Past Next Gen Events

Okee Dokee Brothers

Grade K - 4

More than 500 smilers smiled until their smile muscles hurt! From video footage that inspired our “get out there and explore” bones to music that reminded us of the pure joy of friends around a campfire, The Okee Dokee Brothers brought pure positivity with relatable, insightful, and darn catchy lyrics coupled with gotta-have-it banjo and acoustic guitar picking.


Havana Hop

Grades Pre K - 3

The Center welcomed its first Artist-in-Residence, multi-ethnic creative Paige Hernandez. Miss Paige, as she likes to be called, spent an entire week inspiring students, challenging students, and creating with students, and that week felt like one big celebration!

Youth Civics Forum: What is Private Anymore?

High School - College

The Youth Civics Forum is an original, collaborative forum designed to provide a positive example of healthy, respectful discourse around the intersection of government and civic responsibility. 

Cirque Mechanics: Zephyr

Grades 4 - 8

Cirque Mechanics gave an A+ performance for a full house of students from grades 4 – 8 that included aerials, acrobatics, and all-around amazing feats of physicality. With its custom-built, 20-foot windmill, Cirque Mechanics treated the audience to a story of ingenuity and a perennial tale of the relationship each of us has to the planet and its resources.

Interlochen Arts Academy Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty

Grades 5 - 7

525 Students in grades 5-7 enjoyed a visual spectacle that included stunning atmospheric effects, spectacular costumes – including vintage and European costumes  – and of course, exceptional dance as Interlochen students brought The Sleeping Beauty to life under the impressive and creative direction of Joseph Morrissey, Director of Dance for Interlochen Center for the Arts.

The Rainbow Fish

Grades Pre-K - 3

Mermaid Theater of Nova Scotia brought two full houses underwater with its breathtaking stage adaptation of Marcus Pfister’s book, The Rainbow Fish. The internationally acclaimed theater brought puppeteering to a whole new level, creating a show that appeared to defy gravity and succeeded deftly at suspending disbelief for a full hour of enchantment. Students from preschool through third grade saw one of their favorite literary characters – the Rainbow Fish – come to life!

Kate the Chemist

Grades 1 - 8

A Michigan native and Assistant Chemistry professor at the University of Texas, Kate the Chemist mesmerized, entertained, educated, and brought the passion of STEM to two full houses of students from across Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties.

Human[kind] Cinema Series: Hidden Figures

Grades 8 - 12

Mussorgsky in Miniature: Pictures at an Exhibition – A Masterpiece in Narrative Style

Grades 3 - 8 

The Center welcomed students in grades 3-8 from around northern Michigan to experience art and music with IPR and Traverse Symphony Orchestra musicians this Monday morning - part of a new collaboration presented by Next Gen.

IPR's Kate Botello hosted a show that featured TSO musicians performing Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" while the works of art were displayed.

The Lighting Thief

Grades 6 - 8

Any pre-teen or teenager itching for a worthy adventure on a routine Monday most certainly got it when Next Gen wrapped its 2022-2023 academic year season with a musical rendition of The Lightning Thief, brought to the Center from TheaterWorksUSA.

This high-energy, innovative production of Rick Riordan’s Greek-mythology-meets-modern-day-teendom tale, kept two full houses engrossed and inspired. Talk about a mythological accomplishment!

We Can Do It: American Women in History

The first "On the Road!" show, We Can Do It: American Women in History, traveled to Boyne City, East Jordan, Charlevoix, and Ellsworth Schools in March. The show featured appearances from famous trailblazers including Amelia Earhart, Nellie Bly, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sojourner Truth, Mae Jemison, and more, to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women in America. 

Thank you to supporting sponsor Teri List for allowing Next Gen to take programming directly into the classroom for the very first time.


Interlochen Arts Academy's Cinderella

Grade 5 - 8

First-time ballet goers and seasoned ballet lovers alike were mesmerized by Cinderella, retold under the creative and impeccable eye of Joseph Morrissey, Director of Dance at Interlochen Center for the Arts. 


GLCO Presents: Shackleton's Incredible Journey

Grade 7 - 9 

The Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra’s 2023 production, Shackleton’s Incredible Journey, highlighted not just the talent of the Orchestra’s musicians, but revealed a complex, highly collaborative, and powerful multi-artistic creation featuring Little Traverse Civic Theater actors; archival and modern still and video images; an innovative set design; and programmatic music arranged and directed by Maestro Libor Ondras.

It's Okay to Be Different - Stories by Todd Parr

Grades PreK - 3

If you enjoy Todd Parr books or are just an awesome human being, there’s no way to not love It’s Okay to be Different! With its mesmerizing, UV-lit and larger-than-life, two-dimensional puppet magic and beautiful original score, this captivating, book-based show from Mermaid Theater Nova Scotia brought visual art and a powerfully positive message to early elementary students from across Northern Michigan!

Human[kind] Cinema Series: The Book Thief

Middle and High School Students

A full house of middle and high school students from our 5-county region came together for the powerful cinematic story, The Book Thief, based on Martin Zusak’s book of the same name. 

Junie B.'s Essential Survival Guide

Grades K - 3

Young students (grades K – 3) from five counties (Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, and Otsego) were able to join us for an uplifting, teensy-bit raucous, incredibly witty event that saw Junie B. Jones come to life in her bestest, red-dressed, sassy way!

Collision of Rhythm

Middle and High School Students

Bronkar Lee and Aaron Grooves brought the rhythm and moves - and an inspiring dose of positivity! – to the stage for a matinee, a family evening performance, and an incredible student workshop in between!

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Pre-School through 2nd Grade

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.

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.

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!


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.

Bill Blagg's Magic Science Lab

Remote Elementary and Middle School Classroom

Illusionist Bill Blagg’s brand-new Magic Science Lab had kids on the edge of their seats, in the classroom and at home, as they discovered how science creates magic right before their very eyes! 

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. 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. 

Thomas Edison, The Wizard of Menlo Park

Grades K through 5

Broadway veteran Patrick Garner captivated students with a variety of fun, interactive programs by making American history a virtual experience!