The College Light Opera Company (CLOC) presents George M. Cohan’s “George M!” as the second show of its 46th season, running from Tuesday, July 1 to Saturday, July 5. “George M!” was last done at CLOC in 1980.
“George M!” traces the story of George M. Cohan’s life from his birth until 1937. The early part of the story traces the family act and its slow rise on the vaudeville circuit to the big time in New York. George, in the process of making it to the top, falls in love with and marries Ethel Levey. He then breaks out of vaudeville and writes his first success, “Little Johnny Jones.” With a hit on his hands, he and his partner, Sam Harris, seek to become the kings of Broadway. They sign Fay Templeton, the biggest star of the day and George is on top of the world. His wife, however, is fed up and a divorce ensues. The event weighs heavily on George’s inflated ego and he later runs into Agnes Nolan from the cast of “Little Johnny Jones” and confides his troubles to her. She soon becomes the second Mrs. Cohan. With Agnes, George writes some of his most endearing songs.
But soon, George’s world begins to unravel. His father has died and his sister marries and leaves the theater. The actors, to whom he has always paid top wages, have voted to unionize and are presenting their demands to the producers. Rather than recognizing the Actors Equity Union, George vows he will write no more shows and retires from the Broadway scene.
Later, to help out his old friend, Sam Harris, he comes out of retirement to star in “I’d Rather Be Right.” He finds much has changed and he must take orders instead of giving them. He confides to Agnes that he is a bit shaken but happy to be on Broadway again.
“George M!” opened on Broadway in 1968 and ran for 433 performances at the Palace Theatre. The CLOC production is led by stage director Heidi Kloes and music director Jonathan Edward Brennand. Ms. Kloes will also direct “The Pajama Game” from July 15-19 and Mr. Brennand will music direct “Lady, Be Good!” next week from July 8-12. Ms. Kloes received her degrees from Texas Tech University and currently resides in Houston, Texas.
Mr. Brennand, originally from Middlesex, England, studied at Drew University and University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The cast is full of new CLOC vocal company members: Maggie Robinson as Nellie Cohan (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, University of Memphis ’15), Rebecca Brudner as Josie Cohan (Brooklyn, New York, Yale University ’16), and Nell Komlos as Agnes Nolan (Allentown, Pennsylvania, Shenandoah Conservatory ’16). Returning cast include Cameron Brownell (from CLOC ’12) starring as George M. Cohan (Colchester, Vermont, SUNY Potsdam, Crane School of Music ’14), Gunnar Manchester as Jerry Cohan (Rehoboth, Bates College ’15), Caitlin Ruddy as Ethel Levey (Land O Lakes, Florida, Eastman School of Music MM ’15), and Nick Martiniano as Sam Harris (Troy, New York, Russell Sage College ’15).
George M! will run July 1 to 5 at 8 PM, with a Thursday matinee at 2 PM. Tickets are $35 and are available by calling the CLOC box office at 508-548-0668 or by visiting the CLOC box office, 58 Highfield Drive, Falmouth, open Monday to Saturday, 10 AM - 12:30 PM, 2- 5 PM, and 7 - 9 PM).
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Juliana MacLachlan is a rising junior at the University of Connecticut, where she studies Vocal Performance and Communications.