The Wisconsin Singers

Erin Ranum is excited to stop in Waunakee Feb. 4 during her tour with the Wisconsin Singers.

When the Wisconsin Singers perform in Waunakee Feb. 4, one member will return to her alma mater where she was inspired to join the UW-Madison’s musical touring troupe.

Erin Ranum first saw the Wisconsin Singers as an eighth-grader at Waunakee Middle School when the Singers led a clinic.

“We learned a dance and a song, and we got to workshop it with them and perform it, and I absolutely loved it,” Ranum said. Impressed with their talent, Ranum wasn’t sure she could ever aspire to join them.

But two years ago, as a freshman at UW-Madison, Ranum returned to Waunakee High School for a Wisconsin Singers show, and her vocal music instructor, Molly Petroff, introduced her to one of the members. Ranum said her mother was “nudging” her to audition.

Ranum was in choir all four years at Waunakee High School, in vocal jazz her junior and senior years, and performed in the musicals as a freshman and a junior.

“I ended up auditioning in 2020 and ended up being an alternate,” Ranum said about the Wisconsin Singers. When she auditioned this past year as a junior, she made the cut.

“It has been one of the greatest decisions I ever made. I am so glad I had so many people telling me that I had to audition because they were right,” Ranum.

Ranum will be one of the 28 Singers in the “Come Alive!” American pop music review, performing songs of artists ranging from Elvis Presley to Lady Gaga and Elton John, according to press release. Their shows also include jazz and funk standards, along with Broadway musical hits. “Come Alive!” features music from “Kiss Me Kate,” “Pippin” and “Chicago.” It is directed, choreographed and arranged by professional artists Jerry Kember, Kate Sarner, Michael Stanek and Taras Nahirniak.

Waunakee students will open the show when the sixth-grade choir, the Jazzicals, and the Keenotes entertain. The Wisconsin Singers plan to offer a workshop with the students beforehand, and this time, Ranum will be in a position to inspire future members.

“I’m super excited to be able to do a clinic with students again, especially in Waunakee because that’s kind of what made me absolutely love singing, and I’m really excited to bring that to students in Waunakee, too,” Ranum said.

In its 54th year, the Wisconsin Singers perform 35 shows annually throughout the United States, and the troupe is considered an ambassador for the UW-Madison.

The members’ majors vary – Ranum is studying biology and Spanish – so juggling academic work while learning music and choreography, and then touring, is a challenge.

Ranum said she works more efficiently when she has a lot on her plate, but admitted this spring, when she tours every weekend, that plate will be plenty full.

But she won’t be alone.

“I’m one in a group of 27 other students who are balancing the same thing,” she said, adding the members study together.

The Wisconsin Singers form strong bonds in the musical theater troupe. And for Ranum, those bonds formed early on, during a three-week production camp last August.

“I walked in knowing absolutely no one, and I walked out of that camp with some of my new best friends that are almost like family at this point. It’s crazy how quickly we all just bonded over music and the excitement of being able to perform,” Ranum said.

The Wisconsin Singers’ “Come Alive!” show will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Waunakee High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at the Waunakee Senior Center and Ace Hardware.

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