One Night of Queen Returns to Miller

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By: Thom Cooper

In two weeks we are having one of my favorite shows back for one night of great music.  One Night of Queen is coming Friday, March 17.  Gary Mullen and The Works put on a two-hour long tribute show full of stage theatrics, lights and of course, the music. I had the chance to see them when they were at Miller a few years ago.  They are incredible.  The lead singer, Gary Mullen, does a fantastic impersonation from clothes, to mustache, to voice, to movements.  He really embodies Freddie Mercury.

 For two solid hours, they will rock you!  They hit all the classics from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “Killer Queen,” “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Another One Bites the Dust.”  The guys really get the crowd involved also.  They told the audience to get on their feet and dance, and dance we all did.  I am looking forward to another night of exciting showmanship!

 Join the fun at One Night of Queen performed by Gary Mullen & The Works at Miller on Friday, March 17 at 8 p.m. Tickets available now online and by calling our Ticket Office at (269) 387-2300.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Master Class

By: Clayton Dusendang

Our Miller marketing team had the opportunity to attend a master dance class with Jillian Davis at Western Michigan University’s Department of Dance. Davis is a company member of Complexions Contemporary Dance, a group that visited Miller Auditorium as part of the 2016-17 Lake Michigan Mailers Spotlight Series. Davis has been dancing since the age of 3 and with Complexions since 2014.

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The class was eager to absorb and learn from Davis as she led them through a choreographed routine. She offered great insight to the WMU students who will soon be pursuing their careers in the field of dance.

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As part of our Miller Auditorium mission to enlighten, entertain and educate, we strive to offer outreach activities like community master classes as often as we are able.

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There was an in house percussionist for the master class so Davis and the students had live music to dance to.

Thanks to Jillian Davis and Complexions Contemporary Ballet for their time and expertise!


 

BroadwayCon 2017

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By: Jimmy Brand

Friends, it is that time again! No, I don’t mean tax season, I am referring to BroadwayCon wrapping up their second successful event.

BroadwayCon is the theatre’s answer to Comic-Con. This is a tailor-made experience for fans of theatre. BroadwayCon boasts a three-day expanse of performances, panels, workshops and so much more. Fans came out in droves to the now annual event.

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This gathering of self-labeled theatre nerds is enough to make this Kalamazoo kid immensely jealous he was not able to escape to New York City THIS year! Though I’d have to start planning my BroadwayCon cosplay now…

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In addition to the fun and lighthearted topics of Broadway, the convention served as a safe place for people to discuss the hard topics. Art has always has a way to touch upon the topics that make us uncomfortable. Featuring panels on activism and stories from Broadway stars about their concerns for the world and what their roles as actors and consumers of the arts should be in that conversation.

The highlight of the 3-day BroadwayCon was arguably the First Look Event. This event gave attendees a first look at upcoming new shows and revivals. These shows included some standouts such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Amélie, Bandstand, Miss Saigon, Significant Other, Sunday in the Park with George, The Play That Goes Wrong and Anastasia.

Broadway has big things planned for us this year and the only thing I can say is, how many days until BroadwayCon 2018?

Now on Broadway: Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

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By: Tracey Lawie

I traveled to New York City for a long, cold weekend in January to attend the annual APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) conference. The conference where I speed date with dozens of show agencies to discuss and negotiate potential shows to grace the stage of Miller Auditorium for the upcoming season. I also get to take in shortened versions of the performances called “showcases” to sample the potential performances.  But, this year, one of my colleagues approached me after a large agency meeting to see if I would be interested in using the extra ticket she had to see Josh Groban starring on Broadway in the new musical offering Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. I was thrilled to see Josh Groban live on stage, and pair that with a new Broadway musical…needless to say, I gave her an enthusiastic “Yes!”

The Great Comet of 1812 is a pop opera, adapted from a section of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  Think it sounds like a bizarre combination? You would be right, but somehow, it works. As The New York Times states, it looks “at a historical period through a contemporary lens,” and they do it well.

The first musical number made me an immediate fan. It is a rousing number that introduces the characters, with a nod to the fact that it may not be all that easy:

This is all in your program

You are at the opera

Gonna have to study up a little bit

If you wanna keep with the plot

Cuz it’s a complicated Russian novel

Everyone’s got nine different names

So look it up in your program

We’d appreciate it, thanks a lot

They then take you on a whirlwind cycle introducing each principal character and I swear I knew every line by the end of the song.

The other thing I should mention is the staging. They rebuilt the interior of the theatre so the cast was immersed with the audience throughout. The chorus was often dancing or playing an instrument directly in front of me.  Characters would collapse in chairs next to audience members on stage and at one point, they handed out egg shaped maracas for the audience to play along during a song.

CBS did a great story on Josh Groban and the show. You can catch it here and get more insight to the staging and songs:

Not sure if this show will tour, but if you find yourself in New York, or it does show up in a theatre near you, do yourself a favor and see it!

The two songs that have been earworms for me every day since seeing the show can be listened to here:

Prologue:

Sonya Alone:

Staff Profile: Bethany Gauthier

Name: Bethany Gauthier  12662477_10103655287731002_167728813853410912_n

Title: Marketing Specialist, Sr.

Years at Miller Auditorium: 15

Hobbies: Reading, writing, seeing movies, napping, tap dancing (but not very well) and going for walks with my husband, kids and our dog, Cletus.

Favorite Miller Shows: RENT, Once, Les Miserables, David Sedaris, Wicked, American Idiot, Spring Awakening, The Scarlet Pimpernel and many, many others.

One of the craziest experiences you’ve had while at Miller: Back when The Soup Kettle was still on the downtown Kalamazoo Mall, we had Larry Thomas at Miller while he was in the cast of The Odd Couple. If you know your Seinfeld trivia, you know that Larry Thomas played the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, so we had him make a guest appearance in character at The Soup Kettle. People loved it and he was really fun to meet in person. Plus, as I drove him back to Miller, I got to ask him many Seinfeld-related questions. 

One of your favorite experiences while working at Miller: When David Sedaris was at Miller in 2014, I was right next to him for three hours while he had a conversation with every person in line for his post-show meet and greet. He’s just as hilarious in person as he is in print. He was eating his dinner as he chatted with everyone. He even shared his dinner with some of the people in line—and he gave one person a bone to take home to their dog.

-Compiled by Clayton Dusendang

2016 Highlights at Miller

By: Jimmy Brand

Welcome to 2017!

We wanted to take a moment to look back on some of our favorite Miller Moments from 2016. It was a season of firsts at Miller Auditorium this year. We had many shows cross our stage for the first time–including The Book of Mormon’s week-long Miller debut in October.

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The Book of Mormon in Kalamazoo: Oct. 18-23, 2016                

American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wowed a packed house and showed us that geek is the new chic back in March of 2016.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson visited Miller Auditorium on March 22, 2016

My personal favorite, Alton Brown, brought his one man show “Eat Your Science” to Miller in May. While in Kalamazoo, he enjoyed Sweetwater’s donuts and Black Owl Cafe coffee.

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Alton Brown’s tour stopped at Miller on May 5, 2016. 

We also debuted Miller’s Tavern on the Plaza. Patrons enjoyed live music, sun and cocktails on the Miller Plaza this past summer. Another reason to look forward to warmer weather in 2017!

Last, but certainly not least, we began Kzoo Sings, a monthly gathering of people who get together and sing popular songs in three-part harmony. The first Kzoo Sings of 2017 takes place on Jan. 19 and we will be singing Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” For more information and to RSVP now, see our Facebook event.

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2016 treated us well, but we are ready to continue to wow you in 2017… and don’t look now, but Miller is about to turn 50! Lots of exciting things planned for our 50th Anniversary Season, including Disney’s The Lion King scheduled as part of the 2017-18 Broadway season. Here’s to a great year ahead!

 

 

WMU Symphony Orchestra Joins Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker!

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By: Clayton Dusendang

Hello, all!

The Nutcracker is a classic holiday performance that everyone must see at least once in their life. Not only is it special that we are having Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker coming to Miller on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., they will be including the Kalamazoo community in their performance!

For the Great Russian Nutcracker, the talented dancers of the Moscow Ballet work with local dancers, vocalists and musicians in every city they visit. For their Miller Auditorium performance, the Moscow Ballet will be joined by the WMU University Symphony Orchestra, The Gagie School choir and Academy of Dance Arts dancers.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker promises to be the Christmas experience of the year! “Knock Out!” raves The New York Times. Enchant the whole family with larger than life magical props, a 60-ft. growing Christmas tree and spectacular Russian-made costumes and sets. A must-see event, witness the world’s best dancers on stage in Kalamazoo!

Here is one of the many fantastic numbers that you won’t want to miss:

Join us for this holiday favorite at Miller Auditorium on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now online or at the Miller Auditorium ticket office at (269) 387-2300.

MercyMe Comes to Miller for the Holidays

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By: Jimmy Brand

If you have ever met me, you will know there are few things I love more than Christmas. I have been quietly waiting for it to be socially acceptable to blast Christmas music in the office and at home. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

This year my love for Christmas gets a little boost from Mercy Me, as they will be preforming MercyMe, It’s Christmas! at Miller Auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

The GRAMMY®-nominated, Christian super-group first gained mainstream success with their song “I Can Only Imagine.”

Since then, they have also had 13 consecutive top 5 singles on the Billboard Christian Songs chart, with 7 of them reaching No. 1, have won 8 Dove Awards and most recently were nominated for two Billboard Music Awards in the categories of Top Christian Artist and Top Christian Song for “Flawless.”

So ladies and gentlemen, grab your ugliest Christmas sweater and join us at Miller Auditorium for MercyMe. Tickets are on sale now online or at the Miller Auditorium ticket office at (269) 387-2300.

You Might Be a Renthead If…

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By: Bethany Gauthier

Are you a Renthead? If you know what that term means, then it’s a good bet you’re among the biggest fans of the acclaimed Broadway musical, RENT.

RENT opened on Broadway in 1996. This original rock musical was created by Jonathan Larson and is still inspiring audiences worldwide two decades later. RENT follows a year in the life of a group of seven young artists and friends. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Awards, RENT has an inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear.

RENT has maintained its popularity over the years and a feature film adaptation that featured most of the original Broadway cast–including Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal and Jesse L. Martin–was released in 2005. Most Rentheads, in addition to having the original Broadway Cast recording memorized, also own the movie soundtrack and have seen the movie at least ten times. If not more.

Now, RENT’s 20th Anniversary Tour is coming to Miller Auditorium for four shows from Friday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, Nov. 13. Tickets are available now, but what really sets Rentheads apart as fans is their devotion to the tradition of discounted rush tickets that RENT offers in every market and before every show.

When the 20th Anniversary Tour comes to Miller, RENT will have a limited amount of seats in the front three rows of the main floor orchestra level available for just $23 while supplies last beginning two hours before every RENT performance. Rentheads have been known to camp out overnight all for a chance at discounted rush tickets. So, what do you need to do to be a Renthead and have a chance at $23 front row tickets? Read on…

Renthead Tips for Scoring RENT $23 Rush Tickets at Miller:

  1. Arrive at the Miller Auditorium Ticket Office at 2200 Auditorium Drive., Kalamazoo, two hours prior to showtime. Our RENT showtimes are: Friday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12 at 2 & 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m.
  2. Have cash ready! $23 RENT rush tickets are available for cash only purchases and are limited to two tickets per person.
  3. Cross your fingers and hope that you’re one of the lucky audience members who snags a rush seat or two while they’re available.

Preview RENT now:

And Rentheads? Feel free to sing along. We hope to see you at the show!

Miller Staff Profile: Clayton Dusendang

Name: Clayton Dusendangimg_3547

Title: Marketing Assistant

Years at Miller Auditorium: Coming up on his one year anniversary next month.

Hobbies: Graphic design, blogging, scrolling through Twitter and travel.

Favorite Miller Shows: The first show I ever saw at Miller was Wicked back in 2013. “Defying Gravity” left me with goosebumps. Little did I know that two years later I’d be actually working here contributing to the magic that happens on stage. One of my other favorites to take the Miller stage was Once.

One of the craziest experiences you’ve had while at Miller: Getting to meet Neil deGrasse Tyson. He was a pleasant man and treated all of his fans with much respect during the meet and greet. Also, the guy is pretty funny!

-Compiled by Bethany Gauthier