Sesquicentennial Show

March 12, 1998

Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Show Set for River Falls

River Falls and Wisconsin are both celebrating their 150th birthdays in style this year, and the two will combine for an artistic performance to commemorate both anniversaries.

On Sept. 25-26, the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua will launch its state-wide tour of its Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Show during an appearance in River Falls. It will be the main event during a weekend of activities to celebrate the 150th birthday of River Falls.

Nationally recognized through its performances carried on National Public Radio, the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua has created a major new historical musical to celebrate 150 years of Wisconsin statehood.

The appearance was announced on Wednesday at UW-River Falls before a crowd of about 100 persons from River Falls and surrounding communities, who also were treated to an impromptu performance by Chautauqua artistic director Warren Nelson and three performers from the troupe.

"We're extremely pleased to be hosting the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Chautauqua as we celebrate our own community birthday," said Janet Olson Halaas, chair of the River Falls Sesquicentennial Committee. "It's also a privilege for us to be chosen as the show's premier site as it begins its two-month tour through the state."

The 2.5-hour show set for Sept. 26 will use all original stories, songs and music to tell the stories of Wisconsin's people, illuminated by the projection of historic photographs collected statewide from museums and private collections. The show is being researched and written by Nelson.

The appearance in River Falls will launch the company's statewide tour to present the show over two months to 11 cities. In addition to its full performance, the troupe will present two 45-minute shows to some 6,000 regional elementary and middle school students.

Major underwriting for the Chautauqua's appearance is being provided through the student-supported UW-River Falls Wyman Performance Series.

"The Wyman Series is very excited to be a part of this program!" said series coordinator Kaye Schendel. "We believe that students, faculty, and the community will have a fantastic opportunity to be part of one of the biggest events to take place at UW-River Falls".

The main show is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. Tickets are $12 and can be ordered by calling 715/425-4911. UW-RF students with a valid identification will pay $5. In the event the Sept. 26 show is sold out, a second will be added for Sept. 25.

The production will be held at the Robert P. Knowles Physical Education and Recreation Center at UW-River Falls, and is the largest performance ever staged in the University's history.

The Chautauqua appearance is sponsored by the River Falls Sesquicentennial Committee, which includes the City of River Falls, the River Falls School District, the Pierce County Historical Society, the Main Street 2000 Project and UW-River Falls.

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