Our3 Variety Show brings taste of Broadway to Greenville

OUR 3 Variety Show cast members Char Lothian, left, and Grace Peterson Wednesday perform their cello piece from the Broadway musical “Phantom of the Opera.” The two are performing as a trio with Jenny Allen. The annual variety show starts Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Greenville High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and are available at the door. — Daily News/Curtis Wildfong

GREENVILLE — The third annual Our3 Variety Show slated for Saturday evening at the Greenville Performing Arts Center will give music lovers a chance to get a little taste of Broadway, but with some hometown flavor.

The show, dubbed “Don’t Stop the Music,” will feature more than 100 cast members — most hailing from Greenville — performing more than 20 acts from Broadway musicals such as “The Wiz,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Footloose.”

There will be jazz, ballet, a cello trio, a brass quintet and more from a bevy of different genres, according to Linda VanHouten, who co-directs the show with her husband, Joel, who is the Greenville High School choir director.

“There is something for everybody,” VanHouten said. “The variety is just great this year.”

Ranging from ninth-grader Dannah Gunn’s performance of “Popular” from the Broadway show “Wicked” to former longtime orchestra director Char Lothian and her daughter Hollie Stephenson teaming up on a duet of the song “For Good” from “Wicked,” the show’s performers include students, staff, alumni and community members, past and present.

“There is so much creative talent in Greenville, due in large part to the legacy of the quality and commitment to music programs in the school system since the beginning,” said Chris Hansen, a 1975 Greenville graduate and Our3 show performer. “It’s no wonder that the Our3 variety show will have its share of great musical performances again as it has in past years.”

The two-hour event will conclude with a “76 Trombones” performance by the show’s entire cast.

“It’s going to be an amazing evening of music performed by phenomenal, talented people,” VanHouten said.

Organizers of the variety show — which started as a fundraiser for Spectrum Health United Hospital, which forwent the event several years ago — found a perfect partner in the Our3 campaign.

“We felt we had so many musicians who were willing to do it, so we approached Our3 and said ‘Hey, we will do this variety show for you,’” VanHouten said.

In its first two years, the variety show has raised around $5,000 for the Our3 performing arts program, which was created in 2009 through an endowment from the Education Foundation of Greenville.

“It’s a pretty cool chance for people already in the performing arts to help raise money to save the arts,” said Jeffrey Ayres, director of the high school jazz band, which will take part in multiple performances Saturday.

The fund was created to save music programs, which due to dwindling funding had become subject to cuts in the school district.

“In a time when school arts programs are being defunded it is so great to see that some people had the foresight to create the Our3 campaign to help continue funding the arts in Greenville,” Hansen said. “This shows a true sense of loyalty to the musical legacy that is Greenville.”

VanHouten said she, along with several other community members, were determined to continue to provide opportunities for children interested in the performing arts at any level.

“Some of the cuts were in the music programs. We decided we can’t let music programs die in Greenville, so they created the endowment,” VanHouten said. “The Greenville community is a giving community and they step up to help the kids.”

And not only does it serve as a fundraiser, but also a teaching point for some of the area’s youth, VanHouten said.

“It’s great exposure for our kids and it teaches philanthropy to the kids because we tell them it raises money to support their music programs,” she said.

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