BWW Reviews: RHAPSODY IN GERSHWIN a Tribute to the Gershwin Brothers Opens at Quality Hill Playhouse
Rhapsody in Gershwin currently plays at the Quality Hill Playhouse in Kansas City, Mo. The musical tribute to George and Ira Gershwin runs through July 6. The Gershwin brothers wrote songs for Broadway, jazz clubs, films, and concert halls in the 1920s and 1930s. The production is part of the Quality Hill Do It Again, The Best of Quality Hill Playhouse series.
The cast includes J. Kent Barnhart, Lateesha McDonald Jackson, Melinda MacDonald, and Tim Noland. In Act I they perform some of the best know hits of the Gershwin's including "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise from George White's Scandals, "Looking for a Boy" from Tip Toes, "Soon" from Strike Up the Band, and "Nice Work if You Can Get It" from the film A Damsel in Distress. Act II brings songs from Porgy and Bess, the film Shall We Dance, and the Goldwyn Follies.
The magnificent piano solo, "Rhapsody in Blue" by J. Kent Barnhart, is worth the cost of a ticket. Barnhart received rave revues from the Kansas City Star and Pitch newspapers in 2008 when he performed the piece for the first time at Quality Hill. Listening to the piece it is evident why they described the 2008 performance as "impeccable and awe-inspiring." Like a fine bottle of wine, the solo has only gotten better in time. Barnhart founded Quality Hill Playhouse in 1995 and serves as the Executive Director.
Tim Noland returns to the playhouse where he has performed in Sh-Boom Sh-Boom and Christmas in Song. He has a wonderful voice as he sings "Oh, Lady Be Good" from Lady, Be Good, "Liza" from Show Girl, and "They All Laughed" from the film Shall We Dance. The audience can see his passion for music in his eyes as he joins LaTeesha McDonald Jackson in "That Certain Feeling" from Tip Toes.
Jackson appeared in the 2008 original production of Rhapsody in Gershwin among other Quality Hill shows. Classically trained as a soprano her operatic voice is powerful and beautiful as she performs "My Man's Gone Now" from Porgy and Bess. She has appeared with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City Metro Opera, and the Civic Opera Theater of Kansas City.
Last seen at Quality Hill in All Sinatra Melinda MacDonald recently completed a run as Desiree in A Little Night Music for Spinning Tree Theatre. She marvelously performs in over half of the numbers in Act I, much to the delight of the audience. She has appeared with The New Theatre, Starlight, and Kansas City Repertory Theatre among other venues in Kansas City.
Quality Hill Playhouse presents Encore, A Benefit for Quality Hill Playhouse at the Downtown Marriott/Muehlebach Tower on Thursday July 10. The evening features cocktails, silent auction, dinner, and entertainers from the 2013-2014 season.
Rhapsody in Gershwin continues at Quality Hill Playhouse through July 6. Purchase tickets by calling 816-421-1700 or at the Quality Hill Playhouse website.