50th Anniversary: First Season Memories

By: Amelia Manley

As we approach Miller Auditorium’s, we are looking back at the many great shows to visit our stage–including Wicked, The Book of Mormon and The Phantom of the Opera, to name just a few. Right now, though, we want to take a look back at our very first season at Miller Auditorium.

In 1968, we had 18 shows that made up our season. Some of the acts included Marcel Marceau, The Association and The Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Out of all of the wonderful shows we had during our Grand Opening season, I chose to highlight a few:

1968 Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

We’re proud that the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra often performs at Miller Auditorium in 2017 and that the KSO has been performing at Miller since our very first season.

National Ballet of Washington D.C.

This internationally renowned company performed at Miller only five years after it was  founded in 1962.

Ferrante & Teicher

This piano duo was known for their light piano arrangements that included show tunes. They were also known for their rapid fire piano performances. Both artists graduated from the Julliard School of Music, then went on to experiment with traditional piano playing. The duo would add found objects to the piano strings to produce percussion-like noises which made for inventive and memorable performances.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

This was the first musical to grace the Miller Auditorium stage. This lighthearted tale was later adapted for the silver screen with Barbra Streisand and was featured on the 100 Greatest Musical films by the American Film Institute.

As we look back on 50 great years of entertainment, we salute all the talented performers who have set foot on the Miller stage.


Broadway Dinner Menu

By: Lauren Hufford

I think we’ve all had this problem: You plan to go to a matinee performance of one of your favorite shows, but don’t know what to do about dinner after the show! Now, you could just go to a favorite restaurant, or try a new place, but why do that when you can have a perfectly themed homemade dinner? Here is my perfect post-show dinner for the whole family.

To start, we have a wonderful Julius Caesar Salad. Are you a fan of Shakespeare? Or do you, perhaps, just enjoy a good, classic salad? This recipe is perfect for a fresh, spring day. Perhaps the Ides of March?

Julius Caesar Salad

After a wonderful show and all the emotions flying throughout the seating area, you just need a good helping of soul food. Our main course for the night is a hearty, warm chili ready to get you through every last heart-wrenching ballad and peppy tap tune. It will make everyone in your family say, “Gimme Gimme!”

Thoroughly Modern Chili

I decided that we needed something a little lighter to compliment the heartiness of the chili and so we have some Kiss Me, Kale Chips! Now be careful when you take these baked treats out of the oven or you’ll be shouting that it’s “Too Darn Hot.”

Kiss Me, Kale Chips

When there is nothing ado, come and enjoy these delicious blueberry muffins. They can inspire wedding vows in anyone! Everyone who tastes them will exclaim, “Get thee a wife!”

Much Ado About Muffin

Now, I know our run of Kinky Boots is done, but you will get a resounding cheer of everybody saying “YEAH!” with these yogurt and kinky fruit parfaits!

Kinky Fruits

The perfect accompaniment to this delicious meal for your “Wandering Child” is some Fanta of the Opera the fizzy orange drink that will have the kids saying “Bravo, Bravo!”
For the adults in the room, Caberet Sauvignon pairs well with chili. It’s so good, you’ll think you’re in trouble and say “Don’t Tell Mama.”


Daniel Tiger and Mr. Rogers

By: Lauren Hufford

This probably shows you how young I am, but I remember watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on my way to kindergarten. His show was not just about learning to count or the letters of the alphabet, but more about emotional issues and real problems children face. For instance, when Mister Rogers’ goldfish died, he didn’t just replace it with an identical one, but talked to his viewers about death – pretty heavy hitting for a children’s show, I know.

While Mister Rogers’ show ended in 2001, the concept of his show wasn’t forgotten and the Fred Rogers Company decided to bring back the ideas and characters we love in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. This new show is animated and the main characters are the next generation of kids from the Land of Make-Believe. Daniel Tiger is Daniel Striped Tiger’s son, Prince Wednesday is the second son of King Friday XIII and Queen Sarah Saturday. O the Owl is X the Owl’s nephew, Henrietta Pussycat’s daughter is Katerina Kittycat and Miss Elaina is Lady Elaine’s daughter. The concepts and execution are very similar between the new and old shows. Music is used to reinforce the ideas presented throughout the episode and the most memorable moments of the show – like Mr. Rogers putting on his sweater and shoes – are still in each episode. The spirit of Mr. Rogers really lives on in the new series.

I would highly recommend any parent start their preschoolers on this show. Not to mention Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE: King for a Day! is coming to Miller Auditorium on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 2 p.m. Single tickets are on sale now! We look forward to celebrating the spirit of Mr. Rogers with Daniel Tiger in January.

Kalamazoo Wears the Kinky Boots!

By: Amelia Manley

Last week, a famous pair of red boots strolled their way into Kalamazoo! And a lot of famous Kalamazoo faces had a chance to try them on while they were here.

Kinky Boots opens Miller Auditorium’s Zhang Financial Broadway season for four performances from Oct. 20-22. To get ready for this very special event, we visited local celebrities with the red kinky boots in tow. I had the honor to watch the boots get zipped up and yes, they can be hard to put on, but we were there to assist.

Thanks to all the local boots wearers who took part: Dana Marshall with WKFR 103.3 FM, Mike McKelly with 107.7 WRKR FM, Bobby Guy with K-102.5 FM, Dr. David Montgomery with WMU’s Bronco Marching Band, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell, Portage Mayor Peter Strazdas, Alan Park with Zoo City Cycle, WMU’s First Lady Mrs. Kari Montgomery, Kim Carson with FM 106.5 WVFM, Ken Lanphear with WKZO AM 590, Miller Auditorium‘s Director Rob Pennock and Daniel Brier, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra‘s Resident Conductor.

The famous boots have their own backstory with the show:



In a show called Kinky Boots, “you’ve gotta get the boots right,” says Gregg Barnes, costume and footwear designer for the Tony Award-winning musical. The show, based on a real story and independent film, about a failing English shoe factory which turned its fortunes around by niche-marketing sturdy boots for drag artists, has become a sold-out Broadway phenomenon. With a book by Harvey Fierstein and a Tony winning score by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots relies heavily on its visual designs, and, of course, those boots by Barnes.

The designer says it was quite a challenge to create those thigh-high boots, with six inch stiletto heels. “What’s really funny about our experience with Kinky Boots is that my team, and the cobblers who made the boots, we had the exact same story as in the musical,” explains Barnes. “Everything they talk about in terms of reinforcing the heel and all of that stuff, we had the same learning curve!”

Learn more about Kinky Boots and reserve your tickets now at http://www.millerauditorium.com/kinky-boots.

Theatre Memes Ranked and Rated

By: Amelia Manley

As a former high school theatre geek, my social media is littered with references and satire that I scroll through on a daily basis.


So here are a few of my favorites that I have come across, tailored to Miller’s upcoming season, of course. Without further ado, here are the Impact font laden memes I promised.

10. Now, I recognize that Cats is not everyone’s favorite musical, but what would you expect from a show that is about Cats singing their names at the audience for two hours? However, since this contains an actual cat, it gets higher marks.


  1. I run into this DAILY. Being a former theatre kid, as in no longer. My heart breaks a little more every time I reference Dear Evan Hansen or even Wicked and no one understands it.


  1. This is a rule of thumb for theatre. Just look at some of the classics, basically everyone dies in the second act. Case in point: (spoiler alert!) Spring Awakening.


  1. I have gotten literal sighs when I put on my music. But every once in a blue moon, I’ll hear a squeal of excitement instead–and those are the moments I live for.


  1. Lion King is classic for my generation. That is all. (Also cat)


  1. You have never hustled until you have danced to “Something Familiar” in double time.


  1. There are so few consistencies throughout life, however one consistency is that for any moment in life, there is song in a musical.


  1. Hamilton was not going to be left out of this list. Also, the final essay struggle is real.


  1. The combination of these two musicals is so nonsensical, yet so perfect.


  1. When you realize these musicals have similar songs in not at all similar sequences.



Broadway Reading List

By: Lauren Hufford & Amelia Manley

We thought it would be fun to put together a little reading list for other book and theater enthusiasts, so here are some memorable shows that started out as books.


Les Misérables is a French novel by Victor Hugo that was published in 1862. The musical version debuted in 1980 in Paris and lyrics were written by Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel and Herbert Kretzmer with music by Claude-Michel Schӧnberg.


Fiddler on the Roof was inspired by a series of stories by Sholem Aleichem. The stories center around Tevye and his five daughters, their Jewish and cultural traditions, and the eviction of Jews from their village. In 1964 the stories were transformed into a musical by Jerry Bock, for music; Sheldon Harnick, for lyrics; and Joseph Stein for the book.


The String of Pearls: A Romance was a penny dreadful serial in 1846 and 1847 written by James Malcom Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest and was put into book form in 1850. It follows the antagonist of the story, Sweeney Todd. In 1973 the serial was transformed into a play by Christopher Bond titled Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In 1979 it debuted as a musical thriller. Music and lyrics were written by Stephen Sondheim and the book by Hugh Wheeler.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was an American children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum in 1900. Baum wrote the lyrics and book for the 1902 Musical version of his book and the music was written by Paul Tiejens. The well-known film version of the story came about in 1939.


Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West written by Gregory Maguire in 1995, adapted from L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Maguire created a revisionist view of the Land of Oz and the characters within, making this novel more suited for an adult audience. Wicked the musical premiered on Broadway in 2003 with lyrics and music by Stephen Schwartz.


The original story of Christine Daaé first appeared in a serial in Le Gaulois 1909-1910, written by Gaston Leroux. Then story was later adapted into a novel volume in 1910 named le Fantôme de l’Opéra, which was later adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber in his 1986 musical with lyrics by Charles Heart and Richard Stilgoe.


Matilda, a precocious 5-year-old with the gift of telekinesis and a love of reading, originally came from the 1988 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. With music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin, Matilda the musical made its West End premiere in 2011, winning seven Olivier awards. It premiered on Broadway in 2013.


Camelot is based upon T.H. White’s four part book The Once and Future King, written in 1958. The original 1960 production ran for 873 performance racking up four Tony awards with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe.


The hustling and bustling Story of Sky Masterson originated from the short stories by Damon Runyon “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure.” The Guys and Dolls music and lyrics were written by Fran Loesser with the musical premiering in 1950. This also spawned a 1955 movie adaptation starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.


Mary Poppins started with eight children’s books written by P.L. Travers from 1934 to 1988. The series was adapted into a musical film by Walt Disney in 1964. From there it was adapted again into a 2004 musical by Cameron Mackintosh, with music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers. The movie Saving Mr. Banks (2013) was also inspired by the bewitching nanny, but it focused on the writer of the series, P.L. Travers.

Miller Auditorium’s Usher Corps

By: Lauren Hufford

Miller Auditorium on a show night is a fascinating orchestra of staff. Backstage, they are preparing lighting, sound, sets and the cast. The Ticket Office is selling tickets and working with will call pick ups. The front of house staff is preparing concession stands, the bar and the seating area. One of the essential parts of Miller’s event staff can be found in our Usher Corps. Founded in 1967 with only a handful of people, the Usher Corps has grown to be 250 members strong and consists of a dedicated team of students and community members.


Ushers arrive approximately 60 minutes before the posted curtain time for a particular show. They are informed of the specifics for that evening’s event, any emergency policies and are notified of any schedule changes. They also stuff programs, help with concessions, assist with the bar and tend to any other pre-show needs. The ushers stay until 10:30 or 11 p.m. (depending on the length of the performance) to help clean the seating area. In addition to meeting new friends and catching up with long-time friends, ushers often get to enjoy the show they are volunteering for.

Does that sound fun? Well, you’re in luck–anyone is welcome to be a part of the Miller Auditorium Usher Corps. To be an usher, you must be at least 18 years of age or a student at Western Michigan University. You will also need to complete an on-line application. All ushers need to attend a training session before their first ushering assignment. During this training we will go over customer service, auditorium and university policies/procedures, and take a tour of the building. This training is in addition to the organizational meetings held each semester, where ushers are updated on policies/procedures and receive a schedule of events that need ushers.

If you are interested in joining the Usher Corps or would like more information, you can contact Shannon Rininger, Patron Services Manager, by email.

Summer Distribution

By: Amelia Manley

On a Tuesday morning, bright and bleary eyed, Lauren, my fellow marketing assistant, and I left in our matching Miller shirts for summer distribution. After spending the better part of this week in the Miller van – even getting lost a few times, we can safely say that summer distribution is underway. We hit the road and started distributing our 2017-18 Miller season brochures all around the greater Kalamazoo area. We have gone to Portage, Battle Creek and, of course, visited many local Kalamazoo businesses along the way. Now this may sound like a lot of driving, but we passed the time with dramatic sing-a-longs to the radio, so don’t worry.

Lauren and I had a great time traveling around southwest Michigan and meeting many different business owners. We came across a lot of people excited for the upcoming season, especially our Zhang Financial Broadway in West Michigan series. The 2017-18 Broadway lineup includes great shows such as Kinky Boots, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, and Disney’s THE LION KING. Others were excited for our Lake Michigan Mailer Spotlight series, which includes big names such as Trevor Noah, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live! and STOMP. We braved the heat of the dog days of summer, so please pick up a brochure when you spot them at local businesses and hotels. We plan on visiting more businesses as the season progresses with updates on upcoming shows and new show posters, so keep an eye out!

P.S. Would you like us to drop off Miller season brochures at your business? Drop us a line at miller-comments@wmich.edu.

Broadway Gives Back

By: Amelia Manley

In addition to providing great entertainment, Broadway productions commit their time and resources to giving back to those in need. Since 1987, Broadway has been actively fighting HIV/AIDS by providing financial support for lifesaving medications, healthcare, nutritious meals and much more. In 1992, two foundations combined to create Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. This new organization was established as a not-for-profit fundraising organization that upheld the ideals of the two previous groups. Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS raises every dollar given; this, in turn, provides many services to those affected by HIV/ AIDS. Their mission statement not only includes the mitigation of HIV/AIDS, but also to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS uses its unique position in the entertainment industry to benefit those affected; this includes efforts nation-wide as well as international.


Though familiar to many theatre-goers, Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS use more than just red donation buckets to raise money.  One of their most popular events is Broadway Bares, an annual burlesque show fundraiser. This fundraising event has occurred since 1992 and has continued to raise more funds for HIV/ AIDS.  Broadway Bares has become highly choreographed and produced since its humble beginnings with eight dancers in rotation.  Since then, it has been presented two performances every June in front of sold out crowds in some of the largest clubs in Manhattan.

On June 18, 2017, in the Hammerstein Ballroom, just two performances raised $1,586,114. This year’s event featured a collegiate theme. Bearing the cheeky name ‘Strip U,’ the freshmen were shown the ropes in featured classes, such as chemistry, fine arts, feminist studies and a Pavlovian psychology lesson. The burlesque revue also featured other aspects of the Strip U student experience, including a pep rally, a shirts and skins Lacrosse game and a toga party.


This is only the second year on record that the online fundraising was the largest contributor to the grand total raised. All money raised is for HIV/ AIDS is not-for-profit and to date Broadway Bares has raised $17.4 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The creator of Broadway Bares, Paw Paw, Michigan native Jerry Mitchell, wrapped up the performances reminding the audience that “We must take the power of our diverse communities and dedicate our energies to the importance of taking care of ourselves and each other.”

To learn more about Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, visit their site.

Maranda’s Park Party Recap

By: Lauren Hufford

Miller Auditorium was happy to take part in Maranda’s Kalamazoo Park Party in Bronson Park last week. Maranda, the host of WOTV 4’s “Where You Live,” has hosted her Park Parties for the last 23 years, inviting families to enjoy some free summer fun and a free lunch for anyone under 18 provided by the Michigan Department of Education. Maranda’s Park Parties are recognized by the USDA as one of the nation’s largest summer feeding programs and she knows how to make it fun!


More than 4,000 people enjoyed the festivities at Bronson Park – it was PACKED! It was a day of fun acts on stage, big blow-up obstacle courses and a rock wall. Miller was there in full form, prize wheel spinning and a coloring table ready to go. Kids of all ages were having a blast spinning our wheel for candy, temporary tattoos, frisbees and more!

We have plenty of fun, family friendly shows coming to Miller Auditorium this season and we are so excited! We had coloring pages and crowns to decorate for each of the shows, and a drawing to win a family four-pack of tickets to either Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live: King for a Day or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.


It was an amazing day! The sun was out and the sky was blue. Bronson Park was full of kids and parents alike just having fun – Miller staff included! Here’s our favorite selfie of the day featuring Miller’s Thom and Bethany along with the one-and-only Maranda!


Amelia and I were also there, testing out our ‘Millergram’ frame in advance of WMU’s Bronco Bash this fall.


To experience and learn about the excitement of live entertainment and Maranda’s Park Party was an awesome way to reach more kids and families to show them how much fun the theater can be!

If you would like more information on the Park Parties, take a look at Maranda’s page: