Next Gen Events

Upcoming Events

Collision of Rhythm

August 17, 2022

Their performance is a non-stop, mind-blowing cavalcade of percussion, tap dancing, vocal percussion, instrumentals, piano, marimba, juggling, singing, and audience interaction.

Collision of Rhythm delivers a high-energy, impactful showcase full of innovative musical feats, spontaneous audience interaction, and tons of laughter and excitement! Their performance is a non-stop, mind-blowing cavalcade of percussion, tap dancing, vocal percussion, instrumentals, piano, marimba, juggling, singing, and audience interaction. Collision of Rhythm has been described as Stomp meets Blue Man Group meets Cirque du Soleil.

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Past Next Gen Events

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Pre-School through 2nd Grade Attended

Hundreds of pre-school through second-grade students from 15 regional schools alighted at the Center for the two soul-warming matinees of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical!), based on the popular children’s book of the same name.

This free Next Gen event marked the first time GLCFA has hosted an event from The Kennedy Center. The performance definitely lived up to their reputation for all-out excellence in youth theater, from set design and lighting to author Mo Willems’ witticisms and genre-spanning music!

Pigeon’s colorful characters gave everyone someone to relate to, and the performers delivered a jazzy burst of positivity while sharing a powerful message of self-expression and finding one’s dreams while staying true to yourself.

The excitement in the crowd was as clear as Pigeon’s passion for driving the bus, and the enthusiasm was, similarly, palpable. Happiness and joy were everywhere – flying around like a super-hero bird in the air!

Warriors Don't Cry

Warriors Don't Cry


The Great Lakes Center for the Arts was pleased to welcome 485 students and chaperones from four school districts and three homeschool families to the venue for two matinee performances of Warriors Don’t Cry, a theatrical performance based on the memoir by Melba Patillo Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine in the mid-1950s.

The performance was a powerful monologue set inside a school, in which the actor embodied both a present-day 15-year-old and an elderly Melba Patillo Beals. Parallels were drawn between fighting to end mass shootings (particularly in schools) and fighting for black students’ rights to integrate into Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the years 1954-1957.  

Copies of the Paul Fleischman book, Seedfolks, were given to every student and educator who attended, thanks to a generous donation from Fernanda Fisher and the Robert Jensen Dau Foundation.

School House Rock Live!

History, Science, Grammar
Elementary Students Attended

School House Rock Live brought history, science, and grammar to life for more than 1000 students and educators at two packed shows!

Fun and learning complement each other well, and this theatrical production of classic animated standbys from the 1970s reminded all of us how cool it is to know stuff!

An educator shared a story about an upper elementary student who, after the performance, said, “I LOVED IT!” The teacher’s heart was “warmed.. because this is a student who rarely gets excited about anything.”

The Center’s Dorothy Gerber Strings Program, led by Dr. David Reimer and Ms. Trisha Berquist, put on a beautiful and inspiring pre-show performance.

When it’s right, it’s just right. And Schoolhouse Rock Live! reminded everyone how right it is to have fun learning!

“We came back to school and had to take our weekly grammar test. One student turned in her paper and said, ‘that was easy! I kept singing the songs from Schoolhouse Rock, and it helped me know all the answers!’ And, it did! She scored 100%!”

Area Educator

Interlochen Ballet Romeo and Juliet

Middle and High School Students Attended

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts welcomed 300 middle and high school students to the venue for a special performance of the Interlochen Center for the Arts Academy Dance Division’s ballet interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.

For 75% of the students, this free Next Gen event was first the time they had ever experienced live ballet.

Students had glowing reviews about everything from the set design, talent, costuming, acting, choreography and the pre-performance introduction by Interlochen’s Director of Dance, Joseph Morissey.

An additional 100 Next Gen tickets were given to dance students and chaperones from studios across the region to join us at the Center for the evening show.

Students said, “Thank you for the wonderful ballet. It was a great moment for me, as it was the first ballet I have ever seen,” and “I was very pleased! The costumes, the acting were all so amazing. I have seen ballets before, but this one was different; I could feel the dancers’ emotions and the conflict was so real.”

The relationship between the GLCFA and Interlochen’s ballet performances is a very special one that we look forward to nurturing and sharing with regional students in the years ahead.

Bill Blagg's Magic Science Lab

Remote Elementary and Middle School Classroom

Illusionist Bill Blagg’s brand-new Magic Science Lab will have kids on the edge of their seats, in the classroom or at home, as they discover how science creates magic right before their very eyes! During this digital “Arts Engagement” viewers joined Bill inside the Magic Science Lab where they explored how magicians use the “secret” five-step process (The Scientific Method) to create their illusions! Together with Bill, they used the “secret” five steps to make a person magically float in mid-air! 


Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks

7th & 8th Grades Attended

Nearly 1,000 middle school students learned important lessons about the nation’s civil rights movement through the musical, Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks, at the Center.


Interlochen Ballet Sleeping Beauty

7th & 8th Grades Attended

I really liked the ballet because it was something that most of my students would never have had the opportunity to experience without your grant and program. I would love to have my students watch a musical also; our school no longer has a theater program.

Area Teacher



Click Clack Moo

Communication, Family & Relationships, Music
K To 2nd Grades Attended 

Over 1,000 kindergarten through second grade students enjoyed the musical Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type at the Center. Education Director Heather Russell visited all 17 attending schools in the week prior to read the Caldecott Award winning book and show students a now obsolete typewriter. 

Schools from Mackinaw City to Bellaire, Charlevoix to Inland Lakes and many in between were able to attend this Next Gen matinee offering free of charge, thanks to the generous family of donors who support the educational programming at the Center. One student gave the experience “10,000 thumbs up!” 

Lesson plans were provided to teachers that tied in with the state standards, and students learned about compromise and relationships in the “mooooving” and hilarious musical. 

McLean & Eakin Booksellers of Petoskey partnered with the Center to offer books for purchase to students, and several of their community patrons donated books which were given to every school.

Robert Jensen Dau Foundation

Mansfield Family Foundation

The Meijer Foundation

Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs/National Endowment for the Arts