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Partnering for Arts Integration

As students prepare to head back to class, so do teachers and part of that preparation may include planning creative ways to integrate the arts into their classroom.

The Center, striving to make the arts accessible for all generations, works to make that process easier by providing professional development opportunities throughout the year as part of their Classroom Connections teacher workshops.

The Center and Appleton Area School District are members of the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington D.C. Selected because of their demonstrated commitment to improvement of education in and through the arts, the partnership team collaborations to make the arts integral to education.

Classroom Connections teacher workshops are designed to provide professional development in the arts for teachers based on the belief that their continued learning is an essential component of any effort to increase the artistic literacy of young people.

Renee Ulman, fine arts coordinator for the Appleton Area School District works to support art, music, theater and dance education in Appleton schools by leading curriculum work, advocating for strong arts education for all students and researching ways to bring the arts to the classroom, including providing teachers with meaningful professional development.

“Our mission in AASD is “Every Child, Every Day” and the arts are an essential part of meeting the needs of all of our students and offering them a well-rounded education,” Ulman said. “This partnership is important because we get to work together on offering quality professional development opportunities for teachers in the Fox Cities.  It shows teachers that what they do for our students is valued and supported by those in the community.  We want to work together to provide all students the best education they can receive.  We believe that one way this can be achieved is through arts integration.  Our partnership helps teachers learn about and implement these practices in their classrooms.”

The team that coordinates with The Kennedy Center to put on Classroom Connections teacher workshops. From left to right Director of Programming and Community Engagement Amy Gosz, Education Coordinator Cassie Schroeder and Appleton Area School District Fine Arts Coordinator Renee Ulman.

The team that coordinates Classroom Connections teacher workshops. From left to right Director of Programming and Community Engagement Amy Gosz, Education Coordinator Cassie Schroeder and Appleton Area School District Fine Arts Coordinator Renee Ulman.

The program began in 2012 and each year Ulman and the education team at the Center (including director of programming and community engagement Amy Gosz and education coordinator Cassie Schroeder) sit down to chat about trends happening in the district and arts integration workshops that are available through the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program. They select workshops that appeal to a variety of art forms, core curriculum topics and teaching grade levels. From this they are able to provide unique arts integration development opportunities that are available to any educator or person who works with youth.

“Arts-integrated lessons are created using equal portions of core subjects and an art form to learn concepts of both areas. For example, students may learn about the water cycle through movement, explore classic literature through drama, or they might study the Underground Railroad by the creation and performance of their own freedom songs,” said Fox Cities P.A.C. education coordinator, Cassie Schroeder. “By offering diverse programming we hope the arts reach more classrooms and impact the lives of more students.”

Why is it so important for teachers to incorporate arts into their classroom? Aside from statistical research done by Americans for the Arts that indicates students who participate in the arts are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, perform community service and win attendance awards, it’s what arts can teach about others and themselves.

“Students who create beautiful work through the arts are more engaged, more motivated and want to be at school. Their voices are heard by participating in meaningful and relevant projects, experiences and performances.  They are part of something larger than themselves and learn how to work with all types of people, accepting others for who they are,” Ulman explained. “Through the arts, all students learn new ways to communicate about and be in the world around them, they discover strengths and possibilities they might not have imagined, and work on the skills needed to be engaged citizens later in their lives. Once they leave school, every student will be judged on their character and quality of work, not their grades or test scores.  That is why it is important to be immersed in the arts…It’s an all-inclusive way of learning, therefore it is a way for all students to find success.”

Gather a group and come to the theater!

Part of the beauty of live theater is sharing the experience with a room full of people who are living the same moment. That, along with great benefits, is why group sales have remained a popular choice for patrons.

With a group sales team dedicated to helping you coordinate your experience, the ability to buy tickets before the general public and the discounts available to groups of 10 or more, there are many reasons to gather your friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors and everyone you know to go catch a show!

That’s how it all started for Lisa Comber, who coordinates groups tickets for co-workers and others who are interested in specific shows.

“I was interested in seeing the The Lion King and found out that with a group of 15 or more, I would be able to secure seats ahead of the public sale.   It took off from there,” Comber explained.


The group sales team includes (from left to right) Andrea Zinkgraf, Sherry Rougeux and Chelsea Crevcoure.

While the most difficult part is communicating with ticket buyers and making the ticket/payment exchange, the rest of the process for Comber and her group is a breeze.

“The easiest part for me is getting all the initial information together to send out to the group,” Comber explained. “The group sales team is phenomenal in helping us get the seats we want and having the tickets and envelopes ready for me.”

Group leader Debbie Griffith, who coordinates bus trips for seniors, agrees.

“The Fox Cities P.A.C. makes it very easy.  The gals in the group sales department are the best and try to accommodate almost any request at any time,” Griffith said.

Broadway is always a popular option for groups but both leaders have also taken advantage of group sales for Arts Alive! series performances such as Fantasia, Ballroom with a Twist, Masters of Illuision and recently, The Band of the Royal Marines.

“That was one of the best programs for our group,” Griffith said of the band’s performance. “Price wise, interest, and entertainment!”

Griffith said her group is anxiously awaiting Cabaret and The Bodyguard in the 2016-17 Season, while Comber says Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, Finding Neverland and The Sound of Music top her list.

You can make your group reservations for our 2016-17 shows today and secure your seats before the general public! Visit the group sales page on our website for more information.

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Welcome new board members!

It’s a new fiscal year at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and that means some fresh faces on our Board of Directors.

Please join us in welcoming Shaleen Devgun, Susan May, Scott Murphy and Kim Ritzow who fill vacancies created by retiring board members Darwin Copeman, Mame Heaney, Jim Johnson, Karen Laws and Robert Di Renzo.

Photo by Shane Van Boxtel, Image Studios LLC

Photo by Shane Van Boxtel, Image Studios LLC

“A group of top business and civic leaders, our Board of Directors also represents a group passionate about the power of the live performing arts,” said Fox Cities P.A.C. Board Chair Beth Flaherty. “We know the 2016-17 Board of Directors will continue to be wonderful assets to the Center, stewards to the community and strong advocates for the arts.”

Flaherty will continue on to her second year as board chair.

Angelo Ninivaggi will serve as vice chair. Ninivaggi is currently the senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Plexus Corp. where he has been employed since 2002. Ninivaggi first joined the board at the Center in 2012.

John Krause, a current board member, has also been re-elected to the role of secretary-treasurer. Krause is a partner with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP. Krause first joined the board at the Center in 2012.

John Hogerty will continue to serve as immediate past chair. Hogerty is the executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Bergstrom Corporation. He first joined the board at the Center in 2008 and served as chairman from 2012-2015.

Learn more about our new board members below:

Shaleen Devgun is the executive vice president and chief information officer at Schneider. Prior to joining Schneider in 2009, he spent 12 years in management consulting with Diamondcluster International and Deloitte. Shaleen and his family reside in Appleton and are actively involved with INDUS Fox Valley.

Susan May has served as the president and CEO of Fox Valley Technical College since 2008, having joined the organization in 1983 and working in several leadership capacities for the college over the years. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Stout and her doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Susan is an active board member or partner with many organizations in the region.

Scott Murphy joined Jewelers Mutual in 2015 as president and CEO. Prior to joining the company, Scott was an executive partner and principal in the insurance industry consulting group Triad Analytic Solutions. Scott is a graduate of the University of Tennessee.

Kim Kolbe Ritzow is a community advocate and volunteer. For the past several years she has served on the Fox Cities P.A.C. Advocacy Committee, has served on the fundraising committees for Friends of the Appleton Public Library and for WisconSibs. She is a frequent docent for the Trout Museum of Art and serves as a Cabinet Member of Ambassadors for Catalpa Health.

Please help us wish them all a warm welcome to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center!

Broadway Fast 5: June


Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

1.Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton!
Hamilton is always making the news for something, and this month was no exception. In addition to 11 Tony wins the show has officially announced the departure of at least 3 major stars when the one-year contracts expire July 9. Lin-Manuel Miranda will move on to work on Disney’s Moana and the new Mary Poppins film and a bunch of other projects in addition to not ruling out returning to the show on occasion. He will be replaced by current Hamilton alternate, Javier Munoz. Mrs. Hamilton, Phillipa Soo, will depart only to return to Broadway in Amelie in 2017. And Aaron Burr Sir, Leslie Odom Jr. announced one week after his big Tony win that he will depart the show. He did not announce a specific project but has been promoting his self-titled album that also released this month.

Hamilton also confirmed it will hop across the pond for a  West End production in Fall 2017 and tickets are officially on sale for the Chicago production, for which a cast has yet to be announced.

Photo by Emilio Madrid-Kuser

Photo by Emilio Madrid-Kuser


2.A Beautiful milestone
They can certainly feel the earth move! Beautiful: The Carole King Musical celebrated 1,000 performances on June 15, 2016, and Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed it Carole King day! The Broadway-hit musical will visit the Fox Cities next summer.


Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

3.Hairspray Live
After a live casting call, NBC’s Hairspray Live! has found it’s Tracy Turnblad! Maddie Baillio, a Texas native and current NYC college student, will take on the role in the production when it airs December 7. Also recently signed on, Kristin Chenoweth will play former Miss Baltimore Crabs herself, Velma Von Tussle.
As previously announced, the cast will also include Harvey Fierstein, who reprises his Tony-winning performance as Edna Turnblad, Oscar winner and recent The Color Purple star Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle, Tony and Emmy winner Martin Short as Wilbur Turnblad and Emmy winner Derek Hough in a self-prophesized turn as Corny Collins.



4. Broadway for Orlando records single, ends up #1 on iTunes

After the tragedy in Orlando in the early morning hours of June 12, the Broadway community made a point to show love and support, dedicating the 70th Annual Tony Awards to the victims with a beautiful opening to the ceremony and ribbons on the red carpet. They went one step further in the week after the tragedy when dozens of the biggest past and present Broadway stars gathered together to record a benefit single of “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and then performed live on NBC’s variety show Maya & Marty. The song rose to the top of the iTunes chart upon its release June 21.


82611-75.Tony Award Wrap-Up, Post-Tony Show Closings

There were so many great lessons from this year’s Tony Awards show and many gif-able moments and fantastic performances. Hamilton took 11 awards home, the show made history with all of its musical acting awards presented to African American performers and the broadcast brought in the highest viewership since 2001 when The Producers brought as much buzz as Hamilton.

Since the awards were announced Bright Star has announced a closing and the 2015 Tony-winning Best Musical Fun Home has also announced a closing date for this September. 10-time Tony-nominee Shuffle Along also, surprisingly, announced an early closing date for July, coinciding with Audra McDonald’s maternity leave. You can get a full recap of the Tonys and more over at

Staff Spotlight: Trisha Witt


You see the social media posts, the posters and the e-mails but that’s truly only part of the Center’s marketing efforts, led by director of marketing and communications Trisha Witt. Overall, Trisha works to make sure the community knows not only about the great shows coming up at the Center, but also the special programming and events that support the Center’s mission of being a gathering place for the community.

1.Which shows are you most looking forward to in the 2016-17 Season?
Wicked and Finding Neverland. Both shows have such a good message that can speak to anyone and take stories you already know, twisting them to share something new, which is exciting.

2. What do you wish more people knew about the Center?
I love that everyone can come and share an exceptional arts experience together, but the Center offers so much more than that. I wish everyone knew about the amazing programs the Center offers in the community from unique show-related engagement activities to special programming tailored to serve underserved populations such as our P.A.T.H.S. program or Broadway League’s Family First Nights.

3. What is your favorite part of your job?
I love sharing the stories of the difference the Center’s programming makes in the community. And of course, seeing the smile on a kids face the first time they get to experience theater is just priceless.

Next time you see Trisha, be sure to say hello!

13 things you might not know about the Fox Cities P.A.C.

Every year we provide facts and figures about the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in our Annual Report, but as we wrap up our 13th Season we thought it might be fun to give you 13 things you may not already know!

1. Approximately 850 partners contribute to support the Center’s mission through the Annual Partner campaign. As a nonprofit, the contributions of these donors along with granting organizations allow us to provide vital, enriching programs such as the education series, Frank C. Shattuck P.A.T.H.S. program, community engagement opportunities and much more, that help the arts reach so many in our community.

A recent Community Engagement Master Class at the YMCA

A recent Community Engagement Master Class at the YMCA

2. The Fox Cities P.A.C. has become a touring Broadway destination. To date, 27 touring Broadway productions have held their Wisconsin premieres in the building. The 2016-17 Season will add The Bodyguard, Finding Neverland and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical to that list for an even 30.

3. The Center hosted more than 50 Community First Community Engagement Series activities this season. In total, the Center teamed up with more than 25 community partners and had more than 7,000 people participate in the fun!


PAC Reveal 2015 013

Photo by Bill Garvin

4. The Center’s square footage is equivalent to approximately 3 football fields.

5. There’s truly not a bad seat in the house, with the furthest seat being a mere 108 feet away from the stage.

6. Local musicians are occasionally hired to fill out the sound of a touring orchestra during a Broadway run. The most we had this season was when 12 musicians played 15 different instruments for Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.



Photo by Image Studios

7. Groups of 10 or more should call the Group Sales department to find out how to be among the first to get tickets to a show, inquire if a discount may be available and what accommodations can be made for their group. Did you know more than 600 groups attended various shows in the 2015-16 Season, with an average of 25 group members?

8. Last year nearly 400 school buses brought school children to Bemis Company Education Series performances!

9. More than 150,000 tickets are purchased for events each year, and nearly 20,000 people will attend an event at the Center for the first time.

10. 16,239 bottles of water were sold last season.

11A-11-21-15-GRINCH 072

11. That tower on the side of the Center is 9 stories high and provides access to the Center’s highest points. This year it was lit green for the Grinch’s visit.

12. This season more than 5,000 photos were taken in Broadway photo booths and posted to the Center’s Facebook page.

13. More than 450 volunteers believe so much in the Center’s mission and providing world class service that they provide their talents and more than 26,000 hours to the Center each year.


We can’t wait to see what next season has in store!

2016 Chairman’s Gala was a night to remember

Gala 2016 098.JPG

Photo by Bill Garvin

The Fox Cities P.A.C. rolled out the red carpet for a night under the big city lights at the 2016 Chairman’s Gala! This special evening, designed to celebrate and support the Center’s mission of being a gathering place for the community,  each year brings supporters together to socialize, enjoy a fantastic dinner and bid on unique auction items and experiences.

This year attendees were treated to a big city experience when they drove up to motor city Detroit, complete with Motown sounds and valet parking. From there, they walked straight into the windy city of Chicago for cocktail hour. With a unique view of the iconic skyline and live student jazz combo from Notre Dame Academy, guests were entertained while enjoying signature drinks, socializing and taking a true vacation to Chicago without leaving the Kimberly-Clark Theater.

In true theater fashion, the final stop for the group was the streets of New York City (a.k.a. the main stage in Thrivent Financial Hall) for dinner where street signs replaced table numbers and skylines lit up the scene. After enjoying a three-course meal together in the home of Broadway, attendees enjoyed a live auction and celebrated the importance of the arts.

Gala 2016 013.JPG

The start of the cocktail hour painting by artist Julie Jilek Photo by Bill Garvin

In keeping with this year’s theme, silent auction items included a Detroit Getaway travel package, a painting by artist Julie Jilek created during cocktail hour at the event, an exclusive cooking demonstration and private dinner with actor, author and chef Mitchell Anderson, and a surprise opportunity to be a stage manager for a day at the Fox Cities P.A.C.

Money raised from the event and live auction benefit the Center’s mission and goes to support programs such as the Education Series, Frank C. Shattuck P.A.T.H.S. program, residencies like our recent Week of Autism Programming and so much more that bring people together to experience the arts in a deep and meaningful way.

In addition to celebrating the arts, the Annual Chairman’s Gala is our opportunity to honor an individual or organization that has contributed to the mission of the Center by presenting the Distinguished Service Award. This year, the Board of Directors selected Thrivent Financial.

Terry Timm accepts the Distinguished Service Award on behalf of Thrivent Financial Photo by Bill Garvin

Terry Timm accepts the Distinguished Service Award on behalf of Thrivent Financial
Photo by Bill Garvin

Thrivent Financial is committed to the communities where its members and employees live, work and worship and as such, they contributed the lead gift for the performing arts center as part of their centennial celebration in 1999. As a dedicated community partner, Thrivent’s leadership and generosity have played a significant role in helping the Center reach its $25 million Keystone Fund milestone.

“Their continued financial support and advocacy for the Center in the community demonstrates the corporation’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life through the arts in the Fox Cities and beyond. We are honored to partner with this impactful team.” said Board of Directors Chair Beth Flaherty.

We thank all of those in attendance for their continued support of the arts and look forward to celebrating again next spring! Will you be joining us?

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Broadway Fast 5: May


Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

1.Broadway shows begin closing

After the majority of theater awards are announced, so to are the closing dates. Unfortunately this month, Tuck Everlasting and American Psycho, which both  just opened at the end of April, announced their closing dates.



Leona Lewis Photo by Angela Weiss/ Getty Images

Leona Lewis
Photo by Angela Weiss/ Getty Images

2. It’s not just a memory! CATS will return to Broadway, announces casting

They’re back! Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical will return to the Great White Way led by an all star glamour cat. Leona Lewis, known for pop songs like “Bleeding Love”, will take on the role of Grizabella in the production which is set to open August 2. The announcement comes after Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls) decided to not take the opportunity to reprise her critically acclaimed performance from the West End production, instead opting to remain a judge on Simon Cowell’s X Factor. While Webber called the move “crazy”, we’re excited to see Lewis along with a fantastic cast in the new production!


82288-93. Disney is making some moves

There was plenty of Disney news this month! With the release of the first trailer for the live action Beauty and the Beast, the rumor that Disney is in the early stages of developing a live action version of The Little Mermaid, and the announcement that the Frozen lab features stars from Bullets Over Broadway, Lysistrata Jones and Hamilton, there’s a lot to be excited for in the months ahead.


Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

4. Christian Borle is going to be busy

The funny-man who stars in Something Rotten! has already announced he will headline the Broadway revival of Falsettos this fall but this month he also announced he will run from that show, set to play a limited engagement, right into another leading role. Borle has signed on to take the role of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when it begins previews in March 2017.



82320-75. The final sprint to the Tony Awards!

It’s the final sprint to the Tony Awards, airing on CBS June 12! is taking you behind the scenes for all of the pre-Tony activities you didn’t even know existed in this great video series. James Cordon, this year’s host, is warming up his skills with some crosswalk musical performances that will make you excited to see what he comes up with for the big night. And of course, actors and actresses are making the rounds, inevitably appearing on your television each day. Take Tony-nominated leading actress Cynthia Erivo, for example, who recently blew audiences away at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert with her nightly-standing-ovation-receiving rendition of I’m Here from The Color Purple. Just two days before that, she ran a half marathon and went on to perform two shows in the same day. Can you say superwoman? Get ready for the big night and get your printable ballot here!


Center Stage High School Musical Theater Awards hosts first workshop


Part of the Center’s recently announced Center Stage High School Musical Theater Awards is recognizing productions and the amazing talent in high school performances in Northeast Wisconsin.

The other part, however, is a unique opportunity for participating schools to attend workshops led by traveling artists. In the first of these workshops, held by the recent touring cast of Chicago, students learned everything from a professional audition dance combination (set to All That Jazz), to tips for auditions, how to stay healthy as a performer and how to continue their education in the arts.

IMG_1511Actress Lauren Gemelli explained that she wasn’t accepted to some schools she auditioned for, but  made the most of her program and training and worked hard to get where she is today. She explained the different options involved in picking a school to pursue the performing arts and encouraged students that it’s important to find the right fit for themselves no matter what field they choose to pursue.

Actor Seth Danner explained to the group that as a performer they are their own biggest investment and it’s important to remember to take care of themselves by getting enough rest, staying involved in school and continuously learning and improving through classes and workshops; he also explained the importance of learning to say no to activities or people that might hinder each of them from being their best self.

IMG_4027The two also offered up advice they solicited from the entire Chicago cast in preparation from the workshop which came to this:

“There will always be someone who can sing higher, dance better, do something you can’t but be your best self…there is no other you in this world.”

Check out the photos below from the dance portion of the evening in which students were taught the same dance combination Gemelli and Danner learned for their Chicago auditions!

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Staff Spotlight: Laura Lenhart


Have you heard that the Fox Cities P.A.C. is a nonprofit and wondered “So what does that mean?” or purchased a ticket and thought “I wonder how much a performer makes.” Laura Lenhart, the Vice President of Finance and Operations, is the one in charge of making sure all of those numbers work together so the Center can accomplish its mission in the community, provide world-class entertainment and operate successfully as a business. Laura, who has been with the Center for 14 years, leads the finance and operations teams, guiding and supporting them to live the Center’s mission and vision in their daily work.

1. What have been a few of your favorite shows?  The Tempest by London’s AandBC Theatre Company and Les Miserables. Next year  I am very excited for Beautiful and Itzhak Perlman with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra.

2. Why is it important for people to understand that the Center is a nonprofit? It’s important that people understand the Center is a nonprofit because of the indispensable value it brings to the Fox Cities community. The arts are able to bring diverse groups together for shared and transformative experiences, strengthening our community. The cost to bring live performing arts across the country or from overseas to the Fox Cities can be expensive and the price of a ticket often is not enough to cover the costs which is why the government allows for organizations like ours to raise contributions to support these important initiatives. For example, a Broadway ticket may cost on average $86. The first $78 of that ticket goes back to the producers of the show to pay the artist, the crew to run the show, the cost of props and all the costumes, as well as the cost to pack up everything in trucks and drive to the Fox Cities. The remaining $8 allows the Center to pay for costs such as the utility bill, building maintenance and security.

3. What does being a nonprofit mean to the community? Being a nonprofit means that the community can invest in the arts with tax deductible funds to support our mission. Their generous support allows us to further our mission and provide specifically designed programs that do everything from reaching underserved populations to enhancing appreciation of the arts, encouraging community conversation and bringing people together with fun and engaging shared experiences. It really comes down to being deeply rooted in the community and working to make a difference.

4. What is your favorite part of your job? Working with a great team to fulfill an amazing mission!

Next time you see Laura around the Center, be sure to say hello!