'Broadway ... Recently' to open next week on Porter stage
By Linda Harkcom
Published: Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 7:15 p.m.
The newly renovated Edwin S. Porter Theater in Connellsville will open its doors to the public next weekend for its grand opening celebration with “Broadway... Recently.”
“We thought it would be nice to introduce the people of Connellsville to the types of things we would like to have going on in the theater,” said Angie Hamman, event coordinator for the theater.
“Broadway... Recently,” presented by Jonaleka Productions, is an original musical revue featuring songs from musicals that have appeared on Broadway in the past several years.
“We wanted to feature songs from recent Broadway shows that are not your normal ‘Sound of Music' fare,” said director Michael Rohlf of Brownsville.
The show features 35 to 40 fan favorite songs from musicals such as “Hairspray,” “Footloose,” “Rent,” “Les Miserables,” “Legally Blonde,” “Wedding Singer,” “Wicked,” and more.
Rohlf said the show will also feature songs from shows that are scheduled to be performed in the area during the next year including “South Pacific” and “Annie.”
The show features about 25 performers from Connellsville and the surrounding area including Mill Run, Normalville, Uniontown, Brownsville, Hempfield and Mt. Pleasant.
“We are truly featuring local talent. We are trying to endear local support so that Connellsville can again be a viable theater venue,” Rohlf said. “There has not been an ongoing theater here for 30 years. With the renovations and the support of the city getting the building up to par, we are hoping the community will support musicals, plays, mysteries and more.” One of those talented local performers is Rachael Szabo, 27, of Connellsville
“I think the people will love the vast range of talent we have performing and there will be moments that you'll forget you're in Connellsville. I think it's really special that most of the performers are local,” she said.
Szabo will sing in 12 of the show's musical numbers but she does have her favorites.
“‘I Know Him So Well'” from ‘Chess' because it's a duet that I get to sing with one of my best friends. And also the song ‘Rent' from ‘Rent' because I feel like it's going to be a showstopper and I get to perform a role I'd never get to perform otherwise. I love ‘Good Morning Baltimore' from ‘Hairspray' because Tracy Turnblad is my dream role,” she said.
Marina Stefano, 17, of Bullskin will perform in several numbers from shows ranging from “Rent” to “Little Women.” She will also perform “Spanish Rose,” from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie,” a song she performed when she won the title of 2013 Bituminous Coal Queen in August.
“I love all the numbers but some of my favorites are ‘Seasons of Love' because I feel like we all have good chemistry and I also enjoy performing ‘Do You Hear the People Sing' because there are so many talented people in the cast it just sounds fantastic,” she said. “I also like the fact that I can once again play the part of Beth in ‘Little Women.' It is one of my favorite roles ever.”
She said she thinks the audience will really like the show because of how entertaining and upbeat it is.
“There isn't any dialogue so it's just number after number of sheer entertainment,” she said.
The show will be held Oct. 3, 4, and 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 6 at 2:30 p.m.
All tickets are $10 and are on sale now at Atkin's Music Store and the Community Center Office in Room 201 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by calling 724-626-0300.
Refreshments will also be available for purchase.
The Porter Theater is on the second floor of the Greater Connellsville Area Community Center located at 201 Fairview Ave. in Connellsville.
In addition to the show, the grand opening celebration includes an indoor flea market on Oct. 5 from 8 a.m. to noon. There will be free admission to the public for this event. Sellers pay $10. For more information call 724-626-0300.
There will also be a reception held that evening in the theater for local dignitaries prior to the show.
Hamman said the 800-seat theater, built in 1916, was recently renovated. Some of the improvements made to the theater include a new floor on the stage and an upgraded sound system.
On Oct. 5 the theater will be open for public viewing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“The renovations have allowed us to open up the venue to a lot of different things,” Hamman said.
Some of the other events on the theater's schedule for this year include: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on Oct. 26, “The Clarks” on Nov. 1, and Connellsville Christmas Extravaganza on Dec. 1.
Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.
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