Sunday, October 21, 2018

Local Entertainment

Mabel Tainter's Judy Collins concert draws (too large) a crowd

Arts center director adds second show in May after selling out the singer’s November performance

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    Singer-songwriter Judy Collins’ Nov. 19 show at Menomonie’s Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts sold out early, prompting the director to add a show in May.

    Contributed photo

MENOMONIE – Lucy Weidner of Menomonie believes she bought the first two tickets for singer-songwriter Judy Collins, who will perform Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, when they went on sale at the beginning of July.

“I love her music,” Weidner said. “I love the quality of her voice. I love the message she brings in the lyrics she sings. She is not intimidated by her age to continue to perform.”

Collins and Weidner are both 77 years old.

One of Collins’ best known songs she performs is Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.”

Weidner said she likes the song for the message, which can be interpreted as singing about the end of a romance, the transition of dying and going on to another life or using a mask to hide behind.

Collins’ Nov. 19 performance sold out in about a month after they went on sale around July 1.

“That was probably one of our fastest-selling shows,” said Mabel Tainter executive director Steve Renfree.

Renfree credited the rapid ticket sales to the Grammy Award winner being one of the top five legendary women artists from the 1960s and 70s. The others, in his opinion, are Mary Travers of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary; and solo artists Carole King,  Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell.

“(Collins) has endured all these decades because of the powerful messages in her lyrics that stand the test of time,” Renfree said.

Because Collins’ Nov. 19 sold out so quickly, a second show was added for May 22. Sales for that show are brisk as well, Renfree said.

“We’re pleased to bring her back in May,” Renfree said. “I think there may be a chance she has some repeat audience. She’s the kind of performer we rarely get to see.”

With only 269 seats, he said the concert will be intimate. Tickets are $50 for general seats and $65 for VIP seating.

Renfree said if the Mabel Tainter patrons want to see Collins return a third time he would strive to make that happen.

The 2017-18 Mabel Tainter season has proven to be one of the best, if not the best ever, Renfree said. He believes there have been more full-house shows than in the history of the center for the arts.

In addition to Collins, “Clara’s Dream — The Nutcracker” ballet show sold out Dec. 15 and a second show was added Dec. 16. This year The Cinderella Ballet sold out as did Olate Dogs and Mediums at Large, with mediums able to communicate with spirits.

According to the 2016 annual report, over 7,000 tickets were sold at the Mabel Tainter. Renfree expects to surpass that in 2017 as more people from Minnesota and throughout Wisconsin attend performances.

“This went to the Mabel Tainter’s standing goal to be one of the most significant performing arts center in Wisconsin,” he said.

Renfree expects to have even more sold out shows in the 2018-19 Mabel Tainter performance season, which is currently being planned.

One example of a planned performance that tickets are selling fast is the one-man show by Ed Asner, well known from The Mary Tyler Moore Show “A Man and his Prostrate.” Asner is scheduled for March 12. The comedy focuses on a man’s visit to the hospital to prepare for a surgery he doesn’t want.

To learn more about upcoming shows or to buy tickets, visit

Contact: 715-556-9018,, @MenomonieBureau on Twitter

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