Handful of seats left for LeAnn Rimes show at Brown County Music Center

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Two female performers are rocking the area. One is a past Broadway dancer, now choreographing at Cardinal Stage. The other, coming to the Brown County Music Center, is a country star with a wardrobe as big as her voice, and fanbase.

Lauren Haughton Gillis: From dancing to choreography

Lauren Haughton Gillis, director, choreographer and past Broadway ("Wicked") performer is choreographing Cardinal's "A Year with Frog and Toad," which opens Dec. 21.

"I'm excited that Kate (Galvin, Cardinal's artistic director) cast four of my wildly talented IU students," Gillis said.

But Gillis is also excited about Galvin's concept for the show.

"I dove deeply into vaudeville in school. Music history was a big part of my MFA." Galvin's vision ties in well with Gillis' admiration for the genre, which started in France in the late 1800s.

Lauren Haughton Gillis is a director, choreographer and past Broadway performer.
Lauren Haughton Gillis is a director, choreographer and past Broadway performer.

"'Frog and Toad' lends itself well to vaudeville," Gillis said.

Gillis met Galvin during the pandemic in 2020. She had heard good things about Galvin and so gave her a call, saying, "I would love to work for you. I'm a new (to town) choreographer." The two clicked.

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Gillis credits Galvin with having the vision, and doing the research, to try a vaudeville style for "Frog." Galvin will occasionally tell Gillis something like, "Let's do a Marx Brothers approach to that song."

Gillis, an Actors Equity Association and Musical Theatre Educators' Alliance member, is assistant professor of musical theater for Indiana University's Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance. She has previously taught at San Diego State University and the Northwestern University NHSI Cherub Program as a director, choreographer and musical theater teaching artist.

Among other accomplishments, she has worked in TV in the "Annie" episode for Encore! on Disney Plus, directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and choreographed by Melinda Sullivan. Tommy Tune directed her in the original casts of "Turn of the Century" at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, and she has produced, directed and choreographed shows for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS throughout the U.S. and Canada with the Broadway National Touring companies of "Hamilton," "Wicked," "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" and "The Book of Mormon."

And, of course, Gillis is impressed with the vast IU campus and the town. "I like college towns, and particularly THIS town."

If you go

WHAT: "A Year with Frog and Toad," a musical by Robert Reale (music), with book and lyrics by Willie Reale, based on books by Arnold Lobel.

WHEN: Dec. 21-Jan. 2

WHERE: Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.

TIMES & TICKETS: https://bit.ly/3rFyAnF. Most tickets are "pay what you will," where the ticket buyer determines the cost. There is a $2 convenience fee on each ticket. Premium seats have a fixed price.

NOTE: Patrons 12 years old and older must provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. This is not required of younger children. Seating will be socially distanced, and masks must be worn.

LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes

LeAnn Rimes' clothes and country

LeAnn Rimes has become an expert on promoting her country music — and her outstanding outfits — on Instagram, where she has 705,000 followers. She will show off both artistries at the Brown County Music Center at 8 p.m. Dec.14.

American singer, actress, author and songwriter Margaret LeAnn Rimes Cibrian's stardom came at age 13, making her the youngest country music super success since 1972, when Tanya Tucker held that position.

To emphasize words, Rimes uses her "break," that part of the vocal range where the voice wants to switch from chest to falsetto or head. It's a bit like a wolf howling and lends pathos to Mack's famous lyrics "Blue/oh, so lonesome for you/ why can't you be blue over me?"

The teenaged singer of Bill Mack's "Blue," which went multi-platinum in 1996, has developed into a grownup star and gives her fans plenty to hear — and see. Her almost-nude dress at Austin City Limits music festival this year, a prisony-orange jumpsuit, her truncated bow-shaped shirt, a backless coral tulle fairy gown and an uber-plunge V-neck cocktail dress have summoned social media emojis galore.

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Rimes, adept at social media, is mastering its power and diversity. For instance, she can satisfy both fans of country music and of the popular "Project Runway," the American realty TV series in which amateur fashion designers compete under intense deadlines and are restricted by concepts and fabrics.

Rimes' clothing is nearly as alluring as her voice. This may account for her Brown County show's tickets moving faster than a snapped piece of yarn in a tight sweater.

"We're only gonna be hitting up a few cities this year," Rimes says on Facebook. That differs from years past, so south-central Indiana lucks out this time.

If you go

WHAT: LeAnn Rimes — Home for the Holidays Tour 2021.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Dec. 14.

WHERE: Brown County Music Center, 200 Maple Leaf Blvd., Nashville, 812-988-5323.

TICKETS: https://bit.ly/3dHwPyd.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Bloomington shows: Cardinal Stage and LeAnn Rimes tickets on sale