A while back, country music star Ronnie Milsap had to reschedule his Weidner Center appearance when he received news of his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Well, the time has now arrived for the popular singer, pianist, songwriter to make good on his promise to Green Bay area fans. He’ll play the Weidner at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 21). Tickets are available.
We’ve got tickets (do you?) for the opening night performance of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play” on the Weidner Center mainstage. It’s 7:30 tonight (Thursday, Nov. 19) in Cofrin Family Hall. If you have trouble envisioning what a “radio play” will look like, we have a sneak preview online, with a photo from the final dress rehearsal, and earlier snapshots showing the stage crew applying finishing touches. Set designer extraordinaire Prof. Jeff Entwistle and company have clearly outdone themselves (yet again). For a preview, and details on the production.
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Theatre and Dance and Music presents the beloved holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.
The performances of It’s A Wonderful Life will take place Thursday and Friday, Nov. 19-20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Cofrin Family Hall at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, UW-Green Bay, 2420 Nicolet Drive.
Frank Capra’s classic holiday film was adapted for the stage by Joe Landry in 2006 and quickly became an anticipated annual event in cities across the country. Performed as a live radio broadcast set on Christmas Eve, 1946, audiences are transported to the days of Old Time Radio. An ensemble of 11 actors play dozens of characters, perform commercial jingles and create sound effects to tell the story of Bedford Falls’ George Bailey as he is given a great gift by Clarence Oddbody one fateful Christmas Eve.
Production Director and Professor of Theatre, Laura Riddle, is excited to bring It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play to the Weidner Center on the UW-Green Bay campus as a part of the University’s 50th Anniversary celebration. “I have always been a fan of Old Time Radio and tune in to Wisconsin Public Radio every Sunday night to hear rebroadcasts of old radio shows, stories told in a way that invite the listeners to imagine the action in great detail through enhanced underscoring and sound effects. Our production of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play treats the audience to a look “behind-the scenes” for a live radio broadcast. The audience sees actors changing characters using only their voices and sound effects are created live at a Foley table using objects from corn flakes to water basins.”
All elements are performed live and include a live band playing popular music and holiday songs from the 1940’s. It’s a Wonderful Life is a collaboration of UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance and UW-Green Bay Music. The original score by Kevin Connors has been custom tailored for the UWGB production by Nick Schommer and Kelsie Holtzheimer, UW-Green Bay Music students who have composed new arrangements and original compositions.
It’s a Wonderful Life directorial/production team: Laura Riddle (Director), Courtney Sherman (Musical Director), Denise Carlson-Gardner (Choreographer), Nick Schommer and Kelsie Holtzheimer (original compositions and arrangements) Jeffrey Paul Entwistle (Scenic Designer), Kaoime E. Malloy (Costume/Make Up Designer), R. Michael Ingraham (Lighting Designer, Technical Designer), Dana Mehlhorn (Sound Designer), Jeff Chesebro and Paul Heim (Foley Designers), David Cook (Assistant Technical Director) Bri Wolfe (Stage Manager).
It’s a Wonderful Life cast: Emily Ahrens (Roscoe, IL), Selena Deer (New Berlin, WI), Max Frost (De Pere, WI), Ashley Gutting (Ashwaubenon, WI), Nick Schommer (Jackson, WI), Millie Haushalter (Brillion, WI), Adam Rosenow (Shawano, WI), Talor Sohr (Green Bay, WI), Kit Honkanen (Green Bay, WI), Daniel Taddy (Sturgeon Bay, WI), Tyler Wood (Pulaski, WI)
It’s a Wonderful Life orchestra: Courtney Sherman (Conductor), Laura Cortright, flute (Green Bay, WI), Keton Jennings, sax (Poynette, WI), Gatlin Grimm, trumpet (Green Bay, WI), Joe Russett, trombone (Green Bay, WI), Collin Catalano, upright bass; Bobby Magers, drums (Green Bay, WI), Kyle Sweeney, piano (Fox Point, WI), Ryan Dummer, piano (Green Bay, WI)
It’s a Wonderful Life crew: Matthew Beecher (Assistant Stage Manager) (Milwaukee, WI), Erin Pagenkopf (Assistant Stage Manager) (Sussex, WI), Jake Gerlikovski (Master Electrician) (Green Bay, WI), David Cook (Scene Shop Supervisor), Elizabeth Galba (Costume Shop Supervisor) (Cascade, WI), Cody Von Ruden (Wardrobe Head, Makeup Crew) (Cashton, WI), Katy Kluever (Menasha, WI) and Cody Galligan (Campbellsport, WI) (Wardrobe Crew), Zeb Burks (Sound Technician) (Ettrick, WI), Scene Shop Practicum Students (Carpenters and Costume Technicians), (Electricians and Paint Crew).
Tickets for It’s A Wonderful Life range from $25 to $35. Special pricing for UWGB students is $20. To purchase tickets.
Associate Professor of Music Michelle McQuade Dewhirst challenged herself to write one new piano piece each day for the month of September. All 30 “Piano Per Diem” pieces will be premiered at 6:30 tonight (Thursday, Nov. 12) at the Weidner Center’s Fort Howard Hall. Pianists Michael Rector and Holly Roadfeldt will perform the short compositions as part of the 6:30 Thursdays: Music from Every Angle series. For more information.
Get your green on — it’s basketball season! This Friday (Nov. 6) you can get 20% off Adidas apparel at the Phoenix Bookstore. Your Aviand’s Phoenix Friday discount continues with 10% off at Rosewood Café for wearing your favorite Phoenix apparel. Playing at Cheapseats this week is the exciting new thriller “The Gift.” Show times are at 6:30 and 9:05 p.m. The Common Grounds Coffeehouse welcomes Chicago singer-songwriter Xoe Wise Friday at 8 p.m. “Cirque Mechanics: Pedal Punk” is at the Weidner Center at 7:30 p.m. Women’s volleyball takes on Valparaiso for Parents Night at 7 p.m. at the Kress and follows with a 4 p.m. match Saturday with UIC. Go Phoenix!
We heard great things about last Saturday’s choral concert extravaganza – now it’s the instrumentalists’ turn. The student Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band under the direction of Prof. Kevin Collins will perform at 7:30 p.m. this Friday (Oct. 23) at the Weidner Center. Among the musical highlights will be “A Gaelic Ballad” and “Arabesque,” a pair of Sousa marches and “Black Dog,” a piece inspired by the music of Led Zeppelin and the hard rock sounds of the 1970s. The latter will feature Prof. Eric Hansen on clarinet. For more on a very appealing program.
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Gift by 1923 gives bands a new sound – Friday’s band concert will be the first at UWGB to feature the sounds of new instruments purchased via a generous grant from the Cofrin Family’s 1923 Fund, which has long lent its support to the Weidner Center and the performing arts on campus. Prof. Kevin Collins, director of bands, says the new professional-quality wind instruments in use Friday will include a new Haynes flute, P. Mauirat saxophones, an Oleg bass saxophone, Getzen cornets, Bach trombones and Meinl Weston tubas. “It has transformed our sound,” said Collins. “There is nothing like the timbre of true cornets in a concert band context, and the low brass and new saxophones give us a much fuller and resonant low end. It’s like having a subwoofer for the first time… The students are excited to play on such fine instruments. Many of them are first-generation college students… they are working their way through school and don’t always have a great deal of flexibility in their budgets… so we’re thrilled to provide instruments to students who might not otherwise be able to afford them.”
Sorry, we meant to get this announcement out earlier but… if you’ve been wondering why so many law enforcement officers and police dogs have been entering the Weidner Center at various times Monday and today… the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Canine Association has been holding training sessions. As many as 120 officer-canine teams are taking part. (If you need to visit the Weidner Center yet today (Tuesday), be sure to heed the signage and avoid the cordoned-off areas — they don’t want anyone disrupting their training scenarios, plus safety reasons and all.) Also in use as a training site is the former Language House in the woods above Nicolet Drive.
Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday (Oct. 9) at 11 a.m. for the spring Weidner Center concert by singer/songwriter and blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa. For more on the show and ticket availability.
Lovers of opera and classically trained vocal performance will have the opportunity to hear top young talent from across the nation and beyond when the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay hosts a prestigious international music competition Friday through Sunday, Oct. 9-11.
The International Czech and Slovak Voice Competition takes place in Fort Howard Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, located on the campus at 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay. Admission is free, and the public is welcome to attend at any point during the competition’s three rounds — opening, semifinal and final.
The 2015 edition of the every-other-year competition is the 13th since its inception in Montreal, Canada, in 1991. This is the first year Green Bay will host the finals, a change based in part on a history of success as a preliminary venue. UW-Green Bay has hosted opening rounds six straight times since 2003.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the finals to Green Bay. This competition has a great history, and our audiences have really enjoyed being able to hear amazing singers from around the world,” says UW-Green Bay Music Prof. Sarah Meredith Livingston, director, who with community patron Sharon Resch, producer, is organizing the weekend’s events.
The competition schedule (subject to change) is as follows:
• Friday, Oct. 9 — Preliminary Round 10 a.m. – noon
• Saturday, Oct. 10 — Semifinal sessions beginning at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Oct. 11 — Finals, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (closing reception, 3 p.m.)
“This is a competition that showcases the beauty of the Czech-Slovak repertoire,” Meredith Livingston says. “It also provides a chance for promising young singers to further their careers, and it demonstrates to our local voice students what can be possible when talent, training and dedication come together.”
A total of 19 male and female vocalists have entered to take part in the Green Bay preliminary rounds. (Preliminaries will also take place in Montreal, earlier the same week, with contenders vying to advance to Green Bay for the semifinals.)
The list of entrants here includes vocalists from New Jersey, California, Ohio and Massachusetts as well as several each from Michigan and Illinois, and one from Kronberg, Germany. Competitors from Wisconsin are Sarah Butler, soprano, Milwaukee; Talia Nepper, lyric soprano, Franksville; Elena Stabile, soprano, Appleton; and Ian Toohill, tenor, Shorewood.
The winner of the International Czech and Slovak Voice Competition will receive $5,000 Canadian and be featured in recital at a later date at the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic. The event offers a total of seven cash awards including $2,500C for second place and $2,000C for third.
The first-place finisher in the 2013 competition, Ukrainian-born soprano and University of Michigan graduate Antonina Chekhosvkya, now tours professionally as an opera, symphony and solo recitalist. Within months of her 2007 title, Simone Osborne, now with the Vancouver and Canadian Opera companies, became one of the youngest winners (at age 21) of the famous New York Metropolitan Opera auditions. The 2003 top prize winner, Jan Martiník, is today a featured performer with the Berlin State Opera.
The distinguished panel of international jurors for the 2015 competition includes Alois Jezek, artistic director of the Dvorak International Voice Competition, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic; Ales Kanka, Prague Conservatory; Prof. Victor Yampolsky of Northwestern University; Maestro Gildo Dinunzio, assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, New York; and Alain Nonat, artistic director of Théâtre Lyrichorégra 20,, Montreal, and the competition’s founder. Also serving as jurors will be UW-Green Bay’s Meredith, herself an accomplished vocalist and Fulbright honoree for her performance and academic work primarily in the Czech-Slovak repertoire, and Seong-Kyung Graham, music director and conductor for the Civic Symphony of Green Bay.
Singers will be accompanied, for the seventh consecutive time at the Green Bay site, by pianist Tim Cheek, a professor, Czech diction specialist and vocal coach at the University of Michigan.
Nonat and others created the Montreal competition in 1991 to commemorate the 150th celebration of renowned composer Antonin Dvorak’s birth. Today, the event continues to promote the Czech and Slovak vocal repertoire for young singers, while fostering exchanges of young musicians and specialists between North America and the Czech Republic, as well as Slovakia.
It is expected that Bořek Lizec, counsel general of the Czech Republic in Chicago, will be on hand for the presentation of awards at the reception following the Oct. 11 finals.
The final round begins at 10 a.m. in the Weidner’s Fort Howard Hall, only a few hours ahead of that day’s noon kickoff across town at Lambeau Field, where the Green Bay Packers will host NFL rival the St. Louis Rams.
“People everywhere know about Green Bay and world championship performances in football,” Meredith says. “It’s nice to be able to add to that, in our own way, by bringing an international competition in music to this community, and showcasing these talented vocal performers.”
We’re only 10 days out from the start of a grand opening week for the Weidner Center’s 2015-16 Performing Arts Series. Up first, on Friday night, Oct. 9, is a brand-new improv show, “Whose Live Anyway?” from the comedic minds behind the Emmy-nominated TV hit, “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” The next night, it’s the popular country-tinged vocal band Home Free, on Oct. 10. On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Celtic Woman brings its 10th Anniversary World Tour with four Irish musicians — three angelic vocalists and a dazzling Celtic violinist — accompanied by a full band, bagpipers, Irish dancers and (special to this tour) male vocalists, The Celtic Tenors. For details and ticket info on each of the first three shows.