WOOSTER, Ohio – A mix of old favorites, new blockbusters, and rarities form the 2017 summer lineup of the Ohio Light Opera, as the lyric theater company celebrates its 39th season of performances in residency at The College of Wooster’s Freedlander Theatre (329 E. University St.).
“We are in an era this year of bringing back (some) tried and true operettas … and some blockbuster musicals like ‘Anything Goes,’ which won the Tony Award (for best revival of a musical) in 2011, and ‘The Music Man’ … and then we have some new shows that go back to early Broadway,” summed up Laura Neill, executive director of OLO. “We have created a season of no misses in my opinion.”
The season opener is on Saturday, June 17, when “The Music Man” begins its second run as part of the OLO. Winner of the 1958 Tony Award for best musical over the likes of “West Side Story,” it tells the story of a con man who comes to a small Midwest city selling residents musical instruments and uniforms with the promise to form a boys’ band, but before skipping town his plan unravels as he falls in love with the local librarian. Popular tunes include “Ya Got Trouble,” “Seventy Six Trombones,” and “Till There Was You.”
The second show to open will be “Anything Goes” on Thursday, June 22. While it may be best known for the 2011 Broadway revival that resulted in three Tony Awards, “Anything Goes” has been a regular part of the OLO lineup for years. The company will present the love triangle story that primarily takes place on an ocean liner during a transatlantic trip from New York to London in its original 1934 version. Cole Porter’s masterpiece features the hit songs “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” and the title tune.
“H.M.S. Pinafore,” a classic comic opera featuring the musical work of the legendary Gilbert and Sullivan, will begin another run at OLO on Thursday, June 29. The subject of the show – love between different social classes – is intertwined with a satire of naval life and villainy, and also includes a vintage plot twist near the end. The rollicking production has entertained millions since its London premiere in 1878.
“Primrose,” a new production for the OLO with early jazz-inspired stylings by George Gershwin, will debut Thursday, July 6. The plot consists of three interconnected love stories, with a number of complications and characters weaved in between. A rare treat, this is believed to be the first full-staged production in almost a full century, as it was performed in London, originally in 1924, but never brought to Broadway.
A regular in the OLO lineup over the years, “The Student Prince,” will open on Tuesday, July 12. Known as the longest running Broadway show of the 1920s (608 performances), the romantic operetta classic has a magical score, headlined by songs “Deep in My Heart Dear” and “Drink, Drink, Drink.” The tale centers around a prince’s arranged marriage, but he has other ideas after finding his education less interesting than a local waitress.
“Countess Maritza” is set for another run, starting Tuesday, July 19. Composed by long-time OLO favorite Emmerich Kálmán, this production about an impoverished young man working at an estate incognito for the wealthy Maritza who announced a mock engagement to ward off a number of suitors is considered by many his best work. Pride and stubbornness are two of the primary storylines.
“The Lady of the Slipper,” a rarity making its premiere at the OLO Tuesday, July 26, is a zany musical version of Cinderella that first captured the public’s attention in 1912. The show’s take on the iconic story includes a duet with Cinderella and the cat among its campy humor, and similar to “Primrose,” this is thought to be the first full-staged production in 100 years.
In addition to the seven shows and 60 total performances, there will be the annual Pops Concert on July 4 and the fourth symposium on lyric theater tradition Aug. 1-4. “The symposium has become very popular … with speakers from all over the world. Not only can people see the shows, but they can hear from experts in the field. It’s not only great for the College and OLO, but great for the community,” said Neill.
Much more information is available at the Ohio Light Opera website, where tickets can be ordered, or call (330) 263-2345.