Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Give the gift of entertainment!

Meaningful life experience, not stuff, is the greatest gift of all.

Anticipating an experience gives us time to imagine all the fun we're going to have on vacation or to begin savoring the steak from that new restaurant before we even walk through the door.  Anticipation drives the happiness.

As you're gift-buying this month, consider a Sangamon Auditorium gift certificate or choose an event and plan a night out with someone special in 2015.  Tickets and gift certificates are always available by calling 217.206.6160.  Gift certificates are also now available online.  (Gift certificates available in any increment when you call...only in specific increments when you buy online.)

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A special holiday event about coming together during conflict

Join us Monday, December 1 for the musical ensemble Cantus' performance, "All is Calm - The Christmas Truce of 1914."  The evening commemorates the memorable WWI Christmas truce when Allied and German soldiers laid down their arms to celebrate the holiday together.  Sharing the stage with Cantus will be three actors, who will bring to life the historical event through quotes and letters from thirty World War I figures.

"All is Calm - the Christmas Truce of 1914" commemorates a special event in history. 
Cantus is acclaimed as "the premier men's vocal ensemble in the United States" (Fanfare), committed to inspiring audiences with music performed at the highest level.  The adventurous programming of this nine-member group spans many periods and genres, but at "All Is Calm," we can expect music drawn from patriotic tunes, trench songs, medieval Scottish ballads and holiday carols from England, Wales, France and Germany.

Joining us in the lobby prior to the event will be Living Historians from the Illinois State Military Museum, student musicians from the UIS Camerata group, and the Sangamon Auditorium Student Club hosting a "Holiday Cards for Heros" table, where you can write a holiday note of thanks to a current serviceman or woman.

Please ask about veteran pricing when you call to purchase your tickets, as we are offering special pricing for veterans and their families!  Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Research Supports Educational Benefits of Attending Live Theater

According to a new study published in Education Next, attending a live theater performance has benefits for students that are greater than what can be achieved through traditional classroom teaching or even watching a movie of a performance.  Researchers followed students who attended performances of Hamlet or A Christmas Carol and measured greater literary knowledge, tolerance, and empathy as compared to students who read or watched movies of these stories.  As the researchers concluded:

“Culturally enriching field trips matter. They produce significant benefits for students on a variety of educational outcomes that schools and communities care about. This experiment on the effects of field trips to see live theater demonstrates that seeing plays is an effective way to teach academic content; increases student tolerance by providing exposure to a broader, more diverse world; and improves the ability of students to recognize what other people are thinking or feeling. These are significant benefits for students on specific educational outcomes that schools pursue and communities respect.”

Students attend Five Little Monkeys on the Class Acts series in spring 2014.
Sangamon Auditorium is pleased to be a local cultural institution that is able to offer educational arts experiences for students in central Illinois.  Our K-12 matinee series, Class Acts, is well into its third decade of presentations.  Each year, we welcome 10,000-20,000 students to the series.  Consider joining us for any and all of these events.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Professional Development Opportunities for K-12 Teachers

We are so pleased to be in our fifth year of partnership with Springfield Public Schools and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on our Partners in Education program, a professional development program for K-12 teachers.

Each year, Partners in Education has offered 2-4 activities for which teachers can earn credit hours toward their re-certification.  These professional development activities focus on integrating the arts (music, visual art, dance, and drama) with other curriculum areas.  The Kennedy Center describes arts integration in the following way:

Arts Integration is an approach to teaching
in which students construct and demonstrate understanding
through an art form.
Students engage in a creative process
which connects an art form and another subject area
and meets evolving objectives in both.  

Though we work directly with Springfield Public Schools to plan these professional development events, teachers from other districts are welcome and encouraged to attend.

This spring, we are working to make effective use of the school district’s new early dismissal policy by offering a series of one-hour sessions that can be attended by teachers remotely.  Teachers from Springfield Public Schools will gather in one location to participate.  Teachers from other schools are invited to attend with them if possible, although additional remote sites will most likely be acceptable as well.  To participate, teachers must connect to the workshop online IN REAL TIME.  After registering, you will be sent detailed instructions for how to join the sessions.

To receive the full content, you must attend all four sessions, 2:45-3:45 PM each day.
March 4
March 11
March 18
April 15

Cost: $15 per person, or $10 per person if two or more teachers from the same school register
4 credit hours

There’s more to a portrait than you might think. Portraits are often viewed as a mere depiction of a person when in actuality they can be read as biographies that communicate significant information about a person’s life. Join Melanie Rick, arts integration consultant and certified reading specialist, for this workshop that examines ways to teach students to view portraits as a visual text filled with meaningful symbolism in order to make the study of people and biographies more engaging. Reading portraits helps students activate and build background knowledge of, construct understanding of, and reflect on historical and literary figures across the curriculum.

For teachers of grades 1-5; teams of teachers are encouraged, especially visual art specialists combined with classroom teachers from their building.

Workshop Leader: Melanie Rick, a National Board Certified Teacher, certified Reading Specialist and arts integration consultant, designs and leads workshops, in-depth courses, and summer institutes focused on arts integration, specifically how to integrate visual art and poetry throughout the K-8 curriculum. She works in museums, schools, and arts centers across the country and is a course leader and coach for the Kennedy Center’s Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) program in Washington, D.C. Melanie served as the CETA program as consultant, working with teaching artists to develop and evaluate workshops presented at the Kennedy Center, and was an elementary classroom teacher, middle school special ed teacher, and arts integration resource teacher before becoming a national consultant with Focus 5, Inc.

To register for this session, please call the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 or email Carly Shank at carmi1@uis.edu.  We are happy to answer your questions about this opportunity!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bringing World Cultures to Springfield

This past weekend was full of international activities on our Performing Arts Series and across campus.  On Friday, October 24, UIS hosted its 37th annual International Festival, and we welcomed The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China for a performance of Cirque Peking.  The evening included many pre-show activities before the stunning performance.

Our popular series of pre-show dinners included a Chinese buffet before Cirque Peking.  The attendees enjoyed an assortment of Chinese dishes and lovely decorations created by Sangamon Auditorium’s Development Assistant Brandy Stabler with help from Al Geitle.  (Our next pre-show dinner is less than a week away, before the performance of Anything Goes on Sunday, November 2.)

Sangamon Auditorium’s Director of Audience Development Carly Shank led a special pre-show learning experience for a group of over 200 Girl Scouts and leaders.  The girls learned about the training process to become a professional acrobat and then were able to ask questions of the choreographer for The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China.

Also before the performance, we offered fun activities in the lobby.  Jessica Ingold, the Youth Programs Coordinator at Lincoln Land Community College’s Community Education department, brought a great craft project of making spinning toy top out of a milk jug lid and a toothpick.  The new Sangamon Auditorium Student Club (SASC) led an activity of creating paper lanterns.  This was the first official activity of our new club, and we’re so excited for their involvement in what we do.  Their enthusiasm and ideas are bringing fresh energy into the office, and we’re thrilled to have a new opportunity for UIS students to be more directly involved in what we do.

We were also very pleased to welcome student musicians from UIS Music’s Camerata group to provide pre-show music in the lobby.  Three students played traditional Chinese string instruments, and we also enjoyed a flute and oboe duet playing Taiwanese melodies.  The musicians added wonderful atmosphere to the lobby, and we are happy to be able to support our campus's student musicians.  (If you missed out, a different group of Camerata musicians will be providing classical and holiday pre-show music before the performance by Cantus on Monday, December 1.)

Our international activities continued on Saturday evening with a performance by Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Blues.  Bassekou is the world’s leading performer on the ngoni, a traditional African string instrument that is the forerunner to the banjo.  UIS Music also held an Ethnomusicology Concert on Saturday afternoon, showcasing faculty and student musicians performing a wide variety of world music styles.  We had made arrangements for Bassekou’s participation in that concert, but due to travel delays he didn’t arrive in Springfield in time.  Although this was disappointing, we were still pleased to see many UIS Music students in the audience for Bassekou's concert.

We love being able to bring world cultures to central Illinois!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Make it a themed evening with a pre-show dinner

Are you familiar with our Pre-Show Dinner program?  Each year, the Sangamon Auditorium Advisory Committee partners with the UIS Alumni SAGE Society on a series of pre-show dinners prior to specially-selected events. prior to specially-selected events.  The menu and décor are designed to complement the evening’s performance.

This year, the first pre-show dinner will be prior to O Sole Trio, the vibrant musical trio that captures the essence of the Italian and Italian-American songbook.

Of course, our chef will prepare a fantastic Italian meal this evening!  The menu is as follows:

  • Selection of Italian cheese and cured meats
  • Fresh sliced fruit
  • Greens and rissichio with roma tomatoes, parmesan, peppers, olives, white balsamic vinaigrette
  • Fettucini with scallops, spinach, sun dried tomatoes
  • Carved sicilian marinated flank steak
  • Grilled pesto chicken
  • Rice pilaf milanese
  • Tortollini with herbed olive oil and prosciutto
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Assorted grande tortes to include tiramisu, raspberry white chocolate, italian cream torte
  • Artisan breads
  • Beverage

Check our website for more information about this and future dinners.  The dinners allow patrons the opportunity to come early, get a good parking space, relax, enjoy great food and camaraderie with other audience members.  These dinners sell out quickly and space is limited.  Tickets are available when purchasing tickets to the performance. A cash bar is available. Seating is limited.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sarah Jarosz to open 2014-2015 UIS Kitchen Sink Series

We've been watching Sarah Jarosz for awhile.  Awhile...and yet she's only twenty-three!  The accomplished singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and bluegrass prodigy has had a record contract since she was a senior in high school.  Sample her music here.

Recently, she played the festival circuit this summer and has been opening up for Nickel Creek.  This week, she will perform at the Americana Music Honors & Awards in Nashville on Wednesday, September 17 at 8 PM ET.  Fans can watch the award event in a live video stream at NPR Music.

But for the truly live performance, join us in the UIS Studio Theatre on Sunday, September 28 at 7 PM.  Sarah has already sold out the main floor seating, but balcony seating in this intimate venue is still available by calling 217.206.6160.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Staff Members declare their “Create Your Own” preferred packages

A Sangamon Auditorium “Create Your Own” package must have at least four events and the events can be from a combination of our Broadway, Visiting Artists, and Kitchen Sink series.  It’s the most flexible package we offer; patrons enjoy up to a 15% discount on tickets and early access to Broadway tickets.

Every year at this time, I ask our staff to look through our season brochure and declare to me which events they would choose for their “Create Your Own” (CYO) package.  My exact email to the staff stated, “Please send me the list of the 4 events on our season that you would select if you were assembling your personal create-your-own series.”

Well, either none of our staff is good at math or this season is just so fantastic that most cannot resist choosing more than four events.  Here are their choices:

Mindy McCaffrey, Volunteer Coordinator: “I really want to list 7 or 8 events, but if I have to limit it to 4…”  Well, I'm glad you at least understand the assignment, Mindy!

Ian Anderson
Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Blues
Cantus – All is Calm
Peter and the Starcatcher

Michelle Yenerall, Ticket Sales Assistant: “Ok, I know this is more than four, I can count. These are just the ones I am interested in seeing.”  Hmmm...acknowledgement that you did the assignment wrong should count for something, I think!

The Moody Blues
Cirque Peking
Anything Goes
Sister Act
Mamma Mia!
Peter and the Starcatcher
Timber! By Cirque Alfonse

Briana Fugnitti, Business Administrative Associate:  It would be terrible if our business associate had poor math skills; probably very good that she truly only chose four.  

Mark Morris Dance Group
Cirque Peking
Timber! By Cirque Alfonse

Mandy Buchanan, Ticket Sales Assistant: Since Mandy handles many of the cash deposits for the ticket office, also a very good thing that she can count.

Million Dollar Quartet
Timber! By Cirque Alfonse
Roger McGuinn

Shannon Smith, Ticket Office Manager: Good thing Shannon has Mandy and Briana looking out for her math skills.

Moody Blues
Peter and the Starcatcher
Ian Anderson
Cirque Peking
Cantus – All is Calm
Chicago Blues Reunion
Indian Ink Theatre Company - The Elephant Wrestler
Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, and the Del McCoury Band
The Acting Company in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

LaNita Cox, Marketing Graduate Assistant: LaNita is brand new to our office this week!  I'm glad to see that she is still reading emails and following instructions and glad to see that her math skills are in tact (that should help her during her graduate studies).

Cantus – All is Calm
April Verch Band
Chicago Blues Reunion

Amy Zepp, Audience Development Coordinator: “I think my list has 5 this year.” High points for acknowledgment of complete disregard for the assignment.

Anything Goes
Cantus – All is Calm
Peter and the Starcatcher
The Acting Company in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Timber! By Cirque Alfonse

Brandy Stabler, Development Assistant: Rest assured, everyone, that if you contribute to Friends of Sangamon Auditorium we *will* tabulate your gift amount correctly, even if Brandy can't count to four when selecting events.

Anything Goes
Mamma Mia!
Million Dollar Quartet
O Sole Trio

Jennie Davis, Valet Supervisor: I think moms of five can be forgiven if they temporarily forget how to count.

The Moody Blues
Peter and the Starcatcher
Mamma Mia!
Timber! By Cirque Alfonse

Monday, August 11, 2014

Announcing special pricing for UIS Employees!

For many years now, Sangamon Auditorium has offered special pricing to UIS Students.  With the 2014-2015 season, we are so pleased to also announce the availability of UIS Employee pricing for most of our events.

We have occasionally been asked about the availability of UIS Employee ticket prices.  Armed with the recent knowledge that we could offer a special employee price without additional tax burden to individual employees or added work for payroll staff from all areas of campus, we are pleased to be able to roll out the availability of UIS Employee pricing with the beginning of this 2014-2015 season.

Any employee with a valid UIS i-card can receive up to 10% off the regular ticket price for most events in our season, including Broadway shows.

Single tickets to many of our season events go on sale Monday, August 18, at 10 AM.  UIS Employee tickets must be purchased in-person at the Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office (in the PAC lobby) or over the phone at 217.206.6160 or 800.207.6960.  The special UIS Employee pricing will be limited to 2 Employee-priced tickets per i-card per event.

UIS Employee prices for the upcoming season are listed below.  Visit our website for more information about these events.

Blue Man Group
Friday & Saturday, September 5 & 6, 8 p.m.
Regular Price: $65, $60, $55  UIS Employee Price: $59, $55, $50

An Evening with Sarah Jarosz
Sunday, September 28, 7 p.m.
Regular Price: $39  UIS Employee Price: $36

O Sole Trio
Friday, October 10, 8 p.m.
Regular Price: $39  UIS Employee Price: $36

Mark Morris Dance Group – Excursions Tour
Sunday, October 19, 7 p.m.
Regular Price: $48, $38  UIS Employee Price: $44, $35

Cirque Peking
Friday, October 24, 7:00 p.m.
Regular Price: $25, $20  UIS Employee Price: $23, $19

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Blues
Saturday, October 25, 8 p.m.
Regular Price: $39  UIS Employee Price: $36

Anything Goes 
Sunday, November 2, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Regular Price: $65, $60, $55  UIS Employee Price: $59, $55, $50

Cantus – All is Calm
Monday, December 1, 7:30 p.m.
Regular Price: $50, $45  UIS Employee Price: $46, $41

Chicago Blues Reunion
Saturday, December 6, 8 p.m.
Regular Price: $45, $40  UIS Employee Price: $41, $37

Sister Act 
Friday, December 19, 8 p.m.
Regular Price: $65, $60, $55  UIS Employee Price: $59, $55, $50

April Verch Bigger Band
Friday, January 16, 8 p.m.
Regular Price: $39  UIS Employee Price: $36

Monday, January 26, 7:30 p.m.
Regular Price: $65, $60, $55  UIS Employee Price: $59, $55, $50

Indian Ink Theatre Company – The Elephant Wrestler 
Tuesday, February 3, 7:30 p.m.
Regular Price: $39  UIS Employee Price: $36

Tango Buenos Aires – Song of Eva Perón
Sunday, February 8, 7 p.m.
Regular Price: $48, $43  UIS Employee Price: $44, $39

Mamma Mia! 
Thursday, February 26, 7:30 p.m.
Regular Price: $67, $62, $57  UIS Employee Price: $61, $56, $52

The Acting Company – Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court 
Wednesday, March 4, 7:30 p.m.
Regular Price: $44, $40  UIS Employee Price: $41, $37

Dervish – Magical Music from Ireland
Friday, March 13, 8 p.m.
Regular Price: $28, $23  UIS Employee Price: $26, $21

JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale
Tuesday, March 31, 7 p.m.
Regular Price: $19  UIS Employee Price: $18

Peter and the Starcatcher 
Regular Price: $55, $50, $45  UIS Employee Price: $50, $46, $41

Million Dollar Quartet 
Sunday, May 3, 7 p.m.
Regular Price: $65, $60, $55  UIS Employee Price: $59, $55, $50

Timber! by Cirque Alfonse
Tuesday, May 12, 7:30 p.m.
Regular Price: $50, $45  UIS Employee Price: $46, $41

An Evening with Roger McGuinn
Thursday, May 14, 7:30 p.m.
Regular Price: $39  UIS Employee Price: $36

Neil Berg and Rita Harvey On Broadway
Saturday, June 27, 8:00 p.m.
Regular Price: $39  UIS Employee Price: $36

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blue Man Group returns!

Have you heard the news?  Blue Man Group is returning to Sangamon Auditorium on Friday and Saturday, September 5 and 6.  Tickets are on sale now!

Blue Man Group returns on September 5-6
Last fall, two near-capacity Sangamon Auditorium crowds enjoyed the visual spectacle that is Blue Man Group.  This year, we are pleased to welcome them back on a Friday and Saturday evening.  It will be a great kick-off to the UIS fall semester, with special pricing available for UIS students.

Plan to join us for an exciting weekend.  Call 217.206.6160 or go online for your tickets today!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Do you have your Moody Blues and Ian Anderson tickets yet?

Tickets for The Moody Blues and Ian Anderson, events on our 2014-2015 Performing Arts Season are already on sale, and the tickets have been moving quickly, to say the least!  Get in on these classic rock events soon by visiting our website or calling the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160.  Please note that the only remaining tickets for The Moody Blues can only be accessed by calling the Ticket Office, so be sure to do so Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The Moody Blues - photo by Mark Owens
Thursday, August 28, 2014, 7:30 PM

“The Moody Blues are still the Sistine Chapel of popular music,” proclaims Rolling Stone Magazine. In an endless sea of rock and pop formats, The Moody Blues have distinguished themselves through four decades as that shimmering jewel vindicating rock music as a substantial artistic contribution to Western culture.  Since the 60s, as a part of the historic original British invasion of Supergroups, The Moody Blues have lit up the hearts and minds of millions of rock fans with inspiring anthems like “Nights in White Satin,” “Tuesday Afternoon” and “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band),” which express universal themes of love, compassion and peace.  The band just recently celebrated the 45th Anniversary of their monumental 1967 album, “Days of Future Passed,” which features “Nights in White Satin,” one of the first four minute songs played on the radio, becoming one of the biggest selling singles in history, and hitting #1 three separate times on Billboard.

Ian Anderson and band 
Friday, October 17, 2014, 8:00 PM

Legendary progressive rocker Ian Anderson is widely considered an icon of the genre and is recognized as the protagonist of the flute in rock music. As a solo artist and with the band Jethro Tull, Anderson has performed in more than 54 countries over 45 years, selling more than 60 million albums.

Anderson’s new album, Homo Erraticus, will be performed in its entirety followed by a selection of Jethro Tull classics updated with video and theatrics. Anderson will perform with guitarist Florian Opahle, bassist David Goodier, keyboardist John O'Hara, drummer Scott Hammond and backing vocalist/actor Ryan O'Donnell.

Anderson recently won The Prog God Award from Prog Magazine, celebrating the innovators of rock who have inspired generations and carved a way for others to be at their creative best. There is no one who has pushed the boundaries more than Ian Anderson, who to this day remains immersed in his love for the music.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Do you like Broadway shows?

If you like Broadway shows and you live in central Illinois, consider a subscription to the UIS Broadway Series!  You can secure your seat and your calendar *now* for 4-6 Broadway shows in the 2014-2015 season.

Subscribers are guaranteed their same seat(s) location year after year and receive special subscriber pricing on the tickets they purchase.  Subscriptions start at only $196 this year!  Look at the great lineup of shows:

Sister Act
There are seven subscription packages to suit your interests this year.  Packages are as follows:

  • Package 1: All six shows
  • Package 2: Anything Goes, Sister Act, Mamma Mia!, Peter and the Starcatcher, Million Dollar Quartet
  • Package 3: Anything Goes, Sister Act, STOMP, Peter and the Starcatcher, Million Dollar Quartet
  • Package 4: Anything Goes, Sister Act, STOMP, Mamma Mia!, Peter and the Starcatcher
  • Package 5: Anything Goes, Sister Act, Peter and the Starcatcher, Million Dollar Quartet
  • Package 6: Anything Goes, Sister Act, Mamma Mia!, Peter and the Starcatcher
  • Package 7: Anything Goes, Sister Act, STOMP, Peter and the Starcatcher

Consider joining us!  A subscription is a great gift to give yourself or to someone you love.  Consider subscribing with a spouse or friend, or purchase two subscriptions and share the shows with a variety of different "someones" in your life.

For more information about subscribing to the UIS Broadway Series, visit our website.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Unique performances in 2014-2015

We are so delighted to announce our upcoming season of Performing Arts events at Sangamon Auditorium. You can read about the upcoming season on our website.  Standouts in the line-up of events include The Moody Blues, Ian Anderson (front man/flutist for Jethro Tull), the Springfield premiere of the musical Sister Act, and a return performance of a Sangamon Auditorium favorite, Mamma Mia!

But what about those artists whose names you don't recognize in the line-up?  Well, as I always tell close friends of mine, when you see an artist in our line-up that you've never heard of before, pay close attention.  Anytime we program an artist or an event that is not a household name, there's probably a very good, artistic reason why they've been chosen.  Let me give you a few examples from our upcoming season:

The Elephant Wrestler
The Elephant Wrestler is a beautiful piece of theatre that, like any good piece of theatre, reflects the condition of being human.  I know because I've had the opportunity to see it live in its entirety.  Performed by Indian Ink Theatre Company, a New Zealand company renowned for their interesting, small-format theatre work, the almost one-man show (there is a second person who plays music but doesn't speak) tells an interesting story in the life of a modern-day chai vendor.  It is fascinating the watch these characters come to life through the storytelling of actor/playwright Jacob Rajan.

Mark Morris Dance Group

I'll make no excuses about it: I love modern dance.  And we are fortunate in Springfield that Sangamon Auditorium Director Bob Vaughn chooses the dance performances for our Visiting Artist series from among the finest touring the country and the world.  This year, we are pleased to present the long-established Mark Morris Dance Group, which will be touring the U.S. as *well* as the world this fall; the company will be split in two for their Fall 2014 "Excursions" tour, with one half stateside and one half abroad at all times.  How that plays out in terms of international exchange remains to be seen, but we hope to have some details soon and be able to have our community participate in some of those details.

Imagine if Cirque de Soleil met Duck Dynasty.  That's what we've got with Timber!  I am very much looking forward to this unique cirque performance; I'm going to try to bring my dad with me.  The founding members of this Canadian company of cirque performers hails from a small town with a heritage of farming and forestry.  The advertising copy says, "you can almost smell the fresh-cut pine logs and the sweat of lumberjacks."  Can you??

These are just a few of the performances I am looking forward to this year.  I hope you find some that interest you as well!  Check out our website for all the details.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

That's Right (You're Not From Texas)...but HE is!

Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group will make a visit to Springfield on Saturday.  The Texas singer-songwriter will bring his convention-defying mix of country, swing, jazz, folk, gospel and blues to the Sangamon Auditorium at 8 p.m. Since his self-titled debut in 1986, Lyle Lovett has evolved into one of music’s most vibrant and iconic performers. His oeuvre, rich and eclectic, is one of the most beloved of any living artist working today.  Tickets are still available online and at 217.206.6160.

Read about Lovett's upcoming concert in The State Journal-Register.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A national treasure on its way to Springfield

We are so excited to present Alvin Aliley American Dance Theatre coming up this Sunday, April 27 at 7 p.m.  It has been twenty years since this company appeared on the Sangamon Auditorium stage: much too long!
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
Dance lovers along with the un-inclined will both inspired by the works of the Alvin Ailey company, which are accessible and, yes, ENJOYABLE to all kinds of audience members.  We particularly love this video from our friends at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, made up of DUDES touting the value of seeing this company live on stage:

The DUDES even talk a little about their responses to "Revelations," which will close our concert on Sunday. For tickets, visit our website, or call us at 217.206.6160.

“Every American owes it to him or herself to see the Ailey [company] perform Revelations. It is an American phenomenon. I’ve probably seen it countless times and every time it’s magical and spiritual and hopeful - everything that we want ourselves to be and hope that our country will be.”  - Oprah Winfrey on Entertainment Tonight, 12/4/08

Monday, March 31, 2014

Class Acts brings the Holocaust to life for middle school students

My Heart in a Suitcase
Nothing beats a well-written, well-acted play about the Holocaust to remind me of how much we can learn and understand about the human condition through theatre.  This week, Sangamon Auditorium's Class Acts series presented ArtsPower Touring Theatre’s My Heart in a Suitcase, a touching drama for middle school students about the Kindertransport.  The Kindertransport was a rescue mission that took nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland and placed them in British foster homes, hostels, schools, and farms right after the devastation of Kristallnacht and before the outbreak of the second World War.  Parents of the children chose to have their children travel on the Kindertransport to save them from the turbulent social and political climate, and many of them never saw their children again.

Over the years, I have been involved with three presentations of My Heart in a Suitcase and each of the last two times, I was fortunate to have connected with Dr. Heini Halberstam, retired faculty member from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who traveled on the Kindertransport at the age of 12.  I reached out to Dr. Halberstam without expectation at the time of the first presentation; I was looking to make a deeper connection to the project and identified him online as a local “Kind” who had benefited from the 1930s mission effort overseas.

Dr. Halberstam traveled from Urbana to Bloomington in 2007 (where I was working at the time) for the first local presentation of My Heart in a Suitcase.  He was very touched by the play and told me afterwards that it reminded him of some of the details and emotions of his experience that he hadn't thought about in a long time.  For both a public and school performance, he participated in a post-show discussion.  He did the same at Sangamon Auditorium in 2009, and this time also sat down with me to video an interview in which he answered some questions that had been submitted by attending students in advance of the show.

This week, I learned that Dr. Halberstam had passed away earlier this year.  As I read his distinguished obituary, I was humbled by the thought of having had the opportunity to introduce him to students and teachers through ArtsPower’s play.  But both times I worked with Dr. Halberstam were before I was a mother, and now that I am, reading the story of the early part of his life resonates even more deeply for me. It was his mother, already a widow, who made the tough decision to send her only child to England on the Kindertransport.  She died of typhus in a Nazi work camp three years later.

Dr. Halberstam made significant contributions to the field of mathematics and prime numbers.  For those contributions, the world can thank both his birth mother, who had the wisdom to secure his safety, and his English foster mother, who recognized his intellectual abilities and made his education possible, despite having no obligation or expectation to do so at a time when orphaned children populated much of Europe.  I love the thought of the contributions of both of these mothers.  Rest in peace, Dr. Halberstam, and eternal blessings to you and your mothers.

Monday, March 24, 2014

SFJAZZ Collective concert to honor Springfield-born drummer Barrett Deems

The SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star award-winning jazz ensemble comprising eight of the finest performers/composers at work in jazz today. Launched in 2004 by SFJAZZ, the Collective has become one of the most exciting and acclaimed groups on the jazz scene.

The Collective is celebrating its 10th Anniversary by highlighting their greatest arrangements and original compositions. This "best of" performance includes material from many of the Collective's past and present members along with the tribute composers including Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Stevie Wonder, and Chick Corea.

SFJAZZ Collective
Sangamon Auditorium’s presentation of SFJAZZ will be dedicated to the memory of Barrett Deems. A cake reception will be held in the lobby following the concert in celebration of Deems’ 100th birthday and his 70-year career.

Barrett Deems was born in Springfield, Illinois on March 1, 1914. Best known for his role as drummer for jazz icon Louis Armstrong, Deems also worked with other household names in jazz like Duke Ellington, Jimmy Dorsey, Beardstown native Red Norvo, Muggsy Spanier, Woody Herman, Joe Venuti, Charlie Barnet, Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden. He also collaborated with the Dukes of Dixieland and Joe Kelly’s Gaslight Band. Deems recorded music with jazz pianist Art Hodes and toured with several Louis Armstrong tribute bands. His drumming inspirations included Gene Krupa, Dave Tough and Baby Dodds.

Up until his death at the age of 84, Deems was performing regularly with his 18-piece Big Band, which included trumpeters Brad Goode and Mike McLaughlin, trombonist Audrey Morrison, and reedmen Barry Winograd and Richie Corpolongo.

Dubbed “the world’s fastest drummer,” Deems was known to be hyperactive. In fact, Armstrong once said, “Barrett, you’re the only guy in the world that makes coffee nervous”.

Other anecdotes of Deems are telling of his bold and unpredictable character. Stephen Voce stated that when meeting newly elected Chicago mayor Jane Byrne at the inaugural city jazz festival in 1979, Deems reportedly said to her, "You know, I don't care what they say about you. You’re not a bad looking broad. And you've got great legs, too." The mayor smiled in response and said, "Thank you very much."

When trombonist Jack Teagarden died from an alcohol addiction, Deems said he “never cared for the stuff.” Deems spent the majority of his life sober.

And when he first started playing drums, he did not learn to read music – and never got to it during his career. Deems said, “Who cares? Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa couldn't read too well either, but they could play. Guess what? That's what counts."

In a recent article published  in the Illinois Times, James Krohe, Jr. wrote it was widely believed that white musicians were ahead on the beat by a few milliseconds – referring to it as the “honky offset.” Maybe that’s why some of the most revered African American jazz bands brought in white drummers like Deems in all-black bands, said Krohe. Deems joins Quad-Cities native Louie Bellson here, who worked for Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Deem’s music can be heard on Louis Armstrong’s Satch Plays Fats: The Music of Fats Waller, Ambassador Satch, Louis Armstrong at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography, and Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy. Deems also performed “Now You Has Jazz” with Armstrong and Bing Crosby in the 1956 movie, High Society.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

There is life after Jersey Boys: March Madness!

It hardly seems possible that our week with Jersey Boys is over almost as quickly as it began.  But the rest of March has a hefty schedule as well.  We've got some visually stunning, musically evocative performances coming up the remainder of this month.  Check out the next few below.

TAO: Phoenix Rising
TAO: Phoenix Rising brings Japanese taiko drumming to our stage this Thursday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. We're always glad to welcome this art form back to our hall.  The energy and artistry fill the room with excitement.

Cyrille Aimee
The vocal jazz stylings of Cyrille Aimee comes to the Studio Theatre Kitchen Sink series on Friday, March 21 at 8 p.m.  Aimee sometimes uses a loop pedal to create a unique arrangement for herself based on her own voice.

H.M.S. Pinafore - New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players
New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players will pay us a visit on Sunday, March 23 at 7 p.m. for their production of H.M.S. Pinafore.  It has been several years since any Gilbert and Sullivan works were presented at Sangamon Auditorium, so we are delighted to welcome this company to help fill that niche.

Stay tuned for more posts about upcoming events in March...

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Boys are in Town! (the Jersey Boys, that is!)

Sangamon Auditorium staff members pose by one of the Jersey Boys semis.
It's going to be a great week at Sangamon Auditorium, UIS! We're so pleased to welcome the national tour of Broadway's Jersey Boys to campus.  It has been more than seven years since we presented a full week of a Broadway tour and most of our staff have never experienced a tour of this sort at our venue.  The shows begin with opening night on Tuesday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Jersey Boys is a Broadway musical that tells the story behind Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  It uses the chart-topping music of that group as it tells how four blue-collar kids from Jersey rose to fame and how they grew and changed through those early (and later) years.  It's a great story.  It's great music.  And it's brilliantly theatrical, musical storytelling.

Do you have your tickets yet?  Jersey Boys will be presented at Sangamon Auditorium seven times between March 4 and March 8.  For details and to purchase tickets, visit our website.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jersey Boys, Jersey Boys, Jersey Boys!

Less than one week to go before the national tour of Jersey Boys pulls into our loading dock!  We have been making preparations and looking forward to this engagement for over a year now.  Jersey Boys has been a Broadway favorite since its debut and its win of the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical, and we've had repeated requests for it since its very first appearance.

Jersey Boys is a Broadway musical that tells the story behind Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  It uses the chart-topping music of that group as it tells how four blue-collar kids from Jersey rose to fame and how they grew and changed through those early (and later) years.  It's a great story.  It's great music.  And it's brilliantly theatrical, musical storytelling.

Do you have your tickets yet?  Jersey Boys will be presented at Sangamon Auditorium seven times between March 4 and March 8.  For details and to purchase tickets, visit our website.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Behind the Scenes - What does it take to create a new collaborative project?

What inspires you?  That’s the question Sangamon Auditorium and Fifth House Ensemble posed to six faculty members at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS).  Their stories and observations are being integrated with multimedia elements and modern chamber music provided by Fifth House Ensemble to create a new performance event, which will premier in Sangamon Auditorium’s Studio Theatre on Saturday, February 15, at 8 PM.

The concept for this project arose out of the mythological stories of the ancient Greek muses, a group of goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences and were called upon when people needed inspiration.  Sangamon Auditorium staff identified six UIS faculty members whose fields of study or research were connected to the areas traditionally associated with the ancient muses.  The participants include Michael Burlingame (history), Ethan Lewis (English), John Martin (astronomy), Tiffani Saunders (sociology), Yona Stamatis (music), and Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson (theatre).

The faculty participants were each asked to consider what personally inspired them to pursue their fields of study and to think more generally about what inspiration means in their fields. Reflecting on this process, Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson said, “When I first heard about this project with the 5th House, I was intrigued and somewhat frightened, to be honest. As an actor and director, I'm fine working with words and characters provided by a playwright, but to create something on my own was daunting. Which, I suppose, is one reason why I decided to do it. I'm always telling my students to ‘climb the tree, go out on a limb, and start sawing...’ so I figured I'd better take my own advice! If we don't do things that scare us just a little bit, then we'll never really grow and learn.”

After collecting information from all the faculty participants, Fifth House Ensemble brought graphic designer and storyteller Sarah Becan into the project to write a narrative and create images that connect the individual stories together.  Anna Cooksey from Fifth House Ensemble stated, “The scale of this collaboration - pulling in ideas and materials to guide the show from so many different sources - has been one of the many exciting things about the upcoming concert at Sangamon Auditorium. The ability to connect with experts from such varied disciplines has brought great energy and diversity of thought to the planning process.”

For this performance, Fifth House Ensemble will be utilizing an ensemble comprised of piano, flute, oboe, violin, viola, cello, and bass.  The musicians will perform pieces from composers including Philip Glass and Astor Piazzolla, as well as the Midwest premier of a new work by Charles Zoll that was the Rapido! Take Three!! National First Prize Winning Composition.

This project was built on the success of a previous collaboration between Sangamon Auditorium and Fifth House Ensemble.  In 2012, the two entities worked together to develop a project titled “Listen to the River.”  The performance integrated live music with stories, photographic images, and commentary about the Illinois River. The woodwind quintet from Fifth House Ensemble performed water-themed selections interwoven with presentations from noted regional professionals , faculty and students from the UIS Biology and Environmental Studies Departments.

One of the presenters, UIS emeritus faculty member Keith Miller, said, “It was inspiring working with the Fifth House Ensemble for the ‘Listen to the River’ project. The players are professional musicians with immense talent, but they also were skilled collaborators, and graciously brought us into their artistic process. All in all, it was delightful to be involved with this event.”

Tickets for the performance start at $39 and are available by calling the Sangamon Auditorium Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 or 800.207.6069, or by visiting the Sangamon Auditorium website at www.SangamonAuditorium.org.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A World-Premiere Event About Inspiration

Sangamon Auditorium is pleased to once again be working with the dynamic chamber group Fifth House Ensemble on a world-premiere event.  In 2012, the project was "Listen to the River" and focused on the UIS departments of biology and environmental studies and the work being done at the Emiquon Field Station on the Illinois River.  The ensemble's musical selections about water were brought to visual life by vivid projections of the photography of UIS environmental studies graduate student Chris Young and in between selections, faculty and students shared reports and stories about the work being done at Emiquon.  It was a truly unique event.

This year, the event is "Invoking the Muse: What Inspires You?" Fifth House Ensemble has been collaborating directly with six UIS faculty members who will explore the nature of inspiration in fields ranging from astronomy to fine arts.  The scholars will share their own stories of inspiration and thoughts on how inspiration manifests itself in their individual fields.  Intermixed with the presentations will be musical works by Astor Piazzolla, Philip Glass, and others, brought to life by piano, flute, oboe, and four strings.

Fifth House Ensemble
Not only will the piece be performed as part of the Kitchen Sink Series in the UIS Studio Theatre on Saturday, February 15 at 8 p.m., but Fifth House Ensemble will be performing a version of "Invoking the Muse" several times in the Chicago area as part of their more "at-home" concert series.  We are excited that this piece, with an idea conceived by Auditorium Director Bob Vaughn, will have a life outside of the one-time UIS performance and it will bring additional exposure to the UIS faculty members involved.

Following the performance on February 15, the audience will be invited to participate in a post-show discussion with the musicians and scholars involved in the collaboration.  We anticipate a lively discussion about the creative process with additional musings about inspiration will ensue.  We hope you will join us.

For more information about the faculty collaborators on this project, please visit our website.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Top Ten Reasons to See THE TEN TENORS

10.  THE TEN TENORS do an average of 250 shows per year over ten months of touring and have sold more than 3.5 millions concert tickets worldwide.  That many audience members can't be wrong!

9.  THE TEN TENORS are Australian.  Who doesn't like to hear Australians talk?  Or sing?  Recall that some other male Australian singers include these guys:

Hugh Jackman

Keith Urban
8.  The current US tour, which just started on January 24, features THE TEN TENORS singing the music of Broadway.  The list of musical selections from which their February 8 set list will be drawn can be found here.

7.  These tenor jokes:

  • How many tenors does it take to change a lightbulb?  None - he thinks it's the accompanist's job.
  • How many tenors does it take to change a lightbulb?  Six.  One to do it, and five to say, "It's too high for him."
  • How can you tell when a tenor is really stupid?  When the other tenors notice.

6.  THE TEN TENORS have developed a following for performing the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen, but now that there's a Broadway musical, We Will Rock You, using the music of Queen, it is likely we will still get to hear "Somebody to Love" at the Broadway-themed concert.

5.  These guys know how to dress!  Expect sharp-looking, coordinating outfits of which Tim Gunn would be proud.

4.  Included in the list of musical selections from which they will select their February 8 set is Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."  As a general rule, the staff of Sangamon Auditorium have an on-going love/hate (but mostly love) relationship with this song.  

3.  THE TEN TENORS are not stodgy, stuffy male singers.  They are fun-loving Australian blokes with an average age of 26 years.

2.  Included in the list of music from which they will select their February 8 set is Broadway music from modern musicals like Les Miserables, Once, and Wicked, but also more classic Broadway like Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music.  Check out the possible set list; there's something for all Broadway lovers here!

1.  The fall 2004 presentation of THE TEN TENORS at Sangamon Auditorium was one of the most energetic audience favorites in the past ten years.  Were you there at the 2004 performance?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's showtime for Dolly and Junie!

Join us this week for some favorites! A tour of Hello, Dolly! starring the lovely Sally Struthers rolls into town tomorrow.  Ms. Struthers has played the charming and iconic matchmaker Dolly Levi several times in her theatrical career, and now we're pleased to welcome her to our stage in the role.  The show is Wednesday, January 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Then, on Friday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m., we welcome everyone's favorite first-grader, Junie B. Jones back to our family series for her third engagement.  Adults and kids alike will be charmed by her antics and life lessons in this concise, one-hour musical.  Come early at 6:00 p.m. to enjoy pre-show lobby activities that include making your own eyeglasses and journal, just like Junie.

See you at the Auditorium!  

Monday, January 13, 2014

What's your New Year's Resolution?

Have you already forgotten about New Year’s Resolutions?  Many people abandon them before January hits double-digit days, but now that the stress of those extreme resolutions is past since we’re already onto day thirteen, I wonder if I can direct you to the topic of realistic, non-extreme yet life-altering resolutions.

Have you thought about increasing the number of live performances you see this year?

Each year, I try to keep track of the live performances I attend and then at year’s end, I look back at the list and reflect upon what those experiences meant to me.  Despite also being an arts administrator and recreational arts practitioner, I consider my role as an audience member to be the one that will have the greatest impact on the arts into the future.  The arts need an audience, and I need to be a part of something alive…on some days, more than I need food or sleep.

Disputably, the first live performance I ever saw was a high school production of The Wizard of Oz.  The memory I have is that after the performance, Glinda the Good Witch came out into the audience—I now understand that it was to greet friends and family.  But there she was…just a few feet from me.  It was amazing; my four-year-old world was changed.

As a seventh grader, my world was changed again.  I learned of a new Broadway musical with a funny French name.  I learned the lyrics backwards and forwards, and had even read all fourteen hundred and ninety-seven pages of the novel before seeing the first national tour at the Fabulous Fox in St. Louis the next year.

As I sat there in the audience of Les Miserables that first time, and indeed each subsequent time, I was changed.  I was so self-prepared to be in the audience, and the magic of it resonated beyond what I could have possibly imagined. I continue to be mesmerized by the way the musical’s creators have crafted each theatrical choice to support this story of the human condition.

But preparation is not always required for a life-changing audience experience.  During high school, while attending an arts summer program, I saw a presentation by the Chicago Moving Company.  I remember color and light, flowing fabric, and a strong engagement with the story the dance was telling.

In my work at Sangamon Auditorium, UIS, I am in the business of developing audiences.  This means getting people into the building for the first time.  It means getting them to come back again.  It means developing future audiences in order to sustain high quality performing arts programming for years to come.

In this field, we labor and labor over counteracting these statements:  “Audiences are dying.”  “Nobody’s going to the theater/the symphony/the ballet anymore.”  We will continue to hear these woes. But about a year ago, I heard Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, speak at an event and he acknowledged that over the last one hundred years in this country, there has always been fearful talk about audiences dying.

Kaiser acknowledged that people do get busy for a period of time in their early adulthood, but stated that there is evidence that if a strong foundation in the arts was laid between birth and age fifteen, then when these adults get through that busy period and find themselves with time to pursue hobbies, there’s a strong chance they’ll come back to the arts.

In a program funded by PNC Bank, I have the awesome opportunity to visit with Springfield Urban League Head Start students before they come to watch a children’s play at the Auditorium.  The most significant part of the visit is to help them understand their role as a live audience member.  I do teach them to applaud when actors bow, but mostly I teach them to be themselves and drink it all in.

I can’t know if my three-year-old son, who is named for a rock band, will take to any particular art form vocationally.  There are only two things I know about his future experiences with the arts:

1) He will take piano lessons for as long as he lives in my house, because I have never heard anyone say, “I’m so glad my mother let me quit taking piano lessons.”


2) of course, he will be an audience member.

How about you?