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Glenn Miller dance production feels money pinch, plans break

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Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 1999 12:00 am

Utah State University's celebrated production of an Evening with Glenn Miller has outgrown its funding and personnel, and as a result, organizers will take a one-year break to recoup.

Derek Furch, USU's director of programs and entertainment, said the hiatus is necessary, even if it puts the show's momentum at risk.

"The show has grown immensely, but our resources have not," Furch said.

During the break, Furch said, USU will "institutionalize" the show by designating in-house personnel. Organizers will also find more money to support the production, possibly by establishing grants and endowments.

The USU event - a 22-year tradition of dancing, dining and entertainment - portrays the famous band leader and the Big Band era of the 1940's. The show is done with the permission of the Glenn Miller family, and Miller's children have even visited Logan to see the show, Furch said. The show's regular patrons come from as far away as Missouri, Illinois and Washington.

Other factors contributed to the decision to take a break, Furch said. The College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences will be taking over the administration of the show's production from USU's University Relations department. Under HASS, Glenn Miller's student dancers, singers and production technicians can get academic credit for their involvement.

Also, the Sunburst Club, which supplies the student dancers and singers for the Glenn Miller Show, will use the time off to conduct a search to fill its dance director position. Dance director Irene Bates, who has been with the Sunburst Club for 22 years, is retiring.

A new group of Sunburst Singers will be chosen for the coming year and will continue to perform. There will be no Sunburst Dancers, however, and Furch said auditions for that group won't be until next April.

The show is currently funded by private donations, university funds and ticket sales. The show usually pulls in about ,350,000 during its six-week, 18-performance season that runs from late January through early March.

"Ticket sales pay for a huge part, but it's a more expensive show to produce," Furch said. Keeping ticket prices low for the community is one reason Furch said the break is needed.

Jim Chapman, director of the Crestmark Orchestra, a group composed mostly of USU alumni that been contracted to perform in the Glenn Miller show, said the decision leaves his group with 18 performances to fill in the coming year.

"We'll have to work diligently to market our group in other venues," Chapman said.

But the Crestmark Orchestra will do the show when it comes back, and Chapman said his group is "working with the university and looking forward to next year."

The decision to take the one-year break was made last week but has been discussed for the past four months. A lot of thought went into the choice, Furch said.

"We're so appreciative of the support, and we're doing all we can to capitalize on that," Furch said. "The show would not have gone on without a lot of extra hours of hard work."

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