It always is a little frustrating to me when people complain about small towns or rural counties and it being boring. Those are the same people who think living in the city with all the people, noise and traffic, give them an edge because “there’s so much culture and so much to do.” I’ll admit I used to be one of “those” people. I couldn’t wait to get out of my home town, but I was young and a little dumb. What I am finding now that I am older, is that if you want things to do in small towns or rural counties, you can find it. And living in Wooster, Ohio, opens up the door to culture more than one might expect. Two things that my husband, Bobby, and I have enjoyed in June is the Ohio Light Opera and swing dance classes. Both right here in Wooster!
- Ohio Light Opera (OLO)— Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the musical, The Music Man. My dad, Bud, is the owner of many albums from the 40s, 50s and 60s. One is the Original Musical Album from the movie. The movie starred Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. I think it was when we got HBO that my sister, Randi Vahl, and I watched it over and over. While she learned the choreography, I learned the lyrics.
Over the years Bobby and I have been able to see many productions of the show. We’ve seen it done by professional actors, community theater troupes and high school students. No matter where we see it, I always enjoy it. However, we recently saw it at the Ohio Light Opera at the College of Wooster, and it was probably one of the best productions we have ever seen.
From the very first note of the prelude, through the last song and curtain call, I was enthralled. There is nothing like live theater, especially when the acting is great, the songs are perfect and the dancing masterfully choreographed. Nathan Brian, as Professor Harold Hill, could have gotten me to invest in a band instrument and uniform for my son and I don’t even have a kid! Bobby said that he thought Mr. Brian was almost as good as the great Robert Preston himself. Sara Best, who portrayed Marian Paroo, was also excellent. You can tell that Brian and Best have worked together before — or they have great natural chemistry. But it wasn’t just the stars who transported us to River City, Iowa circa 1912. The entire cast played their roles terrifically. I was once in a production of The Music Man where I played Mrs. Squires. So I am always interested to see how the Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little song is done. Well the OLO took it to a level I had never seen. And let me just say, I’m glad I wasn’t in this show. I am sure that my body couldn’t do what those women did! Yvonne Trobe as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn almost stole the show. Her enthusiastic reticence was terrific.
I could go on and on about the show and the Ohio Light Opera. I have been fortunate enough to have seen a few shows over the years. They are all done to an amazing quality. Which might explain why the OLO is in its 39th season. This year’s season includes The Music Man, Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, George Gershwin’s Primrose, Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, Sigmund Romberg’s The Student Prince, Emmerich Kalman’s Countess Maritza, and Victor Herbert’s The Lady of the Slipper. So much culture in just one short season!
- Swing Dance Class at Wayne Center for the Arts — Bobby and I have talked about taking dance classes for years. Finally we took the plunge and boy, am I glad we did! Our instructors, Niklas and Yvonne Manz are German National champions in international ballroom. But they are anything but stuffy! They have so much joy and enthusiasm and patience when it comes to teaching dance.
Bobby and I are not the most coordinated people around, but Niklas and Yvonne are so encouraging. When we get the moves right, they congratulate us. When we get them wrong, they offer encouragement to keep trying and not to be too hard on ourselves. They are flexible and always ready to answer questions or go over a particular move or step again (and again and again). Our class ends on July 6, but there is another class starting the following week on July 13. It is going to be to learn The Hustle. I’m not sure if Bobby and I will be taking it or not, but you can believe that it will be a fun time for all who do!
Don’t think that at the Wayne Center for Arts is only dance classes. They offer all kinds of classes from dance to drawing to pottery and that is just for the summer! Their fall schedule is available now as well. This is a hidden gem inside of Wayne County that should be discovered.
So you can see that these are just a couple of things that are available this summer in Wayne County. There are plenty of other things to do in and around the county. You can check out the Wayne County Convention and Visitors Bureau or the Wayne County Events Calendar (which is where I learned about the swing class) or Main Street Wooster for ideas. One thing is for sure, if you end up bored this summer, it’s your own fault!
P.S. As a blatant attempt to promote my husband, he and magicians, Kevin King and Emmett Pennington are performing at the Best Western on Saturday, July 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets include light refreshments and non-alcoholic beverages. If you want to enjoy a night out and get your mind blown by amazing magic, this is the place you’ll want to be. For more information, check out Something to Do Entertainment.