'I HE MCHI+GAN DAILY
SUNT1AY# Y 13. 1956
NEW TRADITION BEGINS
SUND~yAi. MAA IU. i~lv
Coed Show Will End 46-Year Opera Tradition
(Continued from Page 1)
However, Mimes had always been !stone in the history of the Union Russell Barnes, now foreign ed- tentious scenery, more gorgeous
One of its scenes was laid in dark- particularly close to the Union. Opera. "Let's Go" was the war- itor of the Detroit News, authored and resplendent gowns, more in-
est Africa. Today, it has evolved from a dram- time production, given in March, "George Did It" and the opera of tricate lighting effects, and a
"Koanzaland" is remembered atic club to become the Union1918 the following year, "Top O' Th, larger cast and orchestra."
best for its contribution to the onorary organizon w It was in "Let's Go" that women Mornin'." Sortened Title
songs of Michigan - Conea g ea nai rore made their appearance in Union the early 1920's, the road trips But the operas so far had just
Days," written by Donald A. Kahn ContrariecMary was also rev- Opera, due to the manpower short- began to lengthen and stretch out been building up to the 18th an-
age. However, it was the only time, of the state. By this time too, nual production-the most famous
the Music school. production to warrant a road trip, wit the exception of a single Union Opera had become a $20,000 Union Opera of them all-"Cotton
., e" l4 h iy++I TI+wt h ecpino igeper- UinOeahdbcm 2,0 no pr fte l-Cto
One year later the men of the
Union produced "The Crimson
Chest," a saga of Spaniards and
of Pirates which was also laid
partly in Africa.
"The Awakened Rameses," the
December, 1911 offering, was anI
Egyptian tale at heart, although
part of the opera had an Ann Ar-
This offering was the last of
the early operas, for with the next
production came a turning point
in the Opera's history.
Presentations for the next nine
years took place in March rather
than December, so in March, 1913,
the all-male organization gave its
unprecendented p r o d u c t i o n of
It was with "Contrarie Mary"
that Mimes entered the picture.
The new dramatic club took over
the production of the Opera.
small as the first trip Wias.
On the journey, the Opera had
ts own five-car train, a practice
hat continued for many years.
"Contrarie Mary" was also noted
for one of its songs, the traditional
'Friar's Song," which remains
populair on campus today.
For the next four years, the Un-
on Opera achieved the ultimate
n the transition from college sat-
3s to professional Broadway-type
"A Model Daughter," "All That
Glitters," "Tres Rouge" and "Fool's
Paradise," were the productions of
914 to 1917.
These presentations, the last be-
fore the first world war, were all
devoid of any local color. They
ranged from high society to life
in the South, and even included
the first "Western" Opera.
With the war came another mile-
former in 1934.
"Let's Go," a two-act production
which took place in Ann Arbor and'
later in war-torn Europe, had a
famous name in its program.
Chesser M. Campbell, now presi-
dent of the Chicago Tribune corpo-
ration worked on this and other
It was also about this time that
Homer L. Heath, the Union's first
general manager, and. E. Mortimer
Shuter began working on the pro-
duction end of the opera. Both
were associated with the Opera
for long periods of time.
Set in South America, the next
offering, 1919's "Come On, Dad,"
was a great success.
Even greater was "George Did
It" of 1920, where the pages were
turned back to 1859 for a look at
earlier campus life in a sort of
"reminiscent" type drama.1
Perhaps the most famous name
of all was in March 1921's "Top
O' Th' Mornin'." Thomas E.
Dewey, three-time New York gov-
ernor and two-time presidential
candidate played a major role-
that of an Irish country gentleman.
With the next production, Dec-1
ember again became opera month
as the members of Mimes decided
on Christmas-season road trips.
"Make It For Two" and "In ands
Out" were the winter offerings int
1921 and 1922. Local color was now1
gone from all shows because of its
ineffectiveness in the tour cities-
Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. <
"In and Out" added still more7
cities to the list-Louisville and
An early program noted that,
"With the enlarged itinerary came1
the $75,000 show, the more pre-
Originally, the 1923 opera was
titled "Cotton Stockings--Never
Made a Man Look Twice." This
was objectionable to some, and so
the title was shortened.
But advertising for the show,
bearing the full title, had already
been mailed out to the tour cities.
As a result, "Cotton Stockings"
was a sell-out in most of the 15
cities in 11 states that the Opera
covered during the Christmas holi-
days. It finally netted $4,000 for
On Christmas night, "Cotton
Stockings" played to a capacity
crowd at New York's legendary,
Metropolitan Opera House.
All the New York papers loved
the show. The New York Times
said, "The entire production had.
a certain professional finesse, al-
though retaining the proper college
atmosphere . .. original and daz-
Newspapers across the country
ran stories and pictures of the
opera. Everyone was amazed at the
expertness with which women were
played by men.
Next year, the costumes and set-
tings were even more ornate as
the opera moved to an oriental
theme for their 1924 presentation
of "Tickled To Death."
In 1925, Valentine Davies, later
a prominent Hollywood producer,
wrote the opera "Tambourine." A
long road trip included a reception
by President Calvin Coolidge for
the entire cast at the White House.
"Front Page Stuff," set in a
Swiss chateau, and "The Same To
You" were the productions of 1926
Another of the more famous
shows was "RMinbow's End," the
December, 1928 production. This
opera, like "Cotton Stockings,"
played at "the Met" in New York
and received excellent reviews in
the New York papers.
A New Mexico ranch was the
setting of "Rainbow's End," which
toured 12 cities during the Christ-
Donal H. Haines returned to the
Opera to collaborate on the 1929
production of "Merrie-Go-Round."
It was the 24th production in an
"TOP OF THE MORNING"-Scene from 1921 Union Opera, The Opera's most famous alumnus,
former New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey, is the second actor from the right.
unbroken chain of annual Union
Then came the depression.
During the hard years, the
Union Opera ceased to exist. It
managed to pull itself together for
two productions in 1934 but fold-
ed again immediately after.
The Pendleton library, on the
second floor of the Union, with its
high ceiling and cushioned chairs
offers the Michigan man a place
for nearly-solitary and quiet study.
The room was furnished as a
library and named in honor of
Edward Waldo Pendleton by his
wife in 1925. Before that time the
structure had been used as a din-
ing hall for boys.
Edward Waldo Pendleton grad-
uated from what is now the School
of Literature, Science and the
Arts at the University in 1872. He
went on to the University Law
School from which he graduated
in 1875, he taught classics part
time in Detroit during his last two
years of school.
At the time of his death in 1922
Mr. Pendleton was a leading De-
troit lawyer and president of
Weilded Steel Barrel Co. He was
also secretary of the alumni com-
mittee, and Alumni Memorial Hall
is due largely to his efforts in that
It was in the 1934 offerings,
"With Banners Flying" and "Give
Us Rhythm," that a woman ap-
peared in the all-male cast, for
the second and last time. The gal
was Sally Rand, the fan-dancer.
A second attempt at revival of
the Union Opera was successful
in 1940. Three productions, "Four
Out of Five," "Take A Number"
and "Full House" were presented
in 1940 and 1941.
Just a few days before the De-
cember production of "Full House,"
the United States was plunged into
a second world war. Again, the
Union Opera disbanded, this time
for eight years.
In 1949, a third revival was suc-
cessful. Since then, Michigan stu-
dents have enjoyed an opera every
year. "Froggy Bottom," "Lace It
Up," "Go West, Madam,'' "Never'
Too Late," "No Cover Charge," Up
'N' Atom," "Hail To Victor" and
last year's "Film Flam" bring the
total to 36.
A traditional part of each pro-
duction has become the casting of
three letter-men. For several years,
each production has boasted these
Unfortunately, however, t h e
problems of the Union Opera today
are many-mostly financial.
"Go West, Madam," in 1951, was
the last show that made money.
Since then, the productions have
been running in the red.
Efforts are being made to cut
costs by using more student labor.
It is unlikely that the next Union
Opera will play four nights in
Ann Arbor, as last year's attempt
was unsuccessful and costly.
This year's opera committees are
working on the financial problem
and hope to solve it with either an
Eastern trip similar to those of the
'20s, or no trip at all.
Work on next December's pro-
duction, which had begun months
ahead of last year's schedule, was
however disrupted with the deci-
sion to end Union Opera and ini-
tiate the Union Coed Show.
Although the committee chair-
men are working on the next pro-
duction, they still have to find a
name to replace "Union Opera."
"Union Coed Show" is being used
"You're going to see something
this year you ddn't think could
be done," Opera Promotions Chair-
man Tom Oates, '57, promises for
the intitial production of the new
"This," he continued, "is going
to be one of the most humorous
operas that have been out."
As yet, the subject and script
of next December's production
have to be chosen. Deadline for
the scenarios was extended with
the announcement of the coed
However, with a new musical
comedy and coed format, Oates
promises "something entirely dif-
"Top songs, too," he added.
With a colorful history to build
on, from "Michigenda" to "Film
Flam," the new coed show looks
forward to another 50-year his-
tory, with an eye toward bigger
and better offerings.
its new addition
more serv ices
M ichigan student,
INTER HOUSE COUNCIL
Withour work on the Union
Addition, once again through the
years of progress, we are proud
to participate in the expansion
of the University.