Annual opera returns to Fairview United Methodist Church


The cast of "All the World's a Stage" performs scenes from "On the Twentieth Century" to benefit Fairview Elementary School. The 180 Fairview elementary students attended the dress rehearsal on Friday.  Clark Gudas

Actors portraying actors, clowns and music were all combined in the operatic and musical theater concert, “All the World’s a Stage: The Show-within-a-Show in Broadway and Opera.” Carlson-Palmer Productions performed the show Sunday night at the Fairview United Methodist Church.   

Carlson-Palmer Productions produced the concert on behalf of Fairview Elementary School, located across the street from the church. Donations were accepted to promote the school’s literacy and Artful Learning programs, and on Friday, 180 elementary school students attended an hour of the show’s dress rehearsal.    

The cast demonstrated how a scene comes together with music and blocking and then performed the scene in its entirety. The actors also taught the students the differences between plays, musicals and operas.    

“It’s fun to engage directly with them because we’ve been doing this directly for them for a few years,” actor Richard Lewis said. According to the News at IU Bloomington website, Lewis currently works as an executive administrative assistant in the IU Office of the Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities and is a Jacobs School of Music graduate. 

Last year, Fairview Elementary School started holding arts showcase evenings twice a year, where students played instruments, sang in show choir, did visual and ceramic art and more for an audience. Lewis said he saw dads in tears as they watched their sons or daughters play violin and dance.    

“It’s been a great family and community-building spirit,” Lewis said.  

The growing audience and growing mission are part of what make it a great experience, actress Anna Singer said.   

“I love the camaraderie and the church where we perform,” Singer said. “It’s always a joy coming to Bloomington.”    

“Laugh, clown, laugh,” actor Robert Chafin sang in “Pagliacci,” a French opera where a clown takes the stage after learning his wife is cheating on him.   

The show began with scenes from “On the Twentieth Century,” where a failed producer, played by Lewis, offers a film star and old lover, played by Singer, a star role on Broadway.    

“I’d rather die,” Singer sang in response.  

“Summer seemed like a good time to do a free community concert that would engage people,” baritone Richard Lewis said. “One of our regular attendees says he looks forward to his 'Opera 101' every year.”    

This production, “All the World's a Stage,” focuses on the backstage stories and lives of actors.    

“The idea is that there are moments on the stage and moments off the stage that we see these actors going through their feelings,” Singer said.    

Operatic scenes from Mozart and Offenbach were performed alongside the musical theater of Cy Coleman. The singers performed in Italian, French and English, and sang in duets, trios and quartets. Lewis said he’s always interested in engaging the audience.   

“It’s not just some lofty operatic excerpt or musical theater excerpt,” Lewis said. “We’re telling very human stories here.”    

In a scene from Mozart’s “Cosí fan tutte,” two women watch their fiances go off to war, and Dorabella, played by Hilerie Rensi, has a comedic meltdown. 

“We start the afternoon with lighter things,” Lewis said. “You save the doom and gloom for after two.”    

Lewis said art can change the way people view the world.     

“Art forms sort of permeate the way you look at science and math and technology, so you find a new way of questioning these experiments and these thoughts,” Lewis said. “If they’re reading a story, they can do art and music afterwards to reflect on what they just read.”   

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