BWW Preview: RHAPSODY IN GERSHWIN a Tribute to Ira and George at Quality Hill Playhouse
Quality Hill Playhouse in Kansas City, Mo. presents Rhapsody in Gershwin, a tribute to the works of brothers George and Ira Gershwin. Commissioned in the 1920s and 1930s the brothers wrote songs for Broadway, jazz clubs, concert halls, and films. Rhapsody in Gershwin opens on June 6 on the stage at Quality Hill Playhouse.
At the age of 15, George Gershwin began "plugging songs" on New York's Tin Pan Alley as a composer. Nearly eight years later his brother Ira entered the musical business as a lyricist. In 1924, they collaborated on their first Broadway hit, Lady Be Good. The brothers wrote a number of Broadway hits including Funny Face (1927), Show Girl (1929), and Girl Crazy (1930).
George in addition to the Broadway musicals composed classical pieces, "Rhapsody in Blue" in 1924 and "An American in Paris" in 1928. In 1935, the brothers wrote Porgy and Bess, described as a folk opera; it is widely regarded as the most important American opera of the twentieth century. At the age of 38, George died in 1937 following surgery for a brain tumor. Ira returned to music three years later and wrote for another 14 years. He passed away in 1983.
J. Kent Barnhart, Lateesha McDonald Jackson, Melinda MacDonald, and Tim Noland star in this tribute to the brothers that gave us such standards as "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "Embraceable You," and "I Got Rhythm." Rhapsody in Gershwin originally appeared on the Quality Hill Playhouse stage in September of 2008.
Barnhart will reprise his solo performance of "Rhapsody in Blue" which was met with rave revues in 2008, the Kansas City Star calling it "impeccable" and "awe-inspiring" and the Pitch referring to it as "a stunner." Barnhart founded Quality Hill Playhouse in 1995 and has served as Executive Director since that time. In the last 25 years, he has worked as pianist, musical director, stage director, and producer of over 100 musicals, plays, and cabaret revues.
Classically trained as a soprano, Lateesha McDonald Jackson received her Bachelors of Music from Benedictine College. She appeared in the 2008 production of Rhapsody in Gershwin and has appeared in several Quality Hill productions. She has performed with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City Metro Opera, Civic Opera Theater of Kansas City, and Stone Lion Puppet Theater.
Melinda MacDonald most recently appeared at Quality Hill in their production of All Sinatra. She just completed a run with Spinning Tree Theatre as Desiree in A Little Night Music. She has appeared at The New Theatre in The Fox on the Fairway and performances at Starlight, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Unicorn Theatre and with the Kansas City Symphony.
Tim Noland returns to Quality Hill Playhouse, where last year he appeared in Great Big Broadway, Sh-Boom Sh-Boom, and Christmas in Song. He has appeared in Aladdin at the Starlight and the title role in The Music Man with Musical Theater Heritage.
Rhapsody in Gershwin runs at the Quality Hill Playhouse, 303 W. 10th, from June 6 to July 6. Purchase tickets by calling 816-421-1700 or at the Quality Hill Playhouse website.