10 Weeks to 10 Years: Part 3

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PosterNew 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!)

Me

 

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!

 

 

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10 Weeks to 10 Years: Part 2

Anything Goes!

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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.

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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.

To stay up to date with CenterStage this season make sure you like us on Facebook!

10 Weeks to 10 Years: Part 1

Countdown to Showtime!

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As of this week, we are 70 days away from opening our 2016 show: A Night on Broadway. That’s only 10 short weeks! 10 weeks to CenterStage Band and Show Choir’s 10th annual show.

In honor of the groups 10th season, I will be presenting a series I am calling “10 Weeks to 10 Years”. I will be sharing facts, highlights, and memories from members and fans of CenterStage to celebrate what this group has meant to the community over the last decade. So, let’s take a closer look at the group:

10 things you may not know about CenterStage

1. In 9 seasons CenterStage has performed 181 musical numbers:IMG_9096

66 were performed by the full chorus

26  were performed solely by the band

89 numbers were performed by an individual or a small ensemble

 

2. The CenterStage Choir has sung 10 different musical medleys featuring movie scores, disco favorites and a tribute to Queen. Even more medleys have been performed by the CenterStage Band.

 

3. 2008’s “New Broadway 101” was the group’s first all Broadway show, but there has been Broadway music performed every season.Broadway101

 

4. CenterStage is one, big, happy family! Members have performed alongside their significant others, children, parents, and siblings.

 

5. CenterStage has performed multiple songs by some artists and groups. The Beatles prove to be the favorite: their music has been featured more than 6 times in 4 different shows.

6. Some other repeat artists include The Jackson Five, Tina Turner, Queen and Elvis.

 

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7. We’re not kidding when we advertise “For All Ages”. Our choir members range in age from 25-80.

8. There are currently 25 performing members of the choir. 6 singers have been involved in all ten seasons of CenterStage.

9. 2 members are joining us for their first CenterStage Production.

10. “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from the musical Hairspray was the first song CenterStage ever performed as a group.

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This talented group of singers and musicians have been presenting free entertainment for the last decade and they are sure to continue for many decades to come.

Come be a part of our journey and help us celebrate 10 years of CenterStage this fall.

We present A Night on Broadway September 29-October 1 at the Grand Theatre in Wausau.

Like us on Facebook to stay up to date on our “10 Weeks to 10 Years” series!

 

 

 

5,6,7,8!

It’s summer: that means hot days, cold drinks, and lots of time with friends and family. For CenterStage performers it also means the start of choreography for our 2016 show: A Night On Broadway. We’ve been working hard learning music and planning small group numbers, but now it’s time to get moving. Really moving.

I personally didn’t really start dancing until I was in college, and even then it was only in the context of musical theatre. Now, as a performing member of CS, I have spent the last 4 years tapping into skills I never knew existed in me.

Choreography is more than just steps and spins, it becomes a collection of lessons in teamwork, focus, persistence, and learning that it is ok to laugh at yourself.

Let me give you a peek behind the scenes to show you some things I’ve learned while dancing with CenterStage.


Dancing is a great workout

Elbow

I was never into team sports, so it’s nice to know I have an athletic outlet every week at rehearsal.

Quality over Complexity 

Teapot

With attention to detail you can make even the easiest moves look impressive.

You come to rehearsal not to just learn your part—but also everyone else’s

Paula

We are a team and we are all here to make each other look good.

The moment you finally nail a move can change your whole mood

Finally

Take time to celebrate and hope you can repeat it.

Don’t be afraid to take the lead

Ear

If you learn a move faster than others you can help teach it to someone else.

A little encouragement goes a long way

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After a full rehearsal it’s nice to hear that all your hard work is paying off.

“Put your own style on it” has limits

Gangster

Just because you CAN break it down with the best of them, doesn’t always mean that you should. Sometimes it takes more focus to blend in than it does to stand out.

“One more time” is usually a lie

No More

Falling out of love with your favorite song after the 100th run-through is possible. But you’ll reignite the flame during the first performance.

We’re all in this together

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As a group we learn at different levels, in different ways and by the end of the process we all come together to put on a great show. There is no better feeling than knowing your fellow performers each put in 100%, not just for themselves, but for everyone around them.


From messing up the words to a song we were once able to recite in our sleep, and suddenly forgetting how to walk in a straight line, to being able to sing and dance at the same time, we go through quite the journey. One thing is for sure—we have a lot fun along the way!

We’ve been busy this summer and we won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Come see the final product of all our hard work as we dance through A Night On Broadway.

A Night on Broadway

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CenterStage is happy to introduce the 2016 production: A Night on Broadway. My name is Jenna and I would love to give you an all access pass as we plan, practice, and perform our 2016 show!

First, let me tell you a little bit about my relationship with CenterStage. I was introduced to the group back in 2007 when my mom first joined the choir. As the performances drew near, she asked me to tag along to a rehearsal to videotape the choreography. We had always shared a love of performing, so I was more than happy to help. Plus I loved getting a sneak peek at the show.

Proud Mary was the first number I remember watching. There were go-go dancers and spinning umbrellas. The spectacle was enough to turn me into a fan. I remember enjoying my time there so much I spent more time watching the choreography than filming it. (The quality of taping went downhill as the numbers became more entertaining)

I watched the performers go from the rehearsal space to dancing under the bright lights of the Grand Theatre. I was in awe of the musical talent that made up the choir. I was hooked and I have seen or been involved in every show since.

I saw magic happen in that small rehearsal space. And that is what I hope to do for you readers as well: give you a glimpse into the magic that is CenterStage Band and Show Choir.

This year’s show is particularly special to me. In 2008 I was able to lend my time and talents to the group for the first time as an actor. That show was Broadway 101 and now 8 years later we are revisiting that theme, and I am so excited to be experiencing it as a member of the choir.

By performing Broadway songs this year we hope to get back to our roots as a show choir. We pride ourselves in putting on a top-notch show and in an effort to keep our quality high, we are going to do what we do best: SING. But just like any Broadway show, you can bet we will still give you all the razzle dazzle.

You may be thinking, “I don’t know any Broadway—what should I expect?” Expect to find something to love! Broadway has come a long way over the years (even since CS’s last Broadway-themed show). We are hoping to pull from classic shows and songs to get toes tapping, but also introduce our audiences to a new class of Broadway.

Broadway means so much more now than jazz hands and kick lines.There are shows like Book of Mormon and Avenue Q that are pushing the envelope when it comes to what characters sing about. Rock of Ages is bringing the hair bands of the 1980’s to the stage for a concert experience. And movies like Legally Blonde, Matilda, and School of Rock have all been adapted for live performance, adding music to stories that already have a fan base.

And this is an exciting time for Broadway musicals too. Hamilton: An American Musical was recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, becoming only the ninth musical to earn the award. The hip-hop retelling of the legacy of Alexander Hamilton has taken the world by storm and is bringing in a new generation of theatre-goers.

Credit Sara Krulwich:The New York Times
Hamilton: An American Musical  Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

So what does this new wave of Broadway mean for us as performers and more importantly for our audience members? It means that we have a wide range of genres and styles to choose from. We will find a little something for everyone: Rock, Country, Jazz, Motown, Pop and everything in between all tied up with a Broadway bow.

We can’t wait to show you what we come up with. Our members are already buzzing with ideas to best showcase our talents and knowledge of the theater. We hope you not only hear some of your favorite show tunes, but also fall in love with something new. It is sure to be a must-see event.

So, keep an eye on our blog to catch some behind the scenes magic as we put together

A Night on Broadway!

Connecting to Our Community

This fall, CenterStage Band and Show Choir will be celebrating its 10th anniversary, and the choir is already in full swing, preparing to make this show an unforgettable milestone.

While looking back at the last 9 successful and memorable shows, it is just as important to remember 9 years of giving more than just music to our community.

I believe in order for an organization to be successful for as long as CenterStage has, it needs to be built on a strong foundation. It needs to give its members a central focus that the whole group can believe in. Our mission statement does exactly that:

 “We believe that fostering a band and show choir dedicated to well-performed entertainment enhances the quality of life for the entire community — before the stage, CenterStage, backstage, at any stage of life.”

While we may be known for our “well-performed entertainment” once a year, I think it is our yearlong involvement in the greater Wausau area that truly shows our dedication to enhancing and serving our community.

We love to spread joy through music and have had wonderful opportunities to spread that joy throughout the area in a variety of different volunteer events, sing-outs and performances. In 2015 alone, CenterStage logged 1,185 volunteer hours!

 

When we’re not preparing for our annual show (and sometimes even while we are), we can be found singing at Never Forgotten Honor Flights, singing the National Anthem at various events including Wisconsin Woodchuck baseball games, helping out at community events like the Kris Kringle Christmas Market and Younkers Community Sale, and traveling the area to carol during the holiday season.

 

 

Whether we are singing or just lending some helping hands, CenterStage has always been community-centered and will continue to find new ways to help out the community that has supported us for so long!

To see more ways CenterStage stays involved all year round, follow us on Facebook: CenterStage Band and Show Choir