Already one of the most respected show choirs in the Midwest, Waconia High School’s Power Company is hoping its energetic new show, “Villains to Superheroes,” will help the choir reach even greater heights in this year’s competitive season, which begins at Milton High School in Milton, Wis., this weekend.
“We’ve had more tightly defined plots in the show before, this one not so much,” said Aaron Olson, the director of vocal music at the Waconia High School, regarding the show. “It starts out a little dark. They all start as criminals. In the middle of the set, they get chased by police and decide now is a good time to change. They become superheroes and it gets really fun. It’s a super fun show with lots of energy.”
Olson promised that the show will be one of the most entertaining shows Waconia has done.
The show includes the songs “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson, “Criminal” by Britney Spears, “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, “Blank Page” by Christina Aguilera, “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers, “Goldmember” from the Austin Powers movie and others.
“People will be excited throughout the whole show from the top to the bottom,” Olson said, noting that the show fully incorporates the electronic backdrop that the program acquired about a year and a half ago. “We’ve been working with industry experts, especially Scott Winters with Ion Concert Media, and we’ve been learning a lot. People will really be blown away by what they’ll see. The backdrop is so cool.”
Olson was quick to point out that while the backdrop enhances the show and adds to the experience, it’s still up to the students to go out and sing and dance and put on a terrific performance.
Power Company, which features the “Megawatt” show band, is top choir at the high school, which also features the mixed gender group The Current (directed by Kevin Barnard with the “Watt” show band) and all-female group Illuminations (directed by Evan Jones). The Power Company Family of Show Choirs also includes middle school groups Shockwave (directed by Scott Brose) and Pulse (directed by Jones).
Olson said a record 180 students are participating in the three show choirs at the high school this year.
“They’re all working hard,” he said. “The Current has emerged as one of the top JV choirs. It’s been awesome to have those kids come in and fill the shoes of the kids who have left. The kids in Illuminations have shown tremendous growth as performers and we’ve added a few extra performances this year.”
As for Power Company, Olson said the group has just been fantastic this year.
“They are so motivated and hungry. They work so hard; they never settle and they’re hard on themselves, which is good,” he said. “The kids have done a lot of sectional work on their own. They really want to be awesome. The group gets along well together and they’re looking forward to the competitions.”
John Pohland, the high school’s band director, said the same can be said for the show bands.
“Megawatt is really good. They’re working really hard to realize their potential,” he said, noting that only four members are seniors, meaning the band is set up to remain good for years to come.
Power Company performed “Villains to Superheroes” for the public for the first time this past weekend during the program’s annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser, which featured all five of the show choirs.
As noted, Power Company opens its competitive season this weekend and it will compete or perform once a week until early March. Star Power, Waconia’s annual show choir extravaganza, will be held at the high school on Saturday, Feb. 15. Another favorite event, the Show Choir Spectacular, will be held on April 10-12.
With a couple of competitions in Iowa this season, Olson said Power Company will be tested as Iowa has many great show choirs and traditionally, Waconia has found Iowa to be a tough place to compete.
“We’re always looking for the toughest competition,” he said. “We’ll probably see nine out of the top 10 groups in the country and we’re hoping to be among the top 10 ourselves. We have high hopes but more than ever, our kids are not worried about judging or placing. They’re just excited about going out and performing.”
The choir’s longest trip is to the Chicagoland Showcase at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, Ill., which will be held from Feb. 28 to March 3.
Olson said the show choir program’s success wouldn’t be possible without the support it receives from the people in leadership roles, the boosters and everyone else that volunteers their time for the program.
“It’s such a huge program, it takes a huge village of people who really care about the kids and the program to make it run smoothly,” said Olson, who expressed appreciation for the support from businesses such as Mackenthun’s Fine Foods and Lola’s Lakehouse, among many others. “We have many wonderful merchants and sponsors. We try to create partnerships with local businesses and encourage people to stay local and shop local.”
Olson started the show choir program 16 years ago in the 1998-99 school year. In that first year, the program attracted 24 students. Now, more than 300 students are involved at some level in the district.
“It’s been fun watching the growth,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of it and the kids — they just keep coming.”
• For more photos from the spaghetti dinner, see Page 14.
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]