I saw that “Opera in the Ozarks” in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is an annual opera festival on an outdoor stage.
That’s not what this post is about though. Reading about that reminded me about the Ohio Light Opera company in Wooster. Two years ago I wrote an article about this particular theatre company and afterwards had the great pleasure of attending two different productions. One was “The Mikkado.” The other was “The Merry Widow.” Both were superb and perfect for summer–nothing too heavy, but not too frothy either.
The Ohio Light Opera has a few distinctions that separate it from the summer theater pack. One is that it has been around for 28 years. This is an amazing amount of time for a company to last and it’s still going strong. Another is that the pool of talent is from around the United States and several performers come back year after year. Besides that, it’s the only company in the U.S. to run through the entire Gilbert and Sullivan repretoire on a rotating basis and the only theatre company devoted entirely to light opera, also called lyric theatre.
Each season there are a few Gilbert and Sullivan productions mixed in with other musicals. This summer it’s “The Pirates of Penzance” and “Princess Ida” besides some other favorites like “The Sound of Music“. Other productions include lesser known musicals with an aim to keep them alive. Here’s the summer production schedule. The shows rotate throughout the season.
The great thing about this kind of production, I think, is the camraderie of the cast. The performers are with each other all summer and have a variety of parts in several of the productions. A person with a main character in one show, may have a minor character in another. The versitility is to be commended. One of my favorite parts about watching the two shows I saw was to see the variety in the scenery and costumes. There were the same cast members, but the staging was totally different. Each had to have flexibilty for a variety of scene changes. This is a theatre company worth driving to see. If you wonder, where the heck is Wooster. It’s in Wayne County about 45 minutes south of Cleveland and at the edge of Amish country. This is a place you can turn a weekend into sightseeing and terrific entertainment.