Ambitious musical debuts at area church

Posted Mar. 05, 2005
By Warren Gerds

It’s not every church that puts on an original, 16-song musical written by a member who uses a computer to compose as well as to serve as the foundation for a cast recording.

The 12-congregation Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Green Bay is doing that, plus offering translations in three languages.

“Hidden Treasures: A Musical Revue of the Parables of Jesus Christ” will be presented starting Wednesday by a church and community cast of 12 soloists, a large angel choir, one child soloist and 100 children.

One of the people surprised at the scale and complexity is cast member Tasha Fischer, 20, of Ashwaubenon. A newcomer to the area, she’s been in musicals in the past.

“When a stake in that area would put on musicals, it usually wasn’t something that was original,” she said. “This is a new experience that I’m very impressed with.”

Written by Wanda Sieber of Green Bay, “Hidden Treasures” is a revision of a show she produced in 1992. It’s one of five musicals she’s written for the church.

Sieber completely re-orchestrated “Hidden Treasures.” It includes pop, gospel, jazz and rap music. Sieber uses 26 types of instrument, including specialty percussion sounds.

“I love the harmonies — very crunchy, very jazz-oriented harmonies,” said cast member Lynna Burton, 58, of Howard. “I find them incredibly fun to do.”

Burton and her husband, Bruce, 52, have been in all of Sieber’s musicals. Lynna Burton also directed, choreographed and made costumes for past productions.

“I like the fact that it is really wholesome family entertainment that anybody could bring their child to,” Lynna Burton said.

Bruce Burton has sung in the Green Bay Chamber Choir and Pamiro Opera’s chorus. “Hidden Treasures” requires ensemble teamwork of a different kind.

“At any given time, we may be a soloist or part of a chorus or maybe a silent actor — or maybe a goat,” Bruce Burton said.

The cast generally wears modern clothing.

“We kind of breeze through 12 parables that are highlighted,” Sieber said. “Some parables take more than one song … Sometimes we sing through the parable or sometimes we act the parable and sing the explanation.”

James Marker, 49, of Green Bay, enjoyed his experience so much in previous Sieber shows that he branched into performing with other community and church productions.

“It struck me that the core talent is comparable in all of them,” Marker said.

He’s among the people who like where the show goes.

“We want to present a kind of inspirational message that will leave people with a smile and feeling like they’ve had a pleasant evening,” Marker said. “I think we will do it. We’ve done it in the past.”

Many performances in the previous production played to a full house. Sieber chatted with audience members to see what they liked.

“By the time the run was done, every song had been picked as, ‘Oh, that one’s my favorite,’” Sieber said.

“It seems there’s something that resonates with everyone. Sometimes its on the level of ‘Gosh, that was funny. Can you believe that?’ That would be our ‘Judge Bad Rap’ parable.

“Other times when they leave, they’ve been crying. We have excellent source material, so we’re way ahead of the game.”

It’s been a while for a Sieber show. She set composing aside for eight years, in part because of she and her husband, Bill, have six children and in part because Bill was ordained as bishop of a congregation.