Music in Van Wert
By: Paul Hoverman
For me, this entire season of music and performing arts has been leading up to our big gala celebration on April 1 with The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and Bernadette Peters at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.
This past Saturday night, we presented Broadway & Beyond and it was a magnificent program featuring J. Mark McVey and Heartland Sings. I could not have been more pleased with the final product we were entertained with Saturday night.
This Sunday afternoon, we are very fortunate to witness and hear three outstanding string players from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra String Trio, comprised of the principal violinist, violist, and cellist from that respected orchestra will be giving a recital concert at the First Presbyterian Church in Van Wert. It starts at 3 p.m. and is free and open to the public as part of The Van Wert County Foundation Sanctuary Music Series.
A friend of mine I play with in the Lima Symphony who is now working on his Doctorate of Music degree at the University of Toronto, asked if I could find a performance venue for this talented trio. We don’t get the opportunity very often to hear world-class string players in our neck of the woods. It has been since the early 1970s when string instruments were even taught in our schools around here.
It is interesting however, that there is still an interest by many in our area to learn how to play a string instrument. I often get asked if I know a string teacher who they could learn from. Well, if you ever wanted to be inspired by some of the best, this Sunday is your chance. Cellist Wei Yu, violinist Yooshin Song (what an appropriate last name!), and violist Eric Nowlin comprise this talented trio. Their credentials are world-class.
I invite you to enjoy an afternoon of Classical string music at First Presbyterian Church this Sunday at 3 p.m. We thank the Presbyterian Church for playing host to this special engagement.
Broadway & Beyond got you in the mood for Broadway music and the Detroit Trio will get you in the mood for The Boston Pops. Someone asked me last Saturday night if the Gala concert could top this. My thought was, if you liked five string instruments playing backup to a Broadway singer, just imagine what a whole orchestra will sound like backing up Bernadette Peters. In The Boston Pops Orchestra, you will hear full string sections filled with players like the three who will play this Sunday at First Presby. There will be nothing like it!
The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra rarely tours the Midwest. We are so fortunate to have them in the area, let alone to have them right here in our city of Van Wert, Ohio. We have a few tickets remaining for our Gala concert as well as our After-glow at the Wassenberg Art Center following the concert. I sincerely hope you can join us as we celebrate “Ten Years of Wow” at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.
Until then, we have provided and will continue to provide smaller snippets of what you will be in store for on April 1.
London, Kansas City, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois, Indianapolis, Indiana: these are some of the other places you might see and hear the concerts we have in Van Wert. Save yourself some travel and money and catch them here in your own backyard!
This Saturday brings one of the finest and most talented singers to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. In a show called “Broadway & Beyond,” J. Mark McVey will be featured with Heartland Sings out of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
J. Mark McVey is a singer who rose to international fame as Jean Valjean in the Broadway spectacular Les Miserables. As the leading actor in Les Miserables, he won the Helen Hayes Award for “Outstanding Actor” while performing in D.C. He then moved on to be the first American singer to perform the role in London’s West End (England’s version of New York City’s Broadway.) Singing over 3,200 times as Jean Valjean, he also won the Ovation Award on the 25th anniversary tour of the smash Broadway hit at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
The list goes on and on with musical accomplishments for this singer. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, with The Boston Pops, recorded with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and on and on. But perhaps the biggest accomplishment in his life is that he is a Christian gentleman who speaks softly but sings with a big stick (if I may borrow from President Theodore Roosevelt.) I know this first hand.
J. Mark was appearing with Ernie Haase’s Signature Sound when I first met him. We had booked their show, “Inspiration of Broadway”, three years ago. J. Mark was the featured add-on singer to the show, and as nice as Ernie Haase and his fellow singers were, it was J. Mark who I really connected with.
His father drove up to our Niswonger show from his home in West Virginia. I met him in the lobby before the show and we began conversing. I could tell he was a proud father. He and a friend had just arrived in Van Wert that day and were looking forward to hearing his son sing with Signature Sound. I knew they had not had the chance to get anything to eat that day, so I invited him, his friend and J. Mark to eat with my wife and I after the show.
Sitting in Bob Evans Restaurant in Van Wert, J. Mark’s father told me how he sings in a church choir. He was interested that I directed a church choir. He then went further to state that I should ask J. Mark to sing at my church the next morning. I said, “Do you think he actually would?” He said, “You just tell him I said he should!” hen J. Mark arrived at the restaurant, I gave him his father’s order and he said, “I would be honored to sing at your church.” Wow!
The next morning, he showed up at our church as I was warming up my choir downstairs and he volunteered to sing tenor in my choir. Well, no one ever turns down someone wanting to sing tenor, especially someone with J. Mark’s credentials! It was a difficult piece we were singing that morning and I was a little shy on tenors. He pitch hit and fit right in. He’s so good that he didn’t actually stick out, but added much power and depth to our sound.
He also gave our soundman a thumb drive with an orchestral accompaniment to a piece that fit just perfectly with our pastor’s sermon that morning. He also gave his testimony before singing. Needless to say, I was impressed and he made a huge impression on me and our entire church family.
This is the man we are bringing back to the Niswonger this Saturday night. I put him in contact with Robert Nance, the director of Heartland Sings out of Fort Wayne. This is a talented group of professional full-time singers and a chorus. Robert, J. Mark and I talked early on about what type of show we wanted to create and this Saturday, you will see the results of that conversation, the planning and the rehearsing in what we call Broadway & Beyond.
It will be filled with some of the most beloved Broadway songs that J. Mark has had the pleasure of singing all over the world as well as other treasured American songs. That’s the “Beyond” part of the show. It will all be backed up by a small orchestra and chorus. The show Saturday night will be the world premiere performance. We are all hopeful it will be so well received that they can take it on tour later on.
One of the greatest pleasures of working a job like this is the wonderful people you meet in the world of music. J. Mark is one of the nicest and most talented and yet giving people I have met in the industry. What a joy to bring him back to Van Wert and let him share his talents with you and Heartland Sings.
Tickets are just $20 to $35 and can be purchased at the Niswonger Box Office in advance or the night of the show. This is part of the Community Concert Series sponsored by Okuley/ Unverferth Dentistry with support by Central Insurance, E&R Trailer, Eaton Corporation, State Farm’s Tisha Fast Agency, Taylor Auto Sales, and the Van Wert County Hospital.
Next year’s Community Concert Series is now complete and we will be announcing the exciting line-up later this spring. We are proud to offer world-class concerts which help you discover new artists who you may or may not know. This is the education part of our mission at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. I invite you to come this Saturday and discover the world-premiere of Broadway & Beyond!
As I watched Rain — A Tribute to The Beatles Monday night at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, the enjoyment I was experiencing watching a packed house on a Monday night brought this thought to me: Music brings people together and reaches them like perhaps nothing else.
I saw people tapping their toes, clapping their hands, standing and whistling for more. Now, tapping one’s toes to music is hardly an over the top reaction, but in the case of one person I have seen on many occasions, this was the first time I have witnessed such a reaction, subtle as it may be.
Rain was an outstanding show and worthy of all the accolades we spoke of leading up to the show. The Beatles music is universal and quite varied. From the early Beatles music to their later years and finally their last recording, Abbey Road, their music reached nearly everyone … and it still does today. It’s really amazing that music written and recorded 50 years ago speaks to so many across generations.
I don’t know if I have ever witnessed an audience enjoy a concert more at the Niswonger in our 10 years. The production was amazing and wasn’t it fun to see some of those old commercials many of us grew up with in the ‘60s?
The memories continue to be made at the Niswonger as we zoom through a season of outstanding performances leading right up to our Ten Year Gala Celebration with Bernadette Peters and The Boston Pops on April 1. Every day we are selling tickets to the concert and After Glow reception at Wassenberg Art Center. Get yours today. Some good seats still remain for this once-in-a-decade concert. April 1 is just 3½ weeks away! Don’t miss out on this one. The Niswonger will be all decked out like never before and the finale of the concert will be amazing fun!
Before the gala, we have two other outstanding concerts for you to enjoy in the month of March. This Saturday, Artrageous takes the stage in a one-of-a-kind concert event. It may be the most fun you will have in some time. I see this concert being very interactive and fun for kids and adults. I understand we will create waves throughout the audience and create our own light show. Sound like fun? I’ll see you there! Tickets for Artrageous begin at just $15.
And if you care to try your hand at painting, stop by Wassenberg Art Center this Saturday afternoon before the concert. They will have tables set up and ready for you to try creating your very own painting. They also have a nice art display for you to enjoy. We appreciate their partnership in this event, as well as our Afterglow reception following our gala concert.
We follow Artrageous with our Broadway & Beyond concert, featuring J. Mark McVey and Heartland Sings from Fort Wayne. This is a Community Concert show that will feature all the Broadway and American favorite classics you love. A chorus will back up soloists and J. Mark McVey, an amazing singer who is best known as Jean Valjean from the Broadway sensation Les Miserables. The concert will be worth it just to hear Mark sing, but you will also experience great instrumentalists accompanying these wonderful arrangements created just for our show. Broadway & Beyond is Saturday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. — the same start time as Artrageous this Saturday.
Not to push you too far out, but we are looking for food vendors for Fountain Park summer music concerts. Contact The Van Wert County Foundation to include your non-profit organization in the lottery to choose food servers. More on Fountain Park to come once Mother Nature decides it’s time to get warm and stay warm!
Finally, congratulations to the Lincolnview H.S. Choir, Van Wert Women’s Chorus and Freshmen Chorus, and the VWHS Band on receiving superior ratings at district contest this past weekend. The Crestview and Lincolnview bands should also be commended on fine performances. Those receiving superior ratings now qualify for state competition this spring.
We are now officially one month away from our BIG “Ten Years of Wow!” Gala Celebration at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. A lot of work has gone into this celebration in the planning stages and we are now getting to the details. I want to just paint a picture for you of what you can expect on April 1.
The day will start for 200 guests at Willow Bend Country Club at 5 p.m. for a Happy Hour leading up to the dinner. Sometime before we are served dinner, a few honored guest speakers will share thoughts and perspectives of how we got started, how we’ve grown and how we look forward to the exciting future of the Niswonger. We also have a very special publication we have prepared just for our guests with the history of the Niswonger with all kinds of fun facts. The attire for the occasion is optional black tie. Formal attire will be the dress for some, while others may want to be a little less formal. Either is fine.
Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and will be the kind of meal befitting the occasion. I told the country club I wanted the meal to be one of the finest they have served! We still have room for about ten more guests at the tables. If you want to be a part of this pre-concert event, call the box office immediately. We would love to have you share in our celebration.
After a delicious dinner at Willow Bend, we will make our way to the Niswonger for the 8 p.m. Gala Concert with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and Bernadette Peters. Doors to the lobby will open at 6:30 p.m., giving attendees plenty of time to take in the splendor of the decorated Van Wert Federal Grand Lobby. Pictures will be taken in the upstairs lobby for those concert attendees who would like a memento of the evening.
The Visual Arts Committee of the Niswonger has been busy designing and planning a festive look for the Lobbies. I am sure it will be beautiful inside and out and you will want to take it all in. There will be much to see, plus you will want to visit with friends who are travelling from all over the country to be with us that night! You will also enjoy beautiful music in the lobby as you await the opening of the doors to the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall.
After a brief curtain talk from a special guest or two, Maestro Keith Lockhart will give the downbeat to The Boston Pops playing the overture from “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” This will be followed by the very descriptive and beloved Gershwin piece “An American in Paris.” We will then welcome pianist, Michael Chertock to the stage for the all-time favorite “Rhapsody in Blue.” Following a 20-minute intermission, Broadway, film, TV star, actress and singer Bernadette Peters will join the Boston Pops for a memorable second half. Be ready for some special surprises during Bernadette’s portion. Then at the conclusion of the show, be ready for a finale like none you’ve ever seen before.
Once the concert has concluded, we take the celebration to the Wassenberg Art Center for our Afterglow Party. There will be lots of fun surprises in store as well as delicious hors devours and music provided by the Paul Keller Trio out of Detroit. We will have the chance to casually mingle and visit with friends, make new friends, and enjoy food, drinks and other activities throughout the night. Stay as long as you can, we have until 1 a.m. if you can make it! The Afterglow is also on sale through the box office and on-line.
We still have some good seats available for the Gala Concert and Afterglow. Get them now and be a part of our “Ten Years of Wow!” celebration. You will never forget it.
Don’t forget, it will “Rain” on Monday, March 6, at the Niswonger PAC. Broadway’s “RAIN — a Tribute to The Beatles” will be performing at 7:30 p.m. I see 12 available seats for this performance as I look today. I’m not sure if it will continue to rain by Saturday, March 11, but it will be an Artrageous night at the Niswonger. Don’t miss Artrageous, the live concert and portrait painting extravaganza. Tickets are still available for this unique concert experience.
Well, that about wraps up this week with Music in Van Wert. Good luck to those local school bands and choirs competing at District Contest this weekend at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and Van Wert High School!
This is a good week to talk about two events related to Music in Van Wert. It’s a good week because “Ohio Has Talent!” is moving its show onto the Central Insurance Stage of the Niswonger this Saturday night. It starts at 7 p.m. and capacity is filling quickly! I would get your tickets quickly to make sure you don’t get closed out if you plan on attending.
We at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center are proud to have teamed with Community Health Professionals for the past several years to help showcase some of the best talent Ohio has to offer. It is a unique show where the audience actually gets to vote on the winner. So when you buy a ticket you become part of the show, see some very talented up and coming performers, and you support a very good cause! Anyone who has used or had family members use the services of Community Health Professionals know how blessed we are to have them in our community.
Some of the past winners and finalists have gone on to become great performers and musicians. Case in point: I just received a phone call and email from the father of the 2013 OHT winner. His name is Alex Wunder. He is from the Dayton area and is now studying classical vocal music at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Since performing on the Niswonger stage in 2013, he has recorded, sung “The Star Spangled Banner” at a Cincinnati Bengals football game, Dayton Dragons baseball game, Cleveland Indians baseball game, numerous NCAA events and placed at national singing competitions. We would love to get him back to our stage someday. He truly has an outstanding voice!
This is the type of talent you might see when attending “Ohio Has Talent!”. And like I said, it’s for a very good cause.
On Sunday, February 26, The Van Wert County Foundation will sponsor Van Wert County High School students from Crestview, Lincolnview, and Van Wert. It is held at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert and is an excellent opportunity to hear young student musicians who have prepared musical selections for the OMEA Solo & Ensemble contest, which was just held at St. Marys Memorial High School. This music program begins at 3 p.m. and admission is free.
There is great talent in our area and region and here are two opportunities to experience it. Tickets for “Ohio Has Talent!” may be purchased at the Niswonger Box Office. Don’t delay! And while you’re at it, don’t forget about the great professional shows we still have coming to the Niswonger this season. And there are still some available seats to purchase for our Ten Year Gala celebration with Bernadette Peters and the Boston Pops.
Who knows, maybe someday we will be featuring a young VW County artist or OHT winner on our stage with the Boston Pops? Well, if not THE Boston Pops, then someone of their dreams. See you at the show!
I have spent much of today writing a story about the history of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. It will be published in a brochure we will present during our Ten Year Gala Celebration Dinner and Program on April 1 at Willow Bend Country Club. We have five seats remaining for this memorable event, which will precede our gala concert with Bernadette Peters and The Boston Pops Orchestra. About 300 seats remain for this momentous concert; I so hope you can join us!
As I began writing the story about the history of the Niswonger, I had a difficult time convincing myself it has actually been 10 years. I looked into my files and it seemed I had just started writing the tabs for each folder. I was taken back to the original announcement banquet held in the old VWHS gym, when Scott Niswonger announced he was donating $2 million to kick off the campaign. This was May 3, 2003. Little did any of us realize what we were in store for?
So many people, organizations, businesses, and foundations along the way deserve the credit for what we now have. We call it the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio because we hoped to impact the entire northwest region of Ohio. Little did any of us realize we would someday be bringing people from literally all over the United States to see entertainment in our little city of Van Wert, Ohio.
This little idea which began in the minds of a few people nearly 14 years ago has grown into one of the gems of the Midwest, bringing performers from all over the world. I could share more, but I will save the entire story for the gala attendees on April 1.
What I will be so proud of is the number of people attending our gala concert who have helped shape our performing arts center. I have agents who have played valuable team roles in getting entertainment to our facility. We will have alumni and others who were so instrumental in dreaming, planning, and raising the funds for the project.
I realize our gala concert is a high priced ticket for some, but when you celebrate Ten Years of Wow! once, you want to do it in a big way. I never would have dreamed we could put a concert like this together. Thanks to (once again) Scott Niswonger, The Van Wert County Foundation, Central Insurance Company, and support from The Kenn-Feld Group, we have accomplished this huge event.
Our gala will be a dress-up event. We are encouraging tuxes, formal gowns, dresses, and suits as the accepted attire. It is not often we get all dressed up and experience a big city night out right here in Van Wert. We will do it once every 10 years. April 1 is the occasion.
Before we arrive at our gala on April 1, we look forward to some exciting shows happening right now. This Sunday afternoon and evening, we move another big show into our house — Broadway’s 42nd Street. It is a huge four-truck show with lots of glamour, glitter, dancing and music you will recognize and love. We have two shows: one at 2 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m. With the two shows, there are still some tickets remaining. Call (419.238.6722), go online or drop by the box office to get your tickets. You can even get tickets at the door one hour before the show.
We’re just getting heated up as we move through the winter and look forward to spring. Lots of other wonderful shows and concerts are coming as we move closer to our April 1 gala celebration!
As I look over the remainder of our Niswonger season, there are some concerts and shows that really stand out to the common person. Shows such as The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill, Broadway’s 42nd Street and Rain — a Tribute to the Beatles, David Phelps, and REO Speedwagon are widely recognizable and in great demand.
What I look at are those shows that are not as readily recognizable, but we felt were worthy of bringing to our audience. The first one is Artrageous on Saturday, March 11. The more I watch the promo videos of this show, the more excited I am to see it. It is going to be very interactive and entertaining. The performers really like to interact with the audience both in the lobby and during the show. This is the one where artists create paintings on stage when the live music is being performed on the same stage.
Another concert coming in March is Broadway & Beyond. This is a concert I have helped create and features J. Mark McVey and Heartland Sings, out of Fort Wayne. J. Mark is an outstanding singer from Broadway, best known as Jean Val jean from Les Miserables. His voice is tremendous, but equally tremendous is that he is a wonderful person! That speaks volumes in my mind. He will be teaming with Heartland Sings, which is a vocal ensemble of four professional lead singers and a chorus of approximately 40 singers. We have added to this an ensemble of strings, winds, piano and drums to create a concert of American songs that you will know and love. This concert is on Saturday, March 18 at 7:30 pm and is part of our Community Concert Series with single tickets now on sale. Our concert at the Niswonger will be a world premiere in hopes of taking it on tour after our performance.
The last sleeper show is another one I helped construct using two very entertaining performers: Mutts Gone Nuts and Robert Post Comedy Theater. It’s an interesting story as to how this show came together. A year ago as I was attending a booking conference in New York, I was talking to an agent I have known for some time and we were talking about Mutts Gone Nuts. At the same time, a favorite performer of mine happened to walk by. It was Robert Post. We have had him at the Marsh Auditorium and people thoroughly enjoyed him. He cracks people up with his physical comedy.
Robert Post is a crazy and wacky guy who doesn’t think like most of us. I guess that’s what makes him so funny. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I got the two together and we started talking about putting both of them on the same show. It was the marriage of two performers: funny, entertaining and delightful dogs doing amazing tricks and stunts, and a wacky, crazy physical comedian who I swear sometimes thinks more like a dog than a human. If one is good, two is outstanding! I wanted this show to be one that would be entertaining for kids and adults alike. I know we have accomplished this with Mutts Gone Nuts and Robert Post together. You won’t see them together probably anywhere else than in Van Wert. This show is a Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm on April 30, making it perfect for kids and elderly. We all need to laugh regardless of our age … and you will … guaranteed!
This is also on our Community Concert Series with single tickets now on sale starting at just $10, $15 and $20. I wanted these shows to be affordable for the entire family. That’s the nice thing about some of the lesser known shows, you can take a chance on them and discover the great entertainment for a much lower cost. We aim to meet the needs and desires of all.
So, I encourage you to not judge a book by its cover. These three shows might look like sleepers on the schedule of big show stoppers, but if you give them a chance, I think you’ll be thanking me.
Artrageous is a term we in Van Wert have heard for the past decade or so. Some time ago, Main Street Van Wert teamed with Wassenberg Art Center to create a summer event featuring artists and crafters who displayed their work outside on Main Street under canopies. This event eventually merged with the successful Peony Festival weekend held the first weekend of June. This festival event continues today and has teamed up with The Van Wert County Foundation’s first summer concert in Fountain Park.
So when I saw the name Artrageous come across my computer, it caught my attention. This time, however, it was actually a concert with that name. As I watched the promotion video of the performance, I thought it was an amazing show which combined visual and performing arts. I fell in love with the idea of bringing visual arts to life through music. We booked it for the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and it will be coming to Van Wert on Saturday, March 11.
To help you understand what this concert event will be, imagine an artist creating a masterpiece before your eyes in mere moments. With a palette that also mixes captivating vocals and intricate choreography. Artrageous takes audiences on a one-of-a-kind visual journey packed with wild inspiration, creativity, and fun. The Artrageous artists, musicians, singers, and dancers pay tribute to a variety of art forms, pop icons, and musical genres throughout the evening. The result is a uniquely entertaining show culminating in a gallery of fabulous finished paintings. This music-based troupe has performed for the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Steve Forbes, and General Colin Powell at more than 2,000 events all over the world, from Paris to Thailand.
If you are in attendance, you will see accomplished artists creating paintings on large canvases placed on the stage behind accomplished performers playing and singing music of that artist who is being painted. It could be anyone from John Lennon to Elvis and Ray Charles to Frank Sinatra, just to name a few. By the time the performers are done singing the song, we will have a finished painting right before our very eyes. You may even have the chance to bid on the paintings after the concert as you can take an up close look at the finished product.
I think it will be an exciting event that marries two forms of art: performing and visual. If you really want to get an idea of how this can happen, take a look at the promo video posted on our Niswonger web site: NPACVW.ORG. Go to “tickets and events” and then click on “video” under the picture for Artrageous. The video will show you how it is truly art and music gone wild. The show is interactive, as the audience is given their own little finger lights to add to the light show on stage with the dancers, musicians, and artists. This could be the most amazing and fun show of the season at the Niswonger!
Quotes about this show have been, “Go See the Show!” CBS. “You’re the Best!” Harrison Ford. “Absolutely Awesome!” ESPN and “World Class Entertainment” Sir Richard Branson.
Don’t miss this interactive and entertaining show! Tickets are on sale in the box office and on-line right now. And you can get in on the fun starting at just $15. Check out the video and, if you do, I will see you at the show on Saturday, March 11, starting at 7:30 p.m. The Niswonger is pleased to be teaming with Wassenberg Art Center to bring art alive for everyone to enjoy.
I was recently on Broadway in New York, and although I wasn’t dancing, I sure saw some exciting dancing on stage at the New Amsterdam Theater. This theater is actually on 42nd Street in Manhattan in the middle of the Broadway section of Midtown. We saw the show, Aladdin, and it was wonderful!
Of course, most are familiar with the story of Aladdin. This Broadway troupe really brought it to life with a tremendous amount of energy, mystical theatrics, and a scene that made me think of the upcoming Broadway show we have coming to Van Wert on February 12. We really enjoyed the entire show, but the one scene that brought the house down was a tap dance scene right before intermission. It was an amazing array of talented dancers in beautiful costumes tap dancing in perfect harmony to exciting music.
Now, maybe it was because we were actually on 42nd Street, or maybe it was because of the dancing, but I thought about how amazing some of the scenes will be on stage at the Niswonger. From what I have seen and been told, our production of 42nd Street will have even more dancers than we were witnessing with Aladdin. Wow! It should be spectacular! And you will recognize the music from 42nd Street, with well-known tunes such as “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle off to Buffalo,” and, of course, “42nd Street,” as well as many others.
I have not seen this musical, but am familiar with so much of the music. It was actually playing a revival on Broadway in 2001 when our First UM Choir visited New York City. Many of our choir members went to a performance of 42nd Street and loved it. Because of three young children at the time, we went to Beauty and the Beast. Now, I am looking forward to 42nd Street. I would never have believed at the time that this same show would someday be playing in Van Wert, Ohio!
We have two performances on Sunday, February 12, one at 2 p.m. and the other at 7:30 that evening. It looks like it’s a good thing we have two shows, as we are already at 1,500 tickets sold and we could only fit 1,200 in one show. Get your tickets now for this exciting show, featuring dance and music like you’ve probably never before seen.
The Time Jumpers, featuring Vince Gill and others, on February 4 is sold out. We are holding some performer holds that may come available closer to the concert, so you might check with the box office as we draw closer. For those of you with younger children or grandchildren, don’t forget about “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on February 25. We have two shows for this one, too; one at 11 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m. This is a wonderful PBS kids show coming to life on our stage.
We have been rather quiet during January, as far as shows go, but my staff has been working hard at making sure the second half of our season is a spectacular one. We’ll top it all off with a big crescendo leading up to our Ten Year Gala with Bernadette Peters and The Boston Pops Orchestra on April 1. Tickets are now on sale for this big celebration. Don’t delay, as seats are filling quickly with people from all over the country! This gala concert we have put together was the talk among agents all over New York City while I was attending the APAP Conference last week. We are sandwiched between Chicago and Indianapolis with our Saturday night gala. I hope you can join us!
As we approach the end to another year, it’s time to look over the progress of the performing arts business. We sometimes don’t like to think of presenting concerts as a business, but it certainly is one that requires a lot of planning, accounting, and strategy. That is part of what takes up a good deal of my time as executive director and president of the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation.
We have seen tremendous growth over our 10 years of operation at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. When I think of our rather meager beginnings, it amazes me where we currently are. We had a partial year of operation in 2007 with an operating budget of around $150,000. I had a staff of two full-time and one part-time employees. We were reimbursing the owners of the building — Van Wert City Schools — $100 a month in utility use. This has now increased from $1,200 a year to nearly $40,000 a year for utilities, repairs, maintenance, supplies, inspection fees, and about anything else that happens in the Performing Arts Center portion of the building.
I only list this information to inform you, the public, where your ticket dollars, advertising dollars, sponsorship dollars, and other contributions go. As with any other business, there are costs involved in the operation. We are a non-profit organization, which means we aren’t out to make profits for our own personal gain, but we do need to meet our needs. And as we grow, so do our needs.
Our staff has now grown to five full- or nearly full-time, employees. That is still a meager staff to handle all the business we now find ourselves in. We do employ and use auxiliary staff such as bookkeepers, custodians, and lighting and technical people, as needed. Our parent organization, The Van Wert County Foundation, has been a valuable supporter in many ways. We are also so fortunate to have many kind hearted volunteers who enjoy serving and help us control our costs. I’ve said many times we just can’t thank them enough.
In all this, I have yet to even mention the cost of concert fees and other associated costs. Our concert fees have increased from $100,000 to over $700,000 per year (season). We have responded to public demands and desires, the need to respond to competition, and our own desire to meet our mission statement of providing a premier performing arts center for the region to enjoy. The cost of concerts many people desire to see increases our presenting fees seemingly each year. As an example, the last Broadway show we presented cost over $15,000 just in labor.
Managing the business of performing arts requires vision, fiscal responsibility, and sometimes restraint. We are so fortunate to have a crème de la crème gala concert to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It was a dream to have someone like Bernadette Peters for our gala, but then to team her with The Boston Pops, directed by Keith Lockhart, is simply amazing. Only because of the support of the three big sponsors: Central Insurance, Scott Niswonger, and The Van Wert County Foundation, along with support from the Kenn-Feld Group, are we able to bring such an attraction to Van Wert.
Tickets will go on sale beginning January 4 for the public to join us in this huge gala celebration. I hope many of you can join us for this once in a lifetime (well, at least once in 10 years’) experience. Get ready for January 4 and be among the first to claim your seats for this gala concert celebration. Sales begin at noon that day. We promise to make it a night we will all remember!
As we enter this new year, our goal is to provide enriching opportunities through the performing arts that will bring happiness to you and your friends throughout the year. Look for us to continue to grow, with restraint and fiscal responsibility, in a business that is exciting for the whole region. Happy New Year to all of you and may you be blessed with music throughout the year!