Wausau Pilot & Review

Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing christina@wausaupilotandreview.com.

This week’s featured Wausau-area business is a nonprofit organization that is bursting with energy and excitement as they prepare to take the stage and entertain audiences once again – after more than a year of health restrictions. CenterStage Band and Show Choir, spearheaded by Director and President Joel Freiberg, was created out of the Wausau Insurance Music Society. WIMS was funded through Wausau Insurance as an employee benefit program. The group opened up to the community and turned into a nonprofit in 2006. The mission is based on the firm belief that fostering a band and show choir dedicated to well-performed entertainment enhances the quality of life for the entire community — before the stage, CenterStage, backstage, or at any stage of life. CenterStage aspires to be the hallmark of this community, where the area’s most talented artists, support crew, and those wanting to learn new skills and improve existing skills, come together to create and provide premier performances that can be enjoyed by all, regardless of their financial ability. All are welcome.

This year, CenterStage will perform at the Grand Theater in Wausau. The group’s upcoming presentation, All American Music, is set for Sept. 23 through 25. Admission is free, thanks to the support of generous donors and sponsors. Here, performer and board member Jenna Diedrich talks about CenterStage’s mission, the challenges the organization has overcome, and the joy of being part of a group that delights audiences year after year with colorful, incredible performances.

CenterStage Band and Show Choir: Contributed photo

Q: How did you choose the name of your business? What are you trying to convey? 

I like to think that our name conveys our dedication to spreading joy through live entertainment–at any stage of life. 

Q: Tell us about your business. What products or services do you offer?

CenterStage is  a non-profit arts organization. We are a show choir and band that provides free, live entertainment. We are probably best known for our free annual show every fall at the Grand Theater. 

We also have performed at Never Forgotten Honor Flights, carol for local nursing homes and assisted living facilities, sing the National Anthem at sporting events, and have performed at the 400 block during Artrageous Weekend. We are always looking for new ways to connect to the community. 

Q: What makes your business unique? What sets you apart? 

We are one of the very few adult show choirs in the country and we have members that span age 21-80+ 

Our mission is to spread joy through music and we believe the excitement of live performance shouldn’t be a luxury–which is why we will continue to provide a free show to the Wausau community every year. 

Q: What do you love most about your job? What drew you to this work? 

I have been performing with CenterStage for 7 seasons, but I have been a fan of the group since their first show in 2007. To be part of such a dedicated group of performers is amazing. We all love to be on stage, to share our love of music and performance, and to find new ways to connect with people. 

Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing?

We have continued to provide a free show to the community through the years and knowing that the community values us.

Q: What challenges have you had to overcome? Basically, if you had it to do all over again, would you do anything differently?

Like many nonprofits and arts organizations we have gone through the ups and downs of funding. We are so grateful for all of our supporters, but some years art isn’t a priority for people. The pandemic forced us to cancel our show in 2020 and that was hard for all of us. 

Our financial status and the number of performers changes each year, but we work hard to adapt our fundraising, try to bring in new members, and do our best to be a bright spot in the community. 

Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Where do you see your business in five years? 10?

I am excited to think about celebrating 20 years of CenterStage. I hope we can attract new members, maybe connect with local colleges to get some new energy and ideas to keep us moving forward. If in 5 or 10 years we are still able to spread a little joy around the Wausau area–that will be good enough for us.

CenterStage Band and Show Choir: Contributed photo

Connect with CenterStage Band and Show Choir

For information about the group, along with show information, visit this site.

Find the group on Facebook and follow for show updates here.