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Choir/musical theater trip to Milwaukee to see Frozen

by Michael Rouse

ISD 696 Director of Choral Music

Ely’s “Year of Frozen” as by Proclamation from the mayor, Heidi Omerza, took a giant step forward last week with around 40 middle school and high school students traveling to Milwaukee to see the Touring Broadway Cast perform Disney’s Frozen, the Broadway Musical.

Ely Music Boosters and several other generous community donors sent Ely choral and music theater students and one student from Northeast Range on a very busy three day trip.

Day one was a trip to UWS. We were greeted by the choral and theater students and their professors. We toured their proscenium theater as well as their “black box” experimental theater.

It was interesting to listen to the students and their enthusiasm for their work of putting on performances. It seemed that there was a great amount of respect between those on stage and those behind the scenes. We ate lunch at the Yellowjacket Student Union. It was much different than eating at school. There were many different food stations from which a person could choose a variety of food to please any appetite.

We finished at UWS with a chance to watch a choir rehearsal. The choir had just returned from a tour and vacation. It was one of their first rehearsals back and they were working on some new repertoire. They laughed together and worked hard. It was a different perspective than seeing a choir performing in concert.

The UWS choir knew that Ely had won the rights to present Disney’s Frozen, the Broadway Musical and finished our visit singing “Vuelie” which is a number from the musical. “Vuelie” was also our Pop Choir’s contest selection, so for the grand finale, the Pop Choir was invited to sing this song with the UWS choir! It was fun to work with them.

We finished the day at Kalahari Hotel and Waterpark at the Wisconsin Dells. We heard rumors that even Mr. Rouse tried the wave board! There were many water slides to try for all kinds of adventure levels.

Thursday was a very packed day. We ate breakfast that was provided by our parents and chaperones. We boarded the bus and headed to Milwaukee. We arrived at the Ambassador Hotel, checked in and re-boarded the bus for a tour of the city. We saw the new facility where the Milwaukee Bucks play, the art museum which is an outstanding building of modern architecture on the shore of Lake Michigan, and stood in the warm sun on a sandy beach. It was amazing to see people soaking in the sunshine and smelling sun lotion knowing we left home and snow the day before.

We ended up at the Milwaukee Public Museum. We want to thank the Nickolson family for this experience. There was so much to see we could have stayed so much longer, but we boarded the bus again and held our breath as our amazing bus driver wove through the city streets! We had about 45 minutes to get dressed up for a delicious three course dinner prepared by the chef at the Ambassador Hotel. It was so good. We had about 20 minutes to get our teeth brushed before we boarded the bus for a special event at the Marcus Performing Arts Center.

After being dropped off at the Stage Door, Disney allowed us early access to the theater to watch the pre-show activities of light, sound and stage checks. It made us realize all the work that goes into a production of this size. And then….WE SAW FROZEN!! We had notebooks with us to record what we saw and heard so we could see what we could bring back to our own stage.

As a side note: The students took this opportunity to really learn, share their ideas. Watch out Ely, they have plans for you. They have clever fund-raising ideas, costume ideas, and a great deal of enthusiasm. Their insightful answers about the life lessons we can learn from the experience of bringing this show to our hometown were astounding. Love is an open door.

It also began to sink in that we, Ely, represent the entire state of Minnesota as we head towards Arendelle. We met the director and students from the school that won in Wisconsin. It is starting to sink in! After a show that left us breathless we met with some cast and crew. They encouraged us to be authentic, to work hard and to have fun.

We came back to the Hotel tired but excited. We were met with a snack table of sandwiches, chips and salsa provided by the hotel. We turned in, tired, but full in bellies and spirits. We met again at 8am for an amazing breakfast. We boarded the bus and headed home with our imaginations on overload.

The students really wish to thank all of our chaperones, our bus driver Gier, the Ambassador Hotel and general manager Jon, the Marcus Performing Arts Center and the general manager John. They made us feel so welcome and they want to travel to Ely to watch us work!

We could not have done this trip without the support of the community, the school, and Music Boosters.

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