Light Opera Works

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Music Theater Works (formerly Light Opera Works) is a resident professional not-for-profit musical theatre company in Evanston, Illinois. It was founded in 1980 by Philip Kraus, Bridget McDonough, and Ellen Dubinsky.

Music Theater Works has presented over 75 productions of operetta and musical theatre at Northwestern University's 1,000-seat Cahn Auditorium. Since 1998, in addition to its three annual productions in this theatre, Music Theater Works also produces a fourth, more intimate show, in the 450 seat Nichols Concert Hall. The company performs all of its productions in English with orchestra.


Kraus was the first Artistic Director of the company, serving from 1981 through 1999. The first production of the company occurred in 1981 with a staging of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore.[1] Under Kraus' leadership, the company's main emphasis in programming centered on American, French and Viennese operetta, and Gilbert and Sullivan.[2][3]

Lara Teeter succeeded Kraus and served as Artistic Director until 2004. He continued to program operettas but added more musical theatre pieces from later in the 20th century. The current artistic director, Rudy Hogenmiller, took over in 2005 and continued that trend. In 2017, the company changed its name from Light Opera Works to Music Theater Works.[4] In 2019, Hogenmiller and founding General Manager, Bridget McDonough retired, to be replaced by Kyle Dougan as Producing Artistic Director.[citation needed]


In its early years, the company staged all twelve of the full-length extant Gilbert and Sullivan operas, including an Elizabethan concept Mikado (1986)[5] and an Edward Gorey/Tim Burton-inspired Ruddigore (1996),[6] as well as the less frequently produced Utopia Limited (1984)[7] and The Grand Duke (1992).

The company has produced a number of Chicago premieres, including Emmerich Kálmán's The Duchess of Chicago (1998),[8] Jerome Moross' The Golden Apple (1995),[9] and Karl Millöcker's The Beggar Student,[10] as well as revivals such as Oscar Straus' The Chocolate Soldier (1987)[11] and A Waltz Dream (1992)[12] (both with translations by Kraus and lyricist Gregory Opelka), Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland (1994)[13] and The Red Mill (1992),[14] and Leonard Bernstein's Wonderful Town (1996).[15] The company embarked on a Kurt Weill cycle in 1989 beginning with Lady in the Dark (1990),[16] and including One Touch of Venus (1997)[17] and Knickerbocker Holiday (1993).[18]

In 1998, in addition to its three annual shows in the Cahn Auditorium, Light Opera Works also began to produce a fourth, more intimate show each year in the 250-seat Second Stage or at Nichols Concert Hall.[4] These have included classic operettas like Jacques Offenbach's The Isle of Tulipitan, new works such as Soup du Jour and No Way to Treat a Lady revues, like Side by Side by Sondheim, and revivals such as Darling of the Day.

List of productions

Other activities[edit]

Music Theater Works is an active participant in the Chicago arts community and is a member of the League of Chicago Theatres[19] and a founding member of Chicago Performances.[20] The company has collaborated on artistic and educational projects with the Union League Club, Boys and Girls Club, Evanston District 65 schools, Theatre Building Chicago, and other organizations.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Scher, Valerie. "Pinafore: A Spirited, Romantic Delight", Chicago Sun-Times, September 11, 1981, p. 63; and Gerst, Virginia. "Kraus makes light work of opera", Pioneer Press, August 19, 1982, p. D2
  2. ^ Miller, Bryan. "Music Notes: the opera company that gets no respect", The Reader, May 26, 1989, Section 1, p. 6
  3. ^ Süllwold, Carla-Maria Verdino. "Second City Opera: Contending for First Place", Opera Monthly Feb. 1992, Vol. 4, No. 10, p. 21-30
  4. ^ a b Greene, Morgan. "Light Opera Works changes name", Chicago Tribune, April 17, 2016
  5. ^ Delacoma, Wynne. "Opera Works offers British Mikado", Chicago Sun-Times, June 20, 1986, p. 20
  6. ^ Bommer, Lawrence . Ruddigore review in Windy City Times, August 22, 1996, p. 32
  7. ^ Grossman, Ron. "Gilbert & Sullivan fans find Utopia", Chicago Tribune, December 28, 1984, Section 7, p. 3
  8. ^ Mauro, Lucia. The Duchess of Chicago review in the Chicago Sun-Times, August 1998
  9. ^ Williams, Albert. "Homer on the Range", The Reader, August 25, 1995, Section 1, p. 36
  10. ^ Süllwold, Carla-Maria Verdino. "Second City Opera: Contending for First Place", in Opera Monthly February 1992, Vol. 4 No. 10, p. 26
  11. ^ Reich, Howard. "The Chocolate Soldier makes sweet bit of history", Chicago Tribune, August 30, 1987, Section 5, p. 6
  12. ^ Tobin, Kathleen. A Waltz Dream, The Beverly Review, July 15, 1992
  13. ^ "Toyland: A Special Place for Young and Old", Chicago Sun Times, December 27, 1993, p. 23
  14. ^ Sinozich, Patrick. The Red Mill review in Gay Chicago Magazine, January 23–February 2, 1992, p. 36
  15. ^ Lynch, Liz. Wonderful Town review in Chicago Sun-Times, December 30, 1996, p. 27
  16. ^ Weiss, Suzanne. "Light Opera Works Lights Ten Candles", Pioneer Press, June 14, 1990, p. D2
  17. ^ Patner, Andrew. One Touch of Venus review in Chicago Sun-Times, August 19, 1997, p. 32
  18. ^ Knickerbocker Holiday reviewed in Gay Chicago Magazine, January 14-24, 1993, pp. 35-36
  19. ^ List of League of Chicago Theatres members Archived 2008-09-17 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ List of members of Chicago Performances[permanent dead link]


External links[edit]