Monday, December 16, 2013

Give the gift of live entertainment this season

Give the gift of live entertainment this holiday season! 
As you consider your holiday gift lists this week, remember Sangamon Auditorium and our fantastic lineup for spring 2014.  Gift certificates of any dollar amount are always available for purchase.  Stocking stuffer tickets for our January 24 Family Series event, Junie B. Jones are a great choice for families with elementary school-aged students.  And don't forget our seven performances of Jersey Boys, coming up March 4-8, 2014!

For Jersey Boys, we are pleased to be able to offer sales of a holiday voucher, redeemable for any performance of Jersey Boys.  This option permits the giver the flexibility to not need to check the personal schedule of the recipient in order to give this gift.  Consider this option for all those hard-to-buy-for folks on your list; Jersey Boys is just "too good to be true," after all!

To purchase tickets or gift certificates, visit our website or call the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160.  All purchases made prior to 2 p.m. on Friday, December 20 will be delivered in time for Christmas.  The Ticket Office will be closed from December 21 through January 1, but online purchases can still be made during this time.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Return of holiday favorites

In the next few days, Sangamon Auditorium is bursting with holiday cheer!  You can come visit us for a family favorite this weekend, the Springfield Ballet Company's annual production of The Nutcracker.  Performances are Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
On Monday evening, December 16 at 7:30 p.m., we will welcome back Mannheim Steamroller Christmas to our Visiting Artist series.  Tickets are selling fast, so be sure to secure yours today by calling 217.206.6160 or visiting our website.

Just prior to the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert, we will host a reception for Friends of Sangamon Auditorium.  If you are a Friend and have not received an invitation to the reception, please call the ticket office for details.  If you would like to become a Friend, you may call the ticket office to do so and join us for the reception.  We are so grateful for the donor support of this membership program that enables our community to enjoy a wide range of quality performing arts programming.  Thank you for your support in 2013 and we look forward to a busy 2014!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stride pianist and jazz enthusiast Judy Carmichael

This weekend, we welcome stride pianist Judy Carmichael, whose public radio program, Jazz Inspired, brings jazz front-and-center as an inspiration to artists of all stripes.

Interestingly, Judy has family ties to Springfield.  Her paternal grandfather, Albert Edward Hohenstein, was from Springfield.  He offered all of his grandchildren $50 for the first one who learned his favorite rag, “Maple Leaf Rag.”  Judy learned it and got the prize.  Obviously a very critical piece to young Judy’s development as a stride pianist!

Stride pianist Judy Carmichael
Since 1980, Carmichael has released a number of solo recordings — often playing music from the American songbook with compositions by Hoagy Carmichael, Fats Waller, Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington. Her album "Two Handed Stride" received a Grammy Award nomination.

Following Friday's concert in the UIS Studio Theatre, the audience is invited to a dessert reception hosted by Carmichael's aunt, Jo Alessandrini, and Jo's husband Guerry Suggs.  For more information and tickets, visit our website.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

This weekend: Foreigner and B.B. King!

It's gonna be a great weekend at Sangamon Auditorium!  First, join us for Foreigner on Friday night at 8 p.m.  The 1970s and 80s hitmaker rock act will be joined on stage by the Glenwood High School jazz choir Fusion for the classic hit, "I Wanna Know What Love Is."

Also join us Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. for bluesman B.B. King's return engagement at Sangamon Auditorium.  The living legend is undoubtedly one that falls into the "must-see" live category.  

For tickets, visit the Sangamon Auditorium site or call 217.206.6160.

Yeah, it's kind of a good weekend to live in central Illinois.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

UIS Family Series starts this weekend!

This Sunday we'll have our first event on the 2013-2014 UIS Family Series.  This year's series is perfect for families with young elementary school students - say, those in grades 1-3 - and the series prices are so affordable, it really makes sense to invest in a subscription.

Kids' subscriptions are only $33 for the three-event series.  Adult subscriptions are only $45.  PLUS...for each subscription you purchase, you'll get a $5 Scheel's gift card.  It's a great deal!

This Sunday, we welcome Michael Cooper with Masked Marvels & Wondertales at 3 p.m.  Cooper is a visual artist, mime, and storyteller who will inspire kids and adults alike to create fascinating stories and objects.  His performance is a series of short scenes and stories using a variety of the masks, costumes, and objects he has created.  No one piece is like another, and I'm sure each child and adult will have his or her own special favorite!

For tickets, visit our website.  To purchase a Family Series subscription, call the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thank you, Springfield voters!

We are delighted that Sangamon Auditorium was named best live music venue in the Illinois Times' annual Best of Springfield announcement this morning.  2013 has already been a great year for live music at the Auditorium, with everything from The Fabulous Thunderbirds and the Beatles tribute RAIN to the 1980's rock musical Rock of Ages and last week's audience favorite, ZZ Top.  In addition to the amplified music, we are proud of the 2013 acoustic performances of acclaimed men's vocal ensemble Chanticleer and of course numerous Springfield performances by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra.  Thank you for your votes, and we hope you will join us for a few more great musical performances in 2013, including Foreigner on November 15 and Mannheim Steamroller Christmas on December 16.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Last day to vote for a choir to sing on stage with FOREIGNER!

At the FOREIGNER concert on November 15, one high school choir will have the opportunity to sing on stage with the Top 40 band!  Choirs submitted videos to WNNS to vie for the opportunity.  Visit the contest page to listen to the videos and vote for your favorite choir.

Then come see FOREIGNER on November 15 and watch the winning choir take the stage for "I Wanna Know What Love Is" with the band.  The band will also donate $500 to the winning choir's music program.  What a great opportunity for local students!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Did you see Iris DeMent on Prairie Home Companion this weekend?

Did you catch Iris DeMent on Prairie Home Companion this weekend?  Catch her live this Friday at 8 p.m. on our Kitchen Sink Series.  For tickets and more information, visit our website.  What a great artist for seeing up-close-and-personal on our eclectic Studio Theatre series!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Partners in Education workshop time!

Sangamon Auditorium has just entered the fourth year of partnership with Springfield Public Schools through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' Partners in Education program.  Through this program, we offer professional development opportunities to K-12 teachers in the arts and arts-integration topics.  Yesterday's workshop, "Reading Art Across the Curriculum," offered teachers the opportunity to develop techniques to increase their students' ability to observe, think, and ask questions about art.

Teaching artist Jamin Carter with students from Laketown Elementary
Prior to the teacher's workshop, Memphis-based teaching artist Jamin Carter taught students at Laketown Elementary in Springfield while Laketown's art specialist, Kristen Sowinski, observed his techniques.  We find these kind of teaching demonstrations to be a valuable addition to the experience for those who are able to observe.

We are so grateful to all the teachers who have attended workshops over the years and incorporated content into their teaching.  For more information about the program, please visit our website.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Willie Nelson concert postponed

The Willie Nelson concert previously scheduled for Friday, September 27 has been postponed due to Willie's extreme fatigue following extensive touring and his involvement with last week's Farm Aid events.

The concert will be rescheduled for a later date.  Ticket buyers will be able to exchange their tickets for tickets for the new event.  Stay tuned for an announcement of the rescheduled date.  More information here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Painting the town blue!

Next week is UIS Homecoming week, and it couldn't be a better time for Sangamon Auditorium to present Blue Man Group!  We're so excited for BMG's inaugural appearance in our hall, and the theme of UIS Homecoming is "Catch Blue Fever", so the color couldn't be more appropriate!

We're delighted that ticket sales for Blue Man Group have surpassed our expectations.  Get your tickets now before they're all gone!

Blue Man Group performs Monday and Tuesday, September 30 and October 1 at Sangamon Auditorium.  Get your tickets here.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

We are pleased to open our 2013-2014 season this weekend with a concert by Marty Balin, founder of Jefferson Airplane, hit song maker of Jefferson Starship and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame icon.  Marty's voice is still going strong, with Billboard hits "Miracles," "Hearts," "Atlanta Lady," and soundtrack classics "Comin' Back to Me," "Today," and "Volunteers."

So what's this "Kitchen Sink" thing?  Well, the Kitchen Sink Series is a series that gives patrons the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with artists in our Studio Theatre, a transformable space that seats about 300 and is located just below Sangamon Auditorium.

The name for the series came from the idea that the kitchen...and the kitchen a location in the home where the most thoughtful and intimate of ideas are exchanged.  We also like that the name invokes that the series includes a wide variety of artists; think of it as "everything...and the Kitchen Sink!" 

We also have our very own Kitchen Sink on site to remind you of the series name.  And our artists on the series have been so generous with their might just get the opportunity to be photographed with then and the Kitchen Sink.  
Auditorium Director Bob Vaughn and members of the eclectic musical trio, Time for Three.
Marty Balin's Kitchen Sink concert will be Saturday, September 21 at 8 p.m. For tickets to his concert or other Kitchen Sink events, call the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 or visit the website.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Memphis going on sale Monday

Tickets to the 2010 Tony Award®-winning Best Musical, Memphis go on sale Monday, September 9 at 10 a.m.  This is a show that we've really been looking forward to having in Springfield.  Set in 1950s Memphis, it tells a story of race relations and rock 'n' roll that is made complete with explosive dancing and irresistible songs.

We hope you'll join us for this refreshing and energetic new Broadway musical on October 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Sangamon Auditorium.  We're also pleased to offer one of our popular pre-show dinners prior to the show.  The cuisine and decor will be Memphis-themed to make for a great evening.  Tickets to both the dinner and the show will be available at our Ticket Office at 217.206.6160.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

UIS Students at Sangamon Auditorium

As a department of the University of Illinois Springfield, Sangamon Auditorium is fortunate to have a rich relationship with UIS students.  Now that a new freshman class has moved into the dorms and the campus is full of first-week-of-classes activity, it seems appropriate to highlight some of the ways we engage with UIS students.

  • UIS students receive a discount of up to 50% on ticket purchases for most events in our performing arts season.  
  • Each year, some Sangamon Auditorium events are included in the ECCE Speaker Series.  Students enrolled in the ECCE course earn credit for attending and discussing the events. 
  • Whenever possible, Sangamon Auditorium includes UIS students in special projects related to performances.  Recently, students and faculty in environmental studies collaborated with Fifth House Ensemble for a unique performance called Listen to the River.  Student musicians had the opportunity to perform on stage alongside members of the US Army Field Band and Chorus and theatre students attended workshops with members of The Acting Company. 
  • Sangamon Auditorium employs student workers backstage, in the administrative offices, and in the Ticket Office.  

Keep up with other ways we connect with UIS students on our website.  Welcome back, students!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

ZZ TOP on sale now!

ZZ TOP lay undisputed claim to being the longest running major rock band with original personnel intact. Of course, there are only three of them – Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard -- but it’s still a remarkable achievement that they’re still very much together after more than 40 years of rock, blues, and boogie on the road and in the studio. With the release of each of their albums the band has explored new ground in terms of both their sonic approach and the material they’ve recorded. ZZ TOP is the same but always changing.

ZZ TOP’s music is instantly recognizable, eminently powerful, profoundly soulful, and 100% Texas American in derivation. The band’s support for the blues is unwavering both as interpreters of the music and preservers of its legacy. They have sold millions of records over the course of their career, have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, have been referenced in countless cartoons and sitcoms, and are true rock icons; but, against all odds, they’re really just doing what they’ve always done. They’re real and they’re surreal and they’re ZZ TOP.

For tickets, call 217.206.6160 or 800.207.6960 or buy online.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Staff picks for Create-Your-Own

Now is the perfect time to purchase your very own, made-just-for-you "Create Your Own" Series package.  In this unique package, you choose any four events from among those in our 2013-2014 Performing Arts Season brochure.  You get early access to Broadway tickets by purchasing this package, and you get a discount on many of the tickets in your package.

I asked our staff to choose their own "Create Your Own" Series package, and here are the choices from ten of our staff.  For anyone keeping score, Alvin Ailey is the big winner with seven staff selections; Blue Man Group a close runner-up with six staff selections, and Million Dollar Quartet in third place with four staff selections.

Jen Tibbs, Coordinator of Public Information and Marketing
Blue Man Group
Jersey Boys
Alvin Ailey

Mindy McCaffrey, Volunteer Coordinator:
Masters of the Fiddle
The Ten Tenors
Million Dollar Quartet
Alvin Ailey

Sarah Brust, administrative office student worker
Cyrille Aimee
Blue Man Group
Judy Carmichael
Alvin Ailey

Alice Bettis, Administrative Aide
Blue Man Group
Mannheim Steamroller
Jersey Boys
Million Dollar Quartet

Nafia Khan, Marketing Graduate Assistant
The Ten Tenors
Alvin Ailey
Jersey Boys

Bob Vaughn, Auditorium Director
Iris DeMent
Cyrille Aimee
SFJAZZ Collective
Alvin Ailey

Elise Robertson, Event Administrator
Marty Balin
Blue Man Group
Million Dollar Quartet

Brandy Stabler, Development Assistant
Blue Man Group
Million Dollar Quartet
Junie B. Jones

Amy Zepp, Audience Development Coordinator
Blue Man Group
Hungarian State Folk Ensemble
H.M.S. Pinafore
Alvin Ailey

Carly Shank, Director of Audience Development
Hello, Dolly!
Alvin Ailey
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Cyrille Aimee

What are *your* four choices?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Create Your Own Series Packages available today!

Beginning today, you may purchase your Create Your Own Series tickets.  Quite simply, here's how Create Your Own Series works:

  1. Select four or more events from our Performing Arts Season.  This includes all event in our Broadway, Visiting Artists, Family, and Kitchen Sink Series.  
  2. Select the number of tickets you want to each event.  In other words, you may select varying numbers of tickets to each event and still qualify each ticket as part of the Create Your Own Series package.

Here's how you benefit from purchasing a Create Your Own Series purchase rather than purchasing individual tickets to the shows you want to see:

  1. Receive up to a 15% discount on many of the tickets you purchase.  
  2. Enjoy early access to UIS Broadway Series tickets.  Individual tickets to UIS Broadway Series events are not yet on sale. 

Purchase your Create Your Own Series tickets by calling the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why Subscribe to the UIS Broadway Series?

Jersey Boys
Here are some reasons why a subscription to the UIS Broadway Series might be a great choice for you:
  1. SAVE $$$
    Benefit from the ticket discount available to subscribers.
    Make plans now to treat yourself and someone special to a few fun evenings at the theater.
    See the best of Broadway ranging from classics like Hello, Dolly! to exciting new shows like Memphis.
    Get access to prime seats before they go on sale to the public.
    See great professional productions without the expense of traveling to Chicago or St. Louis.
    Stay up-to-date with the newest Broadway shows coming to Springfield for the first time.
    Enjoy the same great seats at every performance and renew those same seats year after year.
    Show your support for the local economy and for the local presentation of professional theater. 
    Take advantage of your pre-purchase opportunity to keep your same seats if shows are added to the series.
  10. ENJOY!
    Experience the magic that only happens during a live performance. 
To subscribe to the UIS Broadway Series, visit or call the Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 or 800.207.6960, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a ticket seller will help you put together your subscription package.  Packages start at as little as $197!

Visit for more information about packages available. For best seating options, NOW is the time to purchase your 2013-2014 Broadway subscription!  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Willie Nelson is coming!

We're pleased to announce that music legend Willie Nelson is coming back to Sangamon Auditorium on Friday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets will go on sale on Friday, July 26 at 10 a.m.

Read the State-Journal Register announcement here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

All about choices

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

It's a fine line: giving patrons the choices they want without overwhelming them with too many options.

We've made the same basic package options available for the past seven seasons, but we could always provide an additional explanation to help patrons understand their choices.  Here's the nitty-gritty of what we offer:


Subscriptions offer patrons a same-seat opportunity and the very best value for their money.  Subscriptions are series-driven, and they work slightly differently in each series:

BROADWAY - Fixed packages are available.  Choose any one of these configurations this year:

  • Package 1 - All six Broadway events
  • Package 2 - Memphis, Hello, Dolly!, Jersey Boys, Million Dollar Quartet, The Addams Family
  • Package 3 - Blue Man Group, Memphis, Hello, Dolly, Million Dollar Quartet, The Addams Family
  • Package 4 - Memphis, Hello, Dolly!, Million Dollar Quartet, The Addams Family

FAMILY - Our Family Series includes three events this year.  The Family subscription includes these three events.

VISITING ARTISTS / KITCHEN SINK - To subscribe to our Visiting Artists / Kitchen Sink series, select at least a total of six events from among the ten Visiting Artists events and six Kitchen Sink (Studio Theatre) events.  This subscription offers a lot of choice and value.


As an alternative to a true traditional subscription, patrons may elect the Create Your Own Series option.  Create Your Own buyers select at least four events from among any of our series events and receive a savings by making this advance series purchase.  Create Your Own series buyers are not guaranteed the same seat.  

For the full listing of our season events, visit our website.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why subscribe to the Family Series?

Masked Marvels & Wonder Tales
Masked Marvels & Wonder Tales
Sangamon Auditorium has lined up a fantastic UIS Family Series for 2013-2014.  As with all of our series, there are many good reasons to subscribe.  As subscribers, you and your family can enjoy a substantial discount on tickets and you guarantee your same seats across the series.  Think of your kids enjoying knowing where their seats are located each time you come into the theater for an event.  It's a VIP-kind of feeling!

This year's Family Series will be enjoyed by kids from toddlers through upper elementary school and those who love them.  Subscriptions are only $45 for adults and $30 for kids/youth high school age and younger.  That's THREE SHOWS for a total of only $45 for adults and $40 for kids!

Junie B. Jones
Junie B. Jones
The series begins Sunday, November 10 at 3 p.m. with Masked Marvels and Wonder Tales.  Mask maker and storyteller Michael Cooper weaves tales that involve colorful characters, beautiful masks, and large-scale costume puppetry.  This is a great event for kids who have a creative spark of interest in visual art.  The things Cooper brings to life are amazing!

Next up on the Family Series is one of our longtime favorites, Junie B. Jones, making her third appearance on the Family Series on Friday, January 24 at 7 p.m.   The place was packed for each of the previous performances of this musical adventure of this popular children's book character.  We welcomed Junie in 2007 and 2010, so she is overdue for a return visit!

We conclude the season with We're Going on a Bear Hunt on
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Wednesday, April 16 at 7 p.m.  Bear Hunt appeared on our school series, Class Acts, last season and the students, teachers, and Sangamon Auditorium staff had such a marvelous time taking the well-loved bear hunt journey with this troupe of playful performers, we decided they simply *had* to come back for this year's Family Series.

All of this year's Family Series events are only one hour in length.  Each performance is preceded by an hour of family-friendly activities and displays in the lobby.  We hope you and your family will join us for these three memorable events in 2013-2014!

Information about subscribing to the UIS Family Series.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The 2013-2014 Performing Arts Season is here!

We are pleased to be able to announce our 2013-2014 Performing Arts Season!  We are delighted to offer up a varied season of events that offers something for everyone.  Check out our website for more information or download our free phone app for all of the up-to-the-minute information.

Subscriptions are available for purchase now.  Why not give yourself the gift of live events in the coming year?  Commit to select events in the series of your choice and guarantee your same seat across the year! More information is available here and will be posted to this blog in the coming days.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Extending the experience beyond the performance

During the 2012-2013 season, we were engaged by many great performances, but also by exciting exchanges between artists, patrons, sponsors, students, and educators that extended the experience of performance.
Princess Fiona greets audience members backstage at Shrek The Musical

  • To kick off the 2012-2013 season in style, we turned the performance of The Midtown Men into a grand event including a silent auction, pre-show dinner, and a special up-close performance by The Midtown Men for the dinner attendees.
  • Opportunities to interact with performers are always exciting experiences. Princess Fiona from Shrek The Musical met with several young fans before the performance, posed for photos, and answered questions about life as a professional actress. The smaller, more intimate setting of the Kitchen Sink series has created a casual post-show atmosphere where audience members can interact with the performers.
  • UIS students attending The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were able to receive course credit by participating in a post-show discussion as part of the University’s Engaged Citizenship Common Experience program.
  • Whenever possible, we facilitate workshops and masterclasses, because they offer the opportunity for local artists to interact with and learn directly from professionals.
    • Young tap dance students worked with one of the greats, Savion Glover, to enhance their understanding of rhythm and meter.
    • Area guitar players attended a workshop with Stanley Jordan, learning about his practice methods.
    • A handful of local musicians and composers sat down with the members of Time for Three to discuss their creative process.
    • The Springfield Choral Society worked with Jace Wittig, music director of Chanticleer, in a master class setting to give more depth and emotion to pieces they were preparing for an upcoming concert.
  • The Class Acts series of daytime educational performances, sponsored by PNC Bank, welcomed nearly 14,000 students, teachers, and chaperones and the learning opportunities extended beyond just seeing the performances. Teachers were provided with study guides that connected the themes in the shows to subject areas beyond the fine arts, which helped them achieve Illinois State Learning Standards and develop 21st century skills.
  • Teachers have even more opportunities to broaden their experiences in fine arts by participating in professional development workshops. Sangamon Auditorium and Springfield Public Schools are a partnership team in the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program, and in 2012-2013, hosted workshops on topics including assessment in the arts, music of the Underground Railroad, and using shadow puppetry to enhance literacy.
  • Thanks to a generous grant from the PNC Foundation’s Grow Up Great initiative, all students in the Springfield Urban League’s Head Start program were introduced to arts and culture learning opportunities and attended two Class Acts performances. Sangamon Auditorium staff visited each Head Start classroom to read a story book and lead activities that would help prepare the young students for the experience of attending a live theatrical performance. The Head Start students, staff, and their families were also invited to attend the evening performance of 3-Legged Tale and participate in interactive craft projects in the lobby before the show.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gearing up for a new season

It's a busy time of year at Sangamon Auditorium.  Though the stage may be cleared from our closing performance of the season, last night's Rock of Ages, we are busy, busy, busy as we look to what's coming up in the next month.

Here are the broad strokes about what's happening:

  • One month from today, the Springfield Muni Opera opens its summer season with the first-ever local community theater production of Les Miserables. Tickets for the Muni are sold through the Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office and the entire season of events went on sale just this morning.  Tickets are available for purchase at 217.206.6160 or online.  
  • Our ushering and event staff are in the midst of a busy few weekends of high school and college commencements, which began with the UIS commencement exercises last Saturday.  Coming up, we will host SIU School of Medicine, and Pleasant Plains, Sacred Heart-Griffin, Auburn, North Mac, Rochester, and Williamsville High School exercises.  It's a lot of details to coordinate.  We are grateful to our fantastic volunteer staff who see us through these events!  
  • And finally...we look forward to announcing a new Performing Arts Season on May 30.  Watch the mail and media outlets for all the information about what you can expect from 2013-2014 at Sangamon Auditorium! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Singin' 'bout the "change"

It's back, and it is once again causing hilarious conversations in our administrative offices.

What am I talking about?  Menopause, of course!

Menopause: The Musical, that is.

The hilarious hit makes its triumphant return to Sangamon Auditorium tonight and tomorrow.  This show's turnout never ceases to amaze me.  Though I haven't hit the age mark personally, I can understand how there is a real communal experience of being in an audience of those who understand what they're seeing on stage PERSONALLY, or through the eyes of someone they love and who is likely sitting right next to them.

If you've missed it in its inaugural presentation in Springfield two years ago, you will want to check it out.  Especially if you know anything about the "CH-CH-Change of life."

Menopause: The Musical
Monday and Tuesday, April 29 & 30, 2013
7:30 p.m.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chanticleer and the Springfield Choral Society

Last Sunday was a magical day in Springfield with the men's vocal ensemble Chanticleer.

That afternoon, 53 singers from the Springfield Choral Society, under the direction of Marion van der Loo, participated in a Master Class taught by Jace Wittig, music director of Chanticleer.  The Choral Society is preparing for their upcoming concert of Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil" on April 27 and were able to present a few of the movements from the piece to Mr. Wittig and work with him to refine their singing of it.

Chanticleer music director Jace Wittig works with the Springfield Choral Society.

Mr. Wittig was quite familiar with the selections, and it was interesting to me to take in how much of what he had to offer the group had to do with understanding the nuances of meaning of the Russian lyrics and understanding the context in which this piece was written.  It brought such a wonderfully human element to the music that, I believe, sometimes gets lost in singers' desire to achieve musicality in details related to more traditionally-discussed elements such as tone, tuning, and dynamics.  Mr. Wittig disclosed that much of Chanticleer's own rehearsal time is devoted to these similar discussions of lyrics and composer intent.

The concert that evening by Chanticleer was magical.  Because Chanticleer sings without a conductor, each of the twelve individual singers must coordinate their efforts brilliantly.  The piece that ended the first half of the concert, Canticum calamitatis maritimae, was especially mesmerizing and solidified for me many of the important elements that had been discussed at the afternoon Master Class.  Through whispering and sighing, in addition to more musical passages that invoked a Siren's call to men at sea, this piece created something of an audio work of art - I'd almost go so far as to call it an audio "painting" - that left one of the most lasting impressions of the performing arts season for me.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kids and arts events

How old should your child be before you start bringing him to arts events?  As a lover of the arts and the parent of a toddler, my first inclination is to declare that if your child is old enough to hold his head up, he's old enough to be at an arts event!  But upon deeper reflection, I realize there are many factors to take into consideration.  
3-Legged Tale, coming up April 22 on the UIS Family Series

What kind of arts event is it?  Will there be enough color, light and sound to hold his attention?  I brought my then-six-month-old to a performance of Drumline and the heavy beat, rhythmic movement, and creative lighting held his attention beautifully.  Conversely, he did not fare as well a year later at a holiday-themed acoustic performance by Boston Brass.  

How loud will it be?  If it is going to be especially loud, please get some child-sized noise-canceling headphones to protect your child's hearing.  My son loves wearing his (whenever he comes across them at home, he wears them around his playroom for an hour or more).  If it is going to be especially quiet, consider if your child might need to talk to you during the performance and how that might negatively impact the other patrons around you.  I have generally found that mid- to louder-sounding events minimize my son's distraction to other patrons.  His questions and fidgeting have not been distracting at blues events and classic Broadway musicals, especially those that have music and color throughout, like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  

Where will you be seated?  If you have concerns about your child being distracting to other patrons, is there a place you can be seated that can limit your child's ability to be distracting?  Some theaters have "cry rooms" where parents and children can see and hear the performance acoustically separated from other patrons, when necessary.  When this is not available, purchasing an aisle seat best enables a quick exit if your child becomes problematic.  

How long will the performance be?  Most venues can let you know the length of the performance in advance of the event.  If there will be an intermission, would you feel comfortable enjoying just half of the show with your child before leaving?  I have done this many times, and the long-term result is that it doesn't diminish mine or my son's experience; the shorter length is usually just perfect for him.  

Do I have to pay full-price for my child's ticket, or do I need a ticket at all if they will sit on my lap?  Ask!  Most theaters have a specific policies in place.  At Sangamon Auditorium, we require everyone to have an actual ticket, but "infant passes" do not cost anything; these tickets are for children under age 2 who will sit in an adult's lap.  Child/youth tickets at our venue apply to anyone high school or younger and are usually discounted 50% (some events are restricted, however).  

Will there be other children in the audience?  Sangamon Auditorium is pleased to offer the UIS Family Series and there are always plenty of children and families on hand!  Not only are the events selected for families with very young children, but many of the events actually encourage audience participation in the form of "oooohs" and "ahhhhs" and other shout-outs from young patrons.  You will not feel out-of-place with your infant or toddler in this audience!  I hope you will consider joining us for our next Family Series event, the Earth Day-themed 3-Legged Tale on Monday, April 22!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An orchestra of voices...the best of the best!

Coming up on April 14 at Sangamon Auditorium, UIS is the outstanding male vocal ensemble Chanticleer.  It has been ten years since we saw Chanticleer on our stage and that's much too long to wait!  While they are known for classical fare also, it's difficult to resist posting a pop gem like this when writing about their work:

In addition to the concert at 7 p.m., Chanticleer's music director, Jace Wittig, will conduct a master class with the Springfield Choral Society that afternoon as they prepare for their upcoming concert of Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil."  We are so pleased to bring artists to our community who can, on occasion, advise, inspire, and even collaborate with local artists.  It is an important part of our role on campus and in the community.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

IHSA event this weekend

Sangamon Auditorium is proud to serve as a multi-use venue for important community events.  In some cases, this means hosting non-arts events such as commencements, inaugurations of elected officials, and even a conference by a regional food company (that event has included samples of food at booths in the lobby...always a tasty day!)

But this week, we are pleased to host the Illinois High School Association State Finals for Drama and Group Interpretation.  It is especially exciting to see high school students from around the state descend upon the Public Affairs Center for performances in the drama (fully-produced with sets and costumes, in Sangamon Auditorium) and group interpretation (less fully-produced, in the Studio Theatre) for this state finals in these drama events.

Most of the attendees at these events are the other high school participants and their parents, but the public is welcome to attend, free of charge.  These are some of the most exciting plays produced by high schools across the state.  Having watched a few over the seven years Sangamon Auditorium has hosted the event, I encourage you to check it out.  Events run all day and into the evening on Friday, March 22 and for the first part of the day on Saturday, March 23.  Check the schedule to see if there are particular productions that might interest you personally!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Thoughts about the Studio Theatre and intimate performances

I have had the fortune to be present at several of our more recent UIS Kitchen Sink series events in the UIS Studio Theatre.  While the Kitchen Sink series includes a broad range of performing artists, the two most recent events I've attended - concerts by Time for Three and The Good Lovelies - boasted at least two commonalities: both artists covered Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as their encore and both talked about how great they thought it was to be involved in a series coined "Kitchen Sink".  Yes, the series name is meant to imply that we try to include a broad range of performances (as in, "everything and the...") and it is also meant to imply that the events have the intimacy of being gathered around a kitchen sink, discussing anything and everything you care about.

We have just made special arrangements with Janis Ian and Livingston Taylor to move their performance, coming up on Saturday, March 16, to the Studio Theatre.  This space, just below Sangamon Auditorium, will enable the most intimate experience between the solo artists and the audience.  While I am somewhat inclined to say that it will be a rarity to see artists of this caliber in such an intimate space, given the caliber of some of our recent Kitchen Sink artists, that rarity hardly stands.  What I suppose is really unique is seeing TWO artists of caliber in an intimate evening like this.  Here's what you can expect:

Livingston Taylor has been a force on the folk music scene for over 30 years.  He has toured and collaborated with major artists such as Linda Ronstadt and Fleetwood Mac and has over a dozen albums to his credit.

With hit songs like "At Seventeen" and "Society's Child," Janis Ian is one of folk music's living legends.  A prolific songwriter, she is known for her warm, intimate live shows.  

Janis Ian also recently won a Grammy for narration of the audio book of her autobiography, Society's Child, in a category up against Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama.  It is this kind of exciting exchange that she will bring to UIS on Saturday evening for a beautifully intimate Studio Theatre audience.  Check our website for ticking information.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A lovely evening with the Good Lovelies

A time or two a year, I get the opportunity to travel on behalf of the Auditorium and attend conference events.  Sometimes these conferences permit me the opportunity to preview artists and events that we might be able to bring to UIS.  On a couple of different occasions, I have been able to see The Good Lovelies.  Most recently, just this past January, I whipped my iPhone out to capture a few seconds of their lovely harmonies on "The Chipmunk Song", which you can be sure is something of a departure from their usual fare of song choices.

Each time I've listened to their music, in recordings, but especially live, I get fascinated with those harmonies and the upbeat peacefulness of their folk style.  I think it's impossible to not feel good after just a few minutes of that sound!  The musical group is aptly named, not because they are physically lovely (make no mistake - they are all unfailingly cute), but because the whole experience, onstage banter and all, is positively...lovely!  

And now they're coming to UIS.  They're the next event on the intimate and eclectic UIS Kitchen Sink series.  Join us this Saturday at 8 p.m. for those fantastic harmonies and the charming instrument-swapping event that is The Good Lovelies.  Click her for more information and to purchase tickets.

See you there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


You might have heard this little soundbite Sunday night:
“Every day through engagement in the arts, our children learn to open their imaginations to dream just a little bigger and to strive every day to reach those dreams.” 
Even if you didn't catch it live, you might have heard about Michelle Obama's appearance at the Oscars through some media outlet.  While there seems to be some debate about whether or not it was appropriate to cut to the White House camera for the delivery of the news of the Oscars' top prize, I can't imagine that anyone can argue with Mrs. Obama's stated sentiment about engaging children in the arts.

At least, I know that I can't.  But I would like to elaborate on the sentiment and point out that not only does engagement in the arts enable children to open their imaginations and strive to reach dreams, but it prepares them for learning and work in many areas.  Arts learning helps students develop 21st century learning skills and requires development of teamwork and cooperation skills.  At Sangamon Auditorium, we strive to facilitate programs that enable local students to deepen their engagement in the arts.

Our flagship education program, Class Acts, is a matinee performance series that students attend with their teachers.  Each year, we assemble a series of performances that cover a broad range of subject areas and grade levels.  This season has included: Rock the Presidents, a middle-school introduction to all the presidents in close proximity to the national election; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for high school literature students; and later this week, elementary students will enjoy a play based on the well-loved literary chant, We're Going on a Bear Hunt.  For all the performances, we provide age-appropriate study materials for teachers to use in the classroom.

Partners in Education is a program offered in conjunction with Springfield Public Schools and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Through this program, Sangamon Auditorium provides professional development opportunities for teachers in the arts and arts integration.

Arts Start enables Sangamon Auditorium to reach local Head Start students, families, and teachers so they can benefit from engagement in the arts.  Funded by PNC Bank's Grow Up Great initiative, the Arts Start program is now in its second year.  We are pleased to work with the Springfield Urban League and the great staff of Springfield and Central Illinois PNC on this effort.

There are other engagement efforts as well.  The ClassPass program offers discounts to K-12 teachers so they can bring students to weekend/evening events.  We work with faculty on the UIS campus to develop opportunities for UIS students to engage with our programming.  We offer pre- and post-show discussions, master classes and workshops to the public and to identified interest groups in the community.  Have an idea?  Want to see something in particular offered.  Let me know!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Experience the Beatles with RAIN...again and again and again

Experience the Beatles with RAIN, the Broadway-sized Beatles tribute that leaves audiences wanting more, makes its third visit to Sangamon Auditorium this Sunday, February 24 at 7 p.m.  After appearing in two back-to-back seasons, RAIN has now been absent from our stage for a few years.  Advance sales indicate that the show still draws crowds, and anecdotal evidence suggests that this is a show that even the same audiences will return to see over and over again.  In the two back-to-back years RAIN played the Auditorium previously, we saw many repeat patrons, and they were delighted both times.

It's great to know that a show can draw audience members back for repeat performances, but what causes that?  There have been other shows that when offered up a second time, audiences politely say, "Thanks, I think that's a great show, but I've seen it before and don't need to see it again."  I have no hard and fast answer to this question, and I'm sure there *is* no hard and fast answer to this question, but in the case of RAIN, I believe it has to do with the EXPERIENCE part of the show's title.

We all know that EXPERIENCE is significant.  Have you ever been part of a live event and felt like you were experiencing a magic of forces coming together that could never happen exactly that same way again?  That's exactly what was happening.  Sure, that dance company will present that same piece in another city, on another night, but the exact gasps of the audience that *you* heard were unique to that evening when you were there in the audience, having just eaten a particular meal, having come to the show with a particular loved one, and sitting in just that exact spot in the hall.  The audience is part of the experience, and in cases where the artist feeds off that audience contribution, the best in-home video and sound system can never replace the experience of being and in the concert hall.

I think RAIN brings the experience to a new level.  So come be part of it.  It will never happen that way again.

Experience the Beatles with RAIN
Sunday, February 24 at 7 p.m.
Sangamon Auditorium
More information

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's Shrek Week!

I don't know if "Shrek Week" is appropriately akin to the Discovery Channel's famed "Shark Week", but I know that we're all really excited here in the Sangamon Auditorium Administrative Offices.  We have been eagerly anticipating our Valentine's Day presentation of Shrek The Musical since we first learned about the date nearly a year ago.  Valentines come in all sizes and ages, so whether your Valentine is a big ogre or a tiny little cutie patootie (kids' tickets are 50% off!), why not bring them out Thursday evening for a Valentine treat?

Remember that Shrek is a classic story of fairy tales and romance, not necessarily just for the kiddos!  Come see Shrek The Musical's first appearance in Springfield!

Shrek The Musical
Thursday, February 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Sangamon Auditorium

Thursday, February 7, 2013

No rest for the weary!

What a busy couple of weeks it has been at Sangamon Auditorium, UIS!  From time to time, I believe it is valuable to touch base about all the great stuff that happens in the course of only a few days.  Here's that listing for the current two weeks in progress:

Monday, January 28 - Schoolchildren in grades 3 through 6 were treated to performances by Kim and Reggie Harris, "Music and the Underground Railroad."  This small Studio Theatre performance on our Class Acts series gave students an up-close-and-personal look at the code songs used in the pre-Civil War days of slavery.  Did you know the popular hymn "Let Us Break Bread Together" was a code song for the Underground Railroad?  Neither did I!

Tuesday, January 29 - We hosted another school performance of "Music and the Underground Railroad," plus an after-school teacher's workshop led by Kim and Reggie.  This event was part of our Partners in Education program, a partnership between Sangamon Auditorium, Springfield Public Schools, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Saturday, February 2 - The Fabulous Thunderbirds took to the stage as the house band along with guests Kim Wilson, Tinsley Ellis, Bob Margolin, and James Cotton for Blues at the Crossroads 2: Muddy and the Wolf, a blues tribute to Chicago blues greats Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.  It was a fantastic showing of blues!
Sunday, February 3 - The first event in this season's UIS Family Series, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn took to the stage to the delight of families of all ages (but mostly with students a little older than attend our standard family fare, like our upcoming The Ugly Duckling and the Tortoise and the Hare).  It was a great Black History Month kick-off and a unique adaptation of Twain's classic.  

Monday, February 4 - Junior high and high school students enjoyed their own showing of Huck Finn on the Class Acts series.  

And coming up later this week...

Thursday, February 7 - Upper elementary school students will travel back to the pioneer days with Laura Ingalls Wilder on the Class Acts series.

Friday, February 8 - Music and arts specialist teachers from Springfield Public Schools and from across central Illinois will participate in a professional development session, Assessment in the Arts, led by Kennedy Center teacher-trainer Deb Brzoska.  This is another session in our Partners in Education program.

All the while, we continue to plan ahead, laying the groundwork for future projects that will happen months and even years from now.  It's an exciting time.  It always is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Do you have "improvisation"?

On Saturday, our organization had the pleasure of hosting the trio Time for Three on our Kitchen Sink Series.  Violinist Nick Kendall said it best when he acknowledged that Kitchen Sink was an appropriate moniker to describe Time for Three’s music.  Just like the performance series, which includes “everything and the…” (since we do indeed have a sink in front of the theater), Time for Three’s music incorporates such a broad range of musical styles that it defies any particular genre definition.  Selections of the trio’s arrangements for Saturday evening’s concert included something of a mash-up of Stravinsky’s “Firebird” with Katy Perry’s “Firework,” U2’s “With or Without You,” some musical jokes in a thoroughly entertaining arrangement of Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance #5,” and a beautifully arranged finale of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Not only did the patrons get an exciting concert (truly, I loved being able to see many faces from where I was seated and this audience was *into* it!), but we were delighted to have Nick Kendall, Zach De Pue, and Ranaan Meyer sit down with a small number local musicians earlier in the afternoon for a discussion about composing and arranging.  The takeaways from this “meeting of the minds” can be crystalized into a few sound bites for me.  “Do you have improvisation?” (as if improvisation was a horrible disease!) was a humorous reference that emerged in discussing the sometimes systematic and creativity-stifling improvisation process.  And “getting in the Jeep” was an already-established reference the trio had for Kendall’s “off-roading” with a musical piece to take it to new, interesting places.

The round-table format for this discussion was a new venture for our organization.  We hope it can have great value to our local arts community to provide whatever resources we can to those in our community who are already doing great artistic and creative work.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A classically-trained garage band?

What do you get when you blend classical music artistry with a love of jazz, bluegrass, pop, and just about every other music genre you can imagine?  You get the category-shattering trio Time for Three.

Time for Three had already made a name for themselves in the music world as a self-described "classically trained garage band" when they produced the music video "Stronger," demonstrating their commitment to bullying prevention.  This artistic effort is evidence that as artists and as human beings, Zach De Pue, Nick Kendall, and Ranaan Meyer stand for making a difference in the world through their music.  In the description of the video, they state, "We are Time for Three and this is our story -- the story of so many kids who every day face challenges to who they are and who they want to be: their dreams, their ambitions, their identity. This video is for you guys. Be strong. Stick with it. We did, and we are stronger for it."

The "Stronger" video was funded by fans through Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects.  Read about some of the inspiring projects and ideas at

Time for Three violinist Nick Kendall has been (and will be again) a soloist with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra on the Sangamon Auditorium stage, but this Saturday's concert by Time for Three will be in the intimate Studio Theatre as part of the UIS Kitchen Sink series.  With a commitment to showcasing a broad range of skilled and eclectic artists, the Kitchen Sink series provides a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with some outstanding artists.  We certainly look forward to Time for Three on Saturday evening.

Time for Three
UIS Studio Theatre
8 p.m. Saturday, January 19, 2013
Tickets: 217.206.6160

Monday, January 7, 2013

University to host Illinois House Inauguration

Many people associate UIS Sangamon Auditorium as the place where they saw a fantastic arts event, favorite musician or comedian.  That’s an identity that we embrace, and it is central to our mission as a performing arts presenting organization!

But also important to our work is that our venues – Sangamon Auditorium and the UIS Studio Theatre – host a variety of significant university and community events, everything from high school commencements (in spring 2012, we hosted six area high schools) to studio dance recitals, and from significant speakers and authors to governmental events.

On Wednesday, the inauguration of the 98th Illinois House of Representatives will take place at the University of Illinois Springfield in Sangamon Auditorium.  This will be the fourth House inauguration held in the hall, beginning with the 2007 inauguration when renovation of the house chamber caused a need for an alternate location.  The House enjoyed the space and the UIS hospitality so much that they’ve returned to UIS ever since then.

Hosting events like this is an additional important way we serve our campus and community with the resources available to us.  But you can bet we’ll be thrilled to get our performing arts hats back on after the Wednesday inauguration and work toward bringing you more of those fantastic arts events!

Here's a video about the most recent House inauguration held at the University of Illinois Springfield.