The Ohio Light Opera

“Resident Professional Company of The College of Wooster.”

America’s Premier Lyric Theater Festival

2016 Festival Season, June 18 – August 13

Box Office 330-263-2345


Kiss Me, Kate
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Sam and Bella Spewack

“Another op’nin’, another show.” If ever a musical dispelled persistent rumors that its composer was “washed up,” it was Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate. Not only the crowning achievement of his remarkable Broadway career, but one of the supreme glories of American musical theater, the show bristles with captivating “Top 40” tunes in a dazzling variety of musical styles, all set, as an extra bonus, to Shakespeare’s comedy of the sexes The Taming of the Shrew. Stage stars Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi are divorced, but nevertheless still working together in a Baltimore stage production of the Bard’s comedy. Complications arise when Fred hires a perky cabaret performer Lois Lane to perform the role of Bianca, Fred winds up on the wrong side of two gangsters trying to collect a gambling debt, and Lilli hits the ceiling when she is mistakenly delivered flowers from Fred that he intended for Lois. Virtually every song in the score became a hit: “So in Love,” “Why Can’t You Behave?” “Always True to You in My Fashion,” “I Hate Men,” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” to name just a few. Join us in celebrating Cole Porter’s 125th birthday in the season-opening production of Kiss Me, Kate. Wunderbar!
Annie Get Your Gun
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields

“Irving Berlin has no place in American music. HE IS AMERICAN MUSIC.” With these words, penned in 1924, Broadway composer Jerome Kern captured the essence of the Russian-born immigrant who wrote words and music to some of our most touchingly eloquent song classics, including “God Bless America,” “Always,” “Easter Parade,” and “White Christmas.” But he could let his hair down, too … and in 1946 Berlin wrote music and lyrics to a humorous, homespun tale – yet another battle of the sexes – of American folk hero Annie Oakley. Naive as they come, but a whiz with a rifle, Annie wins a job with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and falls hard for its handsome shooting star, Frank Butler. When he feels upstaged by her shooting antics and higher marquee billing, he leaves the show and joins a rival company. Attempts at a merger fail and it remains for Chief Sitting Bull to give Annie a lesson on how to win herself an obstinate man. Berlin churned out one winsome song after another, including “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly,” “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun,” “The Girl that I Marry,” “Anything You Can Do,” and what became the unofficial entertainment anthem, “There’s No Business like Show Business.”

The Mikado
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by William Gilbert

More than 130 years after its premiere, The Mikado – in the timelessness of its characters and situations, its witty lyrics, and succession of engaging tunes – remains a wonder of lyric theatre. Tailor Ko-Ko, condemned to death for flirting, is reprieved and appointed Lord High Executioner of Titipu. He is betrothed to his ward Yum-Yum, but she has fallen in love with the Mikado’s son Nanki-Poo. Displeased with the lack of executions in Titipu, the Mikado orders that the situation be rectified. Nanki-Poo, distraught because he cannot marry Yum-Yum, agrees to be executed in a month, provided that he can marry her in the meantime. When the Mikado sees Nanki-Poo’s name on Ko-Ko’s falsified execution affidavit, he condemns Ko-Ko to death for compassing the death of the heir-apparent. “A Wand’ring Minstrel I,” “I’ve Got a Little List,” “Three Little Maids from School,” “The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring,” and “Tit-Willow” are but a few of the song gems that have made this the most popular of the G&S shows.

Have a Heart
Music by Jerome Kern
Book and Lyrics by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse

Following on the heels of The Cabaret Girl and Oh, Lady! Lady!!, the Ohio Light Opera continues its survey of Jerome Kern’s early groundbreaking musicals with his 1917 Have a Heart. In addition to its predictably enchanting Kern score – one of his most tuneful – the show features book and lyrics by Guy Bolton and master British humorist P. G. Wodehouse (whose wit won over audiences last season in Gershwin’s Oh, Kay!), marking his Broadway full-score debut. The story centers on department store owner Ruddy Schoonmaker and his estranged wife Peggy, who try to salvage their marriage by spending a night at a Rhode Island beach resort. Their reconciliation efforts seem doomed by the appearance there of Ruddy’s recent paramour, movie actress Dolly Brabazon, and of Peggy’s recent wooer, the counterfeiter Capt. Charles Owen. Only at the intervention of elevator boy Henry – whose lines throughout the show, according to Wodehouse and Bolton, had the customers rolling in the aisles – do the romantic entanglements get resolved. Hit songs include the irresistibly catchy “You Said Something,” Henry’s comical “Napoleon,” and the sublime “And I Am All Alone.”

La Vie Parisienne
Music by Jacques Offenbach
Original French Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy
English Translation by Richard Traubner

Few artists stand as tall above their field as does Jacques Offenbach above French operetta. Following his ground-breaking Orpheus in the Underworld in 1858, he teamed in the mid-1860s with librettists Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy to produce six shows – La belle Helene, Bluebeard, The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, La vie Parisienne, La Perichole, and The Brigands – that remain among the greatest of all French operettas. La vie Parisienne, featuring Offenbach at his most effervescent, is the zany tale of a pair of Parisian wannabe bon vivants Gardefeu and Bobinet, who, having failed in their attempts to woo the cocotte Metella, turn their attentions to the visiting Swedish Baroness de Gondremarck. Her husband, the Baron, seeking a fun Parisian holiday, arrives with a letter of introduction to Metella. All wind up at a jolly party at Gardefeu’s home, which the naive visiting royalty have been led to believe is a hotel. Offenbach’s first attempt at a full-length domestic operetta comedy, the score teems with waltzes, patter songs, ensembles, and a most recognizable can-can.

The Dancing Years
Music and Book by Ivor Novello
Lyrics by Christopher Hassall

OLO has had request after request over the years … finally, here it is: the first American stage production in almost 70 years of Welsh-born Ivor Novello’s The Dancing Years. Novello had a remarkable career: as songwriter (“Keep the Home Fires Burning”), as silent film matinee idol (Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger), as Hollywood scriptwriter (credited with the lines “Me Tarzan, You Jane”), as playwright, and as a composer who virtually single-handedly brought romantic musicals (operettas … if you like!) back to life in Britain in the 1930s, 40s, and early 50s. The Dancing Years is the tear-jerking story of an opera diva, Maria Ziegler, who befriends and encourages aspiring operetta composer Rudi Kleber. When she misunderstandingly overhears Rudi making a mock marriage proposal to a young woman to whom, years before, he had playfully promised “right of first refusal,” Maria leaves her lover, marries her old admirer, Prince Metterling, and loses all touch with Rudi. Some 12 years later, Rudi and Maria meet again and passions flare … but she is accompanied by her 12-year-old son. Song gems include “I Can Give You the Starlight,” “My Dearest Dear,” “Primrose,” and “Waltz of My Heart.”

The Little Dutch Girl
Music by Emmerich Kalman
Original German Libretto by Leo Stein and Bela Jenbach
English Translation by Seymour Hicks and Harry Graham

The year 1915 marked the 100th anniversary of Hungarian-born Emmerich Kalman’s operetta Die Csardasfurstin (The Gypsy Princess). With this work, the composer began a remarkable – and virtually unprecedented – string of eight consecutive operetta masterpieces for the Vienna stage, all achieving great international popularity. In the third of these, Das Hollandweibchen (The Little Dutch Girl), Kalman set out to “scale back the … modern dance genre and … assign a larger role to the chorus … modeled on our grand classical operettas.” German Princess Jutta is stood up at her arranged royal wedding by groom Prince Paul, whom she has never met, but who prefers to spend the day sailing on a lake in Holland. Through the machinations of her prime minister, she is nevertheless married by proxy to the absent Prince. She seeks revenge and travels to Holland, disguises herself as “a little Dutch girl” Bella, and gets the unsuspecting Prince to fall hard for her – she then reveals her identity and dumps him. The lovesick Paul follows her back to Germany, but to no avail … or so it seems. Kalman’s musical score is masterful, highlighted by a most fiery Hungarian quartet and frenzied dance sequence.