“Heroines,” photo by David Papas

If you can’t find the operetta you want, build the operetta that works for you.

That’s the idea behind Sonoma State University’s “Heroines,” which opened Thursday at the Everett B. Person Theatre. The college has a wealth of talented young female voices, so instructors Lynne Morrow and Jane Erwin Hammett decided to take songs from a variety of works from the 1880s to the 1930s  in order to put together the many roles needed.

The result becomes a story of multiple heroines mysteriously brought together and embarking on a journey for equality and independence in a man’s world.

To enjoy this endeavor, it helps to bring a certain mindset, especially for those whose grasp of operetta may start and end with “The Pirates of Penzance.” The new show becomes something of an archeological dig, taking you back to an earlier era of lyrics and melody. In such exploration you encounter new beauty but also may pass the seemingly musty in order to make discoveries and connections. (For me, one eye-opener came in grasping where Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” character came from, namely “The Threepenny Opera.” Also eye opening was the thought that Bobby Darin may seem as ancient to a younger generation as the “Threepenny Opera.”)

Thursday’s performance worked best when the cast took risks. Sarah Maxon as “Mad” Margaret stole several early scenes with a zany knack for the unexpected.

Also appearing are Anna Leach, Canela Fullbright McCoubrey, Emily Thomason, Corynne Scott, Allison Spencer, Kelly Brodie, Sarah Louise Durham, Laura Henry, Emily Rice, Katherine Chilidonia and Nora Griffin. Joining them in the roles of “Man 1” and “Man 2” are Rodrigo Castillo and Peter Reinman.

The performances continue tonight and run through Feb. 15. For times and tickets, click here.

— Robert Digitale








Cheerily carols the lark

Over the cot.


On a sidewalk, blue Sunday mornin’

Lies a body just oozin’ life


You know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe

Scarlet billows start to spread