It was a packed house at Lancaster High School’s Hillary Auditorium on Sunday evening, as the Kids From Wisconsin took to the stage with performances from “Hometown Kids” Jonah Zimpel of Boscobel, Arianna Day of Platteville, and Amanda Frisch of Wisconsin Dells. The performance was free to all audience members, with a free will donation asked to go toward the Briar Brown Memorial/Scholarship Fund, which was established in February 2014.
“Jonah came up with the idea to help raise money for the Briar Brown Memorial/Scholarship Fund back in April,” Jonah’s mom Casey Zimpel said. “Jonah has coached Abri Brown in summer dance in the past, so he grew close to the family, which is why he felt this was so important for him to do.”
Jonah started his adventure with the Kids From Wisconsin on June 7. Kids From Wisconsin is a group that performs live music annually for more than 120,000 people across Wisconsin and the Midwest. They offer great entertainment by the most talented performers ages 15-20 from across the state. The show is produced in collaboration with some of the country’s best writers, arrangers, and choreographers. Costumes are designed and created in Broadway style, adding to the already exciting performance. The broad repertoire of music includes the American favorites, Big Band, 50’s-80’s classics, Motown, country, Broadway and current top hits, filling two-hour full staged performances. Some of the music performed on Sunday included songs from Chicago, Journey, Carole King, and many more.
The Hometown performance was very important to Jonah as the Boscobel community has always given him overwhelming support in his vocal and dance career. He felt that this performance was an opportunity for many that normally couldn’t afford to attend such a performance. Jonah was very grateful to all the sponsors that were able to not only help secure the KIDS performance in Lancaster, but also helped organize the Briar Brown benefit.
It was clear to everyone in the crowd who knew Jonah, that they could tell that he was the happiest he has ever been. At the end of the performance, it was obvious that Jonah was a crowd favorite at the event as people lined up to get a chance to have their picture taken with him and tell him congratulations at the end of the show.
“He was so touched by the turnout at the end of the performance that it was emotionally overwhelming for not only him but all of us,” Casey said.
Prior to the performance area youngsters were invited to attend the KIDS Outreach program. This gave children from around the area that dream of being part of the Kids From Wisconsin, to learn a small part of what being a KID is about. They were also given the opportunity to learn a routine that the Kids From Wisconsin perform.
“It was a nice turnout and the kids really enjoyed getting to know what their day to day life is about,” Casey said.
The Zimpel family provided lunch for the Kids From Wisconsin. When it came to the end of the meal, they were impressed to see the discipline of these kids as they started clapping and singing a thank you song and then began picking up their plates. Jonah’s dance/vocal instructor, Brandi White, owner of Gotta Dance Academy of Performing Arts in Lancaster, treated the Kids From Wisconsin to supper prior to the performance at Doolittles Pub & Eatery in Lancaster.
While the kids were staying in the area they were welcomed at homes both in the Boscobel and Platteville areas. Casey Zimpel says that she was surprised when she got home from the performance and the Kids were still hungry. She said they ended up buying nine pizzas all of which were devoured.
“I was thinking, oh, there was no way they were going to be hungry after that event, but I was wrong,” Casey said.
After leaving Lancaster, the students particpating in the Kids From Wisconsin, had a packed schedule of performances every night until the end of July. Then things will start to slow down in August as they prepare for the Wisconsin State Fair, August 6-16. Following that they will have five more performances before they return home to their families. They will have two more performances close to home for those interested in attending, one of which will be in La Crosse on July 19 at 4 p.m. at Weber Center for the Performing Arts and in Dubuque on July 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the aboretum at the Botanical Gardens.