Saturday, March 8, 2014

It Gets Better: Heartland Men's Chorus

The Heartland Men's Chorus in Kansas City was one of the original four choruses to commission and perform the musical adaptation of "Oliver Button is a Sissy."  This is their "It Gets Better" video that is very appropriate for this concert as well as our next concert.

From the Wichita Eagle

Heart of America Men’s Chorus tackles bullying

  • Eagle correspondent

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The Heart of America Men’s Chorus has a knack for matching music with causes dear to members’ hearts.  A few years ago, for example, the group belted out Broadway tunes to benefit the high school fine arts department in tornado-ravaged Greensburg, Kan. More recently, a patriotically themed concert raised money for the Wichita Fraternal Order of Police.

The chorus – made up of 30 talented amateur singers – is at it again this weekend, using a production based on a well-known children’s book to help the Kansas Children’s Service League and its anti-bullying hotline.  “For the Child in All of Us,” the first half of which is based on “Oliver Button Is a Sissy,” will be performed Saturday and Sunday at Newman University. The show’s second half features hits from Disney movies.

“We always try to do something that benefits the community,” said Eric Nachtigal, who’s the group’s president, one of its second tenors and an elementary school counselor. “One of the components of this concert is a message of bullying prevention, acceptance and love.”

Although all of the chorus’ productions are strictly G-rated, Nachtigal said the current one is even more family-oriented. “It’s geared toward children. We’re encouraging parents to bring their children.”

“Oliver Button is a Sissy,” by Tomie dePaola, tells the story of a boy who must deal with being an outsider because he’d rather paint and tap dance than play sports. The first half of the concert alternates narration of the book (by chorus member Bill Loyd) with songs performed by the chorus.

Nachtigal said he first saw the show performed by the Heartland Men’s Chorus in Kansas City. “A number of us went and fell in love with it, and had the dream of bringing it back to Wichita.”

“It’s all about accepting people for who they are and their unique qualities,” he added. “It’s just a wonderful message for everybody.”

The concert’s second half is filled with songs from Disney movies, including “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story,” “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from “Mary Poppins,” “Hakuna Matata” from “The Lion King” and “Hallelujah” from “Shrek.”

“There’s a nice mix of newer and older Disney,” Nachtigal said.

The idea, he said, is to “bring the audience to a point where they can imagine that everything is possible and that we’re all wonderful creatures.”

With an intermission, the show runs about 75 minutes.

Through a partnership with Arts Partners of Wichita, the chorus also performed two sold-out shows Thursday for local schoolchildren.

The chorus was formed in 2002 by five men. The group stages three shows a year, during the spring, summer and holiday season. They’re accompanied by pianists and directed by Deanne Zogleman, director of Newman’s music department. Members practice once a week at Newman.

“They’re just community members who come from all different facets of life,” Nachtigal said. “There are a lot of teachers and businessmen.”

There are no “tryouts” and anyone is welcome to join, he said.

In addition to music, Nachtigal said members share a love for their community.
“We all share that common interest. It’s something we’re really passionate about.”

If you go

‘For the Child In All of Us’

What: Concert by the Heart of America Men’s Chorus
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, 4:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: De Mattias Performance Hall, Newman University
Tickets: $15 for adults, $5 for students, children 12 and under free with paid adult admission. Available at the door or by calling 316-708-4837.

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HOAMC Performs "Oliver Button is a Sissy" for 800 Local Students

PACKED AUDITORIUM AGAIN!! This was at the beginning of our second school performance for March 6th! Don't miss this show this weekend. Just ask any of these children who attended. Kudos to the Newman University Sloppy Joes Improv Troupe for helping us out!

We have received many positive responses from teachers and parents.  Teachers and parents wrote to us saying how their children sought help or became empowered to believe that it will get better.  It has been a true honor to perform this piece and truly rewarding that it has helped people. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Story of Bullying: Diana's Story

There was a girl in my school named Diana.  She had a gorgeous smile.  She was nice and very sweet in her own unique way.  Diana also was from a poor family and was considered overweight.  It shouldn't have mattered, but I guess it did to some.

Diana tried so hard to make friends and some were nice to her.  However, that bulk of the kids were cruel to her.  They called her the most horrible names.  At lunch, they would say things like "Don't eat your peas...Diana is eating her peas and you will get her cooties!"  Often times, she would laugh it off, but you could see the hurt in her eyes.  She was often excluded from games during recess.  During fourth grade, she had a boyfriend named Mike.  People liked him, but harassed him because he was her boyfriend.  He would shrug it off and smile.  I admired him because he was so visibly her champion.

She left school in later years.  I heard that she had problems and had struggled in life.  When I would see her parents, I always asked how she was.  One day, her parents were shopping in the grocery store and said to me that Diana had told them how much she had liked me because I was always so nice to her.  I cried that night because I felt like I should have done more.  I often wonder where life has taken her and hope that she has found the happiness, acceptance, and peace that she deserves.

HOAMC Voices Speak on Bullying: Travis Zirkle

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sierra Scott to Host "For the Child in All of Us."

Sierra Scott, a great talent in local journalism, is the host of the Heart of America Men's Chorus's upcoming show, "For the Child in All of Us."  The well known journalist, a victim of vicious bullying, will take to the stage with HOAMC on March 8th and 9th as they perform a piece on bullying titled "Oliver Button is a Sissy."  Sierra Scott currently hosts the "Brett and Sierra Show" with Brett Harris on KWCH 12 (CBS) in Wichita, Kansas.

HOAMC Members Randy Ervin and Ron Hobart Appear on "The Brett and Sierra Show" on KWCH on Friday, Feb. 28th

HOAMC members, Randy Ervin and Ron Hobart, appeared on the "Brett and Sierra Show" on KWCH.  They appeared in conjunction with HOAMC's upcoming show "For the Child in All of Us."  The show, in part, deals with the subject of bullying with the presentation of the musical adaptation of the children's story "Oliver Button is a Sissy."

The show is being presented to school age children on Thursday, March 6th with the public shows on March 8th at 7 p.m. and March 9th at 4:30 p.m.  The performances are at Newman University.  Tickets for the weekend shows are available. 
Tickets were given away by the "Brett and Sierra Show."  Special pricing is available by checking out HOAMC's Facebook page.  The full segment of the HOAMC interview can be viewed on our Facebook page.  The link is in the upper right hand side of the blog main page.

HOAMC Voices Speak on Bullying: Al Hoffman