We’ve been on and on in previous posts about how awesome the town of Wooster, Ohio is — It has a European feel, relaxed vibe, phenomenal food, a great brewery, tons of wineries, fun outdoor space…truth be told, this list could go on forever. It’s really that cool. As evidenced by another piece we put together called “Wooster is the Coolest (And Tastiest) Town in Ohio You Haven’t Been To.”
Okay okay, enough of how cool Wooster is, seriously though, it’s cool. This post is all about another hidden gem that lays within this little town. We’re talking about the Ohio Light Opera.
Located in the College of Wooster’s Freedlander Theatre and dubbed as America’s Premier Lyric Theater Festival, Ohio Light Opera’s season usually runs from around mid-June to mid-August, with this summer being no different. The 2017 season fires up on June 17th with The Music Man and ends on August 12th. Their knack for nabbing terrific actors and putting together terrific casts is evident, regardless of which show you end up seeing. We had the pleasure of seeing a production of “Oh Kay!” back in 2015 and suffice to say, was more than okay. Alright, that’s an awful pun, but it had to be done.
Ultimately though, you don’t have to be an avid fan of lyric theater to enjoy a production at the Ohio Light Opera and whether you’re part of a large family or not, it makes for something altogether different and fun. That and you can cruise around in the town of Wooster afterwards, which I believe we’ve already mentioned, is quite awesome.
Quick foodie tip: Since our last Wooster post, two of our favorite restaurants have snagged some new digs in town and are definitely with the stop. Muddy’s Cafe moved into an old Cadillac dealership on E. Liberty and now features a ton of live music on top of their already great food. Spoon Market & Cafe now sits at 144 W. Liberty St. and has a brilliant amount of usable space which of course, they use undeniably well.
This upcoming 2017 season offers a really fun selection of classical favorites, newer/popular shows and a few rarer productions. Below is an abridged list — For full details you can visit www.ohiolightopera.org and www.mainstreetwooster.com. You can also order tickets by calling (330)-263-2345.
The Music Man
That a homespun show about the shenanigans of a music peddler in a small Midwest city beat out West Side Story for the 1958 Tony Award for Best Musical speaks volumes. Meredith Willson drew on memories of his childhood days in Iowa and fashioned the music, lyrics, and book for a seemingly timeless story that continues to capture the hearts of young and old.
While at a New York bar, evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer Reno Sweeney has fallen for Billy Crocker, who, to be near his girlfriend Hope Harcourt, has stowed away on Reno’s transatlantic cruise ship. Forced to adopt various disguises to avoid detection, Billy eventually secures a ticket and passport from Reverend Moon, who has been branded Public Enemy No. 13. Not surprisingly … confusion ensues.
or The Lass That Loved a Sailor
Gilbert and Sullivan’s rollicking romp through naval life, class distinctions, and melodramatic villainy has entertained millions since its London premiere. Where else can one find a First Lord of the Admiralty who had never seen a ship, or a seafaring captain who gets seasick, or a nursemaid who can’t tell one baby from another? Josephine, the Captain’s daughter, is in love with able seaman Ralph Rackstraw. But her father has other plans for her: an advantageous union with the exalted Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B. When the young couple’s elopement is thwarted by cantankerous seaman Dick Deadeye, it remains for Little Buttercup to confess that her baby farming techniques had left something to be desired … a many years ago.
If ever there were a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this is it – the first fully-staged production in almost a century of George Gershwin’s 1924 musical Primrose. Written for the London stage (255 performances), but never brought to Broadway, the show reveals the composer fully crossing the threshold into the jazz-inspired stylings that would take Broadway by storm just a few months later in Lady, Be Good! The show centers on dapper Toby Mopham, who finds himself engaged to vulgar beautician Pinkie Peach. To help him out of the situation, he calls on his friend, houseboat-dwelling author Hilary Vane, who himself has fallen in love with ingenue Joan, who reminds him of the character Primrose in his latest story. After many (and we do mean many) complications, characters, and disguises, everyone winds up with his or her ideal mate.
The Student Prince
The Student Prince, the longest-running Broadway musical of the 1920s, is for many theater-goers the quintessential romantic operetta. Hungarian-born composer Sigmund Romberg cashed in on his earlier musical training in Vienna and created a magical score of waltzes and marches, all set to Dorothy Donnelly’s adaptation of a 1901 German play titled Old Heidelberg. Prince Karl-Franz, accompanied by his tutor Dr. Engel and pompous valet Lutz, arrives at Heidelberg University, but finds his studies less enticing than the waitress Kathie at the local inn. The age-old clash between love and duty rears its head when he is summoned back home to the deathbed of his grandfather and ordered to marry Princess Margaret.
Count Tassilo, now penniless, has taken a menial position as manager of one of the estates of the wealthy Maritza. He hopes to earn enough money to pay off his debts and provide a dowry for his sister Lisa. To ward off a constant barrage of suitors, Maritza announces a mock engagement to a fictitious pig farmer, a Baron Koloman Zsupan. To her surprise, a real Baron Zsupan shows up and claims her hand. Tassilo, also, has some covering up to do when Lisa appears as part of Maritza’s house party. As romantic feelings blossom between Tassilo and Maritza, so do their pride and stubbornness as employer and employee – Maritza has no choice but to fire her manager. But … she has a change of heart.
The Lady of the Slipper
or A Modern Cinderella
With stepsisters named Dollbabia and Freakette, a cat named Mouser, and two fellows named Punks and Spooks who emerge from a cornfield (a la Wizard of Oz) to entice Cinderella to the ball and then into the prince’s arms, “zany” is indeed the right term for a show that captured the public’s fancy and became the second-longest-running book musical of 1912.