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Reaching for the Stars: A Talent Show Tribute
Here we are: we have reached the final installment of the 10 Weeks to 10 Years series. The last 10 weeks we have taken a journey through the history of CenterStage Band and Show Choir. We are 1 week away from this season’s show, but, first we get to talk about a show that raised the bar to its highest level ever!
In 2015, CenterStage put on a show similar in theme to Anything Goes (2007) and What’s on Your Playlist (2009). This theme wasn’t about a specific time period or genre, but was more about showcasing a variety of music to highlight the various talents of the choir. The show was inspired by the inclusion of music in reality television and sitcoms like Glee, The Voice, The Sing-Off and American Idol.
I especially loved this theme because CenterStage was performing relatively current music.”Happy”, “Some Nights”, “Uptown Funk”, and “Riptide” were all released within 3 years of the CS performance.
Performing classic hits has always worked out for the group in the past. In some ways, putting together more contemporary selections was a risk.This risk definitely paid off though, as CenterStage put on a high-energy group of show-stopping songs. The show was rounded out with some classic crowd pleasers and high-octane dance numbers.
2015 also showed an increase in CenterStage’s online presence. Performers were so excited to share the progress of the show that they all took to social media to promote and give glimpses behind the scenes at the show. They even started the CenterStage Instagram account in the wings during a dress rehearsal.
Be sure to check out our Facebook (CenterStage Band and Show Choir) and Instagram (@center_stage_live) feeds throughout the next week to get a full behind the scenes experience.
As a “Talent Show Tribute”, is was a way for performers to imagine auditioning for the reality shows that have become so popular. I tried to imagine what a reality show following CenterStage members would look like and I think it would totally be worth watching!
Since I was sure no one in the choir would consider actually auditioning for The Voice, I asked members what they would sing at a karaoke bar (if forced). It might be worth noting that many members said that they would never sing karaoke–which I find interesting– but that makes the audience even more lucky to be around when these performers DO decide to sing!
Try to tell me that this setlist wouldn’t be worth seeing!
- Dancing Queen
- Eleanor Rigby
- God Bless the USA
- Lying Eyes
- Eastbound and Down
- Let It Be
- Still The One
- Love Shack
- Don’t Stop Believing
I like to think that we put on a little more of a production than your average bar so you won’t want to miss this year’s show, A Night on Broadway!
We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on for the last nine months! These next 7 days will be a whirlwind and we are so excited to finally get to the finish line to share it all with you!
Clear your schedule September 29, 30, and October 1, 7:30pm at the Grand Theatre.
Admission is free!
Be sure to come back here next week and check out my OPENING NIGHT blog with my final thoughts and every reason why you NEED to see this show!
CenterStage’s annual show is less than 2 weeks away and we are very close to wrapping up our 10 for 10 series.
Let’s flashback to 2014 where CS put on one of the most colorful and high energy shows celebrating the 1970’s. It truly was FAR OUT!
In 2013, CenterStage presented the show Unforgettable, honoring musicians, singers, and composers that are no longer with us. The group showcased 23 numbers, remembering the works of Michel Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Patsy Cline, John Lennon and so many others. As the show promised “their music lives on”. Continue reading “10 Weeks to 10 Years: Part 8”
Singing’ and Swaying Through the Sixties
Here we go, folks! We made it past the half-way point of our tour through 10 years of CenterStage.
For their 6th annual show, CS presented a collection of music from the 1960’s.The show featured music from prominent artists and touched on the powerful and historic events the decade would ultimately be famous for.
Music played such an important role in this specific decade, as it highlighted and challenged the changes that were occupying the entire country.
Let’s Go to the Movies
In 2011, CenterStage took their audiences on a cinematic adventure spanning 90 years of music. From Hollywood classics to more contemporary films, the group did it all.
The year also marked some significant changes in the history of CenterStage. Joel Freiberg took over directing and Jeff and Missy Kolbeck came in as choreographers. All three have helped to keep CenterStage performing at its highest potential while still leaving room for the group to grow and be challenged.
Together, CenterStage presented a show that was as entertaining as any silver screen blockbuster.
While talking with some current members of CS, we discussed future show themes. It was stated that if the group were to repeat any themes from the last ten years, movie music would be the first on the list.
At the time I thought, “Sure, there is SO MUCH material to choose from.” I wondered what other songs we could do, considering in 2011 the group covered songs from over 50 movies!
I narrowed the field a little when I asked members what their favorite numbers from movie musicals were. Here are just a few responses, all of which would be great in a show together!
“Agony” from Into the Woods – chosen for the “Nice eye candy, fun song, great voices”
“All That Jazz” from Chicago – jazz, liquor, murder, oh my!
“Make ‘Em Laugh” from Singing in the Rain (this song received 2 votes) – Full disclosure: I was the second vote. How can you not smile when you see this?
“One Day More” from Les Mis- Just hand me a flag and point me to the revolution!
“Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music – I am a firm believer that every pep talk should be in song.
Now, weeks later, as I was preparing for this post I was thinking about why movie scores and soundtracks make for such a great show. It was then that Dirty Dancing came on TV, and I realized something.
I watched Johnny and Baby’s summer romance blossom while “Hungry Eyes” played in the background. I thought about when I used to watch this movie non-stop with my best friend. I remembered the two of us going to the lake and attempting (and always failing) to do “the lift” while singing “Time of my Life”.
Now, I have seen this movie more times than I can count and yet I feel the need to watch it, beginning to end, every time I see it on TV. And every time I am taken back in time. While music inherently creates memories, no matter when or in what context we hear it, it seems music connected to movies has a particularly powerful effect.
Imagine what the final shot of The Breakfast Club would be without “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”? Can you think of Rocky without also humming “Eye of the Tiger”. Can you listen to “My Heart will Go On” without picturing Jack and Rose at the bow of the Titanic?
A good movie is like that: there is a transcendent moment when you are completely immersed in the magic. You become lost in a whole other world and are able to escape from worries or stress, if only for the briefest of moments.
I believe CenterStage to be like a good movie: the music takes you to a place where you can escape. We are creating spectacle and using music to connect with our audience. And we are hoping that they connect CenterStage to beautiful, memorable, and enjoyable moments.
A Night On Broadway has songs from musicals you may recognize from their movie recreations, and that’s great! Let us take you away with our renditions of songs that are sure to please whether on stage or on the silver screen.
Mark your calendars for September 29- October 1 and come enjoy A Night on Broadway
I would like to start off this blog with an apology. I’m sorry I missed a post last week- I’m sure you will never recover from the gaping hole I left in your weekly reading, but I’m hoping we can all move on from it.
To make up for missing a week, here’s your 2 for 1 blog post!
What’s On Your Playlist?
In 2009 CenterStage presented their show, What’s On Your Playlist? for their growing fan base. Similar to their first show, Anything Goes, the show was made up of a wide variety of genres and styles.
In my research (read rifling through the supply closet at the CS studio) I discovered there were not as many artifacts left from this particular show. So with the program in hand here’s a quick overview of the show:
The full show choir performed 7 songs, the band played at the beginning of each act, and soloists and small ensembles rounded out the show to hit a total of 17 numbers.
While I was not directly involved in any part of this show, I do remember seeing it from the audience and there are two very distinct memories I have from it.
First, during the second act the entire show choir performed a number called “Dance Evolution”. From Elvis to N*Sync, the choir did not disappoint. I fell in love with the singers a little bit more as I watched them “shake it like a polaroid picture” and chant “ice, ice, baby”. I still can’t think about it without smiling.
My second most vivid memory from the show came from a female quartet singing “Wade in the Water”. I was instantly hypnotized. It was soulful and powerful and showcased 4 powerhouse voices in a way I had not previously seen in any other CenterStage show.
I vowed at that moment that I would someday make it on stage with these women. I have continued to be inspired by these fantastic performers and am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to perform alongside them.
Not every audience member is suddenly called to join in the fun on stage, but after 3 years of producing free entertainment in the Wausau area, CenterStage was inspiring more and more people to support the arts each fall.
“The group has grown in popularity throughout the years and has worked to become a presence in the community.” -Wausau Daily Herald Sept 2010
Sail Away: Songs and Dances from the British Isles
The group continued to pick up speed as they moved from a wide range of songs as diverse as the performers who sang them, to a more localized theme for their 4th show in 2010, Sail Away.
Sail Away was all about songs and artists “across the pond” and it seemed to be a favorite among performers.
I asked some members to pick their favorite CenterStage performance of the last 10 years and many of the responses were songs from 2010 including:
- Tapping in Sail Away (Celtic/Riverdance Medley)
- Queen- “Somebody to Love”
- The Andrew Lloyd Weber medley
What I have found most interesting as I look back on this show is that I can picture and remember Every.Single.Number. I was involved in this show (another year of acting- this time with an Irish accent), but even so, as I scan the program to prepare for this post I am immediately taken back to all of the great songs that were featured.
Maybe it was the familiarity of the music: The Beatles, Queen, The Spice Girls. Maybe it was just an overall fun show. Maybe it was because I lip synced every number off stage. Whatever the reason, 2010 felt different. It was energetic and moving. The actors were brilliant and funny. Where else could you find Mick Jagger, Austin Powers, the Queen of England, and an Irish girl causing shenanigans together?
Overall, CenterStage was on a whole new level. Looking through some press from the show I think it is safe to say I wasn’t the only one who thought CenterStage hit a new high with Sail Away.
September 30, 2010
- “I think we get better every year, and I think they enjoy it. I heard lots of comments last year about how much people enjoyed it. I’m hoping we do that well this year.” – Bill Dohr
November 1, 2010
- “I was privileged to attend a terrific performance called ‘Sail Away’ by the CenterStage Band and Show Choir….The music, song selection, costuming, choreography, sound and performance energy were wonderful.” -Kay Rossman
And here we are, some years later, trying to raise a bar that is being elevated on a yearly basis. Sail Away was a magical show and this year we hope to capture some of that magic again.
This year CenterStage has a few connections to the British Isles singing “Strongest Suit” (first performed by CS in 2010), selections from Once, and at least one song by Andrew Lloyd Weber.
We hope that this year will be as memorable as every year that has come before, and we can’t wait to raise the bar one more time in our 10th season!
Mark you calendars for September 29- October 1 for A Night on Broadway!
New Broadway 101
2008 was my first time sharing a stage with a group of the most passionate and dedicated performers I have ever had the honor of working with. The show was New Broadway 101 and I am forever changed because of it.
I was lucky enough to act during CenterStage’s 2nd annual show with a concept that gave a full theatrical experience.There were hours of memorization, numerous costume changes, fancy cane twirling, and special sound effects. (And I’m not even talking about the band and choir!)
The audience was attending a class about the new age of Broadway. The course’s professor was set in his traditional teaching style, while his plucky assistant (yours truly) was determined to find new ways to teach about the wide world of musicals.
This TA character was very energetic, up for a challenge, and unafraid to think outside the box. Not only did that fit right into my wheelhouse, but this character also seemed to represent everything I’ve come to love about CenterStage.
I was not around for the entirety of the show’s preparation–only coming in during the last month or so of rehearsal– but even then I knew that CenterStage was where I was meant to be. These performers were so alive and so talented and none of them were afraid to take chances or look silly. (And there is now plenty of video evidence to prove I have adopted those same qualities)
One of the many things that I love about CenterStage is the supportive and welcoming environment. I never felt like the new kid or an outsider- for that season I was part of the team. I will never be able to thank the group enough for taking me in all those years ago.
I’ll never forget walking onstage in a Wonder Woman costume and bright yellow heels to introduce a song from the Lion King, wearing a devil’s tail and horns delivering lines with a distorted voice, or doing my best Fonzie impression. I was given every opportunity to make the role my own, and was encouraged to give it everything I had.
I helped introduce 23 show-stopping Broadway numbers and I was there to watch the audience light up at the spectacle, clap along to familiar tunes, and fall in love with new music. There were moments that almost brought me to tears on a nightly basis and there were numbers where I wished I could jump on stage to join in. I did have fun dancing and singing backstage.
In an interview with City Pages in 2008, Tom Brunner said, “It’s a blast at rehearsals. If we can portray half as much fun as we actually have, the audience will be giddy when they leave.”
Much like the audience, I left the show giddy. I was hooked on CenterStage and wanted nothing more than to share my love of music with these wonderful people. It took a few years, but I eventually became a performing member of the choir, a board member, and resident blogger. To think it all started with a few show tunes.
Now, in 2016 we are preparing our second go at Broadway music with our show A Night on Broadway. Even if you attended the show in 2008 you can bet we’ve raised the bar in our renditions of some of our favorite songs.
If you were in the audience for 2008’s New Broadway 101, bring your notes and make sure you keep a lookout for these throwbacks to our first Broadway show:
- The choir will be singing selections from Ragtime, a musical that was highlighted by the band in 2008.
- The choir will sing “One Short Day” from Wicked again– this time as part of a medley.
- This year a small ensemble will be presenting a song from Mama Mia, the title song of which was performed by a string quartet in CS’s first Broadway show.
- The choir will revisit The Lion King, singing “Circle of Life”. Last time they sang “Shadowland”.
Whether you were with us the last time we presented a Broadway revue or will be joining us for the first time, we can’t wait to share this amazing show with you.
My wish for you is to find CenterStage as welcoming as it is entertaining. I hope you find yourself dancing and singing in your seat. I hope you leave giddy! More than anything I hope CenterStage brings you as much happiness as it has brought me these last 1o years.
Come see A Night on Broadway September 29th, 30th, and October 1st.
Remember to follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on all thing CenterStage!
In the fall of 2007, CenterStage presented its first musical revue. Anything Goes was a collection of songs spanning years and genres to showcase the talents and versatility of this new group.
The show consisted of 23 numbers. The band played 4 numbers including selections from the movie Happy Feet and “If I Only Had a Brain” from The Wizard of Oz.
The full chorus performed 8 numbers including “Proud Mary”, “Seasons of Love”, and “Anything Goes” from the musical of the same name.
Fun Fact: “Proud Mary” and “Seasons of Love” were performed in more recent CenterStage shows (2014 and 2015) as small ensemble numbers.
The theme that year gave a freedom to present songs that may not have a common thread on the surface, but were connected through stories, memories, and an overall passion for performance.
In the spirit of “Anything Goes” I asked a few performers (past and present) to pick ANY song they would like to see CenterStage tackle in the future. Here are some of the suggestions I received:
“One Day More” from Les Miserables
“Into the Fire” from The Scarlet Pimpernel
“Light Up” – Styx
“It’s all Right” – Huey Lewis and the News
“I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”- New Seekers
“Come Fly With Me” – Frank Sinatra
Some members were not able to choose just one song, but they know anything chosen would need to live up to CenterStage’s glowing reputation:
“Anything that would let us pull out all the stops–band, orchestra, voices, lights, special effects, people dancing in the aisles–something that would let us draw the audience right into the fun on stage.”
With so many great songs, it is nothing short of impressive to see a group piece together visions from 30 different people in a seamless and exciting way. Anything Goes was the perfect way to introduce CenterStage and they have been raising the bar on musical entertainment ever since.
While the themes and members have changed over the years, one thing remains the same: a dedication to quality. Maintaining that quality means a lot of practice. Within the last couple of years our performers have been able to record rehearsals for members to study and watch over the week.
That technology may have evolved since CenterStage’s first year, but trying to stay sharp throughout the season has always been there. In 2007, my mom, a CS performer, asked me to video tape some choreography practices to help her better prepare for the upcoming show.
As I started to put together this post my mind filled with questions. “I wonder if I still have that practice footage? Who keeps tapes from a practice they aren’t even involved in? If my mom needed this, why would I even have it? Even if I did find it, how do I get a video tape to my computer?”
Well, being a nostalgic pack-rat has finally paid off.
After only a few hours of frantically rewinding and re-watching tapes, I found these preparations for 2007’s Anything Goes!
Ten years ago I was able to catch a glimpse of this magic and now I get to share it with you!
Check back next week as I get to relive my first time on stage with CS during Part Three of my 10 Weeks to 10 Years series.
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