Showboat Kicks Off with Some New People at the Helm

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The Showboat cast and crew love to sing for the enjoyment of the audience every year.

By Sue Moore

The 65-year old Vicksburg Rotary Showboat has a couple of young bloods working on the show this year: Adam Wallace as music director and Jake Munson, assistant director. They will be working closely with seasoned veterans, Director Ken Franklin and General Chairman Mike Tichvon.

With new people come new ideas according to Franklin, who welcomes the changes. “I am proud of the new generation of singers participating in the Showboat. This is a huge group effort to celebrate our talent and make money for the community is unmatched in the country. I’m confident it will continue for decades to come.”

Wallace will have the weight of those who have gone before him on his shoulders as he follows in the footsteps of Chris Garrett, who took the chorus to new levels of professionalism in his 14 years as music director. Wallace at age 22 may have an even bigger challenge but everyone around him knows he has the capability. He has studied piano since the age of five and been a protégé of Dusty Morris, Vicksburg’s vocal music instructor, throughout his seven years in middle school and high school. He played percussion for Ben Rosier in band. He has sung with Simply Men, the Chamber Singers and even the Showboat chorus for the last four years. He is in his junior/senior year at Western Michigan University with a double major in communication studies and behavioral psychology. In the meantime, he works with the choirs and plays acoustic piano at St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Kalamazoo and gives private piano lessons.

“I may have been a little too ambitious in selecting music for this year’s Showboat that will challenge the chorus of all-male voices, but they are sounding great as each rehearsal progresses,” he said. “I like to bring a high energy effort to directing and these men are amazing in their response to that. My conducting experience is with Centre Stage Theatre in Comstock and last year the Mendon Showboat. This is an amazing group of guys in little ol’ Vicksburg who have had such a great impact on the community for 65 years. I’m just so honored to be a part of it.”

Munson is tasked with being Ken Franklin’s understudy as part of the staging of the show. He’s a natural for the part; his stage presence in past shows attests to how good an actor he is, Franklin noted. Jake has accepted big roles in the Showboat over the five years he has participated. Besides being a percussionist in Vicksburg High School’s Big Red Machine, he said he learned leadership skills from Director Rosier. Munson has had parts in many of the plays directed by Melissa Sparks as part of the theater department. He also assisted her backstage, has acted in two low-budget films and sang in the lead section for the Showboat chorus. He is still completing classes at WMU and substitute teaching in Vicksburg’s middle school and high school.

“The Showboat is a vital part of the Vicksburg community,” Munson said. “It’s not about me being on stage, it’s the chorus carrying on a tradition that has been so long lasting. The audience can expect the same quality show. We are not making drastic changes as we stick with the tradition of 65 great years of Showboat.”

It’s Never Too Late for an Extreme Makeover of the Showboat

The Showboat crew has a new skipper, and an old problem – they’re broke! After getting the bad news from their accountant, they decide the best solution is to enter every TV reality show – and win the prize money from all of them! Why? Because that’s the best way to do it during a two-hour show!

This year’s show features the excellent talents of local actors and singers, men and women, young and old. Skits will include parodies of TV programs such as The Amazing Race, Fear Factor, Duck Dynasty and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

The fun and songs take place at the Vicksburg High School Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3, and 2 p.m., Sunday, March 4. Tickets are $10, general admission only, available at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center at 101 E. Prairie Street from noon-6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, noon-8 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Call 269-501-1347. They will also be available at the PAC box office before each performance.

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