February 21, 2023 at 3:37 p.m.

The beat goes on 

The beat goes on 
The beat goes on 

By Carol [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Season BEAT series ticket holders love returning for encores

The beat goes on for the BEAT Performing Arts Series. 

Jan Klug sat in the second row at the Blattner Energy Arts Theatre in Albany Feb. 11 listening to Deuces Wild. 

Sure as heck, one of the entertainers picked on her. 

“That’s what happens when you sit so close, the comedian likes to pick on you,” Klug said Feb. 14.  

But this good-natured lady, known for the hat she always wears, was just fine with the kidding. She is thankful, as a season ticket holder, she could choose her seats close to the stage back in 2018 when she purchased tickets for the first series.   

Judy Hoppe said, while Deuces Wild was a “wonderful experience,” she really enjoyed Artrageous, a unique performing arts show, which she took her granddaughters to see last season. 

“They were high energy and did art projects right in front of you,” Hoppe said. “You didn’t know what they were going to come up with and ended up with the Statue of Liberty and John Lennon.” 

This year ticket holders have been treated to three of six performances, with three remaining.  

“I’ve enjoyed all the performances I was able to attend,” said Renee Thelen, who, along with husband Joey, have been season ticket holders from the get-go. “I am a bit biased since our son, Grant, is a part of the Devon Worley Band, and they performed during the first season, 2018-19. A highlight that evening was Tim Wege (former high school principal) performing with the band. Mr. Wege was Grant’s band teacher and the two, as trumpet players and their love of music, have always had a special connection.”

For season ticket holders Mike and Diane Noll, piano and brass bands are their favorites. 

“The first season had some great shows, and we were excited to support the agenda,” Diane Noll said.

The BEAT series began in 2018. 

“The idea came forth during the 2015 referendum as discussions were had around how we could utilize the BEAT outside of normal school functions, like concerts, programs and assemblies, to really benefit those in the Albany Area community,” said Cassie Novak, community education director. “After the district passed the referendum, community ed was tasked with researching options for how we could host events for the community in that space.”

Novak and Kelly Neu, community education coordinator, joined Minnesota Presenters Network to learn from others in the field about presenting, ticketing, securing performers, sponsorships, etc. A committee was formed that included community education staff, administration, school board members and community members, who had a common interest of bringing high-quality arts opportunities to Albany, with a primary goal to keep tickets affordable so everyone could experience it, Novak said. 

As a community member, Thelen has been on the BEAT series committee since the start. They looked at various acts for their grand opening in May of 2018. 

“The Bad Habit Brass, featuring former band teacher, Dave Herdan, was the first performance,” Thelen said. “I don’t know what was more of a highlight for me – just sitting in this amazing venue or listening to the music.”

Novak said the committee works hard each year to create a well-rounded series, including musical and instrumental music, theatre, dance and comedy. Performers are recommended from the committee, past audience members and colleagues in the Minnesota Presenters Network.

“In addition, we have performers reach out to us as they hear about the beautiful space we have and the work we do with the BEAT series,” Novak said. 

Once acts are chosen for the series, Neu works with artists or agents to facilitate contracts and riders and ensures John Kleppe, BEAT tech director, has what he needs in regards to sound and lighting requirements to make the show go off without a hitch. Neu and Julie Krumrei, community education administrative assistant, are responsible for ticketing and series promotions.

“The BEAT series is certainly a team effort,” Novak said.   

The committee works within a budget.

“But we have been really proud of the high caliber talent we have been able to bring to the BEAT, thanks in large part to community sponsorships, while keeping ticket prices affordable,” Novak said.  

The BEAT seats 800 people, with 400 of those seats currently held by season ticket holders.

Hoppe said the first year she purchased season tickets for herself and a few people.

“I gave them as gifts to a couple of people I had in mind that I knew would enjoy the series,” said Hoppe who appreciates the closeness of the venue, two miles from her home.   

Diane Noll said there is another plus.

“We see things we may not have chosen, and we don’t have to travel to St. Cloud,” she said. 

After a year when the series was postponed and performances rescheduled due to the pandemic, Thelen said it is great to be back at the BEAT. 

“I know I had tears even before the first performance started when I sat in my seat, overwhelmed in many ways to be back in the BEAT,” Thelen said.

There are three performances remaining this season – Monroe Crossing Feb. 25, Michael Shynes and David Gerald Sutton March 25 and The World According to Garth May 6. The committee will be releasing the entertainment lineup for next season soon, Novak said. 

Klug said the series is a “great Saturday night getaway.”

“I love the BEAT,” she said. “It’s wonderful entertainment in a small town and you can visit with your friends and meet new friends.”

The 7 p.m. show time allows you time to go out to eat before the performance, Hoppe said. 

“We went to the Hillcrest before Saturday’s show,” she said.  

As the parents of four children who were in high school drama and music, and now with some of their grandchildren performing on the BEAT stage, Thelen appreciates having a venue like this in Albany. 

“I do get a tad emotional that this theatre is a reality and am so grateful to the voters, Blattner Energy and our many sponsors throughout the past years,” she said. 

Novak loves the variety of people who walk through the BEAT doors.

“Many don’t have other connections to the school, and this is a way for them to feel a sense of community and be able to enjoy the arts without having to drive too far,” Novak said. “Their smiles say it all as they leave.”

The beat will continue at the BEAT.


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