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by Kelly Ferjutz, Special to ClevelandClassical

MFL1-(Matt-Dilyard)

“The majesty and grandeur of the English language,” as Henry Higgins put it to Eliza Doolittle, is on glorious display in My Fair Lady, currently on the boards at Ohio Light Opera in Wooster. In a word, this production is magnificent. I’d say perfect, but someone would be sure to quibble. But still, it must be more difficult to produce a stellar version of what is arguably the ‘world’s most popular musical’ than to do a fabulous version of something that no one has ever seen or heard until that very moment. (One can easily confirm this popularity by the number of audience members singing or humming along, under their breath, so to speak, right along with the performers.) Read the rest of this entry »

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by Timothy Robson

OLOGeorge and Ira Gershwin’s 1924 Broadway show Lady, Be Good!, currently in the repertoire of Ohio Light Opera, resident at the College of Wooster, falls into the category of “They don’t write ‘em like that anymore.” Depending on one’s point of view, the response to that characterization might be either, “What a shame,” or “I’m really grateful.”

I saw the Sunday, July 14, matinee performance. As an example of musical theater of the time, Lady, Be Good! can’t really be faulted; however, we can be grateful for the revolutionary changes to the Broadway musical form by Jerome Kern’s Showboat in 1927 and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma in 1943, which much more closely integrate the show’s book, music and lyrics into a unified whole. That evolution of musical theater reached its apotheosis in the works of Stephen Sondheim, in which individual songs melt into the flow of the story.

Lady, Be Good!, on the other hand, has a flimsy and immensely convoluted storyline that requires considerable suspension of disbelief. Read the rest of this entry »

by J.D. Goddard

OLOBeginning in the 1870s, two Englishmen — playwright William S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan — revolutionized the musical theatre, creating a series of witty, melodic operettas that set a new standard for stage professionalism. Sullivan’s music sparkled with fresh melody, and Gilbert’s librettos blended silliness and satire in settings that ranged from pure fantasy to the utterly realistic. Innovative producer Richard D’Oyly Carte publicized these shows as “light operas”, but by any name, they were musicals — some of the finest the world would ever see in any language.” —John Kenrick

On Thursday afternoon, June 27, I traveled to Wooster to be delightfully entertained once again by a musical production of the Ohio Light Opera, the resident professional company of The College of Wooster. This was the opening performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1878 operetta H.M.S. Pinafore (The Lass that Loved a Sailor). This season marks the fifteenth time the OLO has counted Pinafore among its 120 productions over the past 35 years.

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by Robert Rollin

OLO-King-and-IThe Ohio Light Opera’s June 22nd performance of The King and I was most enjoyable. The 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical sparkled in this well paced production filled with good singing, excellent blocking and acting, lovely costuming, fine sets, Jerome Robbins’ original choreography, and especially imaginative lighting, made all the more effective through use of backlit shadow puppets.

The King and I is a gem of a musical, though by no means without a few flaws. The presence of a mature widow and mother firmly loyal to her husband’s memory and actively engaged as a caring parent, centers the show, as does the King, a dominating personality who, nonetheless, wants to bring his country closer to the more enlightened Western culture.

This musical is over three hours long, and the lengthy “play within a play” with its succession of dances can sometimes drag a bit. The OLO’s production never flagged and the play on Uncle Tom’s Cabin moved quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

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