The Ohio Light Opera

“Resident Professional Company of The College of Wooster.”

America’s Premier Lyric Theater Festival

2017 Festival Season, June 17 – August 12

Box Office 330-263-2345


The Music Man
Music, Lyrics and Book by Meredith Willson
Story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey

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. Con man “Professor” Harold Hill mesmerizes the residents of River City by selling them musical instruments and uniforms with the promise to form a boys’ band and teach them to play using his “think system.” The execution of his plan is sidetracked a bit when he falls hard for the local librarian, Marian, and comes under the watchful eye of the mayor, who orders the school board to check out his credentials. Bring the kids and grandkids to this true American classic and enjoy such tunes as “Ya Got Trouble,” “Goodnight, My Someone,” “Seventy Six Trombones,” “Marian the Librarian,” “Wells Fargo Wagon,” “Gary, Indiana,” and “Till There Was You.”

Anything Goes
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Original Book by P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton
Revision: Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse

With 137 show titles to its credit, at Ohio Light Opera … Anything Goes. Cole Porter’s 1934 masterpiece not only secured his position as the period’s leading Broadway composer, but still stands today as a captivating testament to his incomparable fusion of words and music. And, in keeping with its mission, OLO presents the show in its original 1934 version, shorn of all the interpolations that have “plagued” more recent productions. 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. Porter’s revelatory score includes “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “All Through the Night,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” and the knee-slapping title tune.

HMS Pinafore
or The Lass That Loved a Sailor
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by William S. Gilbert

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? It was the 1879 success of this show in New York – and during that year, there were said to be more than 150 productions playing across the United States – that inspired the American theater community to create its own musical theater tradition. 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. Never mind the why and wherefore – to list the catchy tunes in Pinafore is to cite the entire musical score.

Music by George Gershwin
Book by Guy Bolton and George Grossmith Jr.
Lyrics by Desmond Carter and Ira Gershwin

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! Although Britisher Desmond Carter wrote the bulk of the lyrics, most of the show’s hit songs were actually adapted by George from tunes he had written earlier to brother Ira’s lyrics. Offering a tip of the hat to Gilbert and Sullivan, Edwardian musical comedy, and British music hall, 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. Song hits include “Wait a Bit, Susie,” “Boy Wanted,” “Some Far Away Someone,” and “Naughty Baby.”

The Student Prince
Music by Sigmund Romberg
Book and Lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly
Based on the play Old Heidelberg by Wilhelm Meyer-Forster

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. Romberg’s score brims over with tunes that you will be humming as you walk in and walk out of the theater: “Golden Days,” “Overhead the Moon Is Beaming,” “Just We Two,” “Deep in My Heart Dear,” and, of course, that most rousing of libation songs, “Drink, Drink, Drink.”

Countess Maritza
Music by Emmerich Kalman
Libretto by Julius Brammer and Alfred Grunwald
English Translation by Nigel Douglas

Among Ohio Light Opera’s many contributions to lyric theater, none has proved more fulfilling and rewarding than the successes it has achieved with the operettas of Hungarian-born Emmerich Kalman. With 12 titles produced thus far – and more to come – OLO returns this season to what many believe is his supreme masterpiece, Countess Maritza. 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. Song gems include Tassilo’s heartfelt tribute to his home town, “Vienna Mine,” the Maritza-Zsupan duet “Let’s Go to Varasdin,” and Tassilo’s lament “Play, Gypsy.” 

The Lady of the Slipper
or A Modern Cinderella
Music by Victor Herbert
Lyrics by James O’Dea
Book by Anne Caldwell and Lawrence McCarty

Everyone likes a good Cinderella story, so what better way for OLO to introduce this iconic character into its repertoire than with Victor Herbert’s zany musical comedy The Lady of the Slipper. 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. Recognized by Herbert biographer Edward Waters as “in every way … a major achievement in the American musical theater,” the show features Herbert at his most engagingly diverse: waltzes, galops, marches, a duet (“Meow! Meow! Meow!”) for Cinderella and the cat, a “Witches Ballet,” and the hit duet “A Little Girl at Home” for Cinderella and Prince Maximilian. For the second time in just three years (recall the hilarious Dream City and the Magic Knight from 2014), OLO presents a Herbert musical that has not been fully-staged in over a century.