"Tintypes" is a fast-paced, peppy musical revue at Porthouse Theatre. It celebrates the rapid change that took place in America between the 1870s and 1920.

The show's music, which numbers 47 tunes, spans from patriotic works to ragtime, in the period after the Civil War and before the Roaring Twenties. The chamber piece, which played Off-Broadway as well as on Broadway in 1980, centers around the immigrant experience in the United States around the turn of the 20th century. It was a time when America's population doubled within 30 years, with much of the growth coming from European immigrants.

The show, directed and choreographed by Eric van Baars, features a five-person ensemble cast with the actors each portraying a bevy of characters. Each has a main character representing the time period, including well-known war hero-turned-politician Teddy Roosevelt and anarchist Emma Goldman.

This musical, created by Mary Kyte, Mel Marvin and Gary Pearle, attempts to cover a lot of historical territory, including the rapid industrialization, factory workers' plight, politics and entertainment of the era. But there's no story with a solid through line to bring us through that time period, so audiences experience snapshots of that history almost solely through music.

That's how the title "Tintypes," or a collection of snapshots of America's last Age of Innocence before World War I, came about. The abundance of popular music in the show includes everything from George M. Cohan's "The Yankee Doodle Boy" and John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever," to Scott Joplin's ragtime "Solace" to Victor Herbert's "Toyland." And with this cast, the singing is grand.

Actors Devin Pfeiffer, Shamara Costa, Mavis Jennings, Samantha Kennett and Josy Soriano bring lots of fun to a five-song vaudeville segment, and Soriano sings like a lark as elegant music hall star Anna Held. Jennings also delights with his cowboy persona and "Bully!" proclamations as Roosevelt, and Kennett brings gravitas as protester Goldman on her soap box.

The revue delves into the underbelly immigrant experience, portraying the poor toiling in the factories while the rich get richer and John D. Rockefeller claims that God gave him his money. The show also touches upon the outsider status of African Americans, especially in Costa's mournful number "Nobody,'' by Alex Rogers and Bert Williams. Thankfully, one of the show's original tunes that contains racist lyrics, "She's Getting More Like the White Folks Every Day," has been removed.

Pfeiffer, who's supposed to be portraying a Chaplin-esque Russian immigrant, is cute in his miming scenes but he doesn't effectively evoke the mannerisms, body language or expressions of Charlie Chaplin.

Kudos go out to the excellent six-person band, led by Jennifer Korecki. The show continues through July 20. See www.porthousetheatre.com or call 330-672-3884 for tickets.

 

Art contest

The Akron Symphony Orchestra will debut a Music and Art series for the 2019-2020 season, which will feature Northeast Ohio artists' limited-edition posters for select concerts. Artists are asked to create a poster design representing their interpretation of a concert based on the music and/or composer by Sept 1.

The featured concerts will be "Symphonic Shakespeare" Oct. 10, "The Four Seasons" Nov. 16, Mozart's "Requiem" Feb. 22 and "Symphonic Dances" May 16. Up to four artists will be selected for each concert. They will receive two tickets to the performance, the opportunity to display and sell their artwork at the concert at E.J. Thomas Hall and will have their poster featured on the symphony's social media channels. See akronsymphony.org/music-art.

 

Weekend theater

• The Millennial Theatre Project will present "The Laramie Project" at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Akron Civic Theatre. The 2000 play by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project is a theatrical portrait of a town coming to grips with a horrific hate crime after gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence post, beaten, robbed, tortured and left to die in 1998.

The play, which confronts bullying and hate, was devised through 200 interviews over the course of 1½ years in Laramie. The show will be a cabaret performance, with the audience seated on stage with the performers. Tickets are $15. Call 330-253-2488 or see www.akroncivic.com.

• Western Reserve Playhouse continues its 5 Buck Play Reading Series with "The Boys in the Band" at 2 p.m. Sunday. Written by Mart Crowley and directed by Jim Fippin, this 1968 Off-Broadway play was revived on Broadway last year. The play, whose story revolves around a group of gay men gathered for a birthday party that ends up taking a nasty turn, was considered groundbreaking in the late '60s for its portrayal of gay life.

It features an all-male cast of nine. For tickets, see www.westernreserveplayhouse.org. The theater is at 3326 Everett Road, Bath.

 

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.