Longshaw, a Kent State alumna, will don a habit for the show’s 15 performances alongside a cast and crew that consists of mostly Kent State alumni, professors and students.

Van Baars said the most challenging aspect of the production is the limited time frame allotted to complete everything.

“Summer stock is always a rushed rehearsal process, but this one takes the cake,” he said. “There are many large production numbers in ‘Sister Act,’ so we needed to get those polished and ready in a short time.” 

After “Sister Act” wraps on July 2, Porthouse’s slate includes Johnny Cash-themed “Ring of Fire” starting July 7, followed by another movie-to-stage adaptation beginning July 28, “Footloose.”

“Audiences are always surprised that we get each show up and ready in two weeks,” Van Baars said.

Porthouse Theatre is located on the grounds of Blossom Music Center. The 500-seat covered outdoor theatre spawned from a partnership between Kent State and the Cleveland Orchestra after they formed the Kent/Blossom Arts festivals.

As part of a fundraising campaign for the establishment’s 50th anniversary, Porthouse is offering a walk-on role as the pope in “Sister Act” for those who donate $1,000 to the theatre.

“This is a divine opportunity to be part of a hit show,” Van Baars said. “Anyone interested in being pope for a night should contact the box office.”

According to Van Baars, “Sister Act” has already shattered sales records for Porthouse in pre-sales

“We are close to selling out for several performances,” he said. “If you’ve forgotten how wonderful the movie was, you’ll really appreciate the live musical.” 

Benjamin VanHoose is senior copy editor for the Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]