Saturday September 23rd 2017

“The Student Prince”

The mission statement for Light Opera Works, a resident professional Evanston based organization, is to produce musical theater from a variety of world traditions, to engage the community through educational and outreach programs and to train artists in musical theater. Each year ( since 1980), they have strived to make sure that the theater-goers attending their productions get a proper mix of full scale musicals on their main stage ( with full orchestra) and small “cabaret” type shows on their second stage- and this they continue to do marvelously. Their current production, “The Student Prince” with a book and lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly and the book adaptation by Hugh Wheeler, features the music of Sigmund Romberg, telling us the story of a young man, heir to the throne of his country, goes to the university in order to learn about life outside of the Kingdom ( which very soon will be his). As he enjoys his days at the university, he meets and falls in love with a waitress/barmaid- a love that as a Prince, he knows will not be allowed. His Grandfather, the King is aging and ill and in just a matter of time, he will be betrothed to his cousin, who also loves another. Is love, true love , strong enough to change the rules of the royal world?

This is a very large and energetic production with voices that are pure and singers who are able to make sure that every word is heard, clearly! Even with the 26 piece orchestra in the pit, led as always to perfection by Roger L. Bingaman, we are treated to musical theater as it should be done- with clarity and love, and this cast, under the skillful direction ad choreography of Rudy Hogenmiller shows their love for the work they are performing- it shows! The sets by Tom Burch fill the stage and the wonderful costumes by Jeff Handry are equal to any major theater in town. Andrew Meyers’ lighting and David Lee Bradke’s sound make it all clear and the prop people Anders Jacobson and Judy Radovsky handled a lot of small items without a hitch. Light Opera Works knows how to do it right.

The cast of talented actors/singers does a great job with some complicated music- a great ensemble! The Prince, young William Bennett, has a truly amazing voice and a wonderful stage presence. While he was not what I had anticipated from his first entrance, he soon changed my opinion of what Prince Karl Franz should look like. The love of his life, the girl he could never have, Kathie ( the lovely and talented Danielle M. Knox) was a delight to watch and his betrothed, Princess Margaret ( Stephanie Stockstill) was also beautiful in face and voice. This is a very winning cast with the ever popular, always funny Dale Benson handling the comic role of Lutz, the Prince’s Valet.  Benson, as I have said many times over the year can take a word and make it into a skit. In one scene, his exit alone was a 15 second laugh. The young members of this cast are lucky to work with one of the true masters of Chicago’s theater scene, and audiences are always fortunate to have the experience of watching him work.

This is a solid production that will only continue at Cahn Auditorium, at 600 Emerson on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston through Sunday, August 28th with performances on:

Wednesday, 8/24 at 2 p.m.

Friday 8/26 and Saturday 8/27 at 8 p.m.

Sunday 8/28 at 2 p.m.

This is almost three hours of marvelous music with two 10 minute intermissions

Tickets range in price from $32 ( ages 21 and younger half off) I suggest children under 12 probably won’t find this entertaining ( depending on the child, of course)

to order your tickets call 847-869-6300 or visit

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