Loretta L. Wittman, associate professor and director of Sweet Briar’s musical theater program, is performing in Ash Lawn Opera’s production of “The Music Man” this summer in Charlottesville.
The show opens Sunday, July 29 and runs through Tuesday, Aug. 7 at the Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall.
Wittman will play the prickly Mrs. Squires of River City, Iowa, in Meredith Willson’s now-iconic musical comedy. “The Music Man” was a Broadway hit in 1957, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It has since been adapted for film and television.
“[My character] is swept up in the excitement of the creation of a boys’ band as described by the lovable con-man Harold Hill,” Wittman says of her role.
It’s certainly not her only experience with “The Music Man.” She first performed in the show at age 10 at Starlight Musicals on Butler University’s campus.
“I fell in love with all the dancing and wonderful songs such as ‘Seventy-six Trombones,’ ‘Marian the Librarian,’ ‘The Wells Fargo Wagon,’ and ‘Till There Was You.’ I was hooked. I knew musical theater would always be part of my life. Since then, I have worked on this golden-age musical as a performer and as a choreographer four additional times.”
Wittman, a 2012-13 Mellon Grant recipient, has long directed musical theater at Sweet Briar, which the College began offering as a major in addition to a minor a year ago. She is also an active choreographer and actor locally and around the country. This is her first time performing with Ash Lawn Opera, however.
“It is so exciting to work with such talented performers and designers from across the country,” Wittman said.
She will be working with director and choreographer Cate Caplin, whose work has been seen in television, film, theater and opera. Caplin’s extensive resume includes coaching David Hyde Pierce for his Broadway roles in “Spamalot” and “Curtains.”
Jon Kalbfleisch, the resident musical director of the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre in Washington D.C., is the show’s musical director and conductor. Drama Critics Circle Award winner Shon LeBlanc designed the costumes, and members of the cast include popular local performers as well as actors with credits at the National Opera, Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan.
IF YOU GO
Tickets range from $11 to $54. Mid-week discounts are available. Tickets may be purchased online at www.theparamount.net or by calling the box office weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at (434) 979-1333. Free lectures are presented 45 minutes before each performance. Show times are:
2 p.m. July 29
7:30 p.m. Aug. 2
7:30 p.m. Aug. 4
2 p.m. Aug. 5
7:30 p.m. Aug. 7