Christmas is coming early this year for area music and drama lovers in the form of an operetta premier, “The Calling,” written and directed by Cleveland resident R.G. Wolf.
It is meant to be his gift to the community and the century-old Cleveland Music Club. The free admission performance will begin Thursday at 7:30 p.m., at First United Methodist Church, 3425 N. Ocoee St.
All the musical and dramatic elements of a lighthearted operetta will provide an evening of inspiration and fun for both young and old.
The cast is comprised of 19 soloists, a full SATB chorus from the First United Methodist Church Choir and their guests, dozens of teenage performing extras from area high schools, the Mountain Village string band and some surprise characters popping up out of the audience.
The operetta’s time frame takes the audience back to World War II era — Dec. 5, 1943.
The setting is staged in the sleepy fictitious village of Cleverville, Tenn., population 837, located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, just over the ridge form Rowdy Ravine by Purgatory Creek.
The Cleverville villages have been invited by the very young Mayor Blade Braggerman to a meeting at the village church to resolve complaints made by the very old village clerk, Stella Spoofenheim.
She is efficient in her clerking job which she has held for far too many decades, but unreasonably crabby about young folks not having any direction in their lives.
Through the years, she has written 87 letters of complaints to Editor Karl Klammerville and his local newspaper, the Cleverville Weekly Clamor.
But the last one topped them all. Disturbed by the potential harmful impact on his village’s reputation due to her outcry, Braggerman calls a town hall meeting at the church.
This seems the most appropriate venue because of the civil nature of the complaints and the proposed remedies to be aired.
The operetta is unique in several ways. Wolf has written original storyline lyrics which are sung to traditional Christmas music.
Secondly, it’s probably the first operetta written, directed and performed at First United Methodist Church by one of its members.
It also seems quite rare that a nationally high-ranked masters track-and-field decathlete at age 85 would write an operetta.
But Wolf says he often composes music and poetry in his head during his running and swimming workouts.
This helps reduce boredom while providing a rhythmic tempo beat to his thinking. Another nice aspect of the production is the involvement of drama students from local high schools.
One by one, prominent Cleverville citizens come forward at the meeting to sing about their occupations in an attempt to get youth thinking about their future ... because they are the future.
All is going well until an uninvited intruder stirs up chaos, disrupting everything with a different proposal to the boys and girls.
They are mentally jerked to the Las Vegas Strip, then back to their hometown for another surprise.
Action then gets so physical with the ensuing melee that Wolf has warned the cast they can physically play it to the hilt, but must fall just short of anybody getting hurt.
It takes the pleas of the village pastor, Ernest Evermoreland, to restore calm and sensibility to the occasion.
He then summarizes what has happed. With his own career “Calling” proposal, he attempts to get the kids’ alleged bad behavior focused back on a good track. Only those attending the performance will know how it all turns out.
Several of the soloists have performed on national and international operatic stages.
All cast members reveal the wealth of performing arts talent available in Bradley County.
Wolf mused that with his background of founding the Greater Cleveland Concert Band and another previous Minnesota concert band, he just couldn’t finish off his first operetta without some flavor of a Broadway hit, which will send the audience home humming tunes and tapping toes.
More information about the operetta can be obtained by calling 614-0060.