School of Theatre and Dance to perform ‘Babes in Arms’

Brittany Rees

A show about a show, the production of “Babes in Arms” by Kent State’s theater program highlights the hectic lives of the actors involved.

Put on by the School of Theatre and Dance, “Babes in Arms” is a depression-era musical about a group of teenagers who decide to throw together a musical.

“It was exciting when it came to Broadway in the late ‘30s,” director Terri Kent said. “The entire cast was a group of young people. It was something different and very energetic.”

The theater program decided to feature “Babes in Arms” as a one-day engagement on Sunday, Sept. 21 and will be a concert version of the musical.

“A full production has sets and costumes,” Kent said. “In a concert version, we do all the words and all the songs but we do it with just a piano and without choreography.

“A concert version is about telling the story with just words and music,” she said.

Though less involved than fully realized musicals, student performers say it’s not as easy as it seems.

“You have a music stand and a binder with your lines in it, and you tell the story,” said Kyle Kemph, lead actor and senior theatre studies major. “It’s hard because you can’t hide behind the theatrics that are costumes, lights and set. It’s bare bones.

“What becomes important is the language, the storytelling and the characters. You have to make it believable and entertaining,” he said.

Kemph plays the lead male role, Val, in the show, opposite female lead and junior theatre studies major Lindsay Simon, who plays a girl named Billie. Both Kemph and Simon are also the lead actors in the theater program’s October musical “Hot Mikado”.

“The two of us are pulling double duty,” Kemph said. “There’s a whole other character, lines, staging and even direction.”

With “Hot Mikado” a few weeks away and “Babes in Arms” premiering Sunday, Simon said she multitasks.

“This week the rehearsals overlap,” Simon said. “It’s hard when you’re rehearsing multiple shows because you have to be able to turn one show off and turn on the other.”

As the final rehearsal for “Babes in Arms” closed in one room of the Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance, a rehearsal for “Hot Mikado” began in another.

“You have to know how to work under pressure,” Kemph said. “This is what we do. Being busy is a good problem to have.

“These are our friends. This is our family,” Kemph said.

“Babes in Arms” will be performed Sunday at 2 p.m. in the E. Stump Turner Theatre. “Hot Mikado” will debut there Oct. 24 and run until Nov. 2.

Tickets can be bought through Kent State’s Performing Arts Box Office in the Roe Green Center or at 330-672-2787.

Contact Brittany Rees at [email protected].