“Oklahoma!” to usher in Guild’s 70th season

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston Light Opera Guild is set to celebrate its 70th season with the production of “Oklahoma!” over the next three weekends at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

The musical classic has been a friend of the Guild since the first time it was performed in Charleston in 1960, Guild director and choreographer Nina Denton Pasinetti said.

“So Oklahoma put us on the path of all musical theatre entertainment back in 1960 at the Civic Center, where we’ve done all of the Oklahoma performances,” Pasinetti said.

Before 1960 the Guild did almost exclusively operatic performances. “Oklahoma!” was also performed by the Charleston Light Opera Guild in 1971 and 1990.

Pasinetti said rehearsals have been exciting leading up to Friday’s opening night. She said the 50-member cast includes many young singers and dancers who are just learning about the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.

“Suddenly all of these young people, some who have never really known Oklahoma because it’s not shown on television annually like the ‘Sound of Music’ or ‘Wizard of Oz,’ they really didn’t know it because they suddenly became interested in it and now they love it,” Pasinetti said. “It’s so wonderful to hear them humming the tunes all the time.”

Nina Denton Pasinetti

The Guild will have an extra special anniversary production on Nov. 23 when several former Guild members who starred in previous “Oklahoma!” showings in Charleston will return for brief vignettes followed by a celebration gala.

Pasinetti said the Guild is still going strong after all of these years.

“Who would have thought it would have lasted 70 years? We’re so proud and we hope it can continue being alive in the Valley,” she said. “We have an endowment campaign going on and hope it encourages it for 70 more years.”

The performances are scheduled Nov. 8, 9, 15, 16 & 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 10 & 24 at 2:00 p.m. at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center Little Theater.