Broadway comes to Stark

Erin Hopkins

Joint effort produces musical performances

Kristel Behrend (soprano) and Laurel Seeds (mezzo-soprano) are members of The Lyric Theatre Ensemble. They are faculty that put on “Broadway Showstoppers” Friday at the Kent State University Stark campus for the artist/lecture series.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Plane ticket to New York: $201. Ticket to a Broadway show: $100. Seeing five Broadway shows at the Stark campus: free.

Kent State Stark’s professional ensemble-in-residence, the Lyric Theatre Ensemble, performed “Broadway Showstoppers” for a packed auditorium Friday night.

The ensemble’s members, Kristel Behrend, soprano; Laurel Seeds, mezzo-soprano; James Smith, tenor; Kenneth Kramer, bass and Kenneth Furlan, piano, performed songs and dialogue from musicals such as “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables.”

The show opened with a song from “The Producers,” a comedy by Mel Brooks.

The song told of two men who hoped to turn Broadway upside down by producing a terrible show with a bad cast, bad songs and a tasteless plotline about Jews and Adolf Hitler. To the men’s dismay, the show received rave reviews.

“The show was lousy and long/we did everything wrong/so where did we go right?” sang Kramer and Smith.

Behrend and Seeds then sang a ballad from “West Side Story” about loving “A Boy Like That.”

“A boy like that who’d kill your brother/Forget that boy and find another,” sang Seeds.

“It isn’t true, not for me/I hear your words/But my heart knows they’re wrong,” Behrend replied.

The cast then used props and a 10-minute medley of songs to tell the story of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“I didn’t expect only five people to be performing, but it’s interesting and I like it,” said Monique Johnson, sophomore pre-nursing major.

Angelina Henderson, freshman broadcast major, agreed.

“I like plays and musicals, so this is cool to watch,” Henderson said. “It’s quite funny, too.”

The Lyric Theatre Ensemble has existed in various forms for about 10 years, said Kramer, who is also an associate professor of music at the Stark campus.

“It started with just myself and the pianist, and we picked up the other singers as the years went on,” Kramer said.

The ensemble performs three to four shows a year at country clubs, Kent State campuses and executive dinners.

All of the choreography is created by members of the ensemble.

“It’s a joint effort for the dancing and picking songs,” Kramer said. “We pool our ideas together to come up with material for our next show.”

Contact regional campuses reporter Erin Hopkins at [email protected].