Our Wonderful Volunteers
Fran Hoholik works on refinishing the mirror frame for Peter’s Place.
Chaired by Soo Theatre Project Board Members Jim Schmidt and Annette Shilts, the Soo Theatre Project’s Haunted Theatre was a big hit. Friday night 845 kids and parents traveled the maze of a fog-filled graveyard and encountered frightening ghouls, witches, human flesh-eaters, the chainsaw guy, the wolf man, and other creatures. On Saturday night 286 teens and adults had an even more intense experience. Thanks to many volunteers from STARS and the community for the fun-filled evenings.
Kids and their parents crowd the street in front of Soo Haunted Theatre waiting to go in on Friday, Oct. 27th. 840 traveled through the house of horrors created by Soo Theatre Board members Jim Schmidt and Annette Shilts and all their helpers. On Sat. night the show was a little more scary for teens and above, and attracted 286 more people. Comments like “ Thank you for doing this,” and “This is the most people I’ve seen downtown at night ever” were heard. Plans are for this to become an annual event to coincide with the Downtown Businesses’ Trick-or-Treat activities. Photo by Meta Geyer.
The historic Soo Theatre has been full of activity this past year. The staff of STARS wrapped up their first year of classes in dance, voice, acting, piano, violin, cello, viola, flute and recorder last spring with all students performing in a recital, some at local churches and the finale at the LSSU Performing Arts Center, because the theatre is still without heat.
It was a blessing in disguise for both Soo Theatre and Lake State. The Center was a great venue for first-time performers, and the show Broadway Revue brought a new audience to the campus in the form of parents, grandparents, friends and relatives of the 120 students performing. Created by dance instructor, Dianna George, the show was a huge success, ending May on a high note.
On June 17, STARS vocal teacher Karen Hughes starred in a concert, That’s Amore!, with Eric Shaw, an amazing tenor with Sault roots, who lives in Toronto and performs around the world. STARS students and staff also opened the Music in the Park series on June 14, not only showing off the talents of students taking violin and dance lessons, but with duets from Shaw and Hughes, who were in rehearsal for their formal concert. The announcer called it the best opening show in the eight years since the series began.
STARS students, faculty and friends opened the 2006 Music in the Park season. Shown here is one of the many performances that evening: Rachel Mender as Gretel and Emily Couling as Hansel give a preview of the Humperdinck opera they would perform in the Soo Theatre. Photo by Marian MacLeod.
In July Karen Hughes directed Hansel and Gretel, which received standing ovations every performance. Many STARS students were in the cast, with outstanding performances from local talent in lead roles including Emily Couling, Rachel Mender, Maureen Delaney-Lehman, Jerry Azevedo, Nanette Azevedo, Lola Kennedy, Lindsey McCullough and Shirley Wilkinson.
An Afternoon of Bluegrass featured more local talent organized by Brian Harrison and the Bait Shop Boys on July 30. Soo Theatre Board President Dianna George’s brother Greg George brought his ballet troupe, Children’s Ballet Theatre of Michigan, to our stage on August 24. Students from two summer theatre camps, one for middle school students and one for younger children, also performed in two Friday afternoon musicals the end of July and the first part of August. Staff received much positive feedback from the work they did with the youngsters in such a short time, and the students did an outstanding job of entertaining. In September, Sam Otten, Jr. of Rudyard, a talented pianist, performed for Soo Theatre at St. James. During August, the première theatre group Sault Community Theater rehearsed their production of The Guys, which was performed over the 9/11 anniversary weekend. The play was outstanding, with Frank Breen and Colleen Lavey in the starring roles, directed by Michelle Breen.
The stage was put to use again in mid-September with The Fantasticks, a musical directed by David Rhinard, DeTour, and performed in August for the Eastern Upper Peninsula Fine Arts Council. After three sold-out performances, the cast wanted to perform it again. With Rhinard and Karen Hughes both on staff at STARS, it seemed natural to bring the production to the Soo Theatre. Phillip Quinn, Lisa Dunn, and Mike Kasper, Cedarville; Dr. Richard Morrison and Hughes, Pickford; and Bob Zaharias, DeTour; brought people from the outlying areas into the theatre, some for the first time since the renovation began. At the Saturday night performance, the Soo Theatre Board of Directors, added two hours of local talent—Gentleman George Snider, Roy Nason and Jack Kinney, Tim Hatfield and Dennis Brooks and the popular band, Wild Fate (Joey Beairl, Amy Beairl and Tony Rogers). Pizza and soft drinks were sold at a nominal price to wrap up a great season. Tom Ewing, WSOO & OLDIES 93 introduced the opening acts before The Fantasticks.
Mike Kasper lifts Dan Harris out of a box in a hilarious scene in The Fantasticks. Photo by Tom Ewing
comes to the Soo Theatre Project’s STARS with music degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and experience teaching strings in public and private schools. She also brings with her experience in arts administration
gained in suburban Chicago and western Michigan.
This talented wife and mother of two teaches violin, viola and cello at STARS and serves as director of the program. She has found herself in demand to play in area orchestras, and she is currently a part of the Sault Symphony and the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra.
The Powers family came to the Sault from Escanaba, when Nancy’s husband Mike took a position as psychologist with the Sault Tribe. Their move came at a time when the Soo Theatre Project was planning their offerings of music, dance and theatre classes. It was a wonderful opportunity for both parties, and Nancy is proud that STARS is growing. She also is working on establishing a scholarship fund for students or potential students who can’t afford lessons. “We want to give everyone who desires to study the arts an opportunity,” she said.
Nancy Powers, Director of the STARS Program.
Mark your calendar for the STARS Christmas Program, Saturday, December 16, to be held at Holy Name of Mary Church on E. Portage Ave. Performing will be the Youth Orchestra, the Cello Choir, the Youth Chorus, the flute groups and Singers United.
According to STARS Director, Nancy Powers, class totals have grown. At the end of the first school year, the program had just over 200 students. This year there are over 300, creating pressure on studio space. Current students are reminded to register early for the winter/spring classes to hold their places. There is an increase in students taking lessons in violin, piano, dance, and voice. Powers has started a string ensemble called “Not Quite Ready for Prime Time Players,” for those adults who would like to take up their instrument again. Dottie Case has organized a Cello Choir for cellists and bassists. Call 632-1930 for more information.
Kristen Beamish announced recently that the United Way Volunteer Center Advisory Committee has chosen to recognize the Soo Theatre Project’s volunteers for working to make this project a reality. Nomination for this honor came from a parent of a three-year-old girl, a ballet student at STARS: “My daughter’s lessons have built her self-esteem and turned her into a confident young girl, as opposed to a shy little wall flower who would never have taken part. Thank you, Soo Theatre group!”
Soo Theatre Project Board receives United Way recognition.
It is gratifying and inspiring to see how our talented and dedicated citizens are joining together and collaborating on the task of making this once- (and soon to be again-) glorious theatre a vital part of downtown Sault Ste. Marie.
Join our “Bring Back the Lights” campaign - an ongoing fund-raising effort. Pledge over a number of years or make a one-time donation. Details on donation sheet...
Contribute to our “The Curtain Can Go Up Because The Wall Is Down” drive. A modest donation of $25 puts your name on the wall in the window and later in the lobby. Details on donation sheet...
Volunteer your time - Call the theatre at 632-1930 or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The STARS program has enjoyed incredible success due to the vision and hard work of the STARS faculty. The music instructors have come together from their private studios to teach students of all ages. Teaching piano
are John Ignatowski, Jennifer Parker, Dottie Case, and
Bob Aldrich. Karen Hughes teaches voice, harp, middle school voice class, youth chorus, and Tunes for Toddlers.
Meg Stevens is teaching flute and directing the Flute Choir and Flute Club. Teaching violin, viola, and cello are
Dottie Case and Nancy Powers. Jennifer Parker is also teaching
recorder and flute, and directing the Recorder Consort. Dottie Case serves as director of the Youth Orchestra and Cello Choir.
John Ignatowski also directs Singers United. Dianna George serves as director of the STARS dance program, teaching children, teens and adults movement, pre-ballet, ballet, jazz, and tap. She also directs the Footlight Dancers, the advanced performing ensemble.
David Rhinard teaches acting for teens. Linda Whitetree Warrington leads workshops in the visual arts. Yoga classes for adults are taught by
Lee Carlson. Find
about our STARS faculty...
Registration for the Winter-Spring Term will begin December 4. The new term will be eighteen weeks, January 8 through May 19. Current students are given the opportunity to pre-register during November to hold their place in class or private lessons. Class brochures outlining the class offerings will be available December 1.
Stop by the STARS office, 534 Ashmun St., and pick up a beautiful, spacious tote-bag with the STARS logo. Get a gift certificate; give the gift of lessons to a special person in your life. How about a beautiful coffee mug, and high-quality T-shirts with our “Bring Back the Lights” Soo Theatre logo? Give a donation to the theatre in the name of a loved one whom you wish to honor! Print out our donation sheet to accompany your check.
Dianna George, president
Colleen Arbic, vice president
Debbie Cole, treasurer
Mary Krzycki-McKay, secretary
Alistair McKay, assistant secretary
John Wilkinson, ex-officio
Our mission is to renovate and restore the Soo Theatre complex, and to use this facility to sponsor, encourage, and create opportunities for participating in and appreciating the arts.
**Soo Theatre Arts Resource Studios (STARS) is a program of Soo Theatre Project, Inc.