Spotlight Variety Showcase opens on outdoor stage


Katarina Rothhorn

Grace Fries (left) and Kent Brock (right) perform their tap and drum duet during auditions for the Spotlight Variety Show. The show will include acts such as singing, performing monologues and dance routines.

Katarina Rothhorn, Features Editor

Only two weeks into the semester, the Department of Theatre and Dance will be hosting their first performance of the season with the Spotlight Variety Show. A combination of songs, monologues, dance routines and even magic acts, the Spotlight Variety Show has something for everyone to enjoy. 

The event will premiere on Friday, Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. at the Shoreline Theatre, located outdoors in the parking lot behind the Superior Dome. Two performances will follow on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.  

One of the special things about the Spotlight Variety Show is that many of the performers are freshmen who are experiencing their first time on an NMU stage. 

“We really feel strongly that we want to get those that are in our department working in their craft right away,” Jill Grundstrom, professor of dance and co-director of theatre, said. “Getting them on stage as soon as they get here so that they can really connect into our community in the department, as well as the NMU and Marquette communities as performers.”

The showcase provides freshmen with the opportunity to perform in some of their first weeks on campus, but it also connects them with more experienced students and builds relationships.

“I just love seeing the new students who are coming in and the students who have been with us finding those bonding moments; whether it’s backstage between acts or while they’re getting the lighting rig set up,” Grundstrom said. “That, to me, is my favorite part when we start getting that integration of the new and the senior parts of the program.”

For students that have been with the theatre and dance department for a while longer, the Spotlight Variety Showcase is still a fun outlet to try something new. Senior dance major Gracie Fries will be performing a tap dance routine with her boyfriend, Kent Brock, on the drums. 

Their act experiments with rhythm and allows both the drums and tap shoes to have a dynamic back-and-forth dialogue.

“I’ve been tap dancing for 21 years, and I’ve always wanted to do something like this and it just so happens that my boyfriend of eight years is a drummer so it worked out really well,” Fries said. “I get inspired a lot by jazz performers … and they do things like this with a full jazz combo. It is really cool to just see the tap and the rhythm section go back and forth.” 

It is creative acts like these that inspire Paul Truckey, professor of theatre, to continue hosting the show in the future. This will only be the second year of the Spotlight Variety Showcase, but Truckey says they will most likely continue the tradition for years to come.

“It’s the inspired variety that they come up with and, for some of them, seeing them for the first time and allowing them to get the exposure here,” Truckey said. “I always find that very exciting. I love listening to people sing and the different acts are a lot of fun.”

Tickets are $5 for NMU students, $12 for NMU faculty/staff and $17 for the general public. They can be purchased online at, by phone at 906-227-1032 or in person at any NMU Ticket outlet.

For more information about the event and for a full cast list, visit the Theatre and Dance website.