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2015 Festival Season
2013 season

Can-Can
(1953)
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Abe Burrows

For many theatre historians and Broadway enthusiasts, the greatest of all American song composers, Cole Porter brought more of himself, his extraordinary life, and his times to his stage works than any of his contemporaries. Ohio Light Opera, following in the footsteps of its recently acclaimed productions of Porter's rarely staged Jubilee and Silk Stockings, turns its attention this season to the ever-engaging Can-Can, set in 1893 in Porter's beloved Paris, and featuring one of the composer's most glorious scores. Can-can dancers at La Mome Pistache's Montmartre night club are constantly arrested, and then acquitted, on morals charges. A new, upright judge, Aristide, pays a visit to the club to see for himself - he is determined to enforce the law and get results. Instead, he is enchanted by the dance and falls hard for Pistache, eventually gets disbarred, and joins with his paramour in getting arrested so that he can have his own day in court and, with Pistache, refute the obscenity charges. Few shows have contributed more tunes to the Top 40 charts: "C'est Magnifique," "Live and Let Live," "Allez-Vous En," "It's All Right with Me," and the haunting "I Love Paris."

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Brigadoon
(1947)
Music by Frederick Loewe
Lyrics and Book by Alan Jay Lerner

One of the most beloved American musicals, Lerner and Loewe's 1947 Brigadoon not only propelled its composer and lyricist toward the front ranks of Broadway, as rivals to Rodgers and Hammerstein, but also introduced to musical theatre a new type of other-worldly romanticism. Americans Tommy and Jeff, while on a hunting trip in Scotland, stumble on an unmapped village, whose citizens are in the midst of a fair and also celebrating the impending marriage of Charlie and Jean. Jean's older sister Fiona and Tommy take an immediate liking to one another, while the brazen village lass Meg wastes no time in pursuing Jeff. When Tommy notes that the locals have never heard of a telephone and that Charlie has attached the date 1746 to his bible signature, he questions Fiona on the strange goings-on. She leads him to the local schoolmaster, Mr. Lundie, who explains that Brigadoon appears only one day every hundred years. Disenchanted by local events, Tommy and Jeff return to New York, but are soon drawn back to the Highlands. But Brigadoon has vanished ... or has it? Song hits include Jean's "Waitin' for My Dearie," Tommy's "Almost Like Being in Love" and "There But for You Go I" Charlie's "Come to Me, Bend to Me," and Meg's show-stopping "The Love of My Life."

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One Touch of Venus
(1943)
Music by Kurt Weill
Lyrics by Ogden Nash
Book by
Ogden Nash and S.J. Perelman
A most intriguing combination indeed: the comical and romantic lyrics of America's master of light verse, Ogden Nash; the witty and stylish dialogue of humorist S. J. Perelman; and the captivating musical score of Kurt Weill. One Touch of Venus exploits that ever-popular premise of a statue of Venus that comes to life, but can't quite adapt to the real world. Art aficionado Whitelaw Savory has installed in his museum a statue of Venus that bears a resemblance to a former girlfriend. The statue comes to life, but takes a liking not to its owner, but rather to Savory's barber Rodney Hatch, from Ozone Heights. Rodney's fiancee Gloria is furious, Savory is despondent over his unrequited love for Venus, and Venus has her hands full in winning over the reticent Rodney. This show is perhaps the closest that Weill ever came to pure musical comedy - but with an obvious debt to operetta. Song hits include Venus' "I Am a Stranger Here Myself," Savory's "West Wind," and the irresistibly seductive "Speak Low," with which Venus tries to ensnare Rodney after he has whisked Gloria off to the North Pole. One Touch of Venus has been one of OLO's most requested titles, and Kurt Weill, not heard at OLO since last century, remains one of musical theatre's greatest ambassadors.

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Friederike
(1928)
Music by Franz Lehár
Lyrics and Book by Ludwig Herzer and Fritz Lohner

Few, if any, German cultural figures are revered as much as poet/playwright/novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It was thus quite a daring step when famed composer Franz Lehar and his librettists chose to write an operetta about his early days as a struggling poet and his love affair with Friederike Brion, daughter of an Alsacian village parson. The operetta's plot centers on Goethe's sought-after appointment as court poet in Weimar, which, because of past court experiences, will be approved by the reigning Duke only if Goethe remains a bachelor. Intent on marrying Friederike, he refuses the post. Recognizing the importance of the opportunity to her beloved's career, she begins flirting with his best friend Lenz. Thinking her unfaithful, Goethe accepts the court position, bids Friederike a cold farewell, and heads for Weimar. Years later, he passes through her home town again and only then learns the truth. But is it too late? Lehar poured out his heart in writing one of his most beautiful scores. Operetta lovers will most certainly recognize several tunes, including "Oh, Maiden, My Maiden," sung by Goethe as he revels in his court poet offer and the belief, at that moment, that he will be enjoying it with the love of his life, and Friederike's "Why Did You Kiss My Heart Awake," as she struggles with the heartwrenching decision that she feels obligated to make.

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Oh, Kay!
(1926)
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse

If there were any doubts about the impact that George and Ira Gershwin would have on Broadway following their groundbreaking Lady, Be Good! in 1924, they were quickly dispelled two years later when Oh, Kay! opened to near-unanimous rave reviews and produced a handful of tunes that soon became standards. Written as a vehicle for Gertrude Lawrence, the comical plotline invoked a hot topic of the day: bootlegging. The book by Guy Bolton and master of comic fantasy P. G. Wodehouse concerns a rum-running operation, clandestinely based in the Long Island home of out-of-town Jimmy Winter, and run by the aristocratic Duke of Durham and his sister Lady Kay. Jimmy returns with a caustic new bride Constance, who, because of a question over the legality of the marriage, has to spend the night away from the house. Kay, to escape bad weather, blunders into the house and, to avoid detection by an inquisitive revenue officer, is sequestered in the bedroom by Jimmy, eventually posing as both Mrs. Winter and Jimmy's maid to escape the prying eyes of Constance and her father. "Clap Yo' Hands," "Fidgety Feet," "Do, Do, Do," and the incomparable "Someone to Watch Over Me" are but a sampling of the tunes in this top-notch Gershwin score.

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The Yeomen of the Guard
(1888)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by W. S. Gilbert

In its combination of comedy and pathos, and the human, rather than farcical, qualities of its characters, The Yeomen of the Guard holds a unique place among the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. In an inheritance scam by a scheming relative, the bearded Colonel Fairfax has been condemned to death and is to be executed at the Tower of London. Sergeant Meryll, of the Yeomen of the Guard, concocts a plan whereby his son, Leonard, arriving to join the Yeomen, will go into hiding and be impersonated by a beardless, unrecognizable Fairfax, thus providing time to seek a pardon. In order to thwart his unscrupulous kinsman, Fairfax begs the Tower Lieutenant to find him a wife. Meanwhile, jester Jack Point and his intended bride, the strolling singer Elsie Maynard, have arrived in town. The Lieutenant confronts Elsie and, with the promise of 100 crowns and an assurance to Jack that her new husband will soon be dead, Elsie is blindfolded, whisked away, and married to Fairfax. But the plan goes awry.... Both Gilbert and Sullivan felt that Yeomen was their finest collaboration. There are few, if any, songs in the operetta repertoire as sincere and emotionally grabbing as Jack and Elsie's "I Have a Song to Sing, O!"

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Ruddigore
(1887)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by W. S. Gilbert

Although audience reaction at its 1887 premiere, just a few days following the end of the long run of The Mikado, was lukewarm, Ruddigore has since fought its way back in the hearts of Gilbert and Sullivan lovers and is now recognized as one of their most inspired creations. Gilbert designed the plot - featuring witches, curses, ghosts, crime, and a madwoman - as a parody of old-fashioned melodramas. The plot centers on Ruthven Murgatroyd, who has abandoned his position as baronet and its curse-induced obligation to commit a crime every day, and is now living a simple, carefree life as villager Robin Oakapple. That is ... until he falls in love with Rose Maybud, his jealous foster brother Richard Dauntless reveals his true identity, and he is forced to resume his baronet position. Musical highlights include the ghostly "When the Night Wind Howls," sung by chief ancestor Roderic Murgatroyd as he descends from his portrait; the catchy, tongue-twisting, patter trio, "My Eyes Are Fully Open"; "I Was Once a Very Abandoned Person," intoned by the reformed Despard and Mad Margaret; and Roderic and Dame Hannah's exquisite duet, "There Grew a Little Flower."

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