When the curtain goes up on Music Theater Works’ season-opening production of Leonard Bernstein’s classic “Candide” this June, the company will be celebrating more than the beginning of a new season. After 36 seasons as Light Opera Works, the company will present the very first show under its new name.
General manager Bridget McDonough said, “After 36 years, we decided to make a change. Light Opera Works was a wonderful name for a long time, but we felt it no longer told the full story of who we are and what we do.”
“The company will remain a home for light opera,” she continued, “but we are also the home of Broadway classics, Great American Songbook concerts and popular educational programs for young people. We wanted our new name to reflect the diversity of our repertoire and programs.”
Michael Kotze, the company’s business manager, added, “People have been asking if the name change is a signal that the company is going to change. Actually, we’ve already changed—over the last two decades we’ve greatly expanded our repertoire and educational programs. By becoming Music Theater Works, our name has finally caught up with everything we’re doing.” The only downside, he laughed, is that “I still get tongue-tied every time I answer the office phone: ‘Light Op—um, Music Theater Works!’ Old habits die hard!”
Artistic director Rudy Hogenmiller said that people unfamiliar with the company often asked “if we perform short — ‘lite’ — versions of grand operas. There’s nothing ‘lite’ about our productions! We pride ourselves on full-scale stagings of musical theater classics. Everything from Gilbert and Sullivan and Franz Lehar to Lerner and Loewe and Jerry Herman, with big casts and full orchestras. We needed a name that gives people a sense of that.”
While searching for the new name, McDonough and Hogenmiller asked for input from Light Opera Works subscribers and patrons. “Suggestions poured in,” said Hogenmiller. “Our audience was not shy!” Interestingly, among the hundreds of responses received, multiple patrons suggested Music Theater Works. “The name stuck; said McDonough. “We particularly like the way it honors our past even as it takes us into our future.”
After “Candide,” Music Theater Works’ season continues in August with the Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim blockbuster “Gypsy” starring local favorite Mary Robin Roth, “Duke Ellington’s Greatest Hits” at Evanston’s Nichols Concert Hall in October and the timeless family favorite “Peter Pan” in December. Discount packages are available.
For more information on tickets and this summer’s youth programs, visit www.MusicTheaterWorks.com or call the box office at (847) 920-5360.
A special discount for 4-show packages is available for Evanston Now readers. When ordering online, enter EVANSTON in the coupon box when checking out (or mention it to your box office representative when ordering by phone) to receive a 25% discount.