Welcome to Campus, New Students!

By: Tony Rastigue

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After a busy summer full of planning and anticipation, Miller Auditorium is happy to welcome Western Michigan University students to the 2019 fall semester! With Miller standing proudly on the WMU campus, the atmosphere of college festivities is welcomed through our front doors. We are happy to host students not only for our upcoming Broadway and Spotlight series events and for the recent WMU Fall Welcome semester kick off events, but also for a wide range of  events including WMU School of Music performances, WMU Campus Activities Board movies and events, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra concerts and so much more.  Every year, there are plenty of opportunities for Broncos to learn and be entertained!

The best part is that students get 50% off their Miller season event tickets with their student ID and benefits eligible faculty and staff receive 15% off. We encourage all new students to take advantage of this discount and experience great entertainment thanks to this generous discount funded by the Office of the President. You can redeem your discount in person at the Miller Ticket Office or by phone at (269) 387-2300. Bringing the Kalamazoo and University community together to appreciate the performing arts has made WMU stand out for decades. It adds a great sense of culture and establishes a creative element that can be enjoyed by all.

The start of the fall semester has always been a an exciting time on campus and at Miller as we look forward to the season ahead. Our 2019-20 Miller season kicks off on Oct. 1, 2019 and we are more than ready to showcase our mission to enlighten, entertain and educate. Want to check out our season events for the 2019-20 season? Visit: https://www.millerauditorium.com/season-events

The Jimmy Awards

By: Tony Rastigue

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2018 JIMMY AWARDS NOMINEES; PHOTO BY: HENRY MCGEE

The 11th annual Jimmy Awards, formally known as the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, take place in New York City on June 24, 2019 and recognize the excellence of high school musical theatre performers from across the country. Qualified students in this national program compete for awards, scholarships and opportunities to be showcased for Broadway casting. The awards are named after legendary Broadway theatre owner and producer, James M. Nederlander, whose production company, The Nederlander Producing Company, has presented countless Broadway shows in many major cities.

Being a dedicated performer along with being a full-time student is a challenge I would certainly find very complex. The respect I have for those that are dedicated enough to make both lifestyles possible is immeasurable. On the topic of high school commitments and performances, students are truly put to the test that can play a big role in launching their Broadway career. Many Jimmy Award-winning students have found success as a result of this unique competition. Past Jimmy Award winners have appeared–and continue to appear–in a long list of Broadway and touring musicals including The Book of Mormon, Mean Girls, Newsies, Wicked, Les Misérables, The Color Purple, Miss Saigon, Hadestown and more!

The Jimmy Awards recognize talent from 1700 high school performing arts programs which represent more than 100,000 students. For the annual final competition in late June, the best actress and actor winners of local competitions are invited to compete. This is typically 80 students and the 2019 participants arrived in New York City last week for a full schedule of rehearsals, master classes, special events and time with Broadway mentors–all of which leads up to tonight’s big event where a panel of industry experts will chose overall Best Actor and Best Actress winners. As the nominees prepare for the culmination of years of hard work tonight, I wish them the best of luck and hope that they continue to find success on the stage.

For more information about the 2019 Jimmy Awards (featuring host Ben Platt) and to view live broadcasts on June 24, 2019 at 7:30 p.m., visit https://www.jimmyawards.com/live/

Kalamazoo Social Media Week 2019

By: Bethany Gauthier and Tony Rastigue

Miller Auditorium was honored to take part in last week’s Kalamazoo Social Media Week events. Since 2009, Kalamazoo Social Media Week has helped to develop, sustain and elevate social media talent throughout our community. This annual event brings together industry thought leaders, local experts and aspiring social media professionals for special events that are educational and inspiring.

For over a decade on Facebook and Twitter (and more recently on Instagram), the use of social media has allowed Miller Auditorium to truly connect with our audience and share with them the thrill of the performing arts. By taking part in Kalamazoo Social Media Week activities, we were able to connect with industry leaders and enjoy sessions that included Quinn Tempest’s “Instagram with Intention” and “Mining The Hive Mind: How To Discover New Stories On Social Media” as presented by Lauren Young, Digital Producer for Public Radio’s Science Friday. There were also a great variety of presentations from local social media professionals who provided valuable ideas and information on the 2019 digital landscape.

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Kalamazoo Social Media Week 2019 award winners

In addition to learning and networking, Miller also enjoyed recognition in the Kalamazoo Social Media Week Awards! Miller Auditorium won Best Use of Content from a Nonprofit with Haworth College of Business’s Dr. Scott Cowley and his Advanced Digital Marketing Strategies students. As part of this project, Miller worked with Dr. Cowley’s class to create Instagram stories and posts targeted at Western Michigan University students that highlighted WMU’s 50% student ticket discount. Thank you to Kalamazoo Social Media Week and Amplify Marketing for this award. 

To learn more about Kalamazoo Social Media Week, visit their site.

2019 Tony Award Nominations

By: Tony Rastigue

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James Corden will host the 73rd annual Tony Awards, which will be broadcast from New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 9, 2019 at 8 p.m. on CBS. The performing arts enthusiasts of Miller Auditorium were excited for the award nominations to finally be announced. Our recent Broadway series announcement paired with awards season is always a positive way to celebrate that summer is just around the corner.

Hadestown and Ain’t Too Proud-The Life of the Temptations led the pack with 14 and 12 nominations respectively. In the best plays categories, The Ferryman and To Kill a Mockingbird each acquired nine nominations. Many familiar faces from films were also nominated including Annette Bening, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels and Adam Driver. Beloved comedienne Elaine May received major recognition, especially since it was her first time appearing on Broadway in 50 years. Much campaigning is anticipated for the acting categories since the performances were so strong this season and remain competitive.

A big surprise was the fact that the current Broadway season was dominated by many new plays that became profitable instead of being upstaged by big brand blockbuster musicals. The season also continued to see many musical comedies adapted from popular films like Tootsie and Beetlejuice. With over 831 Tony voters ranging from actors to producers to designers, June 7 will be their deadline to cast ballots. Many clear signs indicate that Tony voters are in a more expansive mind-set this year.

Over at Miller, predictions have been circulating and many anticipate big wins for Hadestown, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Ferryman on June 9. Day-to-day operations around the auditorium remain productive and the industry itself is always full of on-going excitement. Shows are certainly eventful times to look forward to, however it is awards season that ultimately rewards productions for the endless amounts of hard work that is put into each show.

Check out Playbill’s article that list all the nominees in each category here:
http://www.playbill.com/article/2019-tony-award-nominations-hadestown-and-aint-too-proud-lead-the-pack

Miller Movies with the Campus Activities Board

By: Tony Rastigue

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Western Michigan University’s Campus Activities Board (CAB) stays busy all throughout the year as they provide entertainment for the students of WMU. The board’s committee members program comedians, movies and engaging hands-on activities. “Miller Movies,” in particular, bring students together for only $1 to enjoy a popular movie on the big screen at Miller Auditorium. A big theatrical setting such as Miller provides the ultimate movie-going experience that certainly tops streaming a movie on your phone or laptop.

While movie theater attendance has seen a decline with the rise of streaming services, it is worth the experience of actually setting aside time to go out and see a movie. With the immersive atmosphere that Miller offers, movies can be enjoyed on an entirely different level. CAB is able to enhance the movie-watching wonders as they also offer popcorn while kindly greeting students at the door. If you missed a popular movie while it was in theaters, CAB’s Miller Movies grant the opportunity for you to either revisit a favorite movie on the big screen or experience it for the first time with your fellow students.

CAB members work hard year round to excite students with events to add to their experience here on campus. They recognize the need for entertainment among Bronco students and aspire to deliver on all of their needs through careful planning and excellent coordinating. They never seem to slow down and, after decades of being one of WMU’s most popular student organizations, we’re sure they will seek to keep students engaged and amused with more enjoyable events for years to come!

Visit WMU CAB’s main website: https://www.wmucab.com/

Learn more about Miller Movies: https://www.wmucab.com/miller-movies

 

50 Years of Abbey Road’s Brilliance Celebrated On Stage

By: Tony Rastigue

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The Beatles, one of the world’s most influential groups of musical talent, have been entertaining fans with one of their most celebrated albums, Abbey Road, for over 50 years. While the album was a major hit in 1969, many years later, The Beatles’ music still resonates with artists worldwide.

My parents never introduced me to The Beatles since they grew up loving songs from the late 70’s and 80’s, but still recognized The Beatles as pioneers of their time when it came to exciting the masses. When Abbey Road was first released on iTunes in 2010, I checked out the album since I was not only familiar with the iconic cover featuring the four crossing the street, but also a few select songs.

Upon listening to the celebrated work of art, I was not only entertained, but also intrigued at all that The Beatles have done to influence generations of music. From catchy choruses to immersive instrumentals, the famous foursome have truly become legends of their craft. I was immediately hooked and proceeded to listen to the rest of their albums and appreciate their brilliance. As a fan of multiple genres of music, it is clear that the impact The Beatles have had is massive. My excitement continues with the upcoming show at Miller Auditorium, RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles: The Best of Abbey Road.

This show brings together the celebrated hits that everyone knows and loves. This performance will transport audiences back in time to when the Fab Four dominated musical culture. In RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles: The Best of Abbey Road, Steve Landes, Paul Curatolo, Alastar McNeil and Aaron Chiazza embody and master the original foursome down to every detail. Each cast member considers this performance a  tribute to the group that proved just how powerful and innovative music can really be.

Learn more about RAIN at http://www.raintribute.com/rain/

RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles: The Best of Abbey Road comes to Miller Auditorium on April 5, 2019 at 8 p.m. and tickets are available now at https://tickets.millerauditorium.com/11372

Phantom Phacts You Probably Didn’t Know!

By: Tony Rastigue with information provided by THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

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As we enter our final weekend of the spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Miller Auditorium through Feb. 17, here are a few Phun Phacts about the show!

  1. Total Broadway attendance is over 17 million and the show recently marked its 31st anniversary on Broadway.
  2. Over 65,000 performances have been seen by 140 million people in 35 countries and 160 cities in 15 languages.
  3. This show has won more than 70 well-deserved major theater awards.
  4. 20 trucks are used to move the production from city to city (16 trucks in the building and 4 more trucks for the advance).
  5. This new production uses over 1,200 costume pieces and each ballet girl goes through a pair of ballet shoes every 2-3 weeks.
  6. Over 120 wigs travel with Phantom and about 50 of them are used in the show every night. Plus, all the wigs are made from human hair except for 5.
  7. Over 200 speakers are used in the production and 50 of those are used just for the surround sound package.
  8. The famous chandelier has over 6,000 beads on it and weighs 1 ton.
  9. The new chandelier was designed by Howard Eaton, who designed the Olympic rings for the London ceremonies.
  10. The main scenic wall weighs 10 tons and rotates around the stage.

Want to learn more about THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA? Visit https://ustour.thephantomoftheopera.com/

Tickets for THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, playing through Feb. 17 at Miller Auditorium, are still available: https://tickets.millerauditorium.com/11316?psn=11316

Back to the ’80s with Rock of Ages

By: Tony Rastigue

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Sam Harvey in ROCK OF AGES National Tour – Jeremy Daniel, 2018

As I eagerly anticipate my first ever experience with Rock of Ages: 10th Anniversary Tour at Miller Auditorium on Jan. 16, it is easy for me to reflect upon my love for classic rock music from the 1980s. While I may have been born years after this “tubular” decade, the music that emerged from that time continues to stick with and energize me more than any other genre.

I was introduced to the genre by my father at a fairly young age. As he would drive me to school, he’d always play the greatest hits by his favorite bands that he frequently jammed to while in college. I favored the works of Van Halen, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Queen, Poison and Scorpions, many of which were formed in the 70s and ultimately created a vibrant culture in the 80s. My dad would always associate a fun and crazy memory with every song and it would allow him to recall times of spontaneous and rebellious fun.

He would always tell me how he preferred to listen to this type of music specifically because each song always took him back to the fun of his youth. It made me realize that the enlivening and powerful music of anyone’s youth has the power to resonate with them for years down the line. 80s nostalgia has continued to be popular as multiple forms of entertainment immerse audiences into the radical decade of mullets and power ballads.

The 80s were a time where American youth were often less supervised and laid back which allowed for them to thrive in a decade of exciting times echoed by timeless music. It is easy to see why the 80s culture has carried into new generations as a reminder for how distinct and unique that time was and how our current generation can be inspired to bring back that enthusiastic atmosphere for both the youth and reminiscing adults to continue enjoying.

Learn more about Rock of Ages on their official site and tickets for the Miller Auditorium performance are available now at https://www.millerauditorium.com/rock-ages.

American Girl Memories

By: Tony Rastigue

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When I was 12, my family and I ventured off to explore Chicago. Upon experiencing a shopping spree unlike any other, one particular stop intrigued me–especially since an upcoming Miller show made me think back to that time. My younger sister was beyond eager to enter the American Girl store and while any other doll store would’ve bored me, this specific brand has held my interest even to this day.

It was a pretty big deal for my parents to purchase an American Girl doll for my sister. As I got older, I recognized the importance that the brand brings to its line, which showcases cultural significance as a doll’s American personality is carefully implemented. Since each doll comes with a set of books that detail their life in America, young girls are easily immersed into the doll’s life. More importantly, these books depict specific time periods of historic social issues and how the doll’s character deals and overcomes these issues. Each doll’s story complements relatable topics that younger girls appreciate and provides uplifting elements of femininity, racial identity, ethnicity and what it means to be an American.

As American Girl Live, an all-new musical coming to Miller on Jan. 5, 2019, brings some of these fictional characters to life, I anticipate that this show will warm the hearts of many in a way similar to the joy I saw in my sister’s eyes after she first held her Kit Kittredge doll. Conveying can-do attitudes and inspiring emotions aligns beautifully with true American spirit. American Girl’s fictional stories in historical settings can beautifully inspire young girls with confidence and lessons in American history.  It astonishes me that these dolls have the power to accomplish these wonders, which makes them not only a part of brand, but a cultural sensation.

You can learn more about American Girl Live at http://americangirllive.com/ and at https://www.millerauditorium.com/american-girl-live

Cirque Dreams Holidaze: Uniting An Audience

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By: Tony Rastigue

Preparing for the holiday season is both intense and exciting. Aside from hanging lights and enjoying holiday films, a particular experience at the theatre has been crafting a unique holiday spectacle unlike any other. Cirque Dreams Holidaze brings about a combination of both family-friendly entertainment and seasonal wonder that founder/director Neil Goldberg proudly presents. Goldberg has stated that he aims to “unite the audience” and immerse them into a 2-hour sensation that’ll feature 300 imaginative costumes, 20 world-class astonishing acts, the finest singers and original music. It’ll have everyone feeling the true warmth and enjoyment of the holidays.

“Uniting the audience” is a very unique way of going about presenting audiences with this particular show. Since Christmas and New Year’s only come around once a year, the anticipation leading up to those days are meant to be full of heart and joy, and Cirque appears to offer just that! Maintaining an audiences’ attention is one thing, yet uniting them altogether is certainly a difficult accomplishment I’d imagine. Goldberg has allowed his creation to fully captivate audiences through the formation of such a magnificent sense of awe-inspiring and uplifting production that instantly emerges as the ultimate holiday gift.

The tactic of “uniting the audience” is certainly a powerful and effective strategy when discussing this show, as it perfectly aligns altogether with the emotional theme of this time of year. Having the audience collectively experience delight and astonishment will surely enrapture families together with a sense of community engagement. The spirit of Christmas and New Year’s will instantaneously expand and carry on within everyone that unites themselves among a show like Cirque Dreams Holidaze. Learn more at https://www.millerauditorium.com/cirque-dreams-holidaze