2018 Festival Season
June 16-August 11


The Pajama Game

(1954)
Music and Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
Book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell

“Irresistible,” “a humdinger,” “bright, brassy, and jubilantly sassy,” “a deliriously daffy delight,” “raucous, rollicking, and fast,” “about the best-natured musical you may ever see.” These are just some of the accolades that greeted the Broadway opening in 1954 of Adler and Ross’ The Pajama Game, which ran more than 1000 performances. Although they followed this up the next year with another blockbuster, Damn Yankees, Ross’ death that same year at age 29 cut short what promised to be a musical theater team to rival Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe. Based on Richard Bissell’s novel 7½ Cents, the engaging story centers on the budding, but tense, romance between pajama factory foreman Sid and union boss Babe, who is trying hard, on behalf of the employees, to wangle a raise out of Sid’s boss. Few shows have produced a more dizzying array of bright, catchy, and spirited tunes: “I’m Not at All in Love,” “Once a Year Day,” “Hey There,” “Steam Heat,” “Small Talk,” “There Once Was a Man,” and the unforgettable “Hernando’s Hideaway.”

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Babes in Arms

(1937)
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Book by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

Richard Rodgers, never at a loss for melody, and Lorenz Hart, ever-ready with a witty and poignant lyric, outdid even themselves in their 1937 musical hit Babes in Arms, which produced more enduring standards than any musical of the period. The stage show and subsequent Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney film popularized the “kids … let’s put on a show” concept. To avoid being sent off to a work farm for the summer while their vaudevillian parents tour, teenagers, led by Val Lamar and his adoring girlfriend Billie, band together to produce a musical follies featuring former child actress Baby Rose. But prejudice among the ranks raises obstacles to their venture. Song hits include “My Funny Valentine,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “I Wish I Were in Love Again,” “Johnny One Note,” the rousing title song, and that most haunting and affecting of tunes, “Where or When,” in which Billie, meeting Val for the first time, is struck with a déjà vu sense that they have crossed paths before. Remarkably, the show has never been revived on Broadway—don’t miss this opportunity at OLO!

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Fifty Million Frenchmen

(1929)
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Herbert Fields

OLO audiences over the past several years have had a unique opportunity—in Jubilee, Silk Stockings, Can-Can, Kiss Me, Kate, and Anything Goes—to experience the unmatched delights of a Cole Porter musical. His memorable tunes, sophisticated lyrics, and double entendres have captivated theatergoers since he made his first big splash on Broadway in the late 1920s. And now … OLO brings to life his first hit show, Fifty Million Frenchmen, with one of the composer’s most glorious musical scores. Wealthy American playboy Peter Forbes, while in Paris, bets his friend Billy that, within a month and passing himself off as poor, he can become engaged to a girl, Looloo, who has caught his eye. Complications arise when two other girls foist their attentions on Peter, and Looloo informs him that her socialite parents are set on her marrying a grand duke. The score includes two Porter top-40 standards, “You Do Something to Me” and “You’ve Got That Thing,” in addition to “Find Me a Primitive Man” (not one that belongs to a club, but one that has a club that belongs to him), the ever-amusing “Tale of the Oyster,” and the exquisite “You Don’t Know Paree.”

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Iolanthe

(1882)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by William Gilbert

Very few things British escaped the satirical pen of William Gilbert—their parliamentary system was no exception. In Iolanthe, politicians, laws, males, and class snobbery have no chance in a world in which women, in the guise of fairies, call the shots. The forever youthful fairy Iolanthe married a mortal some years before and bore a son, Strephon. When his beloved, the shepherdess Phyllis, sees him embracing his mother, she misinterprets their relationship and agrees to marry instead a member of the House of Lords. As revenge for this insult, the Fairy Queen uses her powers to put Strephon into Parliament, with the goal of wreaking havoc. Sullivan’s score, ever melodic, is arguably his most ambitious, with harmonies reminiscent at times of Mendelssohn and Wagner. Highlights include the Fairy Queen’s “Oh, Foolish Fay”; the mighty chorus of the Peers, “Loudly Let the Trumpet Bray;” the Lord Chancellor’s “When I Went to the Bar”; and the devilishly difficult nightmare song, “When You’re Lying Awake,” the patter song to end all patter songs.

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Candide

(1956)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
Additional Lyrics by John Latouche and Dorothy Parker
Book by Lillian Hellman

More than a quarter century after his death, Leonard Bernstein remains a towering figure in shaping our national musical legacy. Composer, conductor, pianist, author, and lecturer—he was a true modern Renaissance man, who brought innovation and pizzazz to all that he touched. In commemorating his 2018 centenary, Ohio Light Opera welcomes him, for the first time, into its repertoire with his 1956 comic operetta Candide, based on the classic 1759 satire of Voltaire. Westphalian philosopher Dr. Pangloss has imparted to Candide, his bride Cunegonde, and her brother Maximillian the belief that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds. Pangloss soon informs Candide that his new wife has died at the hands of enemy troops and urges the young man to go out and experience the world. And that he does! Through harrowing life-changing experiences in Lisbon, Paris, Buenos Aires, Venice, and, finally, back home again, Candide has come to question the doctor’s ideology—he would rather follow his own credo. In addition to the world-famous overture, the captivating musical score includes “The Best of All Possible Worlds,” “Oh, Happy We,” “Eldorado,” “Make Our Garden Grow,” and the ever-popular coloratura dazzler “Glitter and Be Gay.”

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La Périchole

(1868)
Music by Jacques Offenbach
Original French Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
English Translation by Jacob Allen

With its setting in exotic Peru, a zany but affecting plotline, and a truly scintillating musical score, Offenbach’s La Périchole has stood the test of time as one of the composer’s most beloved works. Responding to changing Parisian tastes, Offenbach veered away from the parody and satire that had characterized his recent works (e.g., La belle Hélène and Bluebeard) and turned to good, new-fashioned, romantic operetta. When Piquillo, companion of penniless street singer La Périchole, goes off seeking food, she falls prey to the advances of the hot-to-trot viceroy, Don Andrès, who offers her an advantageous court position as lady-in-waiting to his deceased wife. But, according to protocol, her new position requires that she be married, a condition that, under the influence of a little wine, she accepts. When the viceroy’s men bring in a candidate—and it is Piquillo, so drunk that he doesn’t recognize Périchole—the fun begins! Musical highlights include Périchole’s poignant and heartfelt “Letter Song,” her tipsy waltz, and the viceroy’s banishment of Piquillo to the dungeon that is reserved for recalcitrant husbands.

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Cloclo

(1924)
Music by Franz Lehár
Original German Libretto by Béla Jenbach
English Translation by Steven Daigle

Before embarking on a series of heavier, tear-jerking, lushly romantic operettas written for operatic tenor Richard Tauber, composer Franz Lehár, with his 1924 Cloclo, took one last fling at the carefree, lighthearted operetta style of his pre-war Merry Widow days. Cloclo is an extroverted Parisian revue star who, above all her admirers, loves the extremely poor Maxime. But, for love of the high life, she can’t resist the attentions of the well-off and elderly Severin, mayor of Perpignan. Her “need more money” letter to Severin is intercepted by his wife Melousine, who assumes that the young girl is her husband’s illegitimate daughter, but, as they are childless, is more than happy to take Cloclo into her home. Complications arise when Cloclo’s piano teacher falls hard for her and she winds up in jail for striking an officer. The musical score, orchestrally and vocally rich, is a delight from start to finish. Take Merry Widow (waltzes and marches), add jazz (foxtrots and blues), throw in a tango and a champagne-fueled jail scene à la Fledermaus—and mix!

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