The theater troupe was formed in the autumn, 1946, in Lviv and already in the spring, 1947 they showed their first play with the symbolic name “Eleven Unknowns”. As M.G. Vodyanoy said later: “Although there were more of us, we were all unknown to anyone. However, quickly the whole country recognized dozens of talented actors.”.
The theater gratefully keeps remembering the FIRST of the theather: director I. Grinshpun, conductor E. Makarevich (for many years he was the main choirmaster of the theater), artist A. Naidich, choreographer A. Opanasenko. Among the actors of the first show were N. Bukharina, E. Dembskaya, D.Kozachkovsky, I. Anipreev, Y. Zorina, L. Ostroumova, S. Uvarov, I.Gorodetsky, E. Liberro, and M. Vodyanoy. At that time,M.Vodyanoy was not in the premiere line. However, he quickly became the main actor of the troupe for four decades and was one of the leaders of the genre in the entire country. Their commitment and passion to the stage were so strong and sincere, what on April 3, 1947, “Lviv Pravda” wrote about them: ” We saw the first performance. Their success, enthusiasm, and attractiveness of young troupe grant them the right to perform”. Then there was Silva by I. Kalman and The Merry Widow by F. Legar, Night of May by A. Ryabov and, finally, the “seagull” – “Free Wind” by I. Dunaevsky. That was the first great success on the way to mastering the modern repertoire, which will become the theater’s main way for decades. In the play staged by director I. Grinshun, conductor Y. Feldman, painter Y. Stepanchuk, choreographer A. Opanasenko, there was an excellent performance of D. Kozachkovsky, N. Kochkin, N. Bukharina, E. Dembskaya, Y. Zorina and M. Vodyanoy. Besides, it was a brilliant debut of M.Demina, which was the start of their unique duet with M. Vodyanoy.
They put at the stage 4-5 plays per season, mainly on a modern topic, and failures didn’t discourage them. They also staged classic works as “The Princess of the Circus”, “Bayadere”, “Maritsa” by I. Kalman, “Mademoiselle Nitouche” by F. Herve, “Rose-Marie” by R. Stoggart, G. Freeml (he made his debut in this operetta with the role of Jimmy Hoopoe). Behind the remote control, since the time of Silva, I. Kilberg often stood. He was the main conductor of the theater for decades. The performances were staged by V. Sklyarenko, D. Kozachkovsky, I. Grinshpun. The theater has gained its own audience and supporters. The press wrote: “The young theater has its own creative face.
From the very first seasons, the theater started touring in Ukraine. In 1950 and 1952, the troupe visited Odessa, where they immediately gained new fans. The troupe found worthy new faces as an excellent vocalist and temperamental actor Y. Dynov, who immediately entered the stars line of the theater. The honeymoon by N. Bogoslovsky directed by V. Pikovsky, conductor K. Benz and artist L. Faylenbogen – was the last performance, that was staged in Lviv, in which I. Ivanova successfully debuted in the role of Olga.
Odessa residence. 50-70 years
In 1953, by the resolution of the party administration, the Odesa Theater of the Soviet Army was relocated to Lviv, and the Lviv Theater of Musical Comedy was relocated to Odesa. When the “settlers” arrived in Odessa in December 1953, the audience was waiting for them. The stars of the Odessa theaters V. Vasilko, L. Matsievskaya, I. Tverdokhlib, P. Mikhailov and Z. Dyakonova warmly met the guests. Shortly Odessa artists E.Glovatskaya, M.Dashevsky, and A.Sivtsov joined the troupe.
The troupe naturally fitted into the life of the city. Mainly, because the genre of musical comedy itself is truly close to the personality of Odesa inhabitants. The theater was able to feel the city, its unique atmosphere and integrate the Odesa spirit in its performances so naturally that the theater quickly becomes one of the symbols of Odesa.
The White Acacia by I. Dunaevsky became the first significant success on this path. It was staged by I. Grinshunpun at the very beginning of 1956. The play was shown on the Moscow tour. Experts unanimously gave it their preference over the performance that was staged by the capital’s operetta theater. That was truly an outstanding achievement. “Soviet Culture,” wrote: “The play is full of freshness, spontaneity, and joy. The cheerful lightness is the charm of this play and the characters are so close to the real people.” Music expert E. Grosheva recalled: “The minister of Culture enjoyed this performance so much that he even expressed his intention … to transfer the theater to Moscow!” Fortunately for the Odessa audience and the theater itself, this plan was never realized. You can’t take Antei off the ground, and Odessa soil turned out to be very fertile for the theater of musical comedy.
Among the stars of the late 50s and early 60s, the new stars were born: Z. Votintseva, V. Primenko, L. Satosova, S. Krupnik… The troupe was working hard on the stage. In the first two decades of its life, the theater staged 85 performances.
Quickly flipping through the pages of theater history, it is necessary to say good words about the first director M.Podshibitkin, who faced the challenges of the organizational period, and of course about D. Ostrovsky, who faithfully performed in Odesa operetta for three decades.
The sunrise of the theater in the 60-70s is associated with the name of the main director M. Osherovsky, who became famous for the first versions of international and Soviet musicals. Today, the theater has practically dropped the so-called Soviet repertory, which earlier was the basis of his creative life. In the plays of that time, the theater was trying to talk about life and declare humanistic ideals without slyness.
Young voices. 70-80 years
Under M. Osherovsky, a new generation of artists joined the troupe, including Y. Osipov, E. Silin, S. Valovaya, A. Poslavsky, as well as graduates of the course, which was lectured by the director at the Odessa Theater School: V. Frolov, V. Frolova, V. Barda-Sklyarenko, V. Valova, and G. Zhadushkina.
In the late 70s and early 80s, because of the initiative of M. Vodyanoy, young talented artists joined the theater: T. Tishchenko, N. Zavgorodnaya, A. Semenova, N. Zavgorodniy, S. Kovalevsky, and others. Singer Osipov has returned to the position of the lead singer. In 1987, the unfortunate death of the theater leader, Mikhail Vodyanoy, shortly after the huge success of the musical “Violinist on the Roof” by J. Bock (directed by Eduard Mitnitsky), where the Master created a wide dramatic vision of the milkman-philosopher Tevye, became a huge tragic for the theater
New Horizons. 90s
The period from 1987 to 1990, below the direction of the main director Julias Grinshpun, the son of one of the founders of the theater I. Grinshpun, was marked by productions of the sharply satirical comedies: Elephant by V. Grokhovsky, Grooms by I. Dunaevsky, Mafiosi by M. Novak, and the operetta Bayadera by I. Kalman and the Great Mikado by A. Sullivan (First prize of the All-Union Festival of Operetta Theaters).
The 90s for the theater became the years of creative search. Many well-known directors worked with the troupe. The audience especially loved “Carnival on French Boulevard” and “Folk Show” directed by Alexei Yakubov, “The ball after King” (directed by M. Lich), classical operettas directed by B. Ryabikin, musicals “Three-Penny Love” by E. Mitnitsky, “Cabaret” by D. Kender and “The game, the game is playing! ” by A. Kolker (directed by V. Strizhov). Among the main young artists were O.Oganezova, A. Akhmetova, P. Kolomiychuk, V. Kondratyev, S. Lukashenko…
In 1995, the theater received the name of the great theater and film artist, Mikhail Grigoryevich Vodyanoy.
Modern theater. 2000s
Today the troupe of the theater has great creative potential. Next to the leaders – People’s Artist of Ukraine Evgenia Dembskaya, Vladimir Frolov, Olga Oganezova, Natalia Zavgorodnaya, Honored Artists of Ukraine Idaliya Ivanova, Alina Semenova, Tamara Tishchenko. Victoria Frolova, Aurika Akhmetova, Nikolai Zavgorodniy, Stanislav Kovalevsky – the winners of prestigious contests work here such as Irina Kovalskaya, Vladimir Kondratiev, Kirill Turichenko, Yulia Panchenko, Lyudmila Meshkova, Ruslan Rudny, Natalya Tkachuk, Yuri Fedorchenko, Alexander Prokopovich and many other talented and young singers, which known and beloved by audience.
The theater’s repertory includes classical operettas – “Bat”, “Maritsa”, “Merry Widow”, “Girofle-Giroflya”; American musicals – “My Fair Lady”, “Kiss Me, Kate!”, “Hello, Dolly!”, “Some Like It Hot”; Russian and Ukrainian musicals – “Don Cesar de Bazan”, “Krechinsky’s Wedding”, “Nameless Star”, “First Love of Don Juan”, “Naked Love”, “The Canterville Ghost”, rock opera “Romeo and Juliet”. The theater repertory also includes plays about our beautiful city and about outstanding personalities, whose names have inscribed in its history: the musicals “The Vorontsov” by E. Ulyanovsky and “Hadzhibey, or the love for three thousand oranges”. The last one had the music from the most loved musicals and operettas(the libretto by Igor Losinsky and Jan Gelman). That was a musical blockbuster about the power of the human spirit and the greatness of space. On March 27, 2013, the performance received the “Performance of the Year” award.
There was also a lot of performances for children: Cinderella, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Thumbelina, Bremen Town Musicians, Winnie Show, The Ugly Duckling. They received huge interest from both children and adults. Today the theater successfully headed by the director – Honored Worker of Culture Yelena Redko, chief conductor – Honored Artist of Ukraine Vadim Perevoznikov, chief choreographer – Honored Artist of Ukraine Igor Didurko, chief choirmaster – Honored Artist of Ukraine Yuriy Topuzov, chief artist – Honored Artist of Ukraine Stanislav Zaitsev.
In total, today at the theater works around 340 people. The new theater building was erected in 1981 by the project of Odessa architect G. Topuz. The capacity of the hall is 1200 seats. Today it is one of the most modern and technically equipped theater venues in Odessa.
Today Odesa Theatre of Musical Comedy is full of creative power. The theater sets itself new goals, continues its development and experiements. It aims to send its love, optimism and vital energy to you – to the audience.