April 21, 2014
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MADISON, Wis. -- The annual Varsity Band Concert returns to the Kohl Center Thursday-Saturday, April 24-26, with all its usual pyrotechnics, thunder and brass. The Badger Band is celebrating its 40th year this season.
Its special guest will be UW-Madison alum Tom Wopat, star of Broadway and TV's "Dukes of Hazzard."
The Varsity Band and director Mike Leckrone will feature special guests in this 40th fundraiser for the 300-member ensemble, which is actually a one-credit class. When the group is on the football field, it's the UW Marching Band. When it's off the field, at a hockey or basketball game, it's called the Varsity Band. The band garnered national acclaim when it marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade and performed at the Rose Bowl earlier this year.
The concerts have grown over the years to circus dimensions, including aerial entrances and Leckrone's notoriously gaudy apparel. Besides professional stage and lighting effects, explosions and mixed-media presentations, this year's concert will feature a very special guest.
Tom Wopat first came to public attention in the late-1970s as the freewheeling Luke Duke on the TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard." Wopat went on to perform in the Tony Award-winning "City of Angels" and "Guys and Dolls."
The Lodi native received a Tony nomination for creating the role of Frank Butler in the Broadway revival of "Annie Get Your Gun," opposite Bernadette Peters. In 2008, Wopat returned to Broadway as Tom Hurley in "A Catered Affair" with Faith Prince and Harvey Fierstein. Wopat spent much of 2011 on Broadway again starring as Frank Abagnale Sr. in the new adaptation of "Catch Me If You Can."
Varsity Band Concert highlights will include a salute to James Bond and the Beatles, selections from "Phantom of the Opera" and hand-clapping Badger Ballads.
The concert also includes surprise guests and salutes to campus and state pride, with Badger musical favorites such as "Songs to Thee," "Varsity," "Jump Around" and "If You Want to be a Badger."
One popular misconception that all performances of the Varsity Band concert always sell out. The opposite is true. "With 21,000 seats available over three nights, I think we can find room for everyone," says Leckrone, "even if I have to move the tubas."
The concert is made possible in part by Baird Financial Services, WISC-TV, Channel3000.com, The Badger Herald and The University Book Store.
For tickets, order online or call (608) 265-4120 or buy them in person at the Kohl Center box office. Box office hours are 9:00 - 3:30 Wednesday thru Friday, and 6:00 - 8:00 PM the evening of performances.