William H. Tunnicliff Auditorium: The Elements of Collage
<p><span>Every performer dreams of a state-of-the-art space that helps them achieve their best.</span></p><p><span>But how many have stepped onto a stage that has served generations of artists, who felt their hopes and dreams rising with the curtain? Or had teachers who encouraged not only talent but the potential for talent? Or had peers who were there to lift them up?</span></p><p><span>Such is the position of Flushing Community Schools, where the 650-seat William H. Tunnicliff Auditorium has helped talent thrive for the past two decades. “The William H. Tunnicliff Auditorium was opened in June 2000,” said Alison Clemens, who became Auditorium Manager three years ago.</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/addams7.jpg" alt="" width="4000" height="2671" /></p><p><span>Even so, Tunnicliff sees a lot of use. “The Auditorium is used by the entire district,” said Clemens. “It is used by the High and Middle School Theatre and Music programs, Elementary School music programs, spelling bees, talent shows, assemblies and district meetings. When not accommodating school functions, Tunnicliff has been rented to special events, dance studios and even some bodybuilding shows. (The latter are national qualifiers and sanctioned by the National Physique Committee.) “The Flushing Concert in the Park series uses our space as a rain location during the summer,” said Clemens, adding. “We even brought in a show from a neighboring district when they were forced from their space at the last minute.” </span></p><p><span>In addition to this busy schedule, Tunnicliff Auditorium is the home of the Collage Music/Theatre Program for Flushing Community that originated with Clemens’ predecessor, Mike Hamilton. In fact, the first Collage concert was performed in 2000-2001 school year, “right after the auditorium was opened. This upcoming school year 2020-2021 will see our 20th annual Holiday Collage Concert. Our annual Collage is one of the highlights of the holiday season and the biggest fundraiser for the Music program,” said Clemens.</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/79412370_10220204808932519_8537459811153870848_o.jpg" alt="" width="986" height="666" /></p><p><span>“It’s truly a special gem that we have here in Flushing,” agrees Brad Davis, Flushing’s HS/Elementary Band Director.“Our annual Holiday College is a huge community event that features the band, choir and orchestra programs and sells out four consecutive performances every year.” </span></p><p><span>The program demands great attention from Music and Theatre staff, including Davis, Eric Fontan (MS/Elementary Band Director), Nate Degner (HS/MS Choir Director), Matt Forsleff (HS/MS/Elementary Orchestra Director); and Lynda Gibson (HS &amp; MS Musical/Theatre Director) and Stacey Daniels (HS Theatre Director). But it’s a labor of love since “our kids are some of the most talented kids we have had the chance to work with over,” said Daniels.</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/collage5.jpg" alt="" width="999" height="666" /></p><p><span>But living up to the Mike Hamilton legend is no easy task. A hands-on impresario, Hamilton was also influential in the design of Tunnicliff Auditorium. “It has a lot of the features found in more upscale and professional theatres,” noted Clemens. “The acoustics are nice, it has a catwalk and lighting design that allows for some creative effects, including LED washes.”</span></p><p><span>While the music and theatre responsibilities have been spun off her main duties, Clemens has expanded the Collage program into new disciplines. “I have tried to include more work from students outside the Music/Theatre program,” she said. “Last year, we began painting the windows for our Collage program (the work of the National Honor Art Society chapter in our school.) A student from our award-winning woodshop program made a custom table for our lobby.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/radium3.jpg" alt="" width="2000" height="1335" /></p><p><span>And “we began using Ludus online ticketing program for all of our high school paid events. It was recommended to our Choir director, Nate Degner, who is the mastermind and driving force behind the Collage concert. We liked that it was Michigan-based - and more user-friendly than our previous ticketing program. I like that people can purchase online, and we can opt for either passing on the fees or absorbing them (we do both depending on the show). I like that we only pay for credit card sales and when the students sell the tickets during lunch they can collect cash and email the tickets to the students. Navigating the website is easy for both administration and patrons.”</span></p><p><span>It also helps that “the customer service is exceptional. From the beginning, Zack was helpful and responsive to all of my questions and needs.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/80802596_10220204799052272_8464445624819908608_o.jpg" alt="" width="986" height="666" /></p><p><span>What’s next for the Tunnicliff Auditorium? “It would be nice if we could upgrade our sound system,” said Clemens. “We have already had to replace some of our wireless body pack microphones due to the Verizon purchase of wireless frequencies. The music department wants a fly-in band shell and the theatre is wishing for a short throw projector to allow digital backdrops.” </span></p><p><span>Even so, “the theatre program recently purchased goborotors!” Clemens enthused. “The students are looking forward to playing around with them during our upcoming musical, Seussical. While both our sound board and our lighting board are older they still allow us to put up professional-looking shows.”</span></p><p>The Seussical production is currently postponed, but for updates and other upcoming productions, visit their Ludus ticketing portal at: <a href="https://whtauditorium.ludus.com/">whtauditorium.ludus.com</a></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cinderella1.jpg" alt="" width="4000" height="2671" /></p>
Westby Area Performing Arts Center: Northern Light
<p><b></b><span>To put the importance of its school band program into perspective for Westby, a rural Wisconsin community of 2,000, nearly 8% of the population - or one in every 13 residents - is enrolled in Westby’s band program. “It’s always had a high number of participants,” noted Kory Dahlen, Band Director at Westby Area School District. “We are fortunate to have very hard-working kids.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/concert-band-2-e1576004374592.jpg" alt="" width="895" height="501" /></p><p><span>Dahlen might have been speaking of himself, since he is a Westby alumnus. He's now in his 10th year teaching at Westby and, after nine years as Middle School band teacher, has recently taken over the High School band program. It’s pretty much a long-standing tradition of community support: “Westby has had four high school band directors since 1948,” Dahlen said. “Three of the four are program alums.”</span></p><p><span>The District has ambitious, year-round music programs. This month, the Christmas program is in full swing, with a Christmas Concert in which the High School and Middle School bands and choirs participate. “The HS band Christmas concert has two annual songs called ‘Sleigh Ride’ and ‘Christmas Festival,’ alternating every year. The HS choir Christmas concert ends with Hallelujah chorus and invites alums to sing.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Wapac-Choir.jpg" alt="" width="2009" height="1287" /></p><p><span>During the rest of the year, the High School Marching Band performs at football halftime shows and parades (sometimes accompanied by the Middle School band), while the Choir presents a four spring concerts and a fall Pops Concert. “The Band and Choir both have all state band/choir participants,” said Dahlen. “Both programs participate in solo/ensemble and large festivals. They'll be playing the pep band at a Milwaukee Bucks game, where the Choir will sing the national anthem.” </span></p><p><span>All, however, pitch in for the school’s yearly musical. “Everybody does everything,” said Dahlen. “Auditions start at the end of the school year, and kids work on memorization over the summer.” The shows, which usually take place the first week of November, are high quality, “especially for their size and budget,” said Peter Engh, Westby Area School District’s Choir Director. “The last four shows were <i>Les Miserables</i>, <i>Rent</i>, <i>Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat</i> and <i>Fiddler on the Roof</i>.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fiddler-.jpg" alt="" width="4422" height="3155" /></p><p><span>Also a Westby alum (‘79), Engh took on a flagging drama program and breathed new life into it. As a result, Westby’s production of <i>Rent</i> was nominated for a “Jerry.” Formerly “Tommy” (after Tom Wopat!), the award was started by the Overture Center for the Arts as a Tony-like appreciation for Wisconsin school musical programs. (During the 2017-18 season, the Tommys were renamed the Jerry Awards, in appreciation of philanthropist and arts supporter, W. Jerome Frautschi.) </span></p><p><span><b>WAPAC begins a new chapter for Westby</b></span></p><p><span><i>Joseph</i>, however, was the first musical to open in the Westby Area Performing Arts Center (WAPAC), the school’s new home for high school and middle school performances, district-wide events, some elementary performances and more. The Center, which was dedicated earlier this year, has seating for 475, full rigging, state-of-the-art sound and light systems, and an orchestra pit. </span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Westby-Area-Performing-Arts-Center.jpg" alt="" width="960" height="720" /></p><p><span>When WAPAC opened in 2018, Dahlen took on the role of Technical Director at the new facility. He was already the sound coordinator for the District for all events. “I’ve always been a sound equipment geek / techy guy,” he admitted. Still, with the center comes a new level of sophistication: “The new facility changed the way we can do things. We went from metal folding chairs to a real auditorium. It encourages community engagement and name recognition.” </span></p><p><span>WAPAC’s artistic management is shared between Dahlen, Engh and Monte Dunnum. “Everyone is close since they've grown up together,” Dahlen (who was a student of Engh’s), “so there's a lot of trust and respect for each other.” Engh agreed, adding, “When the previous director passed away a few years ago, the concert choir, plus any alumni who could come, sang for the funeral. They sang <i>Beautiful Savior</i>, and it was an ‘out of this world experience.’ I could almost feel him there.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Wapac-Choir-4.jpg" alt="" width="2016" height="1134" /></p><p><span><b>Polka, pizza and Norwegian pride</b></span></p><p><span>There is another - fascinating - reason for Westby’s feeling of fellowship. “Westby is in a Norwegian community,” said Dahlen. And, so tucked in among the choruses and combos is a polka band, because, for the Norwegian immigrants who arrived, polka was “it.”<span>  </span>Nowadays, the polka band acts as a kind of an ice-breaker with its polka-and-pizza socials; but it still ushers in Syttende Mai (“May 17”), a Norwegian festival the equivalent of the Norwegian 4th of July. There are traditions, according to Dahlen: “The Choir has special arrangement of the Norwegian national anthem, specific for Westby.”</span></p><p><span>Westby programs have received high ratings and festivals, and hold a number of awards and accolades. But the Norwegian way, Dahlen added, is “We don't brag. Work hard, be proud. We're very proud of what we do, how we do it, and how hard kids work. The program is strong and thriving.”<span>  </span>However, he added, “It means the world when people compliment performances. we don't seek them out, but it means a lot when people say nice things.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/concert-band-3-e1576004355591.jpg" alt="" width="851" height="386" /></p><p><span><b>The feeling is mutual, Kory!</b></span></p><p><span>Dahlen was an early evangelist for Ludus. He lobbied for Westby to use Ludus for all WAPAC ticketing (“We used Ludus for our<span>  </span>February 11, 2018, dedication ceremony!”). Dahlen appreciates the customer chat and the quick responses from the Ludus team! “I’m so glad I pushed hard for Ludus,” he concluded. “I love watching it evolve.”</span></p><p>If you're interested in seeing Westby Performing Arts in action, visit their Ludus ticketing portal at: <a href="https://wapac.ludus.com/">wapac.ludus.com</a>.</p>
Portage Central: Home-grown Talent
Portage Central High School Theatre program is considered one of the finest in the country, with a history of quality productions and superior theatre education. Kathy Mulay, a local impresario and youth educator, started as director of the Portage Central (PC) Theatre Program in the late 1980s. During her tenure, PC's theater program accepted three invitations to take part in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of the American High School Theatre Festival program, while producing lavish productions and building Portage Central into one of the largest theatre programs in Michigan. But after nearly three decades, Mulay decided it was time for a change. Filling those shoes would take someone with talent, vision, and an uncanny ability to communicate with students… that person was Ashley Bowen. “Kathy headed the program until I took over in 2016,” said Ashley Bowen, current Director of Theatre Activities at Portage Central High School. Another area native, Bowen had attended nearby Portage Northern High School, where her love of performing began when she joined the forensics team as a freshman. In college, she joined the choral program at Western Michigan; eventually auditioning for the vocal performance program. Each program Bowen has worked with since has risen to her immensely high standards, winning state level awards and national recognition. Since moving to PC’s theater program, Bowen has continued to challenge students by choosing both classics and innovative modern plays and musicals that help with students’ self development. “My biggest hope for students,” she said, “is that they realize that they have a voice and that theatre is a great place to use it. Theatre empowers young people and builds confidence and skills they can use throughout their lives.” Doing three shows per season gives students every opportunity to learn about themselves. For Bowen, “My favorite shows are the ones that come together exactly how you envision them: the perfect cast, crew, orchestra, creative team all executing one vision. At PC, three stand out examples were the musicals The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Shrek and Big Fish. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee stands out because, despite every challenging element, the kids knocked it out of the park every night. The actors were fantastic, but I think I was most proud of the students’ technical work. We had a student costume designer and sound designer. It was pretty amazing!” However, Bowen admitted that “Shrek holds a special place for me. The show was so cohesive. Every element worked from the musicians to the technical elements, the performances, and how the audience reacted. There was such chemistry, not only between the actors but between the show and the audience.” Last year, with more snow days than school days, Portage Central met its biggest challenge yet, Big Fish. With most of their technical rehearsals cancelled, many would wonder if the show could even open. But Bowen and her amazing group of young performers and technicians proved that passion meant more than time in preparation for a performance. Opening night was a success and each night got stronger and stronger. This show clicked with audiences and critics alike, winning numerous awards from the Sutton Foster Ovation Awards committee, including  Best Costuming, Best Direction, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Lighting Design, Best Music Direction, Best Set, and Best Musical. While the theatre program is quite large, with over 100 students participating, it is one part of a larger fine arts program managed by PC’s Activities Director Nikki Smith. “We don’t cross over a whole lot,” said Bowen. But “there are instrumentalists who play in our pit orchestra and, of course, singers from the choir program in our shows. We support each other.” It also helps that the entire fine arts department uses Ludus for all the concerts and programming. Bowen had met Ludus’ COO, Kevin Schneider, through Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association (MIFA). “Kevin told me he was developing a new program and asked if I would try it. Honestly,” she said, “Every part of Ludus worked for us. And they just keep coming up with new features. There has never been a time when we haven't been able to contact Zack, Abbie, or Kevin and get an issue resolved within an hour. Other ticket programs feel like I am connected to a computer program, Ludus feels like people.” The Theatre Program also gets lots of help from parent volunteers. “Our parents are amazing. We do not have official Boosters, but our parents do everything from building sets, running concession and box office, to getting donations. There’s a volunteer Box Office Manager, Kris Fulton, working with one of Portage Central’s administrative assistants, Suzanne Schwanzl, who runs the school side of the box office, doing much of the show to show setup. Even with her busy schedule, Bowen still finds time for forensics, where she is a Diamond level coach through the National Speech and Debate Association. “We have a fantastic forensics program at Portage Central that was run by Theresa Mills (who retired from coaching at end of 2018-19 school year),” said Bowen. “I coached my own teams for years. I like to coach any event with a student that is willing to listen and work. It is the collaboration that really makes me happy.” Bowen also performs in local theater, recently appearing in a production of Sister Act and Billy Elliot at the Kalamazoo Civic Theater. Portage Central will produce Moon Over Buffalo, opening this week, October 25 - November 3, and the musical Mamma Mia on February 7-16, 2020. To learn more about Portage Central High School Theatre and purchase tickets for their show, check out their Ludus ticketing portal at pchsboxoffice.ludus.com!
Union High Bands: The Right Support

Every band program should have a booster club like the Union Bands Parents Club. At a time when cash-strapped and time-challenged students and musical directors are scrambling to raise money for performances and competitions, the UBPC takes care of everything.

“Parents in the booster club run the events entirely,” said Charles Pisarra, Union High’s Director of Bands / Assistant Director of Fine Arts. “The chairperson of the club has people volunteer for various responsibilities, especially for big events. Leadership and technology allow us to ensure the events are enjoyable for the performers involved, are safe for performers and audience members, and making sure people want to come back.”

Pisarra noted that the UBPC has grown immensely over the past four years: “It’s large and makes over a million dollars, annually. It's incorporated and runs very similarly to a company, with a president to which a segment of leaders report. There's a COO and a CFO.” Leaders for the booster club are primarily elected, with 16-20 of the positions voted on and another 10 or so are appointed. Overall, the UBPC has “become extremely organized, serious and hardworking when it comes to hosting high-quality events; and serious about caring for the students so the directors can focus on teaching the best they possibly can.”

Pisarra is in a unique position to notice these things, having spent more than 30 years in Tulsa’s Union Public Schools - first as a student and now as a teacher. “I came on full time in 2006 as the percussion specialist until 2013.” In 2014 Pisarra was promoted to lead Director of Bands. “Being a percussion specialist came with a lot of work and detail,” remarked Pisarra, “whereas being a director comes with more responsibility, oversight and accountability.”

It’s a big responsibility. The program has 1,100 students in all. The Marching Band alone contains 250 students; then there are 325 in high school bands (9-12), 65 students in the Color Guard, about 40 percussionists at the high school level and about 45 in the jazz bands.

In addition, there’s been a massive restructuring of the band program. “For decades,” said Pisarra, “every student in the band program was also in the marching band.” This caused a lot of stress over time and money challenges. “But three years ago, Union changed to a ‘Year-round Concert Band’ structure. This meant all wind and percussion students can be in one of the six concert bands during the school day and then can choose to participate in the marching band in addition. Making this switch has allowed the program to retain more students. And,” he added, “students have been playing better since they are now able to focus on basic music skills in the classroom, year-round.”

Each year, Union’s Marching Band, also known as the Renegade Regiment, performs at up to eight football games, and participates in anywhere between five and seven competitive performances. “The Union High School Marching Band is an 11-time BOA (Band of America) Grand National Finalist,” said Pisarra. “They've also been in numerous parades: Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix, Orlando Citrus Parade, Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.” (In fact, the Renegade Regiment has been invited to perform at the 2020 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.)

Travel, uniforms, instruments - it’s a lot of fees to keep track of. “Booster parents help organize and track individual student fundraisers,” said Pisarra, “and ensure they're running smoothly. This model works because it allows students and families to choose how they want to pay these fees. They can either pay out-of-pocket, or work hard to fund raise and pay fees that way.

“We do our best to provide opportunities for students to pay less out-of-pocket through fundraising.” he added. No opportunity is overlooked, from fundraisers, sponsorships and donations to merchandising and even Amazon SMILE donations. “The core purpose behind the booster club is hosting great events, as well as taking care of students, supporting band directors, fundraisers. Hosting world-class events coming first is in our DNA.”

One of the greatest events for the marching band takes place at home. The Renegade Review Invitational is a spotlight event. A Tulsa tradition, Pisarra noted, “It's been going strong for the last 36 years. Everyone from students to parents, teachers and staff, are passionate about hosting this event.” (The next Review is slated to be held at Union’s Tuttle Stadium on October 12, 2019.) Typically, the event features top bands from Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma. “It features a panel of adjudicators (in the BOA format) and a slate of amazing marching bands.”

Meanwhile, Union’s school band program has six concert bands, two jazz bands and many percussion ensembles, involved in up to a dozen events each year. Many of those are held throughout the year at the 2,000 Performing Arts Center. “It's a concert hall and a multi-purpose performing arts center, with a full balcony. When it was built 40 years ago, it was the biggest in the area, and thankfully it has been maintained very well.”

Ludus generally tickets for up eight bands, which cover 6th through 12 graders. While most of campus concerts aren’t ticketed, Union Bands tickets the larger public events like the Renegade Review, Marching Band Championship, and WGI Winter Guard Regionals. “We have a small core of volunteers,” said Pisarra, who make sure the event is poised for success.” He points to Marjorie Hall, who works with ticketing. She started using Ludus because it interfaces with Charms and finds it advantageous for both general and assigned seating. “It’s pretty easy to use and it's free for us as an organization,” she noted, “but also reasonable for those purchasing tickets.”

McAuliffe Middle School: A Voice for All
<p>"I was a HUGE fan of ‘The Sing Off,’” admitted Shannon Wallace, “but I never really thought I could have a group like that at the middle-school level. Then,” she added with a smile, “we started adding a capella songs into our show choir sets, and I realized that with the proper arranging our students could actually do it.”</p><p><span>Teaching a capella is a process that has taken time, but it’s been worth it: “I started the first group as a ‘come check it out’ type of thing, and it just kept growing. I have kids that ‘beat-box,’ and I teach sight-reading, so all the kids can be ready.” </span></p><p><span>As Vocal Music Director at McAuliffe Middle School in Long Beach, CA, Wallace has spent 12 years shaping young voices. “When I started, there were about 65 students; today, we have about 300 students.” McAuliffe now has five choral groups, of which three are audition-free. Each one of these - Sixth Sense (6th graders), Sound Waves (7th and 8th grade girls) and Soul Men (7th and 8th grade boys) - emphasizes a different aspect of the choral experience. </span></p><p><span>Each year, there are three major school performances that include every choir student. “We do musicals and other events in collaboration with the drama, band, computer and art programs,” Wallace added. For example, “the all-school musical is a large collaboration led by the Visual And Performing Arts (VAPA) team, but it includes many academic disciplines. The choir makes up the chorus of the show, the drama teacher directs the leads and manages the tech crew, computers does promotions and programs, art does backdrops and art displays at the show; history and language arts do projects in class that are displayed at the concert, and band plays pre-show and intermission.” Wallace particularly enjoyed Lion King as was one of her favorite productions. “It’s just a really great show and the art department made some incredible masks for our kids to wear.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/14705779_704956396324194_4163538010567986240_n.jpg" width="960" height="640" /></p><p><span>In addition to the three choral groups mentioned are the advanced, audition-only vocal groups, Studio Singers and Sforzando (a musical term meaning “strong emphasis”). “Students fill out an application and I give them a song to learn.” To be chosen, “they learn two parts and sing in quartets at auditions. This shows me that they can hold their part, sing multiple parts when needed and have the resources to study at home.”</span></p><p><span>Of Sforzando, which is McAuliffe’s strictly a capella group, Wallace said, “It’s really competitive to get into because I only take about 20 kids each year. And because the students only get one elective, we have to meet only twice a week outside of the regular day. Students have to be really dedicated.”</span></p><p><span>In return for their dedication, all students receive valuable experience, performing in up to a dozen community events and competitions each year. And while students routinely perform at the Seal Beach Art Fair, Angels Stadium and more (“I have several students that sing the National Anthem for various events”), the performances that attract the most attention and excitement are District Choral Festival and the Knott’s Berry Farm competition. “The District Choral festival is our biggest district event, boasting over three thousand audience members. Every choir in the district performs.” For the Knott’s Berry Farm competition, both the McAuliffe school and choral groups are on stage and in the park together. “It’s a really fun day of music and bonding,” said Wallace. “All the 7th and 8th grade choirs go to the competition, get to see their friends from other schools and cheer each other on. They also work really hard leading up to competition because they know the stakes are really high.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/21463344_882949228524909_656333397054969908_n.jpg" width="960" height="540" /></p><p><span>Extracurricular performances also provide a valuable experience to the public. “I think visibility is important so the community sees the work of the students. Only 20 percent of our residents have students that attend our schools,” she explained, “so having these outside performances allows our program to have a much broader reach in the community and gives our students a much deeper arts education. And it is crucial if we want community commitment to the arts.”</span></p><p><span>After Wallace and her students, true commitment to McAuliffe’s choral program comes from the McAuliffe Choir Booster Club, a not-for-profit organization that arranges events and recruits parents to help as volunteers. “Our main needs are collecting donations, chaperones and event help,” noted Wallace. </span></p><p><span>The Booster Club also manages the event ticketing. Upon becoming Club President, Adam H. Littig discovered he had an unusual problem. “Tickets are a hot commodity,” he noted, “and people felt quite entitled to them.” To eliminate issues like over-comping, seat switching and old-fashioned “sneaking in,” Littig worked with Ludus on a system whereby audience members use wrist brands - rather than paper tickets - to get in and out of the event. “Ludus solved the problem with wrist bands,” he said.</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/960103_589192011233967_3772846760095309847_n.jpg" width="960" height="720" /></p><p><span>Littig began working with Ludus because of its integration with CHARMS, but the partnership has yielded many benefits, including an easy way for ticket-buyers to donate to the program. “People can round up their bill by adding donations to their total.” If, for example, total ticket price is $53, buyers can round up by adding a $7 donation, making the price an even $60. Said Littig, “This has given the program about $500-$600 in donations each year, without even trying!”</span></p><p><span>Having the Club taking care of logistics helps Wallace concentrate on teaching. “I work hard on creating a culture of inclusiveness and support in each of my classes.” she said. “I encourage the students to be good people first, then good singers.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/The-Boys-1024x768.jpg" width="1024" height="768" /></p><p><span>You could say of Wallace that choral singing has shaped her life. “I’ve met all of my best friends and my husband in choir,” she said. “I still sing in my church choir and run a community chorus for the parents of my students.”</span></p><p><span>And she hasn’t given up on her original vision: “I would love for my a capella group to take the stage with Pentatonix some time.”<br /><br />To witness McAuliffe Choir's magic, check out their Ludus ticketing portal at: <a href="https://mcauliffechoir.ludus.com/">mcauliffechoir.ludus.com</a>!</span></p>
Holland High: Spirit of 86
In 1986, two high school students yearned for Holland High School to have a fully fledged theater program. “Sophomore Kurt Bedell and junior Jenn Torrington had decided they wanted a REAL theater program and, with their mothers’ help AND 100-plus student signatures, petitioned the school board,” Kevin Schneider remembered.</span></p><p><span>Schneider, who happened to have been doing summer stock in nearby Whitehall, thought of the Holland High job as a temporary role. . But thirty-two years later, Schneider is still happy to be Holland High’s theater department director. It’s been a productive and rewarding time for all at Holland High School Theatre, which has since won 22 state titles, received honors from the U.S. Senate, Michigan House of Representatives, governors and mayors as well as being selected to represent theater at both the International Fringe Festival and Michigan Youth Arts Festival.</span></p><p> <img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Screen-Shot-2018-11-28-at-10.33.42-AM.png" width="921" height="613" /></p><p><span>Schneider himself is similarly honored. He was Michigan Teacher of the Year in 1990; Michigan Speech Coaches Hall of Fame in 1996; Theatre Teacher of the Year (MSCI) in 1997 and 2007; National Federation Interscholastic Outstanding Theatre Educator in 2002; National Forensics League National Award of Excellence in 2005 and National Forensics League Diamond Award winner in 2008.</span></p><p><span>That’s a lot to look back on - especially for someone who only had been there a year! But Schneider chose to remain because “I have always been a task master and push students towards their best … and they almost always surpass my expectations. The kids are passionate about theater.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Screen-Shot-2018-11-28-at-10.34.01-AM.png" width="1051" height="700" /></p><p><span>There are usually between 60 and 80 students involved with larger shows, he noted; and 30 or so with smaller. “Students take ownership of excellence, helping new members of the team, working extra hours, working to make each moment count.” </span></p><p><span>Schneider admires the students’ passion because he was hooked on theater at a young age: “I remember seeing a Shakespearean production when I was five years old (I went with my mother) and it was the most exciting thing I had ever seen.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Screen-Shot-2018-11-28-at-10.32.45-AM.png" width="1136" height="639" /></p><p><span>Although Shakespeare remains his enduring passion, Schneider has made Holland known a byword for musical spectaculars. “We do a minimum of four shows a season, but often do five. If we include a summer season, we can do up to seven shows.” The latest production is A Christmas Story, The Musical, with showings running from Nov. 29 through Dec. 9. It will feature 50 students on stage ranging from 4th through 12th grade; 20 students working backstage, and choreographic contributions Alumni Abbie Page, dance educator June Wygant and Broadway guest artist and Grand Rapids native Lydia Ruth Dawson.</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Screen-Shot-2018-11-28-at-10.34.22-AM.png" width="917" height="612" /></p><p><span>Among the past favorites are Strider (adapted from a Tolstoy story), which “pushes the performer, director and audience to see things differently.” Another favorite is A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (“I truly love that humor!”). Moving forward, Schneider said, “I would love to direct A Flea in Her Ear, The Imaginary Invalid and maybe something like The Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Of course, he added, “if you ask me tomorrow, that list will change.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Screen-Shot-2018-11-28-at-10.33.24-AM-300x200.png" alt="" width="300" height="200" /></p><p><span> Holland High School Theatre is fortunate to have its own facility. “The school has been supportive of giving us and the music department main control over the use of the space,” said Schneider. “I would LOVE fly space and more room in the wings.” Also: ” We have an amazing scene shop, but the stage itself lacks. Oh, and a lighting system made after 1990...ours is pretty old and has a tendency to do what it wants when it wants to,” he added. </span></p><p><span>Holland High continues to have an incredible booster group that includes group leaders. And as students grow in the program, said Schneider, “they pass on a tradition of hard work and high expectations. They love each other and the shows. That goes a long way to keep the tradition going.”</span></p><p><img src="http://spotlight.ludus.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Screen-Shot-2018-11-28-at-10.33.06-AM.png" width="1035" height="689" /></p><p><span>Looking back on the program that he helped create in 1986, Bedell said, “Kevin Schneider has built an amazing program with commitment and dedication to creating a place for students to grow, work hard and succeed. I am proud and gratified by how Holland High School's humble theater program beginnings have grown into such a successful powerhouse and have elevated theater and the arts across the state.”</span></p><p>Interested in seeing Holland Theatre in action? Join them at their newest production of A Christmas Story, and check out their portal at <a href="https://hollandtheatre.ludus.com/">hollandtheatre.ludus.com</a>.</p>

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