Wooster’s Fairyland: Seeing the Ohio Light Opera as a Spotlight Operator.

The audience gathered in, seating themselves as the lights grew dim. A pleasant, lively tune issued from the orchestra pit. The heavy red curtain billowed as it was opened to reveal a set that looked like an oversized oriental cupboard. It even had moveable doors that the actors went in and out of. The Ohio Light Opera had opened its third show, The Mikado, on Thursday, June 28. But never has an Ohio Light Opera performance been seen quite the way a spotlight operator sees them. Literally. Perched high above the Freedlander Theatre auditorium, these young adults are charged with keeping the cast illuminated by the spotlights they direct. They are some of the most loyal, and most dedicated people to the company. The Ohio Light Opera has been in existence since 1979, when the College of Wooster founded it to be a cultural and educational endeavor. Throughout the years, it has proven to succeed in that goal, time and time again. A professional company that is devoted to performing operetta, early musical theater, and reviving productions that have long since been lost to the world, it enlightens the audience and company members alike. And it’s not always in a straightforward way. On a typical day, walking through the backstage at the Ohio Light Opera, it is a life unto itself. Actors in costume recite lines or sing tunes to warm up as they get into character. There is the sudden loud burst of a saw, coming from the industrial shop off-stage, a set piece is undergoing a last-minute edit. A person carrying a glass pitcher is startled by this sound, fumbling for a moment before breathing a sigh of relief as the prop is unharmed. All this is separated from the audience members in the front of the Freedlander Theatre by two doors. Like the doors that Lucy opens to Narnia, it is a world full of wonder and grace. How do I know all this? I am currently on my fourth year, being a spotlight operator for the Ohio Light Opera. Before I became a part of the company, I was always an enthusiast. I would go to a performance every year with my mom. It has always been a way for me to support the performing arts, and to grow my imagination, without traveling to New York or Cleveland. I absolutely love being a veteran spotlight operator. Seeing what goes on behind the scenes of every performance, knowing actors, and talking with stagehands, in and out of the season, is, and will always be… fantastic. The Ohio Light Opera will always be an experience I am most grateful for, and will always remember with a fond heart. It’s almost like you can forget yourself for a couple hours, walking through that backstage door, and finding a new way to tell a story. I do my best writing there, behind the scenes, crouched in a corner. By the end of the season I am quoting lines from all of the shows and singing all the tunes. They stay with me for months afterwards. My imagination is sparked with new creativity. The Ohio Light Opera is Wooster’s own fantasy land, a fairyland. Where those young at heart get to play, every summer, igniting their imaginations with tales of the with their imaginations. And it’s the best job in the world. The Ohio Light Opera is in session from June 16 - August 11. More information can be found on their website www.ohiolightopera.org, or by calling the Box Office at 330-263-2345.

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