When Victor Herbert's popular 1913 operetta Sweethearts became the subject of a 1938 movie, none other than Dorothy Parker was called in to help write the script. Herbert, a major American composer for the stage, a pioneer in film scoring, and a crusader for copyright, was a household name in the early 20th century in spite of the fact that he never hooked up with a really good librettist. Sweethearts is a Cinderella story set in the low countries, with the added fillip of secret royal lineage. The version Light Opera Works is using for its current production was put together for Ohio Light Opera two years ago, with about 20 percent of the original creaky dialogue rewritten. Unfortunately, Parker wasn't available-the revised book's more silly than witty-but with Herbert's rich original orchestrations, a pair of charming leads, fine voices all around, and outstanding work by set designer Michael Lasswell and costume designer Elizabeth Shaffer, who cares? From the moment the audience sets eyes on the curtain-a lacy valentine framed by huge, gauzy tulips-through the chorus line of Dutch-capped laundresses cavorting with ironing boards to the final royal waltz, it's a delightful period cream puff. Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller and conducted by Roger L. Bingaman, it features Marie Svejda-Groh as the long-lost princess and Michael Gerhart as her prince. Sweethearts continues through this weekend at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson on Northwestern University's Evanston campus. Curtain is 8 PM on Friday, June 11, and Saturday, June 12, and 2 on Sunday, June 13. Tickets range from $27 to $59; half-price for those 21 and younger. Call 847-869-6300.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Rich Foreman.