Tag: Roger L. Bingaman

Review: Fiddler on the Roof (Light Opera Works)

Ryan Naimy as the Fiddler in Light Opera Works' "Fiddler on the Roof" by Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein, directed and choreographed by Rudy Hogenmiller. (photo credit: Mona Luan)        
      
Fiddler on the Roof

By Jerry Bock (music), Sheldon Harnick (music)
   and Joseph Stein (book)
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller 
at Cahn Auditorium, Evanston (map)
thru Aug 24  |  tickets: $34-$94   |  more info
       
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August 13, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Annie Get Your Gun (Light Opera Works)

Colette Todd stars as Annie Oakley in Light Opera Works' "Annie Get Your Gun" by Irving Berlin, directed by Rudy Hogenmiller.        
      
Annie Get Your Gun

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller
at Cahn Auditorium, Evanston (map)
thru Dec 31  |  tickets: $32-$94   |  more info
       
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December 22, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Cabaret (Light Opera Works)

Jenny Lamb stars as Sally Bowles in Light Opera Works' "Cabaret" by Kander and Ebb, directed by Stacey Flaster. (photo credit: Jasmin Shah)        
       
Cabaret 

By John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics) 
        and Joe Masteroff (book)
Directed and Choreographed by Stacey Flaster
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map)
thru Aug 18  |  tickets: $32-$77   |  more info
       
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August 13, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Oliver! (Light Opera Works)

Michael Seminic as Oliver Twist, in Light Opera Works' "Oliver!", directed by Rudy Hogenmiller. (photo credit: Chris Ocken)        
       
Oliver! 

Music, lyrics and book by Lionel Bart
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller
Music direction by Roger L. Bingaman
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map)
thru Dec 31  |  tickets: $48-$94   |  more info
       
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December 24, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Camelot (Light Opera Works)

Nick Sandys as Arthur in "Camelot" at Light Opera Works.       
      
Camelot 

By Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics)
       and Frederick Loewe (music) 
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller  
at Cahn Auditorium, Evanston (map)
thru June 10  |  tickets: $32-$92   |  more info
       
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June 5, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Secret Garden (Light Opera Works)

Sophie Thatcher is Mary Lennox - Secret Garden       
      
The Secret Garden 

Book and lyrics by Marsha Norman
Music by Lucy Simon  
Directed by Stacey Flaster 
at Cahn Auditorium, Evanston (map)
thru Jan 1  |  tickets: $32-$94   |  more info
       
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December 28, 2011 | 1 Comment More

Review: The Student Prince (Light Opera Works)

     
William Bennett, Danielle Knox - Student Prince Light Opera Works
The Student Prince
 

Book/Lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly
Music by Sigmund Romber
Adapted by Hugh Wheeler  
Directed/Choreographed by Rudy Hogenmiller 
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map)
thru Aug 28  |  tickets: $32-$92  |  more info

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August 23, 2011 | 0 Comments More

Review: Brigadoon (Light Opera Works)

      
     

Is ‘Brigadoon’ really that good? You bet your bagpipes!

  
  

Emily Rogers, Brandon Moorhead in "Brigadoon" - Light Opera Works

  
Light Opera Works presents
   
  
Brigadoon
  
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller
at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map)
through June 12  |  tickets: $32-$92  |  more info

Reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

The plaid kilts are in full swirl, the tamoshanters twirling, the “rs” rolling, and the heather in full bloom in Rudy Hogenmiller’s ravishing revival of Lerner and Loewe’s early and evergreen hit. A justified hit in 1947, Brigadoon artfully confronted post-war doubts about whether progress was possible: The legend of Brigadoon–a miraculous Scottish village that escapes the contagion of any century by skipping 100 years with each "day"–remains a powerful fantasy. Will jaded Gothamite Tommy Allbright escape an overwrought era by renouncing New York and his manipulative fiancée for the lovely lassie Fiona who dallies in the merry meadows beyond the heath? You bet your bagpipes.

Emily Rogers, Brandon Moorhead - BrigadoonIf the dream isn’t potent enough, Frederick Loewe provides his soft-focus persuasion–the buoyant "Almost Like Being in Love," the almost folkloric "Come to Me, Bend to Me," the enchanting “Heather on the Hill,” and the melting melody of "Waitin’ For My Dearie." As the cross-century lovers, Robert Hunt and Jennie Sophia really do make beautiful music together. (The singing overall creates two of Light Opera Works’ finest hours.) Given Lowe’s score as much as Lerner’s deft dialogue, their cross-century courtship seems equally factual and fairy tale.

Playing the village Romeo who goes home with Bonnie Jean, eager Brandon Moorhead gamely tears into the Highland flings, Scottish reels and sword dances that embellish Agnes DeMille’s original dances (crisply preserved by director Hogenmiller with zealous accuracy). Indeed, this could be Light Opera Works’ most danced production, with everything but a dream ballet discharging all the energy the townsfolk must release after a century of unintended slumber). Roger L. Bingaman’s superb orchestra capture every nuance of one of Broadway’s unsurpassable scores, a particular blessing when a company like Court Theatre thinks it can reduce Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess to a 5-piece band.

Jennie Sophia as Fiona MacLaren and Robert Hunt as Tommy Albright - BrigadoonBringing a rhapsodic myth down to earth are two ribald characters: As Tommy’s cynical companion, a deliciously dry Clay Sanderson delivers a cutting running commentary on the mushier events around him: His deadpan deflations helpfully undercut the tremendous sentimentality of the story and songs. Playing Brigadoon’s official bad girl, Maggie Portman has contagious fun with Meg’s patter songs "The Love of My Life" and "My Mother’s Weddin’ Day." Portman’s superb diction delivers every hilarious line of Lerner’s always sprightly, inventive lyrics. Most remarkable, the Scottish accents convince or, at least, don’t confuse.

Kudos also to Ricky Lurie’s completely convincing Scottish/folk/18th century costumes, accurate to the occasion and even to the clan. Nick Mozak’s simple set, a glen with a mountain backdrop that efficiently allows the town to materialize from the mists, is playfully lit by Charles Jolls – the village fair or the girls’ dance to “Come to Me” resemble one of Watteau’s fetes champetres. You can’t wait another 100 years to see this too-transient “Brigadoon,” a dream musical to utterly entrance the summer of 2011.

  
  
Rating: ★★★★
  
  

Light Opera WorksBrigadoon continues at Cahn Auditorium (600 Emerson, Evanston – map) through June 12th, with performances Wednesday and Sunday at 2pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets are $32-$92 (half-off for ages 21 and younger), and can be purchased by phone (847-869-6300), or order 24 hours a day at www.lightoperaworks.com.

  
  
June 5, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Hello Dolly (Light Opera Works)

     
     

Phenomenal dancing and singing makes ‘Dolly’ a New Year’s treat 

     
     

Mary Robin Roth (Dolly Gallagher Levi) in Hello Dolly – Light Opera Works. Photo Credit: Rich Foreman

    
Light Opera Works presents
   
   
Hello, Dolly! 
       
Book by Michael Stewart
Music/Lyrics by
Jerry Herman
Directed by
Rudy Hogenmiller
at
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map)
through Jan 1  |  tickets: $32-$92   |  more info

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

“Some people paint, I meddle.”  A widow makes a living as a matchmaker.   Light Opera Works presents Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly!, a big-hearted musical based on Thornton Wilder’s play The Matchmaker, set in 1890.

Before the parade passes by, I want to get in step while there’s still time left.” Dolly Levi wants to start living.

Dolly’s retirement plan is to marry the well-known half-millionaire, Horace Vandergelder.  Because Dolly is very good at her job, Horace IS ready to marry… Irene Malloy. Before Horace can pop the question to Irene, Dolly must strike the match.  It’s a hilarious intervention as Dolly rearranges multiple lives to marry off herself.    Hello, Dolly! is a witty, musical frolic wedded to the courtship dance.

You’re looking swell Dolly.  I can tell Dolly. You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’, you’re still goin’ strong. 

Mary Robin Roth (Dolly Gallagher Levi), Peter Verdico (Horace Vandergelder) star in Hello Dolly - Light Opera Works  Photo Credit: Rich ForemanMary Robin Roth (Dolly) has flawless comedic timing.  Roth delivers zesty lines with a side of slapstick, and has all the personality to anchor the show in the title role.  The musical orchestration has been adjusted for Roth’s limited singing range; her lower vocal style is robust but in moments awkward.  In solo numbers, it’s a unique rendition, but when she joins in on a brightly sung ‘Put on Your Sunday Clothes,’ Roth creates a bit of speed bump.

The best match of the show is the chemistry between Robert Brady (Cornelius) and Patrick Tierney (Barnaby).  The dynamic duo sing, dance and lampoon with charm and amusing absurdity.   Although Jessye Wright (Irene) has a beautifully operatic singing voice, it’s too serious for the light-hearted romp.  It really only works as the parody line Wright sings in ‘Elegance’ to make fun of the sophisticated.

A 22-piece orchestra, conducted by Roger L. Bingaman, sets the tempo for a splendid full-bodied musical chorus.

‘Don’t you think my dancing has a polish and a flare?  The word I think I’d use is athletic!’

The dancing IS athletic and amazing!   Rudy Hogenmiller channels Gower Champion to choreograph dance sequences that elicit applause DURING the movement.  In particular, two memorable moments are actualized by a large segment of the chorus.  First, in the parade scene, the band moves into a revolving kick line.  For a small stage and multiple dancers, the graceful high-kick turning is incredibly impressive.  In the second act, the waiters have a vigorous prolonged dance sequence.  The word I think I’d use is ‘phenomenal.’    The synchronization is perfection.  The waiters’ jumps are a harmonious spectacle.

Despite promises that ‘Dolly’ll never go away again,’ it’ll be “Goodbye, Dolly!” in a week.    So, here’s your goal again,  get in drive again, if you wanna feel your heart coming alive again… get your tickets now… before the parade, and the full orchestra, passes by!

  
   
Rating: ★★★½
 
   

Hello, Dolly! continues performances on December 27th, 29th, January 2nd at 2pm;
December 28th at 7pm; December 30th, 31st, January 1st at 8pm. All photos by Rich Foreman.

Running Time:  Two hours and thirty-five minutes includes an intermission.

Robert Brady (Cornelius Hackl), Patrick Tierney (Barnaby Tucker), star in Light Opera Works’ HELLO, DOLLY!, December 26, 2010- January 2, 2011 at the Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, IL. Photo Credit: Rich Foreman

    
     

     
     

December 27, 2010 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: I Do! I Do! (Light Opera Works)

 

Dated musical extols institution on life-support

 

Catherine Lord and Larry Adams - Light Opera Works - I Do I Do 003

   
Light Opera Works presents
   
I Do!  I Do!
   
Music by Harvey Schmidt
Book and Lyrics by Tom Jones
Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller
Music direction by Roger L. Bingaman and Linda Slein
McGaw Children’s Center Auditorium, Evanston (map)
Through November 14  | 
tickets: $27-$42*  |  more info

Reviewed by Leah A. Zeldes

It’s not only its historic setting that makes I Do! I Do! seem dated.

Marriage — the till-death-do-us-part style — is more and more passé. Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that the number of young adults who’ve never married rose from 35 percent in 2000 to 46 percent in 2009. Among all Americans ages 18 and older, the proportion of those married dropped from 57 percent in 2000 to 52 percent in 2009 — the lowest percentage ever recorded.

Catherine Lord and Larry Adams - Light Opera Works - I Do I Do 006 Of those couples who do marry, at least half eventually divorce. Adultery is rife — the news is full of stories about philandering celebrities and politicians — and some studies estimate that as many as 45 to 55 percent of married people cheat on their spouses.

In times like these, how relevant can a sentimental musical about a 50-year-long marriage be?

Based on Jan de Hartog’s 1951 Broadway hit The Fourposter, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones’ tender, two-piano, two-character musical, currently in revival by Evanston’s Light Opera Works, follows Michael and Agnes from their wedding at the turn of the 20th century through their five decades of married life. The action mainly revolves around their four-posted marriage bed, although its presence is more symbolic than titillating. We watch them through wedding-night nerves, the birth and rearing of children, squabbles and reconciliations, his brief extramarital affair, her mid-life crisis and their ultimate retirement, a story told mainly in a series of schmaltzy duets punctuated by occasional solos, recitatives and a judicious amount of dialogue.

In 1966, when I Do! I Do! premiered on Broadway, the divorce rate was just 27.4 percent, and roughly 80 percent of U.S. adults were married. You have to wonder what today’s large number of never marrieds, divorced and gays and lesbians are going to get out of this paean to old-fashioned, traditional marriage.

Michael and Agnes no longer represent the universal, generic twosome they once did, even among the married. Few today still follow the male wage earner-female homemaker model at the root of some of this couple’s tiffs. Married life has become much more complex.

 

Catherine Lord and Larry Adams - Light Opera Works - I Do I Do 005

Yet although dated in its subject matter, I Do! I Do! remains fresh in its intimate format — a two-person musical was ahead of its time in the 1960s. Schmidt’s sweet and bouncy but repetitive melodies and Jones’ simplistic sentiments — "Marriage is a very good thing, though it’s far from easy" — sometimes verge on cloying, but several of the songs have appeal, notably "I Love My Wife," Michael’s acknowledgement of how unfashionable it is, the upbeat "Love Isn’t Everything" and the comic "Nobody’s Perfect" in Act I and the poignant lament about aging, "Where are the Snows?" and the love song, "My Cup Runneth Over" in Act II. In Light Opera Works’ production, music directors Roger L. Bingaman and Linda Slein double on the dual pianos, occasionally a little muddy but capably over all.

Veteran actors Catherine Lord and Larry Adams make this production worthwhile. Lord’s beautifully timed, wonderfully funny and highly expressive performance as the often-dissatisfied Agnes gives the show some real spice. She acts with every part of her body. Adams’ rich baritone elevates the score.

If you’re looking forward to your wedding, an optimistic young married or about to celebrate your umpty-umpth wedding anniversary, this bittersweet and nostalgic musical may be just the excuse that you’re looking for to have an evening out holding hands with your honey. For many, though, I Do! I Do! describes a life so alien it might as well be science fiction.

   
   
Rating: ★★★
   
   

Catherine Lord and Larry Adams - Light Opera Works - I Do I Do 004

*age 21and younger are half price.

   
   
October 12, 2010 | 2 Comments More

REVIEW: Carousel (Light Opera Works)

Industrial Strength Nostalgia

 

Carousel Light Opera Works Chicago 03

  
Light Opera Works presents
   
Carousel
  
Written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
Directed by Stacey Flaster
at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map)
through August 29 |  tickets: $32-$77  |  more info

reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

Some candies may melt in your mouth, but practically every song in this glorious 1945 gem of heartfelt Americana melts in your heart. Filled with what’s now post-war nostalgia for an even simpler America (a sea town in Maine in the late 19th century), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s lovely and loving masterwork is an inspired reworking of Ferenc Molnari’s Liliom, a knowing drama about an abusive husband who’s given one last—posthumous—chance to redeem himself to the wife he abused and the daughter he never knew but still might save.

Maybe because it’s hard to believe in 2010 that a husband can “hit [his wife] so hard and still not have it hurt” (as Billy Bigelow supposedly does to the too trusting Julie Jordan), the seemingly tender plot of this beloved musical Carousel can also register an ugly shock of recognition. It’s nothing like the vicious menace that Jud Fry offers   Laurie and Curly in the earlier hit Oklahoma!  But this is even closer for discomfort–domestic violence Carousel Light Opera Works Chicago 01nurtured by Billy’s need to strike out at anyone but at the real threat, the loser he feels he is.

The question of whether carnival-barker Billy Bigelow will find posthumous redemption–by offering a star to the daughter he never knew–seems less important than the fact that soon after this unreformed bruiser returns to earth, the abuser slaps his daughter, as he did her mother 15 years before. If he helps his daughter Louise, it doesn’t happen on stage. And this, though Billy knows that his return to the living (like Jimmy Stewart’s in a film from the same year) is his one chance to make up for the cruelty and crimes that shortened his earthly sojourn–and escape the pangs of hell.

Writing about the recent Broadway revival of Carousel, the late William A. Henry III dismissed the 1945 classic as a musical where nothing important happens when it should and in which a rotter’s reformation occurs after it’s too late to matter.

But that’s the lure that drew Oscar Hammerstein to Ferenc Molnar’s Liliom: We need to believe that, unlike letters, love is never lost.

Refusing to dispute her dependency ("What’s The Use of Wondr’rin’?"), Julie Jordan, a lovestruck Victorian millgirl, clings to her seemingly worthless Billy. In real life, Julie’s dogged devotion to a thug would gain her a worse beating. But the musical’s make-believe, plus the powerful persuasion of a deathless anthem like "You’ll Never Walk Alone," improves on fact–at least until you think of Simpson.

Sturdy and sometimes impassioned, Light Opera Works’ revival – very down to earth and up to heaven, unlike the famous and deliriously lyrical Lincoln Center revival of a decade ago – finds a strong moment at the start: The famous waltz accompanies the millgirls’ happy deliverance from work and riotous escape to the carnival, complete with the title amusement. That–and the passionate “dream” dance duo between Nicole Miller and Todd Rhodes–are superb bookends for a literally moving musical.

Carousel Light Opera Works Chicago 05The casting seems made to matter. Cooper David Grodin makes a lean and menacing Billy, with a body language as confident as his tenor and more so than his acting. (He’s trying so hard to be tough that we miss the tenderness that clearly draws Julie to this “bad boy.”) Innocent until ardent, Natalie Ford gives Julie the pole-axed passion that makes this unschooled woman endure so much for her premature prince. But since they don’t connect when it counts–in the wonderful 11-minute "bench scene" that blooms into "If I Loved You"–it’s hard to wish them a second chance.

Ably inhabiting the supporting roles, Elizabeth Lanza enjoys her merry moments as conventional Carrie, a millgirl who enters into a risk-free contract with proper Yankee entrepreneur Enoch Snow (played with gawky rectitude by George Keating). As maternal Aunt Nettie, Winifred Faix Brown makes much of the unstoppable anthem "You’ll Never Walk Alone." Katherine L. Condit as Billy’s true soulmate, the randy Mrs. Mullin, and Jeremy Trager as his nemesis Jigger Craigin suggest the dark side of Billy Bigelow that Julie alone can’t tame. Happily, that doesn’t apply to the musical itself. These songs are surefire charmers and mellow a plot that almost too abruptly changes from flinty New England realism to moonspun and quicksilver wishful thinking. But then “What’s the Use of Wond’rin?”

   
   
Rating: ★★★
     
     

Carousel Light Opera Works Chicago 04

Extra Credit:

   
   
August 15, 2010 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Yeomen of the Guard (Light Opera Works)

Delightful singers highlight of sensational ‘Yeomen’

 

YEOMEN PHOTO 1

 
Light Opera Works presents
  
Yeomen of the Guard
 
Words by W.S. Gilbert, music by Arthur Sullivan
Directed and choreographed by
Rudy Hogenmiller
Music direction by
Roger L. Bingaman
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston (map)
Through June 13 |
Tickets: $32–$98 (under 21, half-price) | more info

Reviewed by Leah A. Zeldes

Gorgeous voices, thrilling music, a terrific 29-piece orchestra and a poignant plot — Light Opera Works’ Yeomen of the Guard has it all.

YEOMEN PHOTO 4Perhaps the most moving of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas, Yeomen takes place at the Tower of London, where the dashing Col. Fairfax is imprisoned, due to be beheaded on a trumped-up charge of sorcery. Phoebe Meryll has never met him but is as distraught over his fate as she is disdainful of the attentions of the lovesick jailer Wilbert Shadbolt. Her father, Sgt. Merryll, vows to save the colonel, who twice saved  his life, and with the help of Phoebe and her brother, Leonard, plots to secret Fairfax from the Tower by disguising him as Leonard, an arriving guardsman.

Meanwhile, Fairfax vows to thwart the greedy kinsmen whose false accusation landed him in jail and do him out of an inheritance by marrying before his death. His friend, the lieutenant of the Tower, agrees to find him a bride. When the strolling players Jack Point and Elsie Maynard appear, he tempts them with an offer of 100 crowns if Elsie will wed the doomed man. Jack and Elsie are sweethearts, but since the groom will be beheaded in an hour, they agree.

Then Fairfax escapes, leaving Jack and Elsie aghast that she is now the wife of a fugitive.

Though less whimsical than most of the G&S canon, Yeomen features plenty of wit and humor and one of Sullivan’s loveliest scores. Rudy Hogenmiller directs a strongly traditional interpretation with a cast of stupendous singers.

Company newcomer Sahara Glasener-Boles brings a divine soprano and a saucy demeanor to Phoebe, particularly delicious as she taunts Shadbolt in "Were I Thy Bride." Soprano Alicia Berneche gives us a plaint ive and lyrical Elsie.

Mezzo-soprano Yvonne Strumecki makes a majestic Dame Carruthers, the Tower housekeeper, a patriotic spinster with her eye on Sgt. Meryll.

 

YEOMEN PHOTO 2 YEOMEN PHOTO 3

Alex Honzen creates a hilarious Wilfred Shadbolt, head jailer and assistant tormentor, sardonic and smitten with Phoebe. He mournfully pours out his situation, with a fine baritone, in "When Jealous Torments Rack My Soul," a song Gilbert and Sullivan cut from the original score but which has been restored in this production:

When jealous torments rack my soul,
My agonies I can’t control,
Oh, better sit on red hot coal
Than love a heartless jade.

Dennis Kelly as Sergeant Meryll, Colm Fitzmaurice as Col. Fairfax, Michael Reckling as Leonard and Robert Brady as the lieutenant are also strong.

George Andrew Wolff‘s interpretation of the disappointed Jack Point misses the target a bit. In the early scenes, he seems too stolid, and at the finish he goes overboard into exaggerated bawling. Still, he has a gorgeous voice, and turns out delightful renditions of "I Have A Song To Sing, O!" with Elsie, his solos "I’ve Jibe and Joke" and "Oh! A Private Buffoon is a Light-Hearted Loon," and "Hereupon We’re Both Agreed" with Shadbolt.

While the choreography and staging could be livelier, the brilliant vocals make this a don’t-miss production. If you’re a G&S fan, you’ll love it, and if you’re not, you should be.

   
   
Rating: ★★★★
  

 

Note: Free pre-show discussion at selected performances. Photos by Rich Foreman.

June 6, 2010 | 0 Comments More