Local graduates return for Wisconsin Singers “Simply Best” show

When the Badger bus carrying the Wisconsin Singers rolls to a stop in the Sheboygan Falls High School parking lot on Feb. 23, two of the disembarking performers will feel right at home.

The bus will arrive at noon to begin unloading people, props and costumes and then those “people,” UW Madison’s most talented singer/ dancers and instrumentalists and their director and staff, will launch an afternoon of instructional workshops with the Sheboygan Falls Jazz Show Choir, the South High Singers and the North High School Northern Lights.

It’s all polishing for the 18th annual Sheboygan appearance of the Wisconsin Singers. Well, almost. Sheboygan’s South High School’s auditorium was the venue for the first 17 appearances. This year the Sheboygan Falls High School’s auditorium gets the honor. The curtain goes up at 7 p.m.

Why the change? The sponsoring Singers committee wanted to make Diana Dorn feel at home.

A Sheboygan Falls alumna, Dorn is a Wisconsin Singer. Her dream materialized when she was told she had survived the auditions and “made the team.” A member of the Sheboygan Falls Jazz Show Choir, she worked with the Wisconsin Singers for three years during their appearances at South.

“That was a blast every time,” she said. “Being a member of the Wisconsin Singers has been sort of a dream of mine since high school.”

The Sheboygan Falls show marks a homecoming for Connor Rehbein as well. Rehbein, who plays keyboard in the band resides in Howards Grove. He is a graduate of Manitowoc Lutheran High School.

Seeing a poster calling for auditions reminded Rehbein of a letter he received from the singers when he was in high school and decided to give it a shot. “I was looking for a way to challenge myself musically, and this sounded perfect,” he said.

Both are excited to perform before a home crowd.

After their afternoon “polishing “ session, the three high school show choirs will each perform two numbers to open the show. After that, the Wisconsin Singers will charge the stage for the first number of this year’s show, entitled Simply the Best, a 9-section, 90-minute Braodway caliber show.

Simply the Best, the Singers’ 47th season show, features more than 60 songs from timeless legends like Liza Minneli and the Beatles to such current pop icons as Beyonce and Taylor Swift. The audience will relive performances of scene stealers like Gene Kelly, Cher and Lady Gaga. Others at the party are John Williams, Billy Joel, Pete Seeger, Phil Collins, Paul Simon, Madonna and Frank Sinatra. Children of all ages will laugh at Aladdin singing “One Jump Ahead” and enjoy Lion King Simba in “I just Can’t Wait to Be King!” and music from Frozen. And Badger fans will enjoy participating in the Singers’ rendition of the Fifth Quarter where audiences sing “Varsity”, dance to “Tequila“, jump around and learn how to “Bucky.”

The show is written by Robert Dietz (arranger for The Sing Off!) and choreographed by Chad Shiro, whose long list of Broadway credits dates back to 2003’s Urban Cowboy, and Samantha Jean, who has choreographed and performed as a singer-dancer in several shows at Silver Dollar City in Branson. Robin Whitty-Novotny is the show’s producer.

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