BERKELEY HEIGHTS — The weekend of Oct. 26, Berkeley Light Opera Company (BLOC) will launch its inaugural season with “A Night at the Light Opera.” The evening will feature two one-act musical farces, “Cox and Box” by F.C. Burnand and Arthur Sullivan and “The Racketeers” by David Claypoole and John Centenaro.
The company aims to produce creative and inspiring productions of light operas and classic musicals, while promoting music education in the community through its association with and support of Judith G. Wharton Music Center.
“Cox and Box” is a one-act comic opera with a libretto by F.C. Burnand and music by Sir Arthur Sullivan, based on the 1847 farce “Box and Cox.” The piece concerns a landlord who lets a room to two lodgers, one who works at night and one who works during the day. When one of them has the day off, they meet each other in the room and antics ensue. The piece was given its first professional production in 1869 and became popular, running for 264 performances and enjoying many revivals thereafter.
The score contains the lovely tunes and upbeat patter Sullivan later became famous for in his collaborations with W.S. Gilbert. The Berkeley Light Opera Company production is very possibly the first “pants-ed” production of the piece, featuring women dressed as men and playing roles written for men. “Cox and Box” is directed by Vincent J. Balzano and musically directed by Heath Weisberg, with a cast featuring Ryan Cahill, Carol Ciancia, and Sara Noble.
“The Racketeers,” with a libretto by David Claypoole and music by John Centenaro, is a madcap romp involving a surprise IRS audit of a crime boss and his son. John Centenaro’s bouncy score fuses elements of Light and Italian Opera and sounds as if it could have been written by the off-spring of Arthur Sullivan and Gioachino Rossini. The piece premiered in January 1979 and has enjoyed many revivals in the 30 years since its creation, most recently in June 2011 at the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival’s Fringe in Gettysburg.
For the Berkeley Light Opera Company production the piece has been revised and contains additional music, which will be receiving it debut during the course of the run. “The Racketeers” is directed by David Claypoole, musically directed by John Centenaro, and choreographed by Grace Minerva-Buneo, with a cast of seasoned light opera performers, including Fred Bernardi, Mark V. Buneo, Carol Ciancia, Danielle Marchand, and Sam Shaw.
Performances will be held at Wharton Music Center located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. from Oct. 26-Nov. 4. Tickets will be $20/$15 for students and seniors and can be bought online at http://bloc.ticketleap.com/. Proceeds will benefit Wharton Music Center.
Wharton Music Center, located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights, provides music, theater, and dance instruction, educational programs, and performances for children, teens, and adults. In addition to instruction in all instruments and voice, WMC offers classes in musical theater, dance, drama, choral music, vocal music, music theory, audio recording, early childhood music, and music for children with special needs. Offering a range of musical genres including classical, rock, jazz, and blues, WMC is one of New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community music centers serving students in Berkeley Heights, Summit, Chatham, New Providence, Long Hill, Warren, Basking Ridge, Short Hills, Millburn, Livingston, Westfield, Scotch Plains, and other surrounding communities. For more information, visit www.WhartonMusicCenter.org . Wharton Music Center is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.