American Light Opera Company

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The American Light Opera Company was a semi-professional theatre company performing light operas and musicals in Washington, D.C. from 1960 to 1968. It was founded by a group of former and (at the time) current members of the University of Michigan's Gilbert & Sullivan Society. Jim Ueberhorst was the primary "mover and shaker" of the organization.

Its first production, The Mikado, took place on 17 June 1960 at Naval Ordnance Laboratory in White Oak, Maryland. Over the next few years, the company grew rapidly, with five to six productions a season, usually performed in the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University. The company also performed at the White House,[1] and its chorus appeared several times with Washington's National Symphony Orchestra. Their final performance was West Side Story performed at Western High School in Washington D.C. on 28 January 1968.

Notable past performers with the company include the actress Georgia Engel, the dancer and choreographer George Faison, the opera singer Richard Stilwell, and the performer "Rusty" Russ Thacker.[2] The President and Executive Director of the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., Donn B. Murphy, directed several productions for the company – Show Boat (1961), Finian's Rainbow (1962), South Pacific (1963), The King and I (1964), Camelot (1965) and West Side Story (1966).


The Mikado, Jean Carlo Menotti's Old Maid and the Thief with Sullivan and Burnand's Cox and Box, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers, Brigadoon, Showboat (1961 - Trinity Theatre, Georgetown) Finians's Rainbow (1962 - Trinity) South Pacific (twice, first in 1963, Trinity), The King and I (George Washington University Lisner Auditorium 1964), Camelot (1965 - Lisner) West Side Story (1966 Western High School), Carousel, Kiss Me Kate, Paint Your Wagon (scheduled to open the night JFK was assassinated), The Fantasticks, Guys and Dolls, New Moon, The Streets of New York, Little Mary Sunshine, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, My Fair Lady, Carnival, Oklahoma!, Once Upon A Mattress, The Music Man, Desert Song, Kismet (at Howard University's Cramton Auditorium for the Cherry Blossom Festival), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Gypsy (Galludet University Theatre) and Annie Get Your Gun (Gallaudet). Some productions toured to Baltimore, Richmond and Norfolk, VA.


  1. ^ "A Balcony Scene". The Day. December 21, 1965. Retrieved 2011-02-16.
  2. ^ Russ Thacker at the Internet Broadway Database