Performers Share What It's Like on Stage at the Lerner

June 18, 2011

If the opening of the Lerner Theatre opening is a big deal for audience members, imagine what it was like for local music and theater groups that performed Friday night on the renovated stage.

The Elkhart Municipal Band, Elkhart Alumni Choir, Elkhart Civic Theatre and Premier Arts made up the second night of the Lerner's grand opening week of celebration.

The alumni choir took the stage first.

"It was very thrilling," said choir member Reen Wenger of the performance.

The choir was formed specifically for Friday's show. Made up of alumni from Elkhart High School, Wenger said there may be plans of the choir sticking together after Friday's performance, but she's not sure.

"[Performing at the Lerner] was spectacular," she said. "You could just feel the energy in the air."

Following the choir, the Elkhart Municipal Band took the stage. It treated the audience to seven songs under the direction of conductor David Swihart.

"We nailed it," said Stan Skinner, who plays trumpet in the band. "Everyone was connected on all the pieces. The audience definitely helped."

The first half of Friday's show ended with a music revue from the Civic Theatre.

"Performing was great," said Heather Anderson, a dancer with the Conservatory of Dance company, which performed with the Civic Theatre. "The standing ovation was the best part. It was so unexpected."

Tom Myers, the choreographer for the Civic Theatre's performance, said he noticed the theater's new sound system and said the state-of-the-art euipment made a difference.

"It was great to see the people of Elkhart come out to support the arts," he said.

Walking over from the National New York Railroad Museum, members of Premier Arts greeted the audience after a 15-minute intermission. They finished out the night with "The Very Best of Broadway," featuring songs from "Wicked," "Hairspray," "Les Miz" among others.

Based in Elkhart, Premier Arts is the resident theater of the Lerner Performing Arts Center. It's focus is on youth and family.

Leslie Navarre performed with her two daughters, Emily and Gabby. At 8 years old, Friday was Gabby's second show with Premier Arts,

"My favorite part of it was that it was a family event," Leslie said.

Emily said her favorite part was the song from "Wicked."

To sum up the night and her experience, Gabby said, "It was awesome."