May 3, 2021

Students get second chance to perform in UW-Superior production of ‘Die Fledermaus’

Brock Phernetton, left, and Victoria Thompson star in the UW-Superior presentation of the operetta “Die Fledermaus.” This free virtual performance, directed by Vicki Fingalson, will debut at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6. It will be available for streaming until June 5.

Brock Phernetton, left, and Victoria Thompson star in the UW-Superior presentation of the operetta “Die Fledermaus.” This free virtual performance, directed by Vicki Fingalson, will debut at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6. It will be available for streaming until June 5.

Nearly a year ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping across the country, events of all sizes were being put on hold. This was no different for UW-Superior students who watched as everything from athletic events to research presentations were cancelled due to the new safety concerns.

One of the most unfortunate losses was the scheduled performance of the musical “Company,” which was to be the first collaboration between UW-Superior’s Music and Theatre Departments. For the students who had spent months rehearsing, the cancellation was heartbreaking.

But, as the saying goes, “the show must go on,” and for a fortunate group of Yellowjackets, this spring’s virtual production of the operetta “Die Fledermaus” means one more chance to perform.

“Honestly, it is exhilarating to be involved in a production of this caliber,” said UW-Superior student Brandon Anderson, who is playing the part of Johann. “With a lot of other music productions, it is just rehearsal until the concert date. There is a lot more work being put into the production of “Die Fledermaus” with pieces being prerecorded and staged, so it just feels a lot more fulfilling.”

Presented by UW-Superior’s Music and Theatre Departments, the operetta “Die Fledermaus” is directed by Dr. Vicki Fingalson Madison, and will debut at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6. It will be available for streaming until June 5.

“It's very exciting,” said UW-Superior student Aidan Jones. “When I left for Christmas break, I didn't expect that we'd be able to put together anything that bears much resemblance to a normal pre-COVID opera, but through a lot of hard work, we are. The number of people who are committed to presenting the best possible finished product to our audience is incredible.”

Brimming with beautiful and frothy melodies, “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss II, is an operetta full of mistaken identities, jail-evasion, a grand party and harmless fun. After much frivolity, this great farce ends up with a happy ending for all.

“Don't let the word ‘operetta’ intimidate you,” said Aidan Jones. “Imagine a comedy play filled with entertaining musical numbers and an overabundance of champagne. That's ‘Die Fledermaus’ in a nutshell. If you like music and laughter, you'll love ‘Die Fledermaus.’”   

“’Die Fledermaus’ is a really special show,” said UW-Superior student Taylor Jones, who plays the role of Adele. “I'd describe this show as witty, comical, and eccentric.”

The free virtual production marks a small return to extracurricular activities for students who have had so much disruption during the past year.

“I'm double majoring in music and digital filmmaking, so I loved the idea of being able to combine those two interests in this production,” said Aidan Jones, who will be featured in the role of Frank. “Combining my love of singing and acting in this way is a unique opportunity and a fun experience. Last spring, I was involved in Opera Workshop, though sadly that experience was brought to an abrupt end due to COVID. I'm looking forward to being able to finish this semester with a production.”  

“Die Fledermaus” also means an opportunity to gain much needed experience to students about to enter the career field.

“Being a vocal performance major, the last couple years of my degree are the most important and most performance heavy,” said Taylor Jones. “This is the time we are supposed to be performing live recitals for our colleagues and family members and showing off everything we have learned. Having those opportunities taken from us has been hard to deal with, but the light at the end of the tunnel really is this production. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since declaring this major. We were unsure of the fate of this production for a while, and when we were given to go ahead, it was a huge relief. It feels very special to be able to work on a huge project like this and it feels like I am getting the final performance from college that I really wanted.”

While months of hard work for the cast and crew will soon be celebrated in the debut May 6 virtual performance, those involved in the production have come to appreciate the many people involved and to have this special opportunity.

“It would have been so easy for everyone to just cancel this production and move on like we have had to do with so many other things,” said Taylor Jones. “That wasn't the case though. I am so grateful for all the hard work and persistence of the people who made a production like this possible. An opera has never been done in this fashion before, so we are paving the way and learning as we go. I am so grateful for that.”

Registration for the free video link to the debut May 6 performance is available online.

Brock Phernetton, left, and Victoria Thompson star in the UW-Superior presentation of the operetta “Die Fledermaus.” This free virtual performance, directed by Vicki Fingalson, will debut at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6. It will be available for streaming until June 5.

Brock Phernetton, left, and Victoria Thompson star in the UW-Superior presentation of the operetta “Die Fledermaus.” This free virtual performance, directed by Vicki Fingalson, will debut at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6. It will be available for streaming until June 5.

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