Kids From Wisconsin Set to Show Talents at the State

Tori Johnson

KIDS IN CONCERT. Eight of the 36 performers in the current cast of KIDS from Wisconsin have ties to the Chippewa Valley. The group will perform for The State Theatre’s final show on July 30.
KIDS IN CONCERT. Eight of the 36 performers in the current cast of KIDS from Wisconsin have ties to the Chippewa Valley. The group will perform for The State Theatre’s final show on July 30.

Are you craving show-stopping entertainment in the Chippewa Valley that appeals to all generations and allows you to see the best that Wisconsin has to offer? This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Kids from Wisconsin, and their performance is not one to miss. A cast of youths from across the state aged 15-20 – many of whom have ties to the Chippewa Valley – comes together to put on a professional-quality spectacle.

Complete with musicians, dancers, and singers, the Kids from Wisconsin were selected to put on the best show possible. The Chippewa Valley is heavily represented among this year’s crop of Kids. In fact, eight of the 36 performers have ties to the region. They include:

  • Chase Bucheger, a recent Chippewa Falls Senior High School grad who will attend UW-Eau Claire to study music education.

  • Max Firminhac, a second-year trombone player from Stevens Point who attends UW-Eau Claire, where he is majoring in math with a music minor.

  • Matthew Gonyea, a 2017 Memorial High School graduate who attends Berklee College of Music in Boston.

  • Alex Knoepker of Warrens, a second-year student at UW-Eau Claire, where he studies instrumental music education and applied percussion.

  • Dawson Redenius, a third-year trumpet player from Oxford, also studies music education at UW-Eau Claire.

  • Spencer Rhoten, who recently finished his freshman year at Memorial High and is the troupe’s youngest male principal singer/dancer.

  • Ethan Richmond, a North High School graduate in his second year at UW-Eau Claire, where he studies music education.

  • Jonathan Viegut, a woodwind player from Marshfield, is pursuing a music education degree at UW-Eau Claire.

This year’s theme is “Shine the Light on 50 Years.” Kids from Wisconsin began in the late 1960s, a turbulent period in American history. In 1968, Wisconsin Gov. Warren Knowles enacted the “Youth Power Program” in the hope of helping younger people feel uplifted during a transitional period while also get them involved within the community.

Coincidentally, the Wisconsin State Fair was looking to highlight youth talent, which gave this organization an exceptional start as the fair’s opening act. Kids from Wisconsin have been a hit ever since, performing on many prestigious stages, including the Kennedy Center, and opening for artists ranging from Johnny Cash to Sonny and Cher.

The Kids have been touring all summer, and they are coming to Eau Claire’s State Theatre July 30. The show will highlight many musical genres in an effort to make the experience as inclusive as possible. That means family, friends, classmates, and everyone else is promised a positive experience.

The band is prepped to enlighten the crowd with amazing feature pieces, and throughout the show will even participate in a choreographed dance. The band rivals a professional show band. “What you can expect is a true Broadway-style experience,” said Tina Weiss, executive director of Kids from Wisconsin. The performances will help you to understand why many cast members go on to perform on Broadway or to become professional musicians.

Earning a place on the 36-member cast was an extensive process. Each performer had to audition, where they were judged for their skill and performance abilities. Then they were all given a peer review, where the final cuts were made. Cast members had the opportunity this year to perform in their hometowns to show off why they were selected to be a part of the Kids from Wisconsin.

Kids from Wisconsin • Monday, July 30, 7pm • The State Theatre, 316 Eau Claire St., Eau Claire • $20 adults, $15 students (18 and under) • kidsfromwisconsin.org