The KirkOut blog is a place to discuss the fine arts in our community and how the Center can better serve our residents with quality, educational entertainment.
Press Release - Millikin University

Millikin University will welcome Grammy-nominated platinum recording artist Sara Bareilles for the annual University Center Board (UCB) Big Event on April 5 at 8 p.m. in the Kirkland Fine Arts Center. 


Sara Bareilles gained mainstream success with her 2007 hit, “Love Song,” which brought her into the number one spot on the Billboard Pop 100 chart. She has sold over 1 million records worldwide and has been nominated for three Grammy awards. Bareilles’ second album, “Little Voice” was certified as platinum by Recording Industry Association of America in 2010. 


Bareilles’ most recent album, “Kaleidoscope Heart,” was released Sept. 7, 2010 and debuted at #1 in the United States. It features the hit song, “King of Anything,” which reached #1 on the Hot AC and AAA charts and VH1. For more information on Bareilles, visit


Bareilles will be joined by opening acts Elizabeth and the Catapult, a pop-rock trio from Brooklyn, N.Y. and Ximena Sarinana, a Grammy and Latino Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Guadalajara, Mexico. For more information, visit and


The UCB is Millikin University's student-run programming board, comprised of 11 student executive board members and staff advisors with the responsibility to plan, promote, execute, and evaluate student events and activities.  UCB plans a variety of annual events for students to enjoy, including Fall Family Weekend, the Pancake Breakfast, Millipalooza, and Springfest.  In addition, the UCB brings a nationally recognized band to campus each spring to entertain the community.  Millikin students voted for Sara Bareilles as their #1 choice to perform this year. Past artists have included OneRepublic, Gavin DeGraw, The Roots, O.A.R., Ben Folds, Jason Mraz, Train, 3 Doors Down, Sugar Ray, Vertical Horizon, and Sister Hazel.


In order to maintain appropriate decorum and an atmosphere that encourages respect, Kirkland Fine Arts Center asks patrons to honor the following requests: 


• All bags are subject to search 

• No photography, audio taping, or videography 

• No alcohol, drugs, tobacco products, or smoking of any kind 

• No re-admittance once inside the theater


Patrons who do not follow the above requests or those who display inappropriate or illegal behavior will be ejected from the facility. 


Tickets for the event are $20 for the general public and may be purchased at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center Box Office, by phone at 217.424.6318 or online at A $2.50 fee will be charged for credit card purchases. This is a per transaction fee, not per ticket, and applies to online and Box Office orders. Kirkland Box Office hours are Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Press Release - Millikin University

Millikin University’s Kirkland Fine Arts Center is pleased to welcome Tonight Show host Jay Leno for its biannual Goodheart event on Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. 

Jay Leno follows in the footsteps of legendary NBC late-night hosts Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson and is the host of the Emmy Award-winning and top-rated “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Leno has created his own unique late-night style with a combination of humor, talk and entertainment each night at 11:35 p.m. ET - the wee hours when viewers want to wind down with a few laughs before drifting off to dreamland.

Leno’s “everyman” style and personality have helped him earn millions of fans worldwide, but primarily in the regions where people can relate to his personable style and work ethic.  He has been touted as one of the nicest people in show business and the hardest-working -- a winning tandem for the man who says “Anyone can have a life - careers are hard to come by!”

In addition to the 13-year milestone, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has experienced numerous highlights during its reign, including winning two Emmy Awards - the first in 1995 for Outstanding Comedy, Variety or Music Series, and the second in 1996 for Outstanding Technical Direction.  In 1999 and 2000, “The Tonight Show” took home the trophy for Favorite Late Night Show in the annual TV Guide Awards determined by voting viewers.   Leno’s personal highlights include receiving a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and being the first person to drive the pace car of all major NASCAR events.

Prior to becoming host of “Tonight,” Leno had been the exclusive guest host on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” since September 1987.  He first appeared as a guest on the show March 2, 1977, and he made numerous additional appearances on “Tonight” as well as NBC’s former program “Late Night with David Letterman.”

One of the country’s premier comedians, Leno has appeared in hundreds of comedy shows around the United States for the past 20 years.  In 2001, he traveled to Bosnia, where he performed for military troops associated with the war in Afghanistan.  Leno also traveled to Aviano, Italy in 1995 to entertain military troops associated with the peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia.  He remains passionate about performing in front of live audiences and appears regularly in Las Vegas, on college campuses around the United States and in other venues.

Leno’s children’s book “If Roast Beef Could Fly” (from Simon & Schuster) hit bookstores in April 2004 and immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. His other book, “Leading with My Chin” (from HarperCollins), hit the bookstores in 1998.  He also has published four versions of “Headlines,” the compilation of books and desk calendars featuring his favorite funny newspaper headlines, and “Police Blotter,” a book with more humorous newspaper clips involving police stories (book proceeds go to various charities).

Leno was born in New Rochelle, New York, and raised in Andover, Massachusetts.  He and his wife, Mavis, live in Los Angeles.  In his spare time, he enjoys working on his collection of classic cars and motorcycles.

Support for the Goodheart event comes from a 1997 gift from Peggy Madden and her late husband Bill, both emeritus trustees, in memory of Peggy’s father, the late William R. Goodheart. Mr. Goodheart founded the Music Corporation of America in the late 1920s and headed their New York City offices for nearly twenty years. During his career, he discovered and promoted some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. The Goodheart events periodically bring popular performers with wide current appeal to the Millikin University campus. Former performers include Howie Mandel, Tap Dogs, Bill Cosby, STOMP, David Spade, Wayne Brady, and Mo’Nique.  

Tickets are $25 and go on sale to the general public on Monday, March 21 and can be purchased through the Kirkland Fine Arts Center Box Office, by phone at 217.424.6318 or online at  Box Office hours are Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday from 10 am to 5 pm.  A $2.50 fee will be charged for credit card purchases. This is a per transaction fee, not per ticket, and applies to online and Box Office orders.

Events at Kirkland Fine Arts Center are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
By Jim Vorel - H&R Staff Writer

Steve Widenhofer, director of Millikin University's School of Music, is a busy man. So are the other five instructor-performers of Millikin's Faculty Jazz Sextet. This is not an easy group to get together for rehearsals, much less socializing.

So the presentation of "Holiday Jazz" at Kirkland Fine Arts Center this Saturday is a welcome opportunity for the faculty members to indulge in a little Christmas cheer.

"We had a great time last year," Widenhofer said. "It was a really relaxed show, even though it's in the big Kirkland theater. Our personalities as a group really seemed to suit that atmosphere. It was just one of those nights."

The show, in its third year, puts a jazzy twist on classic Christmas and holiday-season standards. Creative arrangements of songs such as Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas" feature the talents of the entire sextet: Widenhofer (piano), Brian Justison (drums), Dave Burdick (guitar), Joel Kelsey (bass), Perry Rask (saxophone) and Randall Reyman (trumpet).

"Randy and Dave have really put together some creative, snazzy adaptations," Widenhofer said. "We did an album a long time ago called ‘Cool Yule,' and we're using some of those tunes as well. Some of the songs are the classic holiday songs everybody knows, and some may not be quite so familiar."

The chemistry of the group makes Widenhofer wish they could perform together more often than four or five times a year.

"We all have great respect for each other as musicians and creative people," he said. "These shows give us a chance to collaborate together outside the classroom. We all really enjoy each other's company and wish it could last even longer."

For Millikin music students, "Holiday Jazz" is one of a number of opportunities throughout the year to see their professors in action, making music with each other. The faculty members find that such performances have the added benefit of increasing music appreciation in the student body.

"They get to see us in a different light than in the classroom setting or as administrators," Widenhofer said. "As music teachers, we can model what we teach by our ability to play ourselves. For students to see their teachers doing that is really excellent. They appreciate it as a teaching methodology."

The returning special guest from last year's "Holiday Jazz" is 2003 Millikin commercial music graduate Angel Spiccia, now a professional vocalist making appearances in a number of Chicago jazz clubs. Most of the faculty members of the Faculty Jazz Sextet are former teachers of Spiccia's.

"It's a thrill to come back and perform with them," she said. "I had so much fun in college. I'm still thankful for all the opportunities I had to perform with them back when they were my teachers."

Spiccia's performance last year included renditions of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Santa Baby." In her eyes, the show seemed to fly by.

"We had so much fun, and it really put me in the spirit," she said. "We all enjoy taking some of the traditional Christmas songs and injecting some Latin or blues or jazz styles into them."

By Jim Vorel - H&R Staff Writer

DECATUR - After seeing Millikin University's production of "Dead Man's Cell Phone," audience members may think twice before answering an unattended call.

If it's anything like the experience of Julie Burchett's character, Jean, it would be far less trouble to just let that cell phone ring.

The play will premiere Wednesday at Pipe Dreams Theatre, with four additional performances through Dec. 11.

In the play, Jean's trouble starts when she grows annoyed with the constantly ringing cell phone of a fellow restaurant diner and stranger, Gordon, and discovers the reason for his inattentiveness is that he has at some point quietly passed away sitting at his table. On a whim, she answers his still-ringing phone and is sucked headfirst into the life of a man she never met.

"She has a moment to sit beside him by herself, and she sort of falls in love with him, or at least the idea of him," Burchett said. "He seems very kind, very genuine to her. She's kind of a quiet, introverted woman, but this play brings her out of her shell. It starts as a small snowball picking up the phone, but once it starts rolling, it can't be stopped."

Matt Walker plays Gordon, the unfortunate deceased around whom the play is built, and whose nebulous relationships with friends and family are explored by the increasingly involved Jean. As the play opens, Gordon's status is already in doubt - namely, whether or not he is alive.

"It's a little more elegant than him face down in his soup," Walker said. "He's just sitting peacefully at the table. People keep asking me if I have any lines in the play. There is a whole scene with me playing a dead man, but I do have other scenes as well."

One of these takes place in an unspecified place Walker thinks of as purgatory, from which Gordon is able to relate his feelings about Jean's involvement in his family and narrate the second act of the play. Walker describes his view of Jean as one of mostly bemusement, but he also questions her motives.

"He actually calls my character out on it, because he asks, ‘Why are you doing all of these things?' " Burchett said. "He asks ‘Who are you actually doing these things for, the family or yourself? Who are you really trying to help?' "

In Burchett's eyes, Jean is for the most part a benevolent, somewhat misguided woman who simply wishes to help the family and friends of Gordon cope with loss, despite the man having been a stranger. To do this, Jean assumes an invented relationship to the deceased Gordon that hovers in substance somewhere between confidante and former mistress.

"Jean likes to live through other people's memories, which is kind of strange, but she finds her happiness in helping other people she doesn't really know," Burchett said. "She helps them remember Gordon and find the goodness in every situation wherever she goes. She may not have experienced a lot in her own life, but she experiences a lot vicariously."

Moments of awkwardness abound in what is essentially a dark comedy with occasional surrealistic moments. Director Denise Myers said the final result is a story about "accepting the call to go on a journey."

"We're calling it a fantasy in a way; it's funny, and there are dramatic elements in it also," she said. "It's kind of fantastical, but there's also realistic moments."

This hodgepodge of influences should keep audiences on their toes, according to Brittany Falardeau, who play's Gordon's mistress.

"I think every scene that happens will have the audience saying ‘I have no idea what will happen next,' " she said. "That's what makes this play exciting and fun, because it's all over the place."

Millikin University- Press Release

Millikin University will welcome the holiday season with the 52nd annual Vespers celebration, “Shout the Good News,” to be held at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center at 3 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5.  

For fifty-two years, Vespers (which means "evening prayers") has signaled the beginning of the holiday season with a sumptuous evening of carols, choirs and candlelight. Over 300 musicians join together for this joyous musical feast presented annually on Millikin’s campus. Songs from past centuries combined with familiar carols and arrangements create an evening of seasonal warmth for the whole family.  Vespers is one of Millikin’s most popular events, and has become a beloved tradition on campus and within the Decatur community. 

“Each year, Vespers provides a wonderful opening for the holiday season,” remarked Dr. Brad Holmes, professor of music and artistic director for Vespers. “This year’s program will provide an array of beloved Christmas classics that will delight concertgoers young and old.”

Tickets may be purchased at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center Box Office, by phone at 217.424.6318 or online at Kirkland Box Office hours are Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors and children. A $2.50 fee will be applied to credit card purchases. This is a per transaction fee, not per ticket, and applies to online and Box Office orders.

Events at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
By Jim Vorel- H&R Staff Writer

"Mystifier" Mike Super asks a simple question - why limit oneself to only one branch of the "mystical arts" and a title as simple as "magician?"

"I don't like ‘magician' because it conjures up a picture of an old guy in a tuxedo and a top hat," said Super, who brings his award-winning "magic show" to Millikin University's Kirkland Fine Arts Center Sunday. "Who wears a tuxedo anymore? So I say ‘mystifier' because it better conveys all of the things I choose to do - magic, mentalism, illusions, escapes, etc.

"But most any other term is fine, honestly. They can call me a ‘tada American,' if they want."

Super has been performing magic since age 6, when he first began shows for neighborhood children in the back yard of his home. He had already been touring the country and winning awards for years in 2007 when he accepted an invitation to join the cast of NBC's live magic competition "Phenomenon." Winning the show's national voting and the $250,000 prize vaulted Super's career in magic into the next level.

"I still get recognized by people on the street based on that show three years later," he said. "It changed a lot of things. I used to do my show and people were surprised by how high the production values were. Now, it's simply expected of me, and I have to work even harder to meet that expectation."

Of course, an inevitable question arises when it comes to the format of a television show based on performing acts of "mentalism," or influencing the minds of others. If a mentalist really was successful, couldn't he or she influence the judges and audiences critiquing a performance?

"Unfortunately, I'm not a hypnotist, so I can't just plant ideas to make someone vote for me," Super said. "I did always think it was kind of funny, though, that it was a show with a bunch of possible psychics who all thought they were going to be the winner."

Audience participation makes Super's performance "a magic show turned on its side and spilled into the audience." Be it levitating an audience member or divining private information, Super is obsessed with creating a show that is more than just a progression of tricks.

"My show breaks down the fourth wall that I've always hated in magic," he said. "I also like to have a reason for what I'm doing beyond simply the entertainment factor."

This reason is typically evoking specific emotional responses in the audience. Where some performers might craft tricks or illusions with a specific visual effect in mind, Super's drawing board starts specifically with which emotion it is he wants to generate. A story about his mother is the lead-in to one of his favorite illusions.

"One of my mom's favorite things was snow around Christmastime, and as a tribute to her I make it snow in the theatre in honor of my mom and everyone who supported me," Super said. "People will sometimes tear up and come talk to me after the show to say ‘that was my dad' or ‘that was my grandfather.' "

These fans of Super are collectively known as his "Superfreaks," and their numbers are undoubtedly part of the reason the mystifier was able to win "Phenomenon." Super maintains an email list of over 50,000 "Superfreaks" at any given time, calling them "my lifeblood." Known for his habit of connecting with fans at random, Super has found the Internet particularly useful for dropping in unexpectedly, and cites the Web as severely underutilized by the modern mystifier.

"Magic is always kind of behind the times, it seems," he said. "If I'm bored or traveling I'll just go on my Facebook page, log into chat, and start reading some minds over the Internet. Soon there will be a couple hundred people all clamoring to be next."

Super has saved the best trick, however, for last. Several months ago, the mystifier claims to have received a "strong impression" that he could predict Sunday's Herald & Review front-page headline. He sent his guess to the Kirkland Fine Arts Center, where it is currently being guarded under lock and key by Director Jan Traughber, who is ready to accept blame for any tampering. This is a trick that Super has performed on a small number of other occasions, when he feels particularly sure of his guess. And yet he resolutely denies that he is "psychic."

"I do not possess psychic power like a 900 number," he said. "It's based on automatic writing and what's on the news on CNN. This is completely legit. I've done it about 15 times and haven't been wrong yet, but there's a very real chance that I could be wrong anytime I do it."

Moreover, if Super fails to correctly guess the headline, he has claimed he will refund all advance ticket purchases. As for automatic writing, he claims it is "what comes out of your subconscious when you clear your mind."

"We sent the prediction to the theatre, and I have no idea where it is now," Super said. "I will never touch it again, even at the show. In some towns, it's been kept in a jail cell, or the mayor's office, or even hanging from the theatre marquee."

Audiences on Sunday will find out if Super can back up his boast, but those who doubt may want to purchase their tickets early.

By Tim Cain - 5/27/2010 at 2:00 am

One of the best shows I ever saw at Kirkland Fine Arts Center was one of its most sparsely attended.

On St. Patricks’ Day 2004, Eileen Ivers – a past Ireland violin champion – headlined a show at the Millikin entertainment center. There were about 300 people in attendance.

They were the happiest people in town that night, I’m guessing. Instead of phoning in a performance, Ivers ripped it up. And even though the extent of my exposure to her prior to that night was a cursory listen of a CD her publicist had sent, I left the concert a fan.

We all get another chance next year.

Millikin has announced its Kirkland lineup for 2010-11. I’ll have a story in Friday’s paper, but Ivers returns next March. Single tickets won’t go on sale until close to the end of the year, but keep an eye out. She’s more than worth the cost of admission.

Read the original post at:

Expect the Unexpected…


It was Scottish poet Bobbie Burns who warned a little mouse (whose nest had been destroyed by a farmer’s plough) that the “best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men” often go awry.  That’s where Steinbeck got it, and it also suggests the thread that runs through our 2010-2011 season of plays and musicals.  In spite of all the planning that goes into the perfect wedding, the perfect family, or even the perfect suicide, stuff happens.  Dark family secrets get unveiled, phones get answered by the wrong people, and some folks get “Pucked” by an annoying fairy in the woods.  Whatever the plan, mouse or man, expect the unexpected!


Laura Ledford

Chair, Department of Theatre & Dance

Millikin University
Visit to read about the 2010-2011 Season.

Urine Good Company says “Pay to Pee!”



Monday, April 12, 2010


Under a new directive from the Urine Good Company (recently contracted by Millikin’s Department of Theatre and Dance to extort revenue from its patrons), users must pay a fee to access all toilet facilities on campus. Effective April 28, 2010, Policy F-37982.3 states that those seeking urinary relief must use UGC’s Public Amenity No. 9, the only available option for relieving themselves on campus.  In a press conference held to announce the new policy, UGC spokesperson Penelope Pennywise cited “depleted water supplies and the need to conserve” as reasons for the policy, though she was overheard later singing “It’s a privilege to pee!” through a microphone accidently left on after the announcement.


Beginning on April 28 all toilets on the Millikin University Campus will be equipped with a coin deposit mechanism and swipe card reader. Every user will be required to pay 25¢ to access the toilet stalls, or if they prefer to swipe, the fee will be charged to their MU account by the Urine Good Company.  An appropriate percentage of the revenue (called “pee-ola” by an anonymous theatre professor) will be kicked back to the Department of Theatre and Dance.


Campus enforcement of Policy F-37982.3 will be conducted by two new officers hired by UGC, Mr. Lockstock and Mr. Barrel.  Lockstock and Barrel will apprehend, fine, assault, kill, or issue citations to those who refuse to pay to pee as well as those caught peeing in places other than Amenity No. 9.


Certain members of the public, clearly outraged by the policy, have already begun to organize resistance activities.  Community members Soupy Sue, Hot Blades Harry, and Tiny Tom, led by reluctant activist and community organizer Bobby Strong, have formed a coalition to protest the policy “with violence if necessary… and really mean songs.”


Caldwell B. Cladwell, president and CEO of the Urine Good Company, will host a series of musical town hall meetings (sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Dance) on April 28th through May 1st at 7:30PM and on Sunday, May 2nd at 2:00PM. These will take place in Albert Taylor Theatre, where Cladwell and Pennywise have promised to field appropriate questions from the peeing public.  Inappropriate questions will result in an all-expenses-paid trip to Urinetown, a mysterious place from which no traveler returns.


These meetings are open to all Millikin students, faculty and staff, as well as concerned citizens of the Decatur area. Seating is limited, so please contact the Kirkland Box Office at 217-424-6318 for tickets and further information.


If you think you cannot attend the meetings but would like to register a complaint about policy F-37982.3, please e-mail Your comment or concern will receive a prompt and thoroughly unsatisfying response.


You may also post comments on this blog.*

*UGC reserves the right to censor your comment and/or sue you for libel.



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