WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 19rA
Emerging tonight as a polished, big-time musical comedy, "Lace
It Up" was once little more than a group of vague concepts in the 2
minds of a skeleton Union Opera staff.
The story behind "Lace It Up" is a long one; it began some 42
years ago when University men produced "Michigenda" in an effort
to raise funds for the Michigan Union building. This first Union '
Opera was the beginning of a long tradition of popular all-male musi-
* * *
DEPRESSION AND war wreaked havoc with the Opera, however,
and nearly succeeded in permanently dimming the luster which the
roaring twenties had applied to the great show.
The Opera idea stayed, alive nevertheless, and finally produced
concrete results when "Froggy Bottom" appeared last year on the
stage of the Michigan Theatre as the'first in the revived series of
masculine musical satires.
Its success encouraged the Opera staff to take another crack at
producing an all-male extravaganza in 1950. Accordingly, Jim Eber-
sole last spring was named manager of the 1950 Opera, replacing
graduating Dave Leyshon who guided the "Froggy Bottom" production.
UPON ASSUMING COMMAND of the Opera forces, Ebersole im-
mediately began a search for a suitable scenario for the 1950 show.
While would-be authors struggled with suitable plots, a crew of song-
writers began grinding out tunes that could be used with whatever
sort of story the Opera would tell.
During the summer of 1949, a dozen script outlines were sub-
mitted to Ebersole as potential Opera plots. The Opera manager
then began a long series of consultations with his staff and with
various faculty members before he could announce that the entry
submitted by Jack Leonard, '50, and Bryce "Buzz" Durant, '50,
had been selected as this year's winning scenario.
Then came the problem of naming the Opera. Imaginations ran
wild as the authors and other Opera staffmen racked their brains for
the right combination of words which would stand for the 1950
Union Opera. Finally, this brain trust came up with "Lace It Up,"
which was announced early this year as the show's name.
MEANWHILE, the groundwork had been laid for the recruiting
of a cast, orchestra and production crew for "Lace It Up." William
Holbrook, veteran New York director and producer, was secured to
direct the show and supervise the casting process, which took place
at the beginning of the current semester.
Once the cast was chosen, rehearsal began in earnest under
Holbrook's watchful eye., While this went on, other members of
the Opera staff turned their attention to such things as set con-
struction and costume making.
A group of University women was recruited to sew costumes under
the watchful eye of Mrs. Emmie Mellencamp, who designed most o;
the "feminine" apparel for "Lace It Up." Her husband, Bob Mellen-
camp, was at the same time engaged in putting together the show's
rather elaborate set.
*. * * *
AS ALL THIS went on, plans were made for the Opera'sJ first
road trip since pre-depression days. Alumni groups in Buffalo, Detroit
and Toledo agreed to sponsor the Opera in those cities, and advance
ticketsales indicate that "Lace It Up" will play to full houses in
each of them.
But now the planning stage has ended. At 8:30 p.m. today, the
Michigan!Theatre's curtain will rise on the world premiere of "Lace
It Up," latest in the long series of Union Operas. Tonight all the
careful plans, all the hard work, all the imagination of the people
connected with the Opera will face the most severe test of all-the
first night audience. From all indications, "Lace It Up" should make
the grade with plenty to spare.
BIRTH OF A SCRIPT-Jack Leonard, left, and "Buzz" Durant,
right, burst out in smiles as they check the finished draft of their
scenario for "Lace It Up." Their plot won out in competition with
nine other scenarios which were submitted for the Opera.
MARY LOU RELAXES-"Lace It Up" heroine Mary Lou Pay-
raiser relaxes on the sturdy limbs of a group of the Opera's
chorus boys. This happened at the tea which introduced Mary
Lou to campus society at the League. Jimmie Lobaugh, '50 SM,
plays Miss Payraiser.
BIG WHEELS-Opera staff executives huddle over part of the show's sheet music. Seated are, left
to right, secretary Bob Russell, general chairman Jim Ebersole and promotions chairman Cliff Rogers.
Behind them are music chairman Don Wyant, production chief Jim Johns and program chairman
HIGH KICKERS-Bill Holbrook (right), veteran New York theatrical producer who is directing
"Lact It Up," puts potential chorus members through high stepping paces during an Opera tryout
session. These lively capers look easy, but for the beginner they sometimes are horribly intricate.
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