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“Population 485,” by Michael Perry, adapted from his New York Times bestseller “Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time,” with music by S. Carey, will be performed Sept. 13-29. (Photo by Larry May)

Director comments on ‘Population 485’

“Population 485,” by Michael Perry, adapted from his best-selling memoir “Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time,” with music by S. Carey, will be performed September 13-29 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., as well as Sundays at 2:30 p.m. at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin.

A prodigal son returns to his hometown of New Auburn, Wisconsin, after a 12-year absence. He figures the best way to reconnect is by joining the volunteer fire department. With a backdrop of this tight community responding to fires, tangled wrecks, and smaller emergencies, Perry weaves a tale that is both comic and tragic.

Director Collin Geraghty has much he can relate to in this story. Perry’s quest to return to his community and find that feeling of “homecoming” is a familiar one to Geraghty. He is an alumnus of Hudson High School and The Phipps Children’s Theater. He was hired as the performing arts production coordinator for The Phipps Center in June 2018. Dedicated volunteers who answer the call are at the center of the story in “Population 485,” while volunteers also play a huge role in the success of The Phipps. As the director of “Population 485,” he brings his experience as a multi-disciplinary performing arts professional, with credits including Chicago Shakespeare Theater, The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and American Players Theatre, as well as films, videos and commercials.

Geraghty reflects that “this show may be more ‘true to life’ than anything our audiences have ever seen on The Phipps stage. Written by a local author, and set in the small town of New Auburn (population: 485), the rhythm of the language and the issues the characters hold dear will be very familiar to our audiences. This is a work of non-fiction and the playwright himself requested ‘that every line be uttered with the understanding that these were not characters, these were people living their lives.’ I am proud that our actors are doing such an amazing job delivering grounded, realistic performances. To make sure we got the accident scenes right, we even brought in retired fire captain Jeff Titcomb to act as a consultant.”

Filled with memorable characters, “Population 485” provides for an engaging and entertaining night of theater. As Geraghty says, “I think great theater provides an audience with the opportunity to hear stories that speak directly to their lived experience.” New Auburn is a community living out its share of happiness and tragedies. “In these people and their journeys, you may recognize your neighbors and perhaps some pieces of your own story.”

Tickets are $20 for adults and $13 for students of any age. Pricing is subject to change based on demand. Reservations may be made by contacting The Phipps ticket office at 715-386-8409 or online at ThePhipps.org.

This production is sponsored in part by Wisconsin Public Radio.

In addition there will be an author’s talk and a community forum during the run of the play. For information, visit ThePhipps.org.

The Phipps Children’s Theater season tickets now on sale

Subscribers to The Phipps Children’s Theater 2019-20 season tickets can save up to 35 percent off individual tickets. A subscription includes one ticket to each of four shows at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis., on a date and time convenient to the subscriber, with free exchanges, and first priority to order children’s theater season tickets next year.

The Phipps Children’s Theater season, featuring talented area students, consists of the following:

“Sleeping Beauty and the Beast,” by Wade Bradford, will be performed October 4-13. This comedic fractured fairytale follows the quest of the bumbling, but good-hearted Prince Charmless as he attempts to save Princess Rose from the Wicked Faerie and her sleep-induced curse.

“Elf Jr. The Musical,” with the book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, music by Matthew Sklar, and lyrics by Chad Beguelin, based upon the New Line Cinema film written by David Berenbaum, will be produced December 12-21. Based on the beloved holiday film, this musical comedy follows Buddy the elf in his journey from the North Pole to New York City to find his true identity.

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and the book by Doug Wright, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and the Disney film, with music adapted and arranged by David Weinstein, will run February 14-March 1. Ariel, a fun-loving and mischievous mermaid, is off on the adventure of a lifetime, but it will take all of her courage and determination to make her dreams come true and save her father’s beloved kingdom from the sneaky sea witch Ursula.

“Charlotte’s Web,” adapted by Joseph Robinette, based on the book by E.B. White, will be performed April 30-May 10. Charlotte, an extraordinary spider, is determined to save the runty but goodhearted young pig Wilbur from the butcher in this charming adaptation of “the best American children’s book of the past two hundred years,” according to the Children’s Literature Association. It’s a beautiful, knowing story about friendship.

A season package of one ticket for each of the four shows costs $58, which is $14.50 per ticket. For a season brochure, contact the ticket office at 715-386-8409 or visit ThePhipps.org for a complete schedule.

Dance classes begin

Dance technique classes for children and adults begin in September and continue through May 2020 at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin. Classes in adaptive dance, ballet, ballroom and Latin, contemporary, core and flexibility, hip-hop, jazz, lyrical, pre-ballet/tap, and tap are offered.

The class year is divided into two semesters of 16 weeks each, except for ballroom, which is divided into four quarters of eight weeks each. All instructors are experienced as both educators and performers.

Class times and fees as well as a complete catalog may be found at The Phipps.org.

Trio From The Barbary Coast Dixieland Show Band

A trio from the Barbary Coast Dixieland Show Band featuring Bobby van Deusen, piano and vocals, with Steve Pikal, bass, and Tom Andrews, drums, will perform in concert on Sunday, September 22 at 7 p.m. at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin.

The engaging pianist promises to keep “toes tapping and hands clapping” with traditional jazz, popular songs, and show tunes. The eclectic program will include “The Sound of Music,” Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date,” “The Maple Leaf Rag,” Ray Stephen’s “Mississippi Squirrel,” “Shallow” from “A Star is Born,” and Bobby’s 18-minute arrangement of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Bobby van Deusen’s credits include Rosie O’ Grady’s Dixieland Band and gigs in New Orleans with Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, and The Dukes. He performed with the Delta Queen Steamboat Company for five years, perfecting his stride and ragtime styles. He has also been the “house band” for “RadioLive,” a production of WUWF Public Radio, for 18 years. In addition, he has toured the country playing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with civic orchestras.

Pikal plays the string bass with gusto and the trombone with finesse. He has played with Bob Hope, Artie Shaw, and Margaret Whiting, to name a few. Locally, he plays with Bill Evans and has played with The Hall Brothers and Butch Thompson.

Andrews has played with many popular Dixieland bands at jazz festivals throughout the country. He also performed with the Upper Mississippi Jazz Band.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for students of any age, and may be reserved by contacting The Phipps ticket office at 715-386-8409 or online at ThePhipps.org. Discounts are available by purchasing season tickets.

How we talk about (and don’t talk about) challenging topics Sept. 24

Inspired by Michael Perry’s theme of community in his book and play “Population 485,” The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin, will host a forum, “Civil Discourse: Immigration, Refugees, and Population Change” on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 7 – 8:30 p.m.

“Join us for an enlightening discussion about how we talk (and don’t talk) about challenging topics,” invites Dr. Neil Kraus, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF). “How can we encourage more constructive dialogue rather than talking past each other?”

Dr. Kraus will moderate the following panel:

• Dr. Elaine Baumann, the retired principal of River Falls High School.

• Jim Harsdorf, served in the Wisconsin Assembly and as floor leader in the Wisconsin Senate as well as in the governor’s cabinet as Secretary of the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

• Dr. Cyndi Kernahan, professor of psychology, UWRF, whose expertise is racism and prejudice.

• Dr. Ozcan Kilic, Muslim panelist of “Different Voices: Shared Visions” on River Channel television, and professor of management and marketing, UWRF.

• Rev. John Lestock, the senior pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church, Hudson.

Questions and answers will follow the panelists’ opening statements.

The forum is free of charge, but reservations should be made by calling 715-386-8409 or online at ThePhipps.org. It is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the state of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Phipps Festival Chorus Auditions Sept. 12 & 14

Auditions for new members of the 2019 Phipps Festival Chorus will be held on Thursday, September 12 from 7 to 8 p.m. in the River Room and Saturday, September 14 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the music studio of The Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust Street, Hudson, Wisconsin. Weekly rehearsals are Saturday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to noon and will begin October 5. The ensemble will perform its annual Christmas concerts on Saturday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 at 2 p.m. at The Phipps Center.

Requirements include experience in choral singing, the ability to learn music quickly and independently, and conscientious advance preparation for rehearsals. Adult singers should come with a prepared selection for the audition. An accompanist will be provided. Singers will also be asked to do some vocalizing and basic sight reading. To schedule an audition, contact The Phipps at 715-386-2305. Walk-ins also are welcome.

The Phipps Festival Chorus, now in its 30th season, is an adult chorus of approximately 45 members and is directed by Thomas Dahle, Hudson. The chorus has performed twice by invitation at the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association’s state convention.

Dahle, the music director since 1989, received his degree in instrumental and vocal music from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. He has been a member of The Minnesota Chorale and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Chorale. Performances with these groups, in concert with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and The Minnesota Orchestra, have given him rehearsal and performance experience with world-renowned conductors Robert Shaw, Helmuth Rilling, Jeffrey Tate, Eiji Oue, Hugh Wolff, Andrew Litton, Harry Bicket, Nicholas McGegan, Douglas Boyd, Kathy Romey, and Dale Warland.

Colored Pencil Botanical Drawing Class at The Phipps

“Bounty of the Garden in Colored Pencil,” a four-week botanical drawing class will be offered on Tuesdays, September 17 - October 8, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis.

The instructor, Nancy Gehrig, has shown her work locally, nationally, and internationally, and has taught at the Minnesota School of Botanical Art and at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

This class is all about color and techniques specific to colored pencils. Students will learn how to get vibrant greens, rich reds and yellows using layering to build color. The subject matter will be the bounty of the summer garden. The class will review the different types of pencils available and how the paper surface affects the drawing. Hands-on instruction and individual attention will be provided as students work with the layering technique. Participants can expect to complete a drawing of a simple botanical subject. This class will be helpful for artists at any level.

The class fee is $113, plus $7 payable to the instructor. Participants should request a materials list upon enrollment.

For more information or to register, go to ThePhipps.org, call 715-386-2305, or stop by the center.

Ballroom Dance Parties

Ballroom dance parties are offered on the third Saturday of every month June-September, from 7 to 10 p.m., and the first and third Saturday of every month October-May in the dance studio of The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis.

Tom Larson will offer a dance lesson during the first hour. The foxtrot and samba will be featured September 21. West Coast swing and East Coast swing will be taught October 5. Country two-step and samba will be featured October 19.

This is an opportunity to have fun trying out new dance skills in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Dancers of all experience levels are welcome. Admission is $12 per person.

Larson has taught at The Phipps since 2003 and owns the Ballroom and Wedding Dance Studio in Minneapolis. He performed for five seasons with The Continental Ballet Company.

For further information, contact The Phipps Center at 715-386-2305.

Adult with Child Pottery on the Wheel at The Phipps

A pottery on the wheel class for adults with children ages 7 through 12 will be offered Tuesday-Thursday, October 1-3, from 6 to 8 p.m., at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis.

Together, adults and children will learn basic techniques of throwing pottery on the wheel. Participants will create cups and bowls and finish them in a variety of fun ways.

The fee for this class is $79 per person, including all materials.

To register, go to ThePhipps.org, call 715-386-2305, or stop by the center.

Soft Pastels Workshop with Dan Mackerman

Working with Soft Pastels, a two-day workshop with Dan Mackerman, will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 4 and 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin.

While simple approaches to pastel painting will be emphasized in this workshop, topics will expand into using sandpaper and washes such as alcohol and watercolor. The first day will be devoted mainly to demos, looking at examples and learning about supplies, tools, and papers. Student sketching will complete the day. The following day will be devoted to students producing their own completed pieces.

Among the topics covered will be great examples of pastel painting; a simple step-by-step approach to developing a pastel painting; different papers; recommended soft pastel and pastel pencil brands; useful tools, such as stomps, chamois, and kneaded erasers; and how to frame a pastel.

The workshop is recommended for those with drawing experience at all levels.

The class fee is $175. Request a materials list upon enrollment.

For more information or to enroll, go to ThePhipps.org, call 715-386-2305, or stop by the center.

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