Fort Atkinson Showcase 2022
Hosts and Adjudicators
Aaron Athas- Host
Aaron Athas is happy to be back as your host of this year’s Fort Showcase. A former show choir kid, he once performed as part of Fort High’s South High Street Singers. He has been a member of multiple semi-professional choruses in Northern Wisconsin and central Minnesota As a soloist, his voice has been featured in several major works including Handel’s “Messiah,” Bob Chilcott’s “Requiem,” Mozart’s “Regina Coeli,” and in Dan Forrest’s “Requiem for the Living” performed at L’eglise de la Madeline in Paris.
He is currently an instructional technology specialist and technical theatre coordinator in Sartell, MN, having previously taught in Merrill, Wisconsin and in Eau Claire as an elementary music educator. He graduated from UW-Platteville in 2010 with studies in music and broadcasting and graduated in 2014 with a Masters of Science from Minnesota State University and is currently pursing is education administration endorsement from Concordia University. With colleagues, he has delivered educational technology integration lectures at major Wisconsin and Minnesota leadership conferences. He is a member of several professional and social organizations including the American Choral Directors Association, Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association, the UW-Platteville Alumni Association, and Phi Mu Alpha. He was a 2020 recipient of the Herb Kohl Fellowship for excellence in Education.
Laura Cable- Solo Competition Adjudicator
Laura Cable joins us all the way from New York City, and is thrilled to share her love of music and storytelling through song. Laura is a proud graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, and has been fortunate enough to sing classical, pop, rock, and musical theatre music all over the world! She has appeared in National Tours (Cats, Damn Yankees, and Disney's Cinderella to name a few) and regional theatres across the country (All Shook Up, Mary Poppins, and Victor/Victoria are some favorites). She also portrays every villian you can imagine as a Broadway Guest Artist for Disney Cruise Line (Mother Gothel, Lady Tremaine, Cruella DeVil, Yzma). And right here in our backyard at the Fireside Theatre, Laura has played Linda Mason in Holiday Inn, the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, and Ursula in The Little Mermaid. As a vocal coach, Laura brings her signature enthusiasm to the room. She loves to celebrate each singer's unique voice and unlock new pockets of sound to keep air flowing so each performance stays healthy, fresh, and energized. For more, visit www.LauraCable.com
Bob Demaree- Adjudicator
Bob Demaree conducts the Chamber Choir, the Coro D'Angeli treble choir, and the Singing Pioneers bass choir, and teaches conducting and choral literature. Annual choral area events include the High School Choral Festival, choir tour, and performances of major choral/orchestral works.
Since 1995, Demaree has had six separate choirs chosen to appear at state or regional ACDA or NAfME conferences a total of 17 times. He has participated in over a dozen commissioning projects with composers such as Ivo Antognini, Susan LaBarr, Eric Barnum, and Eric Whitacre. In October of 2009, he conducted the WMEA High SchoolMixed Honors Choir and then was asked to lead the WMEA High School Treble Honors Choir in October of 2017.
He was a founder, artistic director, and singer in the Heartland Singers from 2002 to 2012. From 2009-2018, Dr. Demaree served as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Dubuque Chorale, one of the Midwest’s premier community choirs. In the fall of 2018, he co-founded the 36-voice Midwest Choral Artists.
In 2019, WCDA named Demaree recipient of its highest honor, the Morris D. Hayes Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been named a recipient of the Alliant Energy/Underkofler Award for Teaching Excellence, a Distinguished Alumnus of the Indiana University Singing Hoosiers, the Phi Kappa Phi Excellence in Teaching Award, the Excellence in Service to Students Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success and UWP's Outstanding Advisor to a Student Organization Award. He has served terms as President of the North Central Division of ACDA and of WCDA.
Mike Esser- Adjudicator
Mike Esser recently retired after teaching 40 years. He taught 10 years in Iowa and 30 years at Central High School in La Crosse, WI. Mr. Esser received his Bachelor of Music Education Degree from the University of Northern Iowa. He furthered his studies at the University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa, Northern Arizona University and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
Mr. Esser's choirs were invited to perform at various college choral festivals in the Midwest, Iowa Public Television, State and Regional Music Educators Conventions, and State and Regional American Choral Director's Conventions. Over 70 of his CHS voice students were selected as finalists throughout the years at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Fall Competition and his soloists performed at regional vocal festivals. Mr. Esser was the director of the Grand Central Station Show Choir for 28 years. Over three decades, GCS was selected Grand Champion in 65 competitions and was awarded several vocal, band, and choreography awards. Also, the select concert choir from Central received numerous 1st place awards in concert choir competitions held in the upper Midwest region.
Shanna Luckett- Adjudicator
Shanna Luckett is in her 12th year as the Director of Choirs at Petal High School in Petal, MS and her 20th year of teaching. As the director of the award winning Petal Soudsations Mixed Show Choir, the Petal Innovations Women's Show Choir, and the Petal Men's Choir. She has reestablished the program winning many Grand Champion awards, as well as Best Vocals, Best Visuals, and Overall Show Design captions. Petal was also the recipient of the Fame Award for several consecutive years at the Fame Show Choir Competition in Orlando, Chicago regional, and Chicago Nationals.
Mrs. Luckett graduated from Clinton High School where she was a member of the Attache' Show Choir and the Clinton High School Color Guard for the Marching Band and Concert Bands. She received her Bachelor's and Master's of Music Education: Vocal emphasis at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is married to her amazing husband, Jason for 17 years and they have one handsome son, Caleb, who is 11 years old and in the 6th grade at Petal Upper Elementary School.
Penny Morgan-Strimple- Adjudicator
As a freelance choreographer and teaching artist, Peggy Morgan Strimple is highly sought after for large scale musicals, visual adjudications and clinician work. In 2019 alone she averaged over 1000 performers trained under her direction from beginner to professional performers. Peggy has been a multiple Jerry Award recipient for "Outstanding Choreography", also on faculty with Disney Musicals in Schools projects and Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy.
A Kids From Wisconsin Alumna, Peggy has proudly served the 54 year old organization since 2014 as Head Choreographer, as well as their Community Enrichment Coordinator, leading the "Realize Your Dream" projects, a collaboration of experiential programming that recently launched 2 educational music appreciation residencies that are free to underserved communities, homeless shelters and inner city youth centers.
She received intense dance education from the legendary Jean Wolfmeyer in Manitowoc, WI, while also studying as a scholarship student at the former National Academy of the Arts, Gus Giordano Dance and Lou Conte Dance Studio of Chicago. Peggy enjoyed over 15 years as a professional dancer/entertainer in multiple productions for Disney World, Las Vegas and cruise ships and revue shows around the world, commercials and films, mostly in featured roles and is continually asked to collaborate with national directors/choreographers in all aspects of the performing arts.
Shane Rhoades- Adjudicator
Shane Rhoades is currently an Assistant Professor at Viterbo University in their Theatre and Music Theatre Department. He also serves as the Dance Minor Coordinator. During his time at Viterbo, Shane has served as the Choreographer/Director for A Chorus Line, CATS, Little Women, and Shout!, and he has also served as the Choreographer for Pippin, West Side Story, Oklahoma, 9 to 5, Women on the Verge, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shane is also the Co-Director of Platinum Edition, Viterbo’s Show Choir, and is very active as a show choir judge and clinician for competitions around the country.
Prior to Shane’s time at Viterbo, he resided in New York City where he had a successful performing career which lead to multiple opportunities including his Broadway debut in The Boy From Oz starring Hugh Jackman. Also on Broadway, Shane served as the Associate Choreographer for Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Off-Broadway he performed in FAME on 42nd Street. His national and international tours include A Chorus Line, Chicago, West Side Story, Pippin, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and …Grinch. Regionally he has had the pleasure of performing at Paper Mill Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, St. Louis MUNY, Sacramento Music Circus, North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Arena Stage, Atlanta TOTS, Houston TUTS, Ordway PAC, Kansas City Starlight, Stages St. Louis, and The Grand Ole Opry. His career has afforded him the opportunity to perform and/or teach all over the world, including Japan, Europe, Central and South America, Canada, and all 50 States.
Lynne Rothrock- Adjudicator
A graduate of Luther College (B.A. Music/Theatre) and Western Michigan University (M.M. Vocal Performance) Lynne Rothrock is a vocalist/entertainer and arts educator. She has performed as a solo artist at a variety of venues around the United States, including Birdland (NYC), The Bluebird Café (Nashville), Davenports Cabaret (Chicago), The Dakota and Crooners (Minneapolis), Crown & Anchor (Cape Cod, MA). She has also worked for a variety of theatre companies around the country as actress and/or musical director. Lynne was one of 30 vocalists selected to attend the prestigious International Cabaret Conference at Yale University and works with Michael Feinstein at the Great American Songbook Foundation.
She has served on the voice faculty of Western Michigan University, Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts, St. Ambrose University, Coe College and currently teaches musical theatre at Luther College. Lynne has been a clinician at the Manhattan Vocal Jazz Festival at Lincoln Center, Brightleaf Music Workshop and has adjudicated for Heritage Music Festivals for 25 years – coaching choral ensembles in every major US city. Lynne has led song performance masterclasses for arts organizations, universities and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Conference. She has released three CDs – “This Is Me”, “Christmas”, and “I Love Being Here” which she recorded with her late husband Ron DeWitte, a Blues and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame guitarist. The pair enjoyed a career performing together both at home and around the world as headline entertainers on cruise ships. Follow lynnerothrock.com for information about upcoming events.
Ben Schrank- Adjudicator
Ben Schrank is a nationally recognized choreographer, show designer, and adjudicator with over 20 years of experience. His show choirs have received frequent Best Choreography and Grand Championship awards. Ben is a past recipient of the Fame Aspire award for Best New Choreographer.
He has directed and choreographed various musical theatre productions, winning the Tommy Award for Outstanding Stage Direction in 2010 and 2013. In 2011, Ben was inducted into the Tommy Awards Hall of Fame at the Overture Center for the Arts. He brings performance experience as a former member of the Wisconsin Singers at the University of Wisconsin, and performer at Six Flags Great America. Ben has served on staff at The Southern Experience Show Choir Camp (MS), Shell Lake Show Choir Camp (WI), Westside Edge Show Choir Camp (NE), and Show Choir Camps of Central Iowa (IA). He has also been honored to choreograph the Mississippi and Nebraska All-State Show Choirs. During the pandemic season of 2021, Ben taught a series of virtual dance classes to keep students positively motivated. These classes were attended by over 400 students from 23 different states. He resides in Davenport, Iowa with his beautiful wife Emily, his amazing daughter Harper, and their dogs Pacey and Frankie.
Justin Steger- Adjudicator
Justin Steger is the band teacher at Fort Atkinson High School where he teaches two concert bands, two jazz bands, marching band, and show choir combo. He attended the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater where he studied saxophone with Dr. Matthew Sintchak and currently studies jazz improvisation with Dr. Michael Hackett. He graduated with a degree in Music Education and a jazz certificate. Upon graduation, he received the Wisconsin Music Education Association's Richard G Gaarder award for his contribution to the field of music education. He currently serves on the Wisconsin Music Education Association’s Advocacy committee. Professionally, he plays alto sax in the Main Street Big Band based in Lake Mills, WI. Justin currently resides in Fort Atkinson, with his cat, Ashley.
Heath Weber- Adjudicator
Heath Weber will be adjudicating at Fort Atkinson Showcase- Biographical information coming soon.