The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 24, 2014

Show choirs gear up for Classic

Competition draws groups from across United States

The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Danville High School’s Dick Van Dyke Auditorium will be filled with song, dance and sparkly costumes as it plays host to the 18th annual Midwest Classic at the end of the month.

This year’s two-day show choir competition will gather 23 middle school and high school choral ensembles from across Illinois and Indiana and around the country, totaling more than 1,500 students, to compete at DHS for awards in various categories.

The competition is expected to draw more than 3,000 spectators to enjoy the entertainment of nine middle school groups on Friday, Jan. 31, and 14 high school show choirs on Saturday, Feb. 1.

Established in 1997, the Midwest Classic has grown and developed into one of the most respected show choir competitions in the Midwest and continues to be the largest event held at Danville High School, providing an unmatched performance venue with the historic Dick Van Dyke Auditorium.

“We encourage people to come out and see what the show choirs have to offer,” said Teri Cassem, president and publicity chair for the DHS Choral Boosters.

Although Danville’s own show choirs won’t compete for awards, South View Middle School’s Encore, North Ridge Middle School’s Radiant Reds and Redcoats as well as DHS’ Comtemporaires and Delegation groups will show off to the hometown audience with their exhibition performances.

“The judges do give us some feedback, which is good before we go out for competition,” said Adam Johnson, DHS’ new choral director this year.

The middle school division competition will kick off the event at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, with an exhibition performance from South View Middle School’s Encore. Radiant Reds from North Ridge Middle School will perform at 7:30 p.m., and the Redcoats from North Ridge will perform at 9:45 p.m.

The awards ceremony will be held immediately after.

On Saturday, Feb. 1, the high school division competition will begin at 9 a.m. with 14 high school show choirs performing throughout the day. The Contemporaires will perform at 4:15 p.m., and the mixed show choir, Delegation, will perform at 10:10 p.m.

The groups will compete in the categories of overall performance/grand champion, best vocal performance — best male soloist and best female soloist, best costumes, best visuals/choreography, best instrumental combo and best backstage crew.

“We opened up a small group category this year,” Cassem said. “Each year the competition changes. We have some new groups this year.”

Soloist competitions will take place from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in DHS’ Little Theatre. Dance team competitions will take place at 11:30 a.m. in Dick Van Dyke Auditorium.

Preliminary awards will be presented at 4:50 p.m. Saturday, with the finals competition beginning at 7 p.m. and the championship awards being presented at 10:45 p.m.

To put on a competition as large as the Midwest Classic, it takes hundreds of local volunteers — mostly parents and students — to plan out every detail of the event.

Hundreds of volunteers help with lighting, sound, parking and food during the two-day event.

“We’ve got alumni and past parents that volunteer,” Cassem said. “It takes about 300 volunteers to put on the event.

“We’re always looking for volunteers,” she added.

Johnson said he’s excited to be involved for the first time with the big event.

“Every day I find out more and more how much work goes into this,” he said of organizing the Midwest Classic.

IF YOU GO The Midwest Classic kicks off with the middle school show choir competition at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, in the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium at Danville High School. The last choir group will step on stage at 9:45 p.m. Admission is $8 for a student and senior Friday night pass, and $10 for an adult Friday night pass. An all-weekend pass is $23 for students and seniors and $30 for adults. On Saturday, Feb. 1, the high school show choir competition will begin at 9 a.m. with performances throughout the day until 4:15 p.m. in the Dick Van Dyke auditorium. After the performances, awards will be given, with the top groups performing in the finals starting at 7 p.m. Admission for Saturday preliminaries is $10 for students and seniors and $15 for adults. An all-day Saturday pass for students and seniors is $15 and $20 for adults. Saturday night finals admission is $10 for students, seniors and adults. Admission to see individual programs all weekend are $5. To volunteer at the Midwest Classic, contact Sue Lewis at 390-1085.