Southeastern Opera/Music Theatre Workshop to present ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’

Monday, February 13, 2017
by: Tonya Lowentritt

     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University’s Opera/Music Theatre Workshop will present “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” based on the Shakespeare play of the same name, on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 23 and 24.
     The performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m., at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Hammond.
     “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by Otto Nicolai is set in the village and forest of Windsor, which still exist today. However, to make Opera Workshop’s production a bit more topical, explained Charles Effler, director of the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop, this local version of the play is set in 1950s New Orleans.
     “So instead of a tavern in the village of Windsor, theater goers will see Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar on Bourbon St.,” Effler said. “Instead of a courtyard between two of the character’s houses, there will be a sidewalk outside a wall of the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 near the French Quarter. A corner of Jackson Square will stand in for Windsor Forest.
     “The plot of the opera retains much of the action of the play,” he added. “Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page, the merry wives, both receive an identical love letter from the old, unattractive, and corpulent Sir John Falstaff. They decide to teach him a lesson and, at the same time, teach a different lesson to Mrs. Ford’s jealous husband. This sets off a comic chain of events that occupies much of the opera.”
     Effler said there is also a young couple in love: Fenton and Anne Page. Mrs. Page prefers the strutting Dr. Cajus as a suitor; Mr. Page prefers the wealthy Mr. Slender.
     “The wives finally decide that they’ve tortured Falstaff enough, except for one last trick, which the husbands are in on – a masquerade will be held in Jackson Square that night,” Effler continued. “Falstaff is to come dressed as the infamous pirate, Jean Lafitte, but doesn’t know that the other revelers will be dressed as ghosts and spirits. They torment the terrified Falstaff, but in the end he is forgiven. Anne plays a trick on her parents and her unwelcome suitors, and elopes with Fenton.”
     Opera Workshop welcomes back guest stage director Rachel M. Harris, who has directed the productions “Opera by the Slice,” “La Perichole,” “Fairy Tales: Hansel & Gretel and Cendrillon,” “Street Scene,” “Puccini: Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicci,” “Die Fledermaus,” and “The Marriage of Figaro.”
     The cast for the production includes guest artist Spancer Reichman of Austin, Tex., as Falstaff; Alfred Harper of New Orleans as Mr. Ford; Mrs. Ford is double cast with Sara Cage of Baton Rouge and Rachel Dengon of Jena; Brennan Simmons of Walker as Mr. Page; double cast as Mrs. Page is Deondra Bell of Baton Rouge and Claire Putnam of Mandeville. Other cast members include Elizabeth Langley of Mandeville as Ann Page; Terelle Bibbins of Slidell as Fenton; Earl Poole of New Orleans as Dr. Cajus; and Jody Bennett of Lake Charles as Mr. Slender.
     Members of the chorus are Anne Labranche, Abita Springs; Imari Simmons, Baton Rouge; Wesley Newton, Bourg; Hannah Turner, Central; Cody Sires, Chalmette; Kaylin Guillory, Covington; Carley Duet, Cutoff; Jeremy Guillot, Denham Springs; Seth Guerra, New Orleans; Regan Adcock, Derik Tran, and Ryan Pitre, Pearl River; and Cheyenne Moore, Slidell.
     Effler will serve as musical director and conductor, and Department of Fine and Performing Arts faculty members Jeff Mickey will design the set and Benjamin Norman will design the lighting. Costume design is by Nicole Watts.
     Advance tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre box office Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will also be available one hour prior to each performance. Ticket prices are $21 for adults; $16 for seniors, Southeastern faculty/staff and non-Southeastern students; and $8 for children 12 and under. Southeastern students are admitted free of charge with their university ID.
     For more information about the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop contact Effler at

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