THREE OAKS, Mich. — To hear him tell it, Robert Swan, possibly the longest lasting and most prolific opera impresario in the area, can’t be stopped.
The Rolling Prairie resident has survived cancer, the chemotherapy used to treat that cancer, septicemia (blood poisoning caused by bacteria) and getting hit by a car, and is now battling torn ligaments, complications from getting a new knee, and neuropathy. Yet on July 27 he will be bringing back his annual series of musical and operatic-themed concerts at the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Michigan, with “The Broadway Bucket List.”
“I should be dead,” he said while promoting his upcoming show. “I’ve started saying I’m the hardest to kill impresario in Southwest Michigan. I’m getting to wonder about that.”
“The Broadway Bucket List,” which will start 8 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, July 27, features songs from more recent Broadway productions, like “The Secret Garden,” “Damn Yankees,” “Guys and Dolls,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” and more, and were chosen by the opera singers performing in the show.
Since these were the songs they’ve been waiting to perform, Swan came up with the idea of calling it a “Bucket List."
This contrasts to some of the prior Broadway-themed shows of Swan’s Harbor Country Opera series, which focused on older productions from the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, and whose selections were mainly picked by Swan himself, who is an opera singer, and an actor, appearing in such films as “Hoosiers,” “Rudy,” “The Untouchables,” “Natural Born Killers,” and more.
Swan said part of the inspiration for this concert came from a reading he did for a show called “Love Letters” a while back. One of the participants was Mezzo-Soprano Holly Schroeder of La Porte, who had experience in both operas and musicals. When Swan heard her singing, and learned she was still interested in performing, he started to come up with the idea for this show, which will include songs written by Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter and Kander and Ebb.
Tenor John Concepcion and Soprano Susan Nelson have also lent their talents to the production.
The singers will be accompanied by Paul Hamilton on piano and Dick Bunn on bass.
Swan said mixing opera talent and Broadway isn’t such a crazy idea, especially since the two used to be more closely connected.
“Back in the ‘40s and ‘50s and even the ‘60s,” he said, “Broadway used to pillage the Metro Opera House, the great and famous opera signers, to do the shows. That was pretty standard because they wanted to get the best singers. But things change and they eventually got a certain sort of Broadway style and there were a lot more people who can sing like that, and a lot more people available.”
Swan, who now operates under Harbor Country Opera to put on these shows, estimates he’s staged more than 50 concerts since his shows began in 2005. Although he usually participates in these productions, Swan said his recovery might keep him on the sidelines for this latest concert, but he plans to return for future performances.
Tickets for “The Broadway Bucket List” are $30 for general admission. Call 269-756-3879 or go to www.acornlive.org. The Acorn Theater is located at 107 Generation Drive in Three Oaks, Michigan.