“What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play,” Eliza Abendroth ’18 sang during the opening of the Kenyon College Opera and Music Theater Workshop’s (OpShop) “A Music Theatre Cabaret” this past Sunday, Nov. 12. The song was “Cabaret” from the musical of the same name, and it was a perfect opening to this showcase of Kenyon’s musical theater aficionados.
Abendroth was singing to tired, midterm-laden Kenyon students just as much as she was to the ’20s flappers and chorus girls from John Kander’s Cabaret. Beyond some understandable opening nerves, Abendroth’s voice was strong, with a Broadway-style vibrato reminiscent of the voice of Liza Minnelli, the star who made the musical famous back in 1972. Abendroth also emceed and co-choreographed the cabaret’s closing group number from the musical Little Women. Overall, Abendroth stood out as a gifted senior leader of the group.
Another showstopper was Runhan Xie’s ’20 rendition of the Chinese folk song “A Flowing Creek,” which tells the story about a woman whose lover is far from home. The song has strong intonation and a haunting atonality, which was surprising and deeply engaging.
Bringing some much-needed levity to Kenyon’s campus was Ethan Starr ’20 as Annie from Henry and Mudge. Clara Yetter ’18 came to the performance because she is Starr’s friend, but stayed for the theater. “I didn’t know Ethan’s piece was going to be like that,” Yetter said. “He dressed up in this little blue dress and this song from Henry and Mudge and danced around pretending to be a little kid. It was a wonderful funny moment that I got to cherish.”
Starr wasn’t just a comedic voice. His acting was admirable and vocal ability was developed to the point where he could control his impression of a child’s voice and sing simultaneously. Cheers followed him as he skipped away at the conclusion of his piece.
The full group of OpShop students was strong, accompanied on piano by both the talented Kraig Davis ’18 and widely-loved Adjunct Instructor of Piano Patricia Pelfrey. They each chose their own pieces and showed their passion during the performance. Quite a few of the women — including Abbey Kastenberg ’19 who reimagined “A Trip to the Library” from She Loves Me and Annie Mogilnicki ’21 who belted “Wherever He Ain’t” from Mack and Mabel — exhibited the full range of their voices during the performance.
The men’s performances — such as Jono Bornstein’s ’18 “I Could Be in Love with Someone Like You” from The Last Five Years and Ben Reingold’s ’20 “If I Were A Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof — were full of character and fun.
OpShop’s upcoming performances, including the workshop’s upcoming spring show of Little Women, should not be missed.
“We have such a talented group this year,” Jennifer Marcellana, adjunct instructor of voice said. “[Little Women] sounds very good right now. It’s going to be special.”