Season Opener at Blossom:
Chicago Comes to Porthouse Theatre
Limber up those jazz hands and head out to Porthouse Theatre, Kent State University's outdoor summer showcase on the grounds of Blossom Music Center, as the venue launches its 43rd season this week with the 1975 Broadway song-and-dance sensation Chicago. A satire on civic corruption and the notion of celebrity criminals, the musical is best remembered for Bob Fosse's iconic choreography: sensational dance numbers that find the cast members trotting, tapping, and tangoing through circa-1926 Chicago. Porthouse's production relies heavily on the talents of area university professors, instructors, and administrators: KSU's Theatre & Dance associate prof Eric van Baars stars as Billy Flynn, KSU and University of Akron choreographer and dance instructor Mary Ann Black plays Roxie Hart, and Cleveland State University's Associate Dean of Students Sandra Emerick stars as Velma Kelly. Porthouse Artistic Director Terri Kent directs. Performances continue through July 2, and ticket prices range from $17 to $33. Get them by phone at 330-929-4416 or online at porthousetheatre.com. And don't forget the razzle dazzle. — Elaine T. CicoraDoctor Dolittle: The notable doctor doesn't just talk to the animals: He sings and dances with them in this family-friendly production from Mercury Summer Stock. Through July 2 at the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Ave. Tickets are $15 to $18 at 216-771-5862 or online at mercurysummerstock.com.
Dream Girls: Cain Park's summer musical tells the story of an up-and-coming girl group in the 1960s, and all the trials and tribulations that come with their quest for fortune and fame (see review). Tickets begin at $15 at 216-371-3000 or at cainpark.com. Through June 26 at the Alma Theatre, 14591 Superior Rd. in Cleveland Heights.
Girls Night: The Musical: This jukebox musical with a book — okay, a pamphlet — by Louise Roche is focused on tickling a very specific sort of female funny bone. Suffice to say that if you're up for a weirdly non-ironic disco version of "I Am What I Am" and vibrator jokes, then your ship has come in. (Howey) Tickets are $39.50 to $50 at 216-241-6000 or at playhousesquare.org. Through June 26 at the East 14th Street Theatre, 2037 East 14th St.
Next to Normal: In turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this critically acclaimed 2009 musical about mental illness paints a provocative portrait of the disease's impact on sufferers and their families. Actress Alice Ripley reprises her Tony Award-winning Broadway performance as the suburban mom at the heart of the drama. Through June 19 at the Palace Theatre, 1615 Euclid Ave. Tickets are $10 to $75 at playhousesquare.org or at 216-241-6000.
Othello: The Cleveland Shakespeare Festival opens its 14th season of free outdoor theater with this classic tale of ambition, jealousy, and betrayal. Performed at Notre Dame College on June 17 and 18, and then in venues around the region through August 6. For details, go to cleveshakes.org.
Personals Uncut: The New York Edition: Besides the problematic writing, direction, and production, "the largest issue Personals Uncut presents is the subtle loathing it seems to harbor for those reaching out to others. Since no characters are developed beyond their need to deliver formulaic descriptions of themselves or their ideal date, they remain one-dimensional ciphers" (Howey). Through June 18 at Kennedy's Theatre at Playhouse Square, 1501 Euclid Ave. Tickets are $15 at playhousesquare.org or 216-241-6000.