Arts & Entertainment

Comic operetta written in '42 finally taking the stage

When Philip Lorenz was a kid attending Swarthmore College in Philadelphia back in 1942, he and a friend wrote a comic operetta that spoofed the musical compositions of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Well, kids do a lot of crazy things in college, and eventually that operetta -- titled Just Leave It All To Me -- was tucked away and forgotten as Lorenz and his friend went off to pursue different careers.

Lorenz, who is now 88, became part of a team at Columbia University in New York City that developed technology for separating Uranium isotopes for the Manhattan Project, or more specifically, the atomic bomb.

But even though that operetta took a back seat to the more important work involved with World War II, it wasn't forgotten.

Just Leave It All To Me will finally make its debut right here in the Tri-Cities on Nov. 14-15 with a dinner theater at Shalom United Church of Christ in Richland.

And Lorenz, from Oklahoma, plans to attend the opening night performance.

"Writing music is a like a disease for me," Lorenz joked in a telephone interview from his Oklahoma home. "It's part of what I love to do."

Lorenz said he's looking forward to finally see his operetta performed by a real theater group.

"We had all our friends playing the roles when we were at college," he said. "It's exciting to know it'll finally be official."

Lorenz wrote the opera with his friend George L. Zimmerman.

"We loved writing music and George thought it would be fun to write a detective story for an operetta," Lorenz said. "I did too and that's how it all got started."

The show runs Nov. 14-15 starting with dinner at 6 p.m. at Shalom United Church of Christ, 505 McMurray, Richland. Cost is $18 for adults, $7 for kids, $50 for families of four. Deadline for reservations is Nov. 12. Call 943-3927.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;