Midland University Performing Arts Announces 2019-20 Season

Midland University Performing Arts is pleased to announce the lineup of their upcoming season. Lead by the Director of Performing Arts, Anne Sorensen-Wang, the 2019-20 season will include theatre, vocal, instrumental, and dance performances.

The fall season is set to open with the historical play, “Radium Girls.” Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a luminous watch dial painter, as she fights for her day in court.

For the first time, the Midland University Performing Arts staff will present a staff recital featuring performances from faculty and staff.

In November, Midland will present the annual “A Cappella Honor Choir.” Formerly known as “Gospel Honors Choir,” this concert is comprised of singers from Nebraska high schools and Midland choral students singing, “A Cappella through the Ages.”

The musical theatre version of the 2001 film, “Legally Blonde,” will be presented as this year’s fall musical. Leading this spunky and energetic performance will be Dan P. Hays, Midland University Director of Theatre, with choreography by Katie Speicher, Midland University Director of Dance.

Closing the fall semester will be Midland Performing Arts’ annual collaborative concert, “Colors of Christmas,” featuring all university ensembles including; band, choir, dance, a cappella choirs, as well as the Fremont Pathfinders Chorus.

Produced in partnership with the Fremont-Midland Entertainment Series (FMES), the 2020 spring season will open with the cult musical, “Working.” Based on a series of real-life interviews, Working, presents a song cycle, creatively told by an ensemble of actors, that reflects on the American worker experience.

In March, the hysterical farce, “Noises Off,” will take over the theatre stage. Recognized as “the funniest farce ever written,” Noises Off presents a manic menagerie of actors rehearsing a flop. Doors slamming, on and offstage intrigue, and an errant herring all figure in the plot of this hilarious and classically comic play.

Following, the Midland University Band will perform a joint concert with the Omaha Symphonic Winds.

The Midland Theatre Department concludes their portion of the season with the student-directed musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” With the house lights down, a man in a chair appears on stage and puts on his favorite record: the cast recording of a fictitious 1928 musical. The recording comes to life, and The Drowsy Chaperone bounces into his reality.

The nationally renowned Midland University Dance Department will feature the 2020 student-choreographed dance ensembles in the annual “Dance Showcase.”

The season concludes with the “Spring Music Concert” featuring the Midland University Choir and Band.

Other performances including Jazz Band Concerts, A Cappella Concerts, students recitals, and one-act plays will also be featured throughout the season.

Specific dates can be found on www.midlandperformingarts.org. Tickets to all performances can be purchased at www.midlandu.edu/tickets or by calling 402-941-6399.

Founded in 1883, Midland University is a liberal arts college providing relevant opportunities in more than 30 academic areas, four graduate programs, and a variety of professional studies programs to students at both their Fremont and Omaha locations. Recently recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education as the 9th fastest-growing private, nonprofit baccalaureate institution in the country, Midland takes a modern approach to liberal arts education. Their innovative approach of working from the marketplace back provides students with the relevant skills to lead in the world with purpose.

Midland University Dance Takes First at Nationals: Second in Three Years

The Midland University Dance team performed a near-flawless routine to seal their second victory in three years at the NAIA Competitive Dance National Championship this March.

The Warriors were the top-ranked team at this year's competition and solidified their tradition of excellence in the routine, thwarting defending national champions, St. Ambrose University, by less than a point to take back the team title they had won in 2017.

"Words cannot express how proud I am of every individual on this team," said Katie Speicher, Midland University Dance head coach. "They have wonderfully sustained the Midland Dance legacy with a winning mentality from the beginning of the season, giving their all at each practice, which was evident in their performance."

Focus, preparation, and consistency represent the recipe to the Warrior's blooming legacy of success, coupled with the exceptional leadership of Katie Speicher, which sets the team apart from the competition, carving out a path of esteemed dance tradition at the university.

Midland University recently invested in acquiring and renovating a space in Fremont to establish a brand-new, off-campus practice facility for the Warriors to continue building out their strong performance foundation, much like the recent expansion in off-site practice space for the Midland powerlifting team.

"It is an honor to coach this group of athletes, and winning the national championship was the icing on the cake to an already phenomenal season," said Speicher.

On stage and off: Midland offers a modern take on Performing Arts Degrees

Midland University’s B.A. in Arts Management has been redesigned for the modern arts industry.

“We are relentlessly in pursuit of making sure our graduates are relevant to the marketplace they enter after graduation. This applies to business, healthcare, education, and the performing arts world as well,” said Director of Performing Arts, Anne Sorensen-Wang. “This is the performing arts degree that prepares students for their future.”

The revised curriculum is designed to produce graduates with a well rounded and integrated set of skills to be successful in a variety of performing arts careers.

“Pursuing an Arts Management major prepares individuals to explore their own performance careers, but also to manage arts organizations, companies, and facilities. Students who select this major are attractive to a wide range of businesses. Majors combine the creativity, collaboration, and confidence that is cultivated by involvement in the arts with industry-specific business skills and knowledge to become individuals who are highly marketable in the business and performance world. So if you want to be an actor, we grow those skills and make sure you are ready to enter into that field with a killer performance resume, but we also equip them with a marketable professional resume as well. These students will be able to graduate and get jobs in their field right off the bat.”

“Each month we bring in industry professionals for seminars on different careers, workshops, and guest artist experiences. Every presenter, when they learn about our Arts Management degree, says, “Gee, I wish I had had that opportunity when I was in college.”

New courses being offered to majors include classes such as Entrepreneurship, Non-Profit Law, Arts Technology, and Development & Grant Writing. To increase career preparedness, every student will be encouraged to complete an outside internship in the career field they are hoping to pursue. In addition to these classes, students will take performance-based classes to hone their artistic skills. Opportunities to complete and an additional endorsement in Theatre, and a certificate in Non-Profit Management add to the attractiveness of the degree.

“Students should be prepared to make art and manage art.”

“Pitch Perfect” music director returns to Midland University for annual a cappella festival

Deke Sharon is on a mission to improve the world through singing.

Returning for the second a cappella day of Midland University’s tenth annual Festival of the Arts, the “father of contemporary a cappella,” known for his work as musical director and arranger of the “Pitch Perfect” movies, the NBC series, “The Sing Off,” and founder of the ICAA, will be back to share his message on Saturday, Feb. 22nd.

“I want everybody to know that singing is powerful, that it’s fun, and that it’s something you should do through your entire life,” Sharon said last year, moments before leading Midland’s a cappella choirs and students from three Nebraska high schools in a performance of one of his arrangements.

“For me, my life’s work is to spread harmony through harmony,” Sharon said. “I truly believe that our nation, and, in a lot of ways, our world is broken. People feel alone; they feel isolated. There are these deep divisions in our country that are getting deeper. I feel like I have the fix. I feel like I have this tool - this incredible thing that people did throughout human history and from prehistoric times, and that is singing together.”

Launched last year, A Cappella Day was designed to bring students together to compete in a celebration of song. After the huge success of the day, Sharon asked to return again this year. Sharon will lead a group of three judges who provide feedback and rate local high school groups.

Last year, Midland honored one performer from each group, awarding $75,000 in vocal scholarships to students who would choose to continue their love for a cappella in college.

Sharon sees the opportunity to participate in the performing arts as a way to build critical life skills. “When you’re really creating great art – in any of the performing arts – you’re working on different aspects of your life,” Sharon said. “You can do math alone. You can create science alone in the lab. With the performing arts, you’re doing something collaboratively. You’re understanding your own and other people’s emotions. You’re learning how to listen. You’re learning how the sum of the parts is bigger than any one individual. These are lessons and messages that are so impactful on anyone’s education and what they go on to do with their life.”

“Bringing exceptional educational experiences to our students is the pride of the performing arts,” said Assistant Director of Performing Arts, Kyle Thomas. “Just because we are a small school does not mean that the opportunities we provide to our students are small.”

Through events like Festival of the Arts, Midland University students are able to showcase their talents, enhance their college experience, and connect with the industry they are hoping to work in. Midland’s student-centric Performing Arts program provides students from all academic programs opportunities to grow, learn, collaborate, and live out their passions. Sharon’s visit was made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Through support from the university and the Midland Performing Arts Society, the performing arts are hoping to continue to bring world-class talent to Fremont to enrich students’ experiences.

“This is a great program. It’s a great school,” Sharon said. “I think this wonderful event is going to grow and grow to where they won’t even know what to do with it.”