The Merry Widow | Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

The Merry Widow Closing (Theater and Galleries) New Review (Theater and Comedy) Recommended The Short List (Theater)

When: Wednesdays, Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31 2014

Composer Franz Lehár's 1905 hit is the epitome of early 20th-century Viennese operetta—alternately silly and schmaltzy, farcical and romantic. Set in Paris, it's the story of a diplomat from the fictional Balkan nation of Pontevedro who's assigned to woo a wealthy widow so she won't leave Pontevedro and take her fortune with her. The diplomat's duty is complicated by the fact that he and the widow are former lovers from years before. This frothy classic has no more serious aim than to offer three hours of escapist entertainment while showcasing beautiful voices, and Rudy Hogenmiller's staging for Light Opera Works (employing an English libretto by Gregg Opelka and Reader contributor Jack Helbig, adapted from Viktor Léon and Leo Stein's original) delivers the goods. Stacey Tappan as the widow and Larry Adams as her suitor sing gloriously (Tappan's rendition of the second-act "Vilja Song" is gorgeous), the supporting cast is excellent, the costumes (by Jesus Perez and Jane DeBondt) are elegant and colorful, and Lehár's score—with its waltzes, polkas, and even a can-can—is well played by a full orchestra under conductor Nyela Basney's seasoned direction. —Albert Williams

Price: $34-$96

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