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OU to Present Endearing Operetta, The Merry Widow

The Merry Widow poster. Being performed February 15-18, 2024.

OU to Present Endearing Operetta, The Merry Widow

February 20, 2024

An inspiring story of love and misadventure will be presented in University Theatre’s upcoming production of The Merry Widow. The show will run Feb. 15 – 18 on the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus.

Franz Lehar’s uplifting opera is a delightful story of a woman’s quest for love and how her burgeoning romance is hampered by deception, mishap, and comedic misadventures.

"The Merry Widow is the kind of opera that has you humming tunes and feeling a little lighter when you step out of the theatre,” said Nicole Kenley-Miller, D.M.A, who serves as the opera stage director and assistant professor in the School of Music. “From the lavish costumes dictated by our 1920s Parisian setting to the dance numbers featuring show girls and operetta’s calling card, the waltz, the world of The Merry Widow is one of glamour and romance," she added.

The Merry Widow will open at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, with additional performances scheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 16 and 17 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18. All performances will be held in the Reynolds Performing Arts Center, 560 Parrington Oval. The opera is sung in German, with English supertitles and dialogue. The show is suitable for all audiences.

“When we play the enchanting, graceful, and delicate music of Lehar’s Merry Widow, it’s as if we’re transported to another planet in which the gravest of life’s problems are forgotten and a kind of beautiful radiance surrounds us,” said Dr. Jonathan Shames, artistic and creative director for The Merry Widow. “An intricate series of variations on love plays through the opera, and the alternately hilarious and extremely touching music brings to every performer and, I hope to every audience member, excitement and a new sense of joy.” Shames also serves as Director of Orchestral Studies, Music Director and Conductor of the OU Symphony as well as Artistic Director and Conductor of OU Opera Theater in the OU School of Music. 

The cast for The Merry Widow includes School of Music students Julia Pace (Thursday/Saturday) and Amanda Kosi (Friday/Sunday) as the wealthy widow Hanna Glawari; Matt Corcoran (Thursday/Saturday) and Matt McKinnon (Friday/Sunday) as Danilo, Hanna’s former flame; Lane Elliott as Baron Zeta; Elena McKenna (Thursday/Saturday) and Rachel Gilliam (Friday/Sunday) as Valencienne, the flirtatious wife of Baron Zeta; and Marcos Ochoa (Thursday/Saturday) and Lorenzo Butler (Friday/Sunday) as Camille, Valencienne’s suitor. Thomas Chavira, OU School of Drama faculty member is included in the cast as Njegus, Danilo’s assistant. Also performing are an immensely talented supporting cast, chorus, and orchestra from the School of Music.

"I'm excited to show what our students have accomplished in this production,” Kenley-Miller said. “The Merry Widow is, in some ways, closer to a musical than an opera, and so our students have been challenged to learn spoken dialogue and perform a lot more choreography, all while still producing the gorgeous tones that we love so much in opera singing. They have risen to the challenge and will offer the audience a show that is funny, entertaining and beautiful."

In addition to Kenley-Miller as stage director and Shames as artistic director and conductor, the production includes choreography by OU School of Dance instructor Rebecca Herrin; Lorne Richstone and Taylor Hutchinson serve as vocal coaches; Giovanni Corrodus as chorus master; Katie Noelker is assistant conductor and Lloyd Cracknell from OU School of Drama serves as costume designer.

Mary Margaret Holt is the producer of OU University Theatre with Kasey Allee-Foreman as associate producer.

Advance purchase tickets for The Merry Widow are $30 for adults; $25 for senior adults, OU employees and military; and $12 for students. Tickets at the door are $35 for all adults and $15 for students with student ID.

Tickets may be purchased online at, by calling (405) 325-4101 or by visiting the Fine Arts Box Office in Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd St. For accommodations, please call the box office at (405) 325-4101.

About the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts  

Established in 1924, the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts is an integral part of the University of Oklahoma. Located in Norman, Oklahoma, the college recognizes the universal language of the arts and its crucial role in creating and sustaining a vibrant, culturally diverse environment. The college is committed to a standard of excellence in the fine arts encompassing the university’s directive for teaching, research/creative activity, and service in its schools of dance, drama, music, musical theatre and visual arts. For more information visit

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