This blog/comic might be predominately devoted to Shakespeare, but, as a general theatre lover, I would be remiss if I didn't address one of the highlights of my year: my annual family trip to the Ohio Light Opera, whose season kicks off this Saturday.
As I've mentioned before, operetta was a formative part of my theatrical upbringing. Sadly, operetta and early, pre-Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals have largely faded from American stages. Fortunately, places like OLO make it their mission to keep these otherwise obscure and unjustly ignored plays alive.
Here is their current season, condensed into three panel plays. And by the way... if you think Shakespeare's comedies have stupid plots, you have never seen a comic operetta. I have been going to OLO for almost 30 years now, and it is always ridiculously, stupidly fun. (Here are my round-ups of last year's productions.)
An early American musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, who is one of my favorites. I read the plot for this and it is SO INCREDIBLY STUPID. This isn't a bad thing. In my experience, the stupider the raw material, the more hysterical the OLO performance of it is.
Not my favorite Lerner and Loewe musical, although it's popular with many people. It's got some nice songs in it, though, and the preponderance of gratuitously fake Scottish accents is always amusing.
Music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ogden Nash? I'm intrigued.... This will be my first Kurt Weill musical. Also, the plot? It's ridiculously stupid. CAN'T WAIT.
By composer Franz Lehar. I love me some Lehar (most famous for The Merry Widow). This is classic overwrought operetta fare - a true romance selflessly sacrificed by a young maid who only wants the best for her man, etc. etc. Great music, though.
Music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin! That's always a good thing. Like many early American musicals, the plot for this is.... wait for it.... totally stupid. This is a recurring theme with comic operetta and early musicals, but, as I said, it's not a bad thing. The stupider the better, I say.
Gilbert and Sullivan! My first theatrical love! I might have large passages of Shakespeare memorized, but I can almost literally sing through any entire G&S operetta (with the exception of the Act I choruses, which always involve lots of people singing different words very loudly all at the same time, and thus are harder to pick up by ear.) Yeomen is the only G&S operetta that ends on a bit of a downer, but the music is gorgeous.
I love all the G&S operettas, but I'm particularly fond of Ruddigore, possibly because it has freaking picture gallery ghosts who come down from their frames and very politely torture people. It's great.
Anyways, that's my round-up of the Ohio Light Opera! I will be going there for the last week of their season in August, where I can catch all the shows at once. If you're in the Midwest area and enjoy truly mindless entertainment with truly great music, I highly recommended checking them out. A lot of these shows you literally will never see anywhere else.