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?