Meet the Stars of Bells are Ringing

The Cape is an artistic community, a place where playhouses, art galleries, and concert halls thrive, and where good productions, consisting of particularly talented people can entertain generations of locals and visitors alike.

Since 1969, The College Light Opera Company has been providing an intensive program of musical theater. Each summer, dozens of college students from across the country, and around the world, make their way to College Light’s Falmouth Campus for a dose of practical training in staging and preforming top-notch, professional music theater under the guidance of a trained professional staff.

At the Historic Highfield Theatre, a former carriage house, on the grounds of Highfield Hall in Falmouth this year’s crew of 32 talented singers, a fine 18-piece orchestra, 13 dedicated technicians, two box office representatives, two accompanists, two associate conductors, a choreographer, a stage manager, a co-op work director, a chef, a business manager, a marketing director and a bullpen of professional directors and conductors are celebrating their 49th year with nine full-scale productions over the course of 11 weeks.

“I initially found out about CLOC through my teacher,” said College Light Opera Company actor Ben Dutton, “I was most interested because it was a cross-over program that would meld my classical training with my music theatre interests. I applied two years ago, and came here last year because it was an amazing opportunity and a resume builder, so I decided to come back this year as well.”

The company’s latest production, Bells are Ringing, is a 1950’s musical comedy reminiscent of a time when instant communication wasn’t common nature. It centers on a young woman, Ella, who works for a telephone answering service in New York City with an unseemly fascination for her client’s private lives. She can’t seem to stop herself from getting involved in personal dramas of those whose calls she is connecting. Ella even manages to fall in love with one of her clients, Jeff. As you can imagine, hilarity ensures.

“What attracted me to this role is how goofy she can be, and how perfectly Ella Peterson was originally portrayed by Judy Holliday,” said Elyssa Blonder, who is playing Ella in the College Light Opera Company production, “Trying to follow that, and make my own out of it was a challenge because everyone knows Judy Holliday. But what I love most about Ella is how loving and caring she is for her clients, and how that deeply affects her and the development of the show, which really allowed me to take my own spin on the role”

Blonder, a student attending Arizona State University, is, like many of College Light’s actors and crew, new to the Cape and getting to know the area while also dealing with the pressure and exhilaration that comes with putting on a new show each week.

“It’s exciting, overwhelming, and just so full of talent,” she says, “I’m just in awe of all of the people who are here, and everyone is just so talented and it’s amazing to see their background of theatre who came here. Not only do I get to work with so many different directors, but the rest of the company comes from so many different training backgrounds, and we all get to share our different techniques and specific passions here.”

Dutton, who also had never been to the Cape prior to his work at College Light, is portraying Blonder’s unsuspecting love interest Jeffrey Moss in Bells are Ringing. He says that the chance to work with the variety directors and different directing styles is one of the things that drew him to the company, and that the team’s hectic work schedule breeds fast and lasting friendships.

“We all get very close very fast,” Dutton says, “It’s fun, and it’s hugely exhausting, but it’s also the quickest turn-over in art there is. I’ve never rehearsed for so little time, but perform so much.”

Bells are Ringing will be running through July 22nd at College Light Opera Company’s Historic Highfield Theatre at 58 Highfield Drive in Falmouth. Shows begin at 8 PM, with a matinee on Thursday at 2 PM. Tickets to individual shows, or season passes for the summer are available at the Box Office Monday through Saturday 10 AM through 5 PM, Tuesday through Saturday 7pm until after intermission, or by calling (508) 548–0668.

Other performances lined up for the 2017 season include Patience, running July 25th through the 29th, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, from August 1st through the 5th, The Desert Song, August 8th through the 12th, Grand Hotel, from August 15th until the 19th, and Once Upon a Mattress, August 22 through the 26th.

The College Light Opera Company also offers an array of events and workshops for youth and adults throughout the summer, details are available on their website.

For more information or for tickets, call the box office at(508) 548-0668 or visit their website anytime at www.collegelightoperacompany.com.

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