June 15, 2010
Julie Wright stars as Mama Rose in Ohio Light Opera's production of "Gypsy," which opens June 22 at The College of Wooster.
WOOSTER, Ohio - Ohio Light Opera opens its 32nd season this weekend at The College of Wooster, and Associate Artistic Director Julie Wright is hoping that area residents will plan to see at least one or two shows this summer. Wright, who is celebrating her 20th year with the company, says each year brings a thoughtful blend of new productions and old favorites. "Musical theatre touches something common in all of us," she says. "It gives us an opportunity to examine such things as love, loss, and laughter."
The curtain rises on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Freedlander Theatre with Alexander Borodin's "Kismet," an exotic and lushly romantic 1953 musical. The second show opens June 22 when Jule Styne's "Gypsy," starring Wright as Mama Rose, takes the stage. A 1959 production based loosely on the life of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, this Broadway smash boasts such favorites as "Let Me Entertain You," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Together," and one of musical theatre's greatest overtures.
"This is one of musical theatre's most challenging roles for a woman," says Wright. "It's a tall order, but I am really looking forward to it." Wright will also direct "Gypsy Princess," which is regarded as one of Emmerich Kálmán's most popular works.
Rounding out the schedule are Franz Lehár's "The Count of Luxembourg," John Philip Sousa's "El Capitan," and Gilbert & Sullivan classics "Iolanthe" and "Patience," which will feature Wright in the role of Lady Jane.
Joining Wright on stage this summer will be a number of familiar faces, including longtime favorite Boyd Mackus, who is celebrating his 25th year with the company. Also returning are Nick Wuehrmann and Anthony Maida, as well as original cast member Jim Mismas and local restauranteur Spiro Matsos. In addition, a number of newcomers will debut this summer, highlighted by a pair of Wright's students from the University of Utah - Raina Thorne and Melia French. "It's great to have a flow of fresh young performers," says Wright. "Their fresh perspective and vitality reawaken the passion in all of us."
Tickets are still available, but sales have been brisk, so prospective patrons are advised to order ahead of time. Prices are $45 for adults, $20 for students, and $10 for children ages 3-15. Group discounts and multiple-show packages are also available. Orders can be placed online at ohiolightopera.org or by phone (330-263-2345).
Wright, who considers Wooster her second home, says that despite a rigorous production schedule, she and her fellow performers set aside time each year to become involved in the community. Earlier this week, for example, a number of singers read stories to children at the Wayne County Public Library and talked to them about Ohio Light Opera. Next month, children are invited to "Fairy Day" during a performance of "Iolanthe." The July 13th show begins at 2 p.m., preceded by a chance to meet with the singers and receive a special gift at 1 p.m.
On July 29, there will be an ice cream social at 6 p.m., leading up to "The Count of Luxembourg," and on Aug. 4, there will be a wine and cheese reception. In between these two events, there will be a raffle of baskets with items from local businesses, and of course, the company will host its annual Fourth of July Pops Concert at 7 p.m. on the square (weather permitting) in downtown Wooster.
"We have a top-notch company, and we are doing some really great shows," says Wright. "We want to invite community members, especially young people, to experience Ohio Light Opera. This is such a wonderful entertainment option for the entire family."
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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