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 present...live and in person...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.