|The Light Opera Company has been producing musicals for 34 years as a break from studies. Pictured is a scene from one of the rehearsals for "Little Shop of Horrors." It was the first acting role for Kimberly Lippman L'11, who went on to direct two plays.|
Back in 1977, students poked fun at the legal profession and gave themselves a respite from law school with a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera "Trial by Jury." And thus was born what would become the Light Opera Company.
In subsequent years a collection of law students, professors and even a local judge mounted a number of productions from the Gilbert and Sullivan oeuvre with nary a budget. Leslie Bram L'79, a member of the original cast, says the troupe was reduced to raising their own money and making their own costumes.
But it worked. "We sold out every year," says Bram, who went on to direct "The Mikado" and "Iolanthe." "It was a moment of great creativity."
More than thirty years later, the Light Opera Company is still performing musical productions every year with a cast almost entirely composed of law students, although they are now more eclectic in their tastes.
Kimberly Lippman L'11 participated in the Light Opera during her three years of law school. After acting in the "Little Shop of Horrors" her first year, Lippman took over the reins, directing "A Chorus Line" and "Into the Woods" this past spring.
While the connections between law school and musical theater might not be immediately obvious, Lippman said there are many lessons to be learned from working with the Light Opera Company.
She says participation requires careful time management.
Bram recalls students sitting at rehearsals with piles of books and reading when not on stage. "It's a balancing act for sure, but it's also a great lesson in finding time for things you love. It teaches you how to make time," says Lippman.
Each production is a year-long project. The show is selected at the beginning of the fall semester and auditions are held before winter break. Students then practice all of second semester leading up to their performance after spring break.
The Light Opera Company occupies a niche among student groups; it is one of the few clubs that does not revolve around the law, policy, or self-identification. Rather, it is devoted to sheer entertainment. Says Lipmann: "It is by no means the best show, but it's the best show you'll see by law students."