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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Showbiz reigns at season ANNOUNCEMENT in Appleton

Critic At Large

Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

Bob Bucci and Maria Van Lanen on stage Monday at The Reveal. (Warren Gerds)


There are announcements, and there are ANNOUNCEMENTS.

Fox Cities Performing Arts Center made an ANNOUNCEMENT late Monday afternoon in announcing its next season.

As usual, the function called The Reveal, drew a crowd to the center’s Thrivent Financial Hall.

The Reveal is no casual thing.

That is the attraction for fans of the PAC.

“Frozen” scene. (Warren Gerds)

The affair is a show in itself, plus there are sweets and other hors d’oeuvres goodies afterward for all.

Music – the more exciting the better – is in the air.

On stage, everything is choreographed.

Special lighting displays are created, including geometric designs on the stage floor that often are put in motion.

Visual pop is continued in large-screen projected videos.

Live performances are woven in.

Performing are stars from shows in the coming lineup.

Altogether, the crowd, the hoopla, the sounds, the sights and the overall atmosphere make an announcement an ANNOUNCEMENT.

As fans took their seats Monday, recorded music played as scenes from activities at the center were projected on a screen above the stage. Some images recognized the center’s activity with the Frank C. Shattuck P.A.T.H.S. Program, Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program and Community First Engagement Series.

Soon presiding on stage were Maria Van Lanen, president of Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, and Bob Bucci, president of marketing for Broadway Across America.

Action glided from word to word, moment to moment.

First to perform was the cast of Green Bay Preble High School’s production of “Mamma Mia!” Wearing wireless headsets and in costume, the performers sang and danced to “Waterloo,” eventually spilling into the two main aisles.

Next, two students from the Center Stage program told of the elaborate project for participating schools in the region. This year, WFRV is part of activities, including the broadcast of a prime-time special in May. Ongoing features are at this link:

Center Stage scene. (Warren Gerds)

Performances included a duo from the production of “it gets better,” which will include a residency on matters of gay rights. As the men finished the show’s theme song, Maria Van Lanen arrived back on stage and joined in singing the final notes.

The showiest part of Monday’s ANNOUNCEMENT involved the presentation of the titles of the coming touring Broadway shows.

A chance to see live performances of moments from the shows is one of the major attractions for fans.

Splashiest of the splashy:

“Tootsie” scene. (Warren Gerds)

“Tootsie,” with Katerina Papacostas in a song sung so rapid-fire that the American sign language interpreter had all she could do to keep up with allthewordssungsofastoneaftertheotherwithhardlyabreath.

“Frozen” with Charissa Hogeland building the super-popular “Let It Go” as the stage was special lighted with an icy effect and the hall walls were illuminated with images of snowflakes. The performance ended with big cheers fitting of an ANNOUNCEMENT.

What was announced is covered by Paul Evansen of WFRV at this link:

THE VENUE: Thrivent Financial Hall is the main theater of Fox Cities Performing Arts Center on College Avenue in downtown Appleton. The capacity is 2,072. The seating area is in the shape of a horse shoe, with three balconies following the shape. The stage is 60 feet across and 40 feet high. The décor features Veneciano plaster walls with dark-stained cherry wood. In the oval dome ceiling is a 65-foot long chandelier that is reminiscent of the Art Deco era. The design includes ruby inserts in the opaque cream-colored glass. Flowing along the walls up to the chandelier are parallel metal pipes as if of a musical instrument. Flat walls in the front third of the hall are salmon colored, while red pleated theatrical curtains dominate the rest of the side walls. The white acoustic wing over the stage looks like the underside of a sci-fi spacecraft. The lobby area consists of lots of geometrics, glass and, on the ground level, a feeling of openness and spaciousness. The exterior of the gray building features gentle curves. A large glass skylight is reminiscent of a human eye.

THE NAME: Thrivent Financial has roots in a life insurance company that was chartered in 1902 as Aid Association for Lutherans, based in Appleton. The corporate name has been Thrivent since 2002.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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