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Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
2013-2014 MENDEL CENTER SEASON MAINTAINS BRAND FOCUS
Originally Posted: 06-21-2013 7:56 PM
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Having been the Voice Of The Mendel Center for last season’s radio and TV advertising, I was asked to attend the unveiling of the 2013-2014 Mendel Center Season last week.

The presentation was introduced by Mike Nadolski, the new Mainstage Operations Manager, who led the audience through a video presentation of the season after an appearance by Laura Kraklau, Executive Director Of Marketing & Communications, which received some spirited catcalls from the crowd. Apparently, the audience must think she’s doing something right with this 13-show season.

The “Marquee Series” includes: the musical Hair!, back in the schedule this year after the production cancelled the Michigan tour leg last season; Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show, a critically acclaimed tribute to the Rat Pack which currently runs nightly at the LVH Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas; Newport Jazz Festival: Now 60, a touring celebration of the legendary jazz festival founded in Newport, RI featuring 5-time Grammy winner, Randy Brecker; and for Christmas, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, a cultural favorite for the last 25 years.

The “Classic Rock Series” includes: Little River Band, one of the very best pop artists in the late 70s/early 80s with over a dozen huge radio hits in their roster; PFX – The Pink Floyd Experience, complete with 6-piece band, HD projection, quadraphonic sound, and light show; and Brass Transit: The Musical Legacy Of Chicago, hailing from Toronto, pay homage to 70s era Chicago with "studio tight” horns and vocals, it says here.

One of Kraklau’s great original concepts for this season is the “Artist You Should Know Series”, which features new but touring artists that could be on the brink of widespread mainstream success. These features include: Susan Ashton, an Americana artist who has achieved success as a songwriter and singer in the Country genre; Nobodies Of Comedy, a collection of hilarious comics ready for their break; and Atlantic Steps, a show featuring dancer Brian Cunningham and his family as they bring “sean-nos”, one of Ireland’s oldest dance forms, to the stage.

And in the “Discover Series”, kids will be pleased again with imagination stirring programming which includes: Dinosaur Train Live!, based on the PBS television show and featuring hybrid puppetry/walkaround characters with a full sized replica of the Dinosaur Train; Lightwire Theatre Presents: The Ugly Duckling & The Tortoise And The Hare, which features electroluminescent puppetry surrounded by darkness to truly amazing effect as evidenced as semi-finalists on America’s Got Talent last season; and a sure crowd pleaser, Jack Hanna’s Into The Wild Live, which features the man largely identified as America’s favorite zookeeper, Jack Hanna, presenting over a dozen animals that night which will all require hotel lodging, per Nadolski. I have a feeling the hotel may end up being a wilder scene than Led Zeppelin at the Continental Hyatt House.

I think the slimmer roster this year, while staying focused on brands, is a smart move for the Mendel Center in the recovering economy. Instead of filling more slots indiscriminately to hit a “number” of shows, Kraklau has remained committed to delivering for brand motivated ticket buyers and has even created a new brand in the “Artist You Should Know Series”, encouraging audiences to discover upward moving artistry rather than finding “price point” or buying in to random C-list routing decisions of other Michigan theatres.

Nadolski also announced renovations planned for the theatre including new seat upholstering and a sound system overhaul, overseen by my longtime friend Josh Ingle’s Audio Bahn Productions. Looks like the Mendel Center is making plans for the future, and with a new lean attitude toward programming under Kraklau and new day-to-day operations focus from Nadolski, it’s looking like a cool season for the 1,517 seat Benton Township performing arts center.

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Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
A DAY IN THE LIFE
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