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Light Opera Works (Theater company)

 Organization

Light Opera Works is a non-for-profit, professional musical theatre company located in Evanston, Illinois. Founded in 1980 by Northwestern alumni Bridget McDonough, Philip Kraus, and Ellen Dubinsky, Light Opera Works has operated according to its mission statement, which is “to produce musical theater from a variety of world traditions.” For many years, Light Opera Works was known as Illinois’ only light – or comic – opera company. Light Opera Works also stands out for being one of few theatre companies to produce the entirety of the Gilbert and Sullivan canon. While Light Opera Works has featured many operettas by foreign composers, they are notable for performing English translations of all foreign shows, including, in 1998, the first English translation of Kálmán’s The Duchess of Chicago. In 1999, Philip Kraus left his position as the company’s artistic director, replaced by Lara Teeter. While still making it a point to produce operettas, such as The Student Prince and Die Fledermaus, in the early 2000s Light Opera Works began to stage more American-style musical theater pieces, such as Ragtime and Fiddler on the Roof. After Teeter’s departure from Light Opera Works in 2005, Rudy Hogenmiller accepted the position of artistic director.

As a non-for-profit company, Light Opera Works has, for several years, has relied on two annual benefits -- including performances, raffles, and silent auctions – to help cover its operating expenses. Those benefits, often themed around the characteristics of a specific country, often feature an expense-paid trip for two to that country. In addition to the grand prize raffle, silent auctions are common features of the benefits. Of particular note is An Afternoon in St. Petersburg, a 1995 benefit that featured staged scenes from Russian musicals directed by award-winning Russian director, Kerill Strezhnev. This unusual collaboration was a resounding success for Light Opera Works.

A major creative outlet in the Evanston community, Light Opera Works has offered seasonal musical theater workshops for children aged 8 to 13. (Records associated with these workshops are not represented in the collection.)

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Records of Light Opera Works

 Collection
Identifier: 55/49
Abstract Light Opera Works is a non-for-profit, professional musical theatre company founded in 1980. In addition to producing three to four shows per year, Light Opera Works puts on annual benefits and concerts. The records of Light Opera Works include contact sheets, marketing, correspondence, press clippings, press releases, stage, set and costume designs, photographic slides, financial ledgers, and audiocassette tapes that relate to the creative and business history of the company.
Dates: 1980-2011