Annual fall revue cutting dinner, upping entertainment

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski The Shawano Community High School jazz band runs through “The Mooche,” a Duke Ellington song composed during Prohibition, during a rehearsal Thursday in the school’s band room. The jazz band will join the show choir for its fall music revue “Just Desserts” next week.

For more than 25 years, Shawano Community High School’s jazz band and show choir have provided audiences with an evening of dining and entertainment comparable to the kind of experience one would get from a nightclub.

This year, the entertainment experience will be the same, but you’ll want to grab dinner before you come to this year’s music revue, as the annual Dinner Dance is now being billed as “Just Desserts.” Christopher Kent, who directs the school bands, had worked with his brother, Jonathan, who directed the choirs before his retirement in June, on the dinner shows, but there had been a desire for several years to turn the fall music fundraiser into a dessert show similar to the Last Dance event held each spring.

“We really liked the format of ‘Last Dance,’” Kent said. “We just wanted to make things consistent and something the community would recognize every time. Doing a dinner on stage is much more complex on the stage than it would be if we were at a restaurant. I think we’ve done a good job with (the dinner shows), but it was just time.”

Another new twist to this year’s revue is that the Shawano Jazz Foundation is directly sponsoring the show. The foundation had helped with a few things for previous shows, but now the foundation is fully involved, according to Kent.

This year, the music groups will be taking guests back to the days of Prohibition, when alcohol was outlawed, and speakeasies popped up all across the country for those who weren’t ready to give up their spirits. However, since this show’s done at a school, there will be no alcohol at this show, Kent pointed out.

“The decorations will be done like a speakeasy. The tickets and posters are styled that way,” he said. “We’re going to do some things at the entrance, and we’re just going to make it fun.”

Among the musical selections being done by the jazz band are several Duke Ellington tunes. “The Mooche” was written during the Prohibition-era, Kent said, while “Half the Fun” came after alcohol became legal again.

“We have some music from that time period, and then we have a huge variety from other time periods,” Kent said.

The more modern tunes the jazz band will perform include “Skyfall” by Adele, “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables” where alto saxophonist Kori Halstead will have a solo, and current hit “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi.

The show choir will also be performing songs with some zip. Among the choir’s selection are “Dancing Queen,” “The Greatest Show,” “New Girl in Town” and “Stand by Me.”

This year’s show will also help the jazz band as it prepares for the Essentially Ellington High School Band Competition, which is held in New York. Fifteen of the top bands in the country are invited to the annual festival, and SCHS hopes to be one of those bands in 2019.

“Last year was our first year submitting or recording,” Kent said. “Kori Halstead, my lead alto, received national recognition for her solo on one of the pieces that we did, which is huge.”


WHAT: “Just Desserts”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Nov. 9-10

WHERE: Auditorium stage, Shawano Community High School, 220 County Road B, Shawano

TICKETS: $15. Available at SCHS main office and Charlie’s County Market