Platinum Edition’s Celebration 2014 places spotlight on student soloists

By Melissa Vach

Arts & Entertainment Editor


Platinum Edition, the 36-member show choir group will perform its springCelebration 2014 show on Saturday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Viterbo Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Joining Platinum Edition on-stage will be Viterbo’s own 9th Street Singers concert choir led by Associate Professor of Music Jean Saladino, the Coulee Kids show choir directed by Allen and the Lincoln Middle School show choir. The Apple Annies, a former Platinum Edition show-date staple group, will not be performing as Allen is no longer the group’s director.


Solo and duet acts are common to Platinum Edition’s performances, but this show will see many more individual acts outside of Platinum Edition’s own numbers than previous shows.


“So many kids were interested (in solos),” Nancy Allen, music director of Platinum Edition, told Lumen.


“Sometimes it’s been my decision or students come to me with a song,” Allen said of which solo or duet groups are allowed to perform. Due to the increased interest this time around, Allen decided to have the students audition before a panel of three judges in the Viterbo University Dance Studio.


“I didn’t want to be the one to say yes or no,” Allen continued. “An outside panel would be more objective.”


The top five acts out of those who auditioned were picked by the judges. One of those groups picked was the new a capella men’s group Tonal II, formed by Allen and composed of freshman and sophomore members Hunter Evenson, Alex Lentz, Connor Sullivan, Matthew Torma and Jon Woodruff. They will perform the song “Good Life” by One Republic.


“(Nancy) had previously directed a barbershop quartet called Tonal Impact and saw some of the same qualities in us as she had seen in the other group,” Lentz, sophomore music education major from Janesville, Wis., told Lumen. Barbershop music is a style of a cappella.


“(Tonal II) started as a barbershop quartet learning music that pays homage to strict ‘doo-wop’ barbershop,” Lentz continued. “However, we are expanding more of our repertoire to include more modern day a capella.


“When Nancy helped start the group our main purpose was to perform as a separate act from the main ensemble (of Platinum Edition),” Lentz said. “It was only after realizing that we were capable of much (more) that we thought about possibly doing other gigs.


“A few of our goals are performing shows in and around La Crosse and showcasing a diverse and popular range of music,” Lentz said.


Senior mathematics major Austin Mahlum from Holmen, Wis. will perform the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin with his father, Doug Mahlum. Austin has been a member of Platinum Edition for two years.


Doug’s experience with Platinum Edition includes acting as MC and performing alongside the Apple Annies in the song “Beauty School Dropout.” Doug is currently a lead vocalist in the five-person La Crosse band Double Take, in which Paul Leithold, the bass player for Platinum Edition, is the lead guitarist.


“My dad and I, we play gigs together and (Cat’s in the Cradle) is one of our songs we do,” Mahlum told Lumen. “It means a lot to us. It’s talking about the father and son, and how we’re growing up to be each other.


“We’ve sung (Cat’s in the Cradle) for quite a few years together,” Mahlum said, noting that “usually it’s involved my brother and sister as well.”


Doug and Austin will be the only Mahlums performing in the upcoming Platinum Edition show, so they’ve had to make a few adjustments to their arrangement.


“It’s still basically the same song, but we designed it so that vocally it was the best it could be,” Mahlum said, mentioning the bridge section and the style they play their guitars as main elements that have been altered.


Austin and his father will both play guitar and sing.


Members of Platinum Edition may audition for solos within the group’s own numbers, an alternative if they chose not to audition for their own solo performances.


“I am not doing a spotlight solo this show because I’ve been so busy with school, work and I also have a cover in the upcoming chamber opera, ‘Gallantry,’ by Douglas Moore,” Megan Mellenthien, sophomore vocal performance major and spanish minor from Milwaukee, Wis. told Lumen. “But I did audition and (got) a duet in one of the ballads in the show, ‘Flying Home’ by Jason Robert Brown, with one of my roommates.”


Mellenthien has been a member of Platinum Edition for two years.


Another change to this semester’s show is the absence of Ken Schelper on lighting design. Senior Andrew Krage, a BFA in theatre with an emphasis in design productions and a focus in lighting design from La Crescent, Minn., will take Schelper’s place after Schelper declined to continue as lighting designer.


“Nancy really liked the lighting for Drood which I did, so she felt that I would be a good fit for Platinum,” Krage told Lumen. The Viterbo music theatre and theatre departments performed the musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” February 21-23.


“The challenge in this show is that the Sunday we usually set up lights for Platinum (in the Fine Arts Center), we have Stuart Little,” Krage said. Krage is a student manager of the Fine Arts Center.


Krage has worked around this challenge by incorporating lights from the Stuart Little light plot into his Platinum Edition light plot. There will be roughly 200 lights in use, along with five moving lights and two spot lights located in the Main Theatre’s upper balcony. Source Four lighting instruments will be used to light the front of the stage, Pars will provide light from the flyspace above the stage, and eight “booms,” or lighting instrument stands, will be placed in the wings on either side of the stage and will use Altman lights.


“I’ve never done a show this big,” Krage said. “I’m kind of just jumping into it.”


Krage has one week to hang lights and write light cues for the show, but he says “knowing that Jack (Hamilton) and the rest of the Fine Arts Center staff is there to help me” is supportive.


To determine which lights or lighting effects he will use, Krage listens to all of the songs that will be performed during the show.


“I listen to the numbers and come up with images in my head,” Krage said. “Nancy has specific things, such as ‘Light ‘Em Up,’ where she is specific about wanting orange for that. We’re gonna kind of be blinding the audience with amber and a lot of silhouettes for that song.


“In ‘Hooked on Broadway,’ we want to really make it feel like broadway,” Krage said. “We’re going to have chase lights–lights going on along the edge of the stage that are going to light up and give a Times Square marquee type of image.


“I have a little bit more freedom with other numbers,” Krage said. He has not yet seen the Platinum Edition choreography at the time Lumen has gone to press, but he states he will have more specifics once he has seen the choreography.


Tickets for Platinum Edition’s Celebration 2014 may be purchased at the Fine Arts Center Box Office for $20 Main Floor, $17 Lower Balcony and $14 Upper Balcony.

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