The Ohio Light Opera’s 44th season features iconic titles alongside lesser-known musical offerings

OLO production of Cloclo by Franz Lehár (2018)

The Ohio Light Opera, America’s premier lyric theater festival and resident professional company of The College of Wooster, will present iconic musical theater favorites alongside more unusual repertoire in its 44th season, which runs from June 10 to July 30. With performances taking place at Wooster’s Freedlander Theatre (329 E. University Street), this summer’s season will feature a rotating schedule of six shows, including three classic Broadway musicals, two comic operas, and an operetta; a full season calendar, with afternoon and evening performances, can be found here.  

Founded in 1979 as a Gilbert and Sullivan repertory company, OLO has more than 150 show titles to its credit. With a dedication to producing these works with maximum faithfulness to the original creations, OLO has earned an international reputation as one of America’s most revered, respected, and accomplished summer festivals. OLO offers the unique opportunity for audience members to see all six productions in just a few days at the end of the festival.  

“The Ohio Light Opera attracts audience members from throughout the country and internationally to see a wide variety of operetta and musical comedy,” said executive director Laura Neill.Operetta, comic opera, musical comedy, light opera—the distinctions among them are subtle, but each conjures up a bygone era of romance, conflict, dance, champagne, and swashbuckling heroes—a world in which all hearts beat in three-quarter time. The audience truly enjoys the atmosphere of The College of Wooster’s campus and all it has to offer.”  

The summer season opens with Camelot on June 10. With music by Frederick Loewe and book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, this musical was first performed in 1960 and won four Tony Awards. In the show, King Arthur instills in a young boy the hopes and ideals of a once enchanted kingdom, where he himself promoted justice and civility over battle and greed. Lerner and Loewe’s masterful score includes Arthur’s title song, Guenevere’s “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood,” and Lancelot’s “If Ever I Would Leave You.” 

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying opens June 15. The winner of seven Tony awards and only the fourth musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this musical tells the story of a young window washer, J. Pierrepont Finch, who—always with his all-foreseeing How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying manual in hand—sets his sights on rising through the ranks of the World Wide Wicket Company. 

Making its Freedlander Theatre debut, the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette opens June 22. This show, with music by Vincent Youmans, captures the spirit of the 1920s with famous songs like “Tea for Two,” “I Want to Be Happy,” and “You Can Dance with Any Girl at All.” The OLO will also present the show with its original orchestrations, the first theater in decades to do so. 

H.M.S. Pinafore, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by William S. Gilbert, returns to the OLO June 29. This comic opera, first performed in 1878, entertains audiences with a romp through naval life, class distinctions, and melodramatic villainy that has delighted millions since its London premiere. 

Arizona Lady opens at Freedlander Theatre July 6. This work centers on Hungarian ranch owner Lona Farrell, who has fired her overly brazen manager and is now left with no one to ride her racehorse, Arizona Lady—at least until a guitar-slinging cowboy arrives at the ranch. The score, by Emmerich Kálmán, has an entertaining Viennese and Hungarian style, with strong influences from the American west.  

The final show this summer season, Orpheus in the Underworld, begins its run July 13. This famous comic opera irreverently tackles one of the most famous legends in Greek mythology. The musical score by Jacques Offenbach is topped off by the “galop infernale,” better known to audiences as the “can-can.” 

Alongside this impressive lineup of performances, on Friday and Saturday evenings at 6:30 p.m., a free lecture will take place prior to each show in the Lean Lecture Room of Wishart Hall, just down the hall from the Freedlander Theatre lobby. Led by the shows’ directors, designers, and authorities on the genre, these “Pre-Performance Talks” allow audience members to enhance their enjoyment of the evening’s performance by learning lesser-known facts about the show’s history and tips to recognize the unique special pleasures of each show.  

OLO will also present its 21st annual POPS concert on July 4 at 7 p.m. in the public square of Downtown Wooster, in partnership with Main Street Wooster and the downtown Wooster businesses. This free concert highlights the talented young musicians from all over the country who perform in the OLO Orchestra and accompany all productions. 

From OLO’s beginning, the organization has offered a professional performance environment to theater, music, and arts management students. OLO’s artistic leaders, all affiliated with prominent national universities, colleges, and conservatories, spearhead a summer season that provides Wooster students and other college students and young professionals from across the country invaluable opportunities to develop their skills in a vibrant lyric theater setting. For 43 seasons, The Ohio Light Opera (OLO) has preserved, promoted, and produced the finest that these art forms have to offer. Through the unwavering support of The College of Wooster and the dedication of OLO’s artistic and administrative staff, the company has secured a position as America’s premier venue to produce fully-staged and fully-orchestrated lyric theater gems—works that have captivated the public over the past century and a half. For more information, including a full season calendar, or to purchase tickets, visit the OLO website or call 330-263-2345.  

Photo: OLO production of Cloclo by Franz Lehár (2018)

Posted in News on February 8, 2023.