The Ohio Light Opera holds performances on the College of Wooster campus during the summer months. The OLO is unique in that it both hires tech staff and casts performers who are still studying undergrad. This gave many Wooster students a new opportunity.
ìPace is the biggest difference,” said Charlene Gross, production coordinator and resident costume designer of the OLO and adjunct professor of costume design at The College. Gross also noted that the OLO ìfocuses on operetta and early lyrical musical theatre and is a professional company. This is a style that the Theatre and Dance Department may do once every four to six years.”
ìMost theatre companies donít hire undergrads, so weíre very fortunate to do this kind of work at this stage of life,” said Jackie Komos í11. ìItís a huge resume builder, and I learned much more here than in a classroom because of the 24-hour hands-on experience. Iím going out for it next year, too.”
This year, ten Wooster students participated in the OLO; alongside Komos were Jen Barnes í11, Phil McLeod í09, Owen Reynolds í11, Nathan Comstock í10, Derek Schrock í11 Nina Takacs í11, Emma Schmitt í10, Kristen Sorek í08 and Caroline Drozdiak í12. Student participation ranged from performance on stage to props, carpentry, costumes, electrical work, house management and pit orchestra. This involvement of 10 Wooster students was an increase from the seven who participated in the summer of 2008, and the three in 2007.
ìI think both the students who were technicians and [those that were] performers were surprised of how much was required of them and how much they accomplished by the end,” said Gross. ìI canít wait to be working with them all again very shortly on ìComedy of Errors” for the Theatre & Dance Department.”
This year, the OLO produced seven shows: ìFiddler On The Roof,” ìOf Thee I Sing,” ìHMS Pinafore,” ìRiddigore,” ìMademoiselle Modiste,” ìHelen Of Troy,” and ìA Night In Venice.”
The schedule consisted of seven days a week, beginning May 16 and ending on Aug. 9. For the first part of the summer, practice ran from 9:30-11:30 a.m., then again at 1:30-4:30 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. As performances began, rehearsals were confined to the morning with shows in the evening, with the end of the summer consisting of two shows a day and no rehearsals.
ìBy exposing our Wooster students to a fast paced established company like Ohio Light Opera, we open their eyes to what is expected in professional artists,” said Gross. ìThings like the stamina required to do eight shows a week, week after week, or the difference between doing a comedy from the late 19th century [ìHelen of Troy”] verses a satirical musical based around politics from the 1930s [ìOf Thee I Sing”]. I believe broadening a studentís experience in their art opens up a larger capacity for them to learn.”
“For those interested in auditioning next year, auditions are early December of this year,” said Gross. Technical interviews begin in January, for around 60 positions.
ìThe most gratifying thing is the people,” said McLeod. ìPicking up the skills and crafting talents is great, but the people in the audience combined with the people you live and work and play with become your second family. Thereís something wonderful about sharing an experience like this rather than just having it.”