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The Dress Circle: Showcase of Recordings by Ohio Light Opera - Part 1

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We’ll be looking at some forgotten operettas on this week’s Dress Circle (7/10 7:00 p.m.) with the help of Wooster’s Ohio Light Opera Company. For over 40 years, the company has been producing musicals, mostly over the summers, and this first of two programs showcasing some of their recordings will look at five shows that were popular in their day but have all but disappeared today.

We’ll begin with “The Red Mill” by Victor Herbert and Henry Blossom. It was on Broadway twice: 1906 and 1945, and although the initial run was exceptional for 1906 at 274, the 1945 production nearly doubled it at 531. It was a huge hit of its time.

Our second show featuring music by Herbert is “Sweethearts” which appeared on Broadway three times: 1913, 1929, and 1947. For this show, Robert B. Smith (brother of Harry B. Smith who wrote the book with Fred de Gresac) wrote the lyrics.

In 1910, the third Herbert show at which we’re looking opened. This time, Rida Johnson Young a prominent Broadway writer of her time, wrote the book and lyrics. “Naughty Marietta was on Broadway four times: 1910, 1929, and 1931. 1931 actually saw the show appear twice, leading up to Thanksgiving when the theatre had booked something else, so the show had to close. The show that came in didn’t do well, so “Naughty Marietta” was revived within a week’s time to fill the gap until another show was began its run.

The other composer we’re featuring is Sigmund Romberg and two of his works.

“Blossom Time” is arguably our big winner in this line-up. It appeared on Broadway eight times! It opened originally in 1921 and ran for a blockbuster total of 516 performances. It was revived in 1923 (where it played in two theatres across the street from each other), 1924, 1926, 1931, 1938, and 1943. Romberg adapted the music of Franz Schubert and Heinrich Berte for the score, and the book and lyrics were by the incredible Dorothy Donnelly.

Romberg is paired with Rida Johnson Young for our final show, “Maytime” which only appeared on Broadway once in 1917. Even though it was a hit at 492 performances (playing in five theatres during its run), it was never revived on Broadway.

We’ll even be throwing in an overture from an extremely popular zarzuela entitled “La Verbena de la Paloma,” the Spanish version of an operetta or musical drama also performed by Ohio Light Opera.

If you only know these titles from the film versions that mostly featured Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, then you don’t really know the shows. We won’t be playing many songs from each score, but we also won’t be playing the big hits which you probably know. This week, we’re trying to give the music that has been forgotten a chance to shine!

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Ted Otten is co-host of The Dress Circle
Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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