The Ohio Light Opera prepares for a showstopping season

The Ohio Light Opera prepares for a showstopping season
Matt Dilyard

The 2022 Ohio Light Opera season includes something for everyone with six shows, returning favorite performers and new faces. Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" will start the season when it opens on June 18.


During 2020 and 2021, the lights of live theater were dimmed all over the country as the pandemic kept theater-goers confined to virtual and the occasional outdoor performances. This season the Ohio Light Opera is gearing up for a nearly traditional season, just a little bit shorter than normal.

“We’re not saying that we’re back. We really never left,” said Laura McGraw Neill, Ohio Light Opera executive director. “In 2020 we learned how to do virtual performances. We did some beautiful things and also streamed some of our recorded performances.”

Some of these recordings are still available on the OLO website.

In 2021 it was time to return to live theater in any form possible. “There’s no substitute for live performance,” Neill said.

Through collaboration the OLO presented two outdoor shows on the grounds of Wayne Center for the Arts — “The Fantasticks” and “Trial by Jury.” These performances were well attended, drawing both tried and true OLO fans and some who had never attended before.

Enter 2022 and preparations for an exciting and eclectic OLO season are well underway.

“People are excited about coming back to campus,” Neill said.

The Ohio Light Opera is a nonprofit organization and the resident professional company of The College of Wooster. The upcoming season will offer five shows on the Freedlander stage on The College of Wooster campus and one outdoor production at Wayne Center for the Arts.

No other repertoire theaters in the country do it quite like the OLO, running multiple shows in rotation.

“What this does,” Neill said, “is allows for people to come to Wooster and stay and see four or five shows in one week. These theater patrons stay in hotels and bed and breakfasts and take advantage of everything the area has to offer.”

The 2022 Ohio Light Opera season includes something for everyone with six shows, returning favorite performers and new faces.

Two beloved and popular musicals will kick off the first week of shows. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” will start the season when it opens on June 18. The musical was originally crafted as a 1957 television production staring Julie Andrews. The rags-to-riches story is known to virtually everyone. The OLO will perform the 1990s enchanted version.

“In My Own Little Corner,” “Ten Minutes Ago,” the comic “Stepsisters’ Lament” and the love duet of “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” are just a few of Cinderella’s familiar songs.

Next to join the season’s repertoire will be “Hello, Dolly!” It’s the story of matchmaker Dolly Levi and will open June 23. The lead role in “Hello, Dolly!” has been played by one of the most impressive lists of talented performers ever to grace the stage, and the title song is, for many, the quintessential Broadway show tune. Having been hired to find a wife for the wealthy Horace Vandelgelder, Dolly Levi strides her way through the New York City adventure, confiding in her late husband along the way. Of course she has no intention of finding the eligible, “half-a-millionaire” bachelor any wife other than herself.

Both “Cinderella” and “Hello, Dolly!” are shows theater-goers have been requesting for years, Neill said.

Next up, opening on June 30, is “The Student Prince,” considered by many to be the classic romantic operetta. It is an age-old tale of love versus duty. The longest running Broadway musical of the 1920s showcases tunes such as “Drink, Drink, Drink.” This show is already a best seller for the coming season, and fans are advised to purchase tickets soon.

July 7 is the opening of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic, “The Pirates of Penzance.” A pirate apprentice, having finished his indentured obligation, joins the police force determined to do in his old mates. Along the way he not only falls in love, but also discovers that due to a leap day birth he is actually only 5 1/4 years old. Gilbert and Sullivan fans are familiar with many of the songs including “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.”

Opening July 14, “The Mock Marriage” will take the stage. It’s a tale of female empowerment filled with playfulness, sensuality, and misconstrued and mistaken identity. It all begins when Selma, a billionaire’s daughter, swears off men and founds the organization WHAM! — Women Hate All Men! The OLO has updated the show.

Retaining all the lessons in adaptability gleaned from the past two years and moving forward to a new season, the 2022 roster will again include “The Fantasticks.” The show will open outdoors on July 19 in partnership with Wayne Center for the Arts. The longest running musical in history, nearly everyone recognizes The Fantasticks’ opening song, “Try to Remember.”

As a nonprofit, the Ohio Light Opera relies on both volunteers and financial contributions. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer usher is invited to email

Private donations play a vital role in the OLO’s operating budget. Many levels of support are available. If individuals prefer to donate to a particular project, the OLO is currently upgrading sound and lighting equipment. It also is possible to sponsor a particular show.

Donations may be made online at; by mail to the Ohio Light Opera, The College of Wooster, 716 Beall Ave., Wooster, OH 44691; via phone at 330-263-2345; or via Neill at and 330-263-2090.

The OLO also is hiring spotlight operators for the 2022 season (age 18 or older). Email for more information. COVID protocols will continue to be updated as needed throughout the season. Check the website at or call for current information.

The 2022 season of the Ohio Light Opera is waiting in the wings. The box office is open. “Summer isn’t summer without the Ohio Light Opera,” Neill said.

Curtain up ... light the lights!

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