For Those About to Rock…

“Here I Go Again”, ready to give you a few thoughts about CenterStage’s annual show! We have one performance under our belt, and now, as the dust settles, I have time to reflect on (and shamelessly promote) Back to the 80s.

But first, a quick story:

Once upon a time, members of the CenterStage choir were out for drinks after rehearsing A Night on Broadway, and discussed how totally awesome an 80s themed show would be.

The conversation quickly turned into an opportunity for everyone involved to randomly yell out songs, one at a time, with responses like, “Oh man, I forgot about that” or “Yes, but what about…”

As quickly as the discussion started, it was ended by a certain director, claiming that there aren’t full choral arrangements of 80s songs.

Smartphones at the ready, some diligent (albeit stubborn) choir members proceeded to scour the internet and even went so far as to create a Facebook group petitioning for CenterStage to perform an 80s show.

Within 24 hours, the group page quickly filled with dozens of options of full choral versions of 80s classics. One post even stating “25+ songs listed along with two medleys. I think we have more than a show!”

Now, if you are unfamiliar with CenterStage history, the following year’s theme was not the 1980s, but instead Decade Bash, a show that showed off songs spanning 60+ years, not just the particular 10 some people were hoping for.

It took a couple more years until we were able to bring you Back to the 80s, but let me tell you, it was worth the wait! Each season CenterStage brings a new level of performance and this year is no exception. We pulled out all the stops (and all the hairspray) to bring you a rocking good time.

The 1980s brought us memorable performers, iconic songs, and Broadway musicals that truly changed the landscape of music forever. The decade also brought us indescribable fashion and undeniably awesome slang. And you better believe you’ll experience all of it.

We knew in order to do the 80s justice we were going to have to make sure we brought songs from as many different genres as we could. Rock, Country, Pop, movie scores, Broadway, we have it ALL. Our selections are as unique as the members who perform them.

I think it is the variety of music that makes this show not only nostalgic, but fun for everyone. So, whether you lived through the decade or not, I guarantee you will find something you not only know, but something that you love.

As a member of our audience you can expect to be transported back in time (Marty McFly style) for a night of big hair and even bigger voices. AND for the first time since 2012 we put the band back on stage! Their sound will have you ready to go “All Night Long”!

You won’t want to miss this head-banging, tubular good time! Come check out Back to the 80s at the Grand Theater September 27-28 We’ll see you there!

Two Thumbs Up for “Music of the Movies”

CS2018It is my favorite time of year! For over a decade I have marked the arrival of fall not only with changing leaves and football season but with CenterStage’s annual show.

For newer readers, my name is Jenna and I am somewhat of a CenterStage superfan. I have seen or been involved in every show for the last 12 years. I have been a performing member of the choir for 5 seasons- though this year I am only a spectator. Continue reading

10 Weeks to 10 Years: Part 10

program.jpegReaching 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.

Confession: I was probably the most obnoxious when it came to documenting show week.

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!

10 Weeks to 10 Years: Part 7

Singing’ and Swaying Through the program.jpegSixties

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.

Continue reading

10 Weeks to 10 Years: Part 6

programLet’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!

all that jazz
“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!

one day

“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





10 Weeks to 10 Years: Parts 4 and 5

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!

09PosterWhat’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.

DanceEvolutionFirst, 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!