Uncovering the Artist in You: Playing the Part

Have you ever had a dream to move out to New York City and perform in Broadway shows? Or maybe your dream was to make it there someday just to see a few that is such a popular part of the Big Apple. If you considered either of these for just a moment, maybe your artistic calling is in performing arts. You also might be thinking that acting isn’t for you whatsoever, but there is a whole lot more to a show than just the main characters. If you are looking for maybe an unusual hobby to pick up or really think that NYC is your next adventure, this might be the right spot for you. In this post, I’m going to suggest a few places in the area where you can get involved with performing arts and a couple other places to check out to enjoy watching a show come alive.

I’ve seen a handful of some really awesome performances and I also have had the chance to perform on stage for dance competitions several times. Being on stage is a really cool experience, especially in a large theater with all of the lights on you. As cool as that was, I have never performed in a play or musical. But I’m always begging my parents to take me to see the next one at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. It is so incredible how people can do amazing things to make a show come alive and tell such a neat story with effects that will blow your mind. A few I definitely recommend seeing are Wicked, The Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera.

I really wanted to include the performing arts in my blog series because I think that actors don’t always get enough credit for each and every performance they give. They deserve so much credit channelling their inner emotions for every show and portraying it in such a powerful way. All of the emotion is real and they don’t get a redo, or a cut, or a break during a show like you see on T.V. or in movies. The quick changes, the dance moves, the memorization of lines, the moving of props and backdrops and so much more are part of every show. Everything is real and I think it is a beautiful form of art.

Some great places to really get involved with large group productions in the Fox Cities are Riverside Players, Attic Chamber, Xavier’s Christmas Stars and University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley’s Dream Role. Miki Wise, performer, choreographer, and high school art teacher says, “The Fox Valley is a very welcoming and non-judgemental community to belong to.” You’ll have no problem jumping right in and be very welcomed by all the fellow performers!

There are many different parts to a show and the main role is what most people remember. But having a lead role is not for everyone. If the thought of that makes your knees tremble and your heart race, consider another role. But for those who love to act and want the center spotlight, it’s not an easy task to get all the time. It’s something you have to work hard for by learning new songs and notes, memorizing lines, and knowing the dance moves and where to be at all times. Having a big part is a lot of work that you really have to dedicate time to. Wise explains, “The hardest part of performing is memorizing lines, especially if I have pages and pages of them.” So brace yourself if you want the main part; you’ll be working for that hard-earned goal.

If you are a bit shy of the huge spotlight shining just on you, try being part of the choir, dancers or background people. These parts make up a good chunk of what’s needed for the show and it’s a great way to show off your talents, try something different or make some new friends. “Working together on shows, has helped me build some of my most important friendships. Theater and dance can help create such bonding experiences,” says Wise. If you haven’t acted or performed in a show at all and honestly, the whole idea scares you, another option is to be part of the stage crew. They help with moving the set around and making sure everything is in check for the show. It’s a great way to be involved without the spotlight shining on you. Plus, you usually get to be in the dark while operating on stage that no one knows it’s you! If you’re good with lights and music, maybe in back working all of the crazy technology could suit you. Wise says, “They always appreciate technical help too. There are so many ways a person can get involved ‘behind the scenes’ and still be a very important part of the show.”

There are really a lot of different options and roles to take when working on a show. Experiment and try out for roles to really know what you want and how comfortable you are with each role. Live theater is really important and can differ from visual art but also be very similar. “Live theater definitely IS art! I am a visual artist and teacher, as well as a choreographer and performer and I see them as equal ways to tell a story, express an emotion, or make an important statement. We speak, sing, and dance on stage to create an experience for the viewer just as we paint, draw, sculpt, and exhibit to impact our audience,” expresses Wise.

If you’d rather experience performances as an audience member, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center of Downtown Appleton has amazing shows that come through. The facility is big and beautiful having a couple different theaters within it such as the Kimberly Clark Theater, which is for smaller shows, and Thrivent Financial Hall, which is for the large performances on a much bigger stage. Maria Van Laanen, president of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center explains, “Performances provide a unique way to experience art, inviting patrons to use their imaginations and step into a world created by the actors, dancers or musicians on stage, expressing the emotions, humanity and cultures that bring us all together and expand our world view. Each performer excels at the creativity, expression and storytelling that defines art.”

There are many shows that go on throughout the year and the P.A.C. has a fantastic lineup. The Broadway Series features the Wisconsin premieres of Anastasia, Come From Away and The Play That Goes Wrong along with the return of Disney’s The Lion King. There will be concerts, dance groups, and comedians coming to the theater that offers something for everyone to enjoy. Shows are added all year long so is the best place to find a performance that will make you feel at home.

Van Laanen says, “Being a part of the organization since the beginning, I have been consistently amazed by the passion, excitement and pride the community has for the mission of the Center. From the opening performances to today, everyone has a story about their first or favorite experience at the Fox Cities P.A.C. and it is always inspiring to hear the ways the Center’s performances and programming are impacting our community.”

The performing arts are such a prominent part of the arts scene that I think it’s a good idea to really submerse yourself in them whether you try a new hobby and audition for a show or go see all the different ones your community has to offer. “I’ve lived in this area for 38 years now and the artistic opportunities we have here just keep growing and growing. I love it,” Wise says. It’s a great date night idea, fun for the whole family, or just educating yourself about something and seeing a story come alive with some dancing and singing too. There are so many ways to be involved in the arts and in your own community and I think performing arts is a great way to gain confidence and put yourself out there. They also bring people together and helps community members connect with one another. We can learn to appreciate cultures, circumstances and opinions different than our own too.

Wise says, “I truly feel that I am able to express parts of myself through acting, singing and dancing onstage that I could never share in any other way. It just feels so freeing to perform.”

Tell us! What is one of your favorite performing arts shows that you’ve seen or an upcoming one community members should check out?

Arts & Culture

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