SEPTEMBER 17, 1956
THE MICHIGAN DAITV
)MEN TO ACT IN SHOW:
Years of Tradition Give
As Union Opera Leaves Campus Scene
by DICK TAUB
Union Opera is no more.
After almost half a century of
all male shows, long road tours,
and satires of campus life, the op-
era in its previous form has been
"The all male farce went out
with vaudeville," Tom Oates, '57E,
promotions chairman, explained.
"We want to give the campus
something new, fresh and differ-
Women More Important
He added that women have be-
come more important on campus
and they deserve a part in the
Union Opera was not at all what
it's name implied. Instead of Wag-
ner or Mozart, opera produced
broad musical farces, written, per-
formed and directed by students,
usually satirizing campus life.
Some of the all male produc-
tions have gone on tour, visiting
eleven states. Two filled New
York's famed Metropolitan Opera
House, and one was even received
at the White House in Washing-
ton, D. C.
_ n, First Presented in 1908
First show was presented in
1908 in order to raise money for
the Union after several other fund
raising attempts had failed.
"Michigenda" was a great sue-
cess. The. next year's show was
penned by the same authors, Don-
aid Haines, later a journalism
professor at the University and
Roy Welch. It was successful for
thb second time, and a tradition
was born at the University.
In its third year, Union Opera
moved its setting away from col-
lege life. "Koanzaland" took its
audience to darkest Africa.
1913 performance, "Contrarie
Marie", brought with it creation
of Mimes. The new dramatic club
took over production of the show
and has become Union Opera hon-
orary organization with alumni
such as Thomas E. Dewey, Valen-
tine Davies, author of "Miracle
of Thirty Fourth Street", and Rob-
ert Q. Lewis, radio and television
Hit the Road
Opera went on the road for the
time with the 1913 show. For the
trip the group had its own five
car train, a practice it continued
for many years.
Women first appeared in Union
Opera in the 1918 show, "Let's
Go." Because of the war, there
Just weren't enough men.
In the early '20s road trips be-
gan to lengthen. By this time Op-
era was a 20 thousad dollar pro-j
Thomas E. Dewey, former New
York governor and presidential
candidate, played a major role in
the 1921 production, "Top O' the
the $75,00 Show
By 1922 Opera was visiting Chi-
cago, Cleveland, Detroit, Louis-k
ville and Pittsburgh. An early pro-
gram noted "With enlarged itin-
erary came the $75,000 show, more
pretentious scenery, more gorgeous
and' resplendent gowns, more in-,
tricate lighting effects and a larger
cast and orchestra."
But the opera had just been
building up to 18th annual produc-
tion-the most famous Union Op-
era of them all-"Cotton Stock-
Originally the 1923 show was
titled "Cotton' Stockings-Never
Made a Man Look Twice." Howev-
er, some thought it indecent so
the title was shortened.
But advertising for it had al-
ready been mailed bearing the full
title. As a result "Cotton Stock-
ings" was a sell-out in most of 15
cities in eleven states in which it
The clim'ax came Christmas
night when "Cotton Stockings"
played to a capacity crowd at
New York's legendary Metropoli-
tan Opera House.
Received High Praise
GLITTERING LIGHTS-No more will marquee of local theater
display "Mich Union Opera" in bold, black letters. Women have
been allowed to perform.,
It was a great success. New
York Times said, "The entire pro-
duction had a certain professional
finesse, although retaining the
proper college atmosphere -.
original and dazzling."
In 1925 Valentine Davies, later
a prominent Hollywood producer,
wrote "Tambourine." A long road
trip included a reception by Pres-
ident Calvin Coolidge for entire
cast at the White House.
However, the dazzling shows of
the twenties, which reflected the
opulence of their era, vanished
with the depression.
Sally Rand Appears
Opera managed to pull itself
together for a production in 19-
34, and for the second time, a
woman appeared in the all-male
show. That woman was Sally
Rand, the famous fan-dancer.
Opera tried other attempts at
come-back, but the colorful period
of the twenties could not be re-
There were shows in 1940 and
41. War again disrupted the pro-
gram. Union Opera was revived in
1949 and ran through last year.
However, 1951's show was the last
to make any money.
Last year's program, "Flim
Flam," ran considerably in the
red. Union officials finally rea-
lized that type of show could no
more be a success. They made the
historic decision - women could
work in the Opera.
Work has already started for the
show in December. The Opera
committee, as this is written, is
now considering two shows. "Both
are hilarious," Oates explained.
"We're just trying to decide which
"Practice sessions will start
about the second week in October
and last until the .show is per-
formed in December.
Oates said that there are many
opportunities available for incom-
ing freshmen in the opera, on
both business staff and cast.
All freshmen are urged to at-
tend the mass tryout meeting in
The title "Union Opera" has
been dropped but a new one has
not been chosen yet.
The new show can look forward
to another half-century of pro-
duction. Some day thousands of
dollars may again be spent as the
show travels all over the country.
It might even play again at the
Met. Who knows?
WELCOME TO MICHIGAN
and waif 'tillyo
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FINE TAILORING FINE FURNISHINGS
Y:.~m m m amiME E M M MRMEEWESMEE
MALE FARCE BOWS OUT-Male students dressed as women for
the Opera are now symbols of the past. Wigs and padding have
given way to the real thing.
SINGING and SPEAKING
MRS. KENNETH N. WESTERMAN
(Member of National Association of Teachers of Singing)
Try FOLLETT'S First
STATE STREET at NORTH UNIVERSITY
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