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July 2, 2007

Community backs ULM's Louisiana Lyric Opera

The incredible potential of the Louisiana Lyric Opera (LLO), the state’s only professional summer stock theatre, is hitting home. Both the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council and Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau are donating funds to ensure LLO’s successful launch this summer.

NLAC allocated approximately $10,000, and the CVB donated about $5,000 to LLO, the professional resident company of the University of Louisiana at Monroe School of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA). This kind of community support is tremendous, said Keith White, director of VAPA.

“This financial support does two very important things for the Louisiana Lyric Opera: first, the funds allow us to hire more professionals and market regionally, and second, this support demonstrates how important LLO can be to the cultural and economic climate of the region,” he said.

The cultural possibilities of LLO captivated the CVB, said Alana Cooper, executive director. “We hope the series will grow into a regular summer season performance, bringing in larger crowds and more visitors to enjoy the arts in northeast Louisiana.”

The new theatre will open its preview season with headliner Nicholas F. Saverine, who has performed in Austria, Germany, and on Broadway in both “Les Miserables” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” Audiences will enjoy another community favorite, Corey Trahan, a former Biedenharn Endowed Chair at ULM and an active performer in opera, oratorio, musical theatre, operetta and recital venues across the United States.

When White first shared his vision for a professional summer stock theatre—one that would feature stars such as Saverine and Trahan--housed at ULM, Tommy Usrey, NLAC president and CEO, was hooked. “I knew that LLO would have a long-term effect on the cultural face of our state and provide area residents with the finest quality theatre productions in north Louisiana,” he said. “Musical theatre is the most popular genre of the theatre discipline with area residents and to be able to bring Broadway headliners and up-and-coming-stars of tomorrow to a local stage is an opportunity of a lifetime … What an exciting prospect for theater-goers from Atlanta to Houston.”

More about LLO’s upcoming season:

“Little Shop of Horrors”
Aug. 1 - 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Aug. 5 at 2 p.m. in Spyker Theatre. Ticket price: $25

The show takes place in the 1960s on a skid row in a large U.S. city. Three “down-and-out but loveable” characters dominate the plot: Mushnik, the owner of a florist’s shop; Seymour, an orphan he took in off the streets; and Audrey, his pretty young employee who dreams of a better life. Seymour finds a plant that is really an alien from outer space. It generates interest that helps business and changes everyone’s lives.

The show is full of satirical comedy, slapstick humor, 1960s style songs, and a surprise ending. The musical won several awards in 1983 and again in 2004. It is a satire of the original film, a 1950s science fiction farce of the same name.

“Cabaret Dinner”
Aug. 1 - 4 at 6 p.m. in BlackBox Theatre. Ticket price: $20

“Cabaret entertainment has become the rage in New York this past year. Many big name stars are presenting a solo cabaret act in restaurants and night clubs. We thought we’d offer it to our theatre community too. Folks can have dinner, be entertained, walk around the corner and see a great show all in one evening,” said Keith White, VAPA director.

“Pirates of Penzance”
Aug. 16 - 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. in Brown Theatre. Ticket prices: $35, $25, $15

This version is the 1981 Tony-winning adaptation of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, complete with songs and antics. In Act I, a band of pirates; an apprentice, Frederic; and Fredric’s nanny, Ruth, are swashbuckling on a beach and find the daughters of an illustrious major general out for a picnic. The pirates capture the daughters. Their father arrives and negotiates their freedom.

In Act II, the pirates attack the major general’s house, and a group of policemen fight to protect it and the daughters.

The show, referred to as “rollicking fun from beginning to end,” ends happily as several misunderstandings are revealed.

To reserve tickets or inquire about season tickets, call VAPA at (318) 342-1414. Additional information about the Louisiana Lyric Opera is available at

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