The Art of Connection Through Performing Arts

By Alayna Baudry

My freshman year at MSU was a whirlwind. I was constantly bombarded with emails encouraging me to choose this major or join that club, but the one organization that immediately caught my eye was Wharton Center. Specifically, two events triggered my desire to find out more: An Evening with Sutton Foster (I fangirled hard over this one), and the Reduced Shakespeare Company (doing a special election version of their History of America show). I headed over to the Ticket Office to get tickets, and ever since then, Wharton Center has been a staple of my college career. When I saw this upcoming performing arts season, I was beyond thrilled. Not only is the Reduced Shakespeare Company returning, but the lineup for musical performers and dance companies is epic.

I was also stunned to see one of my all-time favorite duos coming to Wharton Center. Black Violin, made up of instrumentalists Wil B. (violin) and Kev Marcus (viola), combines jazz, hip-hop, funk and classical styles beautifully. The best part: they have tunes in their repertoire for every age group. Never in my life did I think I would enjoy jazz or classical music (unlike my Dad who played it every car ride), but when Black Violin combined Imagine Dragons’ “Believer” with classical segments I found myself discovering a new genre of music. I had finally found a group that both my dad and I could relate to.


The second performance that has caught my attention is Thrill Me, the story of the “thrill killers” Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. For years, my sisters and I have been serious crime junkies; we would spend days off watching NCIS or Criminal Minds and have since transferred the obsession to a plethora of true-crime podcasts. So, when I saw that Thrill Me is part of the Illuminate series, I knew I had to get tickets. Even if you’re not obsessed with murder mysteries like me, Thrill Me will still leave you mesmerized and stunned all at once. The songs, written by Stephen Dolginoff, evoke just the right amount of intrigue and repulsion, and the simple set design aims to immerse you in this thrilling story.

When I was younger, I was always captivated by the story of The Wizard of Oz. In fact, the first time I participated in a show, I was a munchkin in my middle school’s rendition of it. The idea that you can have two families – both blood and chosen – resonated with ten-year-old me. Today, when I rewatch or reread the story, I’m struck by the perseverance of each character. I think it’s safe to say that this story has had quite the impact on my life. Lucky for me, this season brings the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s version of the story of Dorothy and her friends. I have never seen a ballet performance of The Wizard of Oz before, so this will be a first for me. I am eager to reconnect with the story that has taught me so many life lessons.

2018 - The Wizard of Oz - Sophia Lee - Photo by David Cooper - 0553 - EDIT

One of the groups I’ve heard so much about, but have yet to see is Taiko drummers TAO, and this year they’re bringing their moving story Drum Heart to Wharton Center. I’m told that TAO: Drum Heart is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, where guests experience a multitude of emotions within the span of the show. As dancers flip and twist around the stage, the drummers narrate the story using taiko drumming, a traditional Japanese style of drumming that focuses on precision. I am anxious to see this performance and know it will be as riveting as people say.


For more information, visit Want to talk to a human? The Ticket Office agents are happy to help with any inquiries you may have; call them at 1.800.WHARTON.

Alayna Baudry is an intern in Wharton Center’s Marketing and Communications department. She’s a junior at MSU studying marketing.

Posted in At Wharton Center, Behind the Scenes, College of Music, Dance, Events, Guest Blog, Jazz, Live at Wharton, Opportunities, Performing Arts, Theatre, Wharton Center News

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