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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Week ahead: Performances arriving or no longer in calendar, part 45

Critic At Large

Coronavirus COVID-19 impact

Multi-instrumentalist Eric Lewis performs Saturday as part of the first virtual Winter Season of Northern Sky Theater of Door County. (Promotional image)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Along with a few performances that are happening live with in-person audiences, below is an overview of performances that were to take place in Northeastern Wisconsin in the coming week. Due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, the “was arriving,” etc. events are canceled or postponed.


Since the performance cancellations and postponements started around March 12 in Northeastern Wisconsin, affected have been at least 917 public productions and at least 2,932 performances, not counting club, casino or other engagements.

Many organizations are canceling or postponing performances into February at least. In a normal year, the week ahead often would see live, in-person performances at or by the Weill Center in Sheboygan, Fox Cities PAC in Appleton, Meyer Theatre in Green Bay, Ashwaubenon PAC, The Grand Oshkosh, Weidner Center in Green Bay, Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek and Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh, among performances in other venues. The tallies above are mere shadows of performances influenced by the coronavirus.


– In Green Bay, Green Bay Community Theater will offer a virtual presentation of Robert Patrick’s Cornered(preview story) Jan. 21-24. Info:

– In Ashwaubenon, Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center will host Frank’s Tribute and All-Star Band in Elvis Lives!”(preview story)at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22-23. Info:

– In Fish Creek, Northern Sky Theater will present a YouTube concert live from Memphis, Tennessee, by multi-instrumentalist Eric Lewis at 7 p.m. Jan. 23. Info: According to a press release: The show will be available live or streaming on demand through May 31. Along with his guitar picking skills, Lewis is a skilled singer and mandolin, Dobro and pedal steel player. He has performed with Northern Sky Theater dozens of times over 25 years, both onstage and in the orchestra pit. Lewis is particularly well known for his annual Labor Day concert at Fishstock, which was canceled this year due to the pandemic. “I just hated not being able to make it up to Door County this summer,” said Lewis. “It was the first time in over 20 years when I didn’t visit the peninsula. I’m looking forward to saying hi to some of my favorite Door County people from afar on Jan. 23.” In the show, Lewis will perform a selection of Americana classics, and songs by Northern Sky co-founder Fred Alley, and a few Eric Lewis originals. Northern Sky Theater’s other virtual winter shows are “The New Year with Northern Sky” (premiered Dec. 31), “Love: It’s Not Just for Lumberjacks” (premieres Feb. 14), “Malarkey: 1993 in the Park” (premieres March 17) and “Only the Silly Songs” (premieres April 1), as well as live virtual concerts by Claudia Russell and Bruce Kaplan (Feb. 6), Karen Mal and Will Taylor (March 6) and Doc Heide (April 17).


+ POSTPONED: “Country Legends,” Jan. 27-28, a presentation of Daddy D Productions, at Riverside Ballroom, Green Bay, to Aug. 5-6, 2021.

+ POSTPONED: “Something Rotten!” (13 performances) Jan. 28-Feb. 21, a Birder Players presentation, in Broadway Theatre, De Pere, to May 20-June 13.


+ CANCELED: Firefall and Atlanta Rhythm Section, Jan. 22, as part of season of Meyer Theatre, Green Bay.

+ POSTPONED: Jon Reep, Jan. 23, at Fox Cities PAC, Appleton, to date to be determined; originally postponed from March 20, 2020.


– In Oshkosh, The Grand Oshkosh reported Joseph Ferlo, its president and CEO, was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents (NAPAMA). According to a press release: Founded in 1979, NAPAMA is the premier trade association for performing arts managers, agents and self-represented artists in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and its membership also includes arts presenters, consultants, producers and service organizations. “Ever since I joined the presenting community in the 1980s, I’ve felt that NAPAMA was the ‘conscience’ of the industry, setting the guidelines for how artists’ representatives and presenters communicate,” said Ferlo, “Now, more than ever, it’s going to be essential for artists, managers, agents, and presenters to have open, candid, creative conversations, as we navigate through the pandemic. I am looking forward to being an active part of those conversations.” The Grand Oshkosh, Inc. programs and operates the historic 1883 Grand Opera House. A self-described “recovering concert pianist and performer,” Ferlo is a graduate of Oberlin College, where he spent a year in the Conservatory of Music before graduating with a B.A. in American musical theater. He is a native of Rome, New York, and is past chair of the Wisconsin Presenters Network. Ferlo entered the industry in 1982 and has been director of The Grand Oshkosh since 2004.


– In Fish Creek, Northern Sky Theater reported the Jan. 3 death of Neen Rock(article), longtime master of backstage creativity, at age 59.

– In Appleton, Lawrence University reported the death of John Koopman, founder of Lawrence’s opera program and a longtime voice professor in its Conservatory of Music. According to a press release: John Koopman joined the faculty in 1960 and continued to teach until his retirement in 1994. He died Dec. 22 in Appleton at age 88. John Koopman served for many years as chair of the Voice Department. He forged a second career following retirement, becoming a widely published opera journalist, with his writings appearing in publications around the world. “In the pioneering spirit of John Koopman and his legacy at Lawrence University, especially in founding an opera ensemble, we are dedicating this academic year’s productions to his memory,” said Copeland Woodruff, director of opera studies. “Having to invent the wheel, again, because of the pandemic, by delving into film techniques, we can only imagine what it must have taken to forge a new theatrical ensemble when Mr. Koopman started the journey. Opera Studies at Lawrence stands on the shoulders of this passionate, kind, and talented maverick.” The family expects to hold a memorial celebration in Appleton later in 2021.

– In Appleton, Lawrence University reported the death of Robert Below, a piano professor who taught in the Conservatory of Music for 32 years before retiring in 1996. According to a news release: He died Dec. 16 at home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was 86. In the classroom, he taught nearly 1,200 Lawrence students. His son, Andy Buelow ’84, executive director of the West Michigan Symphony, was among the Lawrence students Below inspired. “The university’s commitment to liberal arts was something in which he believed strongly, both for himself and his students,” Andy Buelow said. “He felt that broader studies that included art, literature, history, theater and the sciences would help them become better musicians and well-rounded human beings. He encouraged them not to spend their entire four years holed up in the music building.” Andy Buelow said he twice took classes taught by his father. “This is a memory I will always treasure – the opportunity to experience first-hand his amazing skills as a classroom teacher,” he said. “We, of course, spent a lot of time listening to recorded musical samples, but I still remember the day we were exploring 20th century piano literature and he sat down at the piano, without preamble or warm-up, and played the Copland ‘Piano Sonata’ for the class. It was an unforgettable moment for us all.” Robert Below performed on stages in Appleton and across the United States and in Europe and Latin America. He composed more than 50 works – anthems, hymns and other sacred works among them.

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