As a Meredith student, it would be hard to miss the many productions that the Music and Theatre Departments put on during the semesters. However, one of the less widely known productions is the performance put on by the White Iris Light Opera (WILO) at the beginning of the school year. This year, WILO produced Strike Up the Band by Gershwin. The musical ran from August 23-25 in Meredith’s Jones Auditorium.
Dr. Jim Waddelow, Professor of Music, directs WILO. He explains that he founded WILO 10 years ago in order to “provide [Meredith] students with a professional-level musical theater experience that puts up a show in only two weeks of rehearsals.” The show differs from other Meredith productions because there are only 11-12 cast rehearsals and four additional rehearsals with the orchestra--far fewer than any other Meredith production. Additionally, WILO provides an opportunity for Meredith alumnae and current students to take leadership roles in producing a show.
In the past, WILO has exclusively done shows by Gilbert & Sullivan. According to Waddelow, Gilbert & Sullivan productions suit Meredith well because they are “really appropriate for voices in [the] footprint of ages 18-25,” as well as being “budget-friendly” and providing a large variety of roles for actors to undertake. This year, however, WILO put on a musical by Gershwin in order to expand beyond the repertoire of Gilbert & Sullivan. Strike Up the Band is also not produced as often as some other musicals, so this was a good opportunity to show a lesser-known show that still has some recognizable songs.
Because of the extremely tight rehearsal schedule, cast lists for WILO shows are announced in April and all performers come to rehearsal with songs already learned. Opening a production on the second or third night of class is, in Waddelow’s words, “a great way to start the academic year with a bang.” WILO only puts on their show once a year, so next August, keep an eye out for this musical way to start the year.
By Olivia Slack, Online Editor