VLOG—Village Light Opera Group
Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Hail Poetry!” is this group’s theme song! Technically a community operetta group, which for many years produced two Broadway style productions a year, with a 28-member professional orchestra at the Fashion Institute Theater–20 blocks South of Broadway. Largely due to their Resident Music Director & Conductor, Ronald W. Noll, this group has been critically acclaimed by many professional critics—as well as their huge audiences. The group started in 1936, as a G&S group, formed by wives & husbands of then Met singers; as of 1971, in addition, the group began offering other European and American operettas. Later, as younger members joined, the group happily added musical comedies to its format.
Members audition and are cast in roles or ensemble onstage and must also commit to an offstage position (costumes, sets, publicity, etc.)—and there are lots of parties and aftershows—lots!—at favorite watering holes or someone’s house or apartment (hopefully catered by excellent performer & chef Patty Shea!).
For many years VLOG was a wonderful venue for professionals and newcomers, who also enjoyed the communal aspect, to be seen and heard in a fantastic showcase–many of us got many jobs when our arts were seen in VLOG productions. Two wonderful performers who started with this group: Martha Thigpen (later a fabulous “Tosca” & other City Opera leads at Lincoln Center) & Mark Beudert (“Pirates” in the Park & on Broadway, and a successful international opera career). In addition, Ron & his talented wife Sara-Ann Noll’s daughter, Christy, I’ve had the delight and priviledge to watch grow from a VLOG kid to a very amazing, talented and popular performer herself: Christianne Noll.
BK & VLOG
This group—and the incredible variety of members (individuals and families) I’ve met through the years are important to me on so many levels. Number One: They love to offer really fun shows of the highest quality (many of our productions were compared by critics to Broadway shows); Number Two: They love to have a good time!—on and off stage! This group, more than any I’ve known, truly upholds the word “amateur” to its literal meaning: “one who does what he/she loves”. VLOG is like a giant extended family—the members are really there for each other—through fun times and rough times, truly in sickness and in health—for me they are one of my most loved extended families.
I stage directed 25 VLOG & 3 BALOE (British-American Light Opera Exchange) shows & choreographed all but one. I had the priviledge of working with fantastic musical director and conductor Ronald W. Noll, also my caring, delightful friend, for all VLOG and one of the BALOE shows. I also directed three separate performances of my “Cantata For Good Friday”—gifts to our rehearsal/building host, First Presbyterian Church, NYC.
The biggest honor this group afforded me was inviting me to be an Honorary Life Member (regular members of outstanding service were honored as “Life Members”; paid staff could only be “Honorary Life Members” (like Ron Noll & Barbara Sabel).
Below is a list of the shows I’ve had the honor to captain with VLOG—and each one has its own entry in “Mapping The Legacy”—a cornucopia of memories too big for one Highlight!
1971—Gilbert & Sullivan’s “WESTERN TRIAL BY JURY” & “THE SORCEROR”
1972—Edward German’s “TOM JONES”
1973—Offenbach’s “LA BELLE HELENE”
1974—Koch’s “CANTATA FOR GOOD FRIDAY”
1974—G&S’s “YEOMEN OF THE GUARD”—as a tragic opera
1975—Koch’s “CANTATA FOR GOOD FRIDAY”
1975—Lehar’s “THE MERRY WIDOW”
1976—Koch’s “CANTATA FOR GOOD FRIDAY”
1976—Romberg/Hammerstein’s ‘THE NEW MOON”
1976—G&S’s “WESTERN TRIAL BY JURY” (BALOE in London)
1976—G&S’s “UTOPIA, LTD.”
1977—Offenbach’s “LA VIE PARIESIENNE”
1977—G&S’s “FAIRY-TALE PINAFORE” (BALOE in New York City)
1977—G&S’s “THE MIKADO”
1978—Romberg/Hammerstein’s “THE DESERT SONG”
1980—Offenbach’s “THE GRAND DUCHESS OF GEROLSTEIN”
1983—Wright&Forrest’s “SONG OF NORWAY”
1983—G&S’s “THE GONDOLIERS”
1989—G&S’s “U.S.S. PINAFORE”
1995—G&S’s “YEOMEN OF THE GUARD”—as a musical drama
1996—“A SALUTE TO BARBARA SABEL” (Artistic Director)–a celebration of the Art of incredible costume designer & person Barbara Munday Sabel—longtime VLOG member
1997—Comden,Greene&Styne’s “BELLS ARE RINGING”
1998—Berlin’s “CALL ME MADAM”
2000—Loesser’s “HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS…”
2001—G&S’s “THE GONDOLIERS” (BALOE in London)