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‘Plaid Tidings’ takes musical direction from seasoned professionals

Music Boosters’ upcoming production of “ Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings” to be presented Nov. 18-21, is skillfully guided through its many musical twists and turns by musicians who have the talent and experience to bring four singers of varying ages and backgrounds to their best level of performance.

Sue Anderson is the musical director of the show and is assisted by Sally Neel, both of whom have been stalwarts in the musical direction of previous Music Booster productions. These most essential personnel are often overlooked and do not receive their full due as the audience’s attention and accolades tend toward the performers. This is not to take away the level of commitment and talent it takes to actually perform in a musical, just to remind the reader that there are those behind the actors who help bring about the beautiful harmonies and assure that those harmonies are produced on the proper beat with the correct accent, intonation, and let’s not forget articulation; we like to understand the words we are hearing in a musical as they tell its story.

Sue Anderson has lived in Pagosa Springs since 1995. Sue had tired of the city life and was seeking a quieter more rural setting, much like the one where she grew up. Sue was raised in the tiny town of Kansas, Ill., and began the study of the piano at age 6. She says her mother allowed her to start so young because Sue wanted to do what her older sister was doing and that just happened to be learning the piano. Before she was able to reach the pedals, she, along with her sister was accompanying church services at their small Methodist church in Kansas, Ill. They even got to pick out the hymns they liked since their parents were Sunday school superintendents at the church and were responsible for the music. Throughout junior high and senior school, Sue accompanied not only her choir classes, but solos and ensembles as well. Sue’s music teacher knew her capabilities since she was also her piano teacher. The high school in Kansas remains open today and distinguishes itself by its high academic standards and student achievement-all this in a town of only around 700.

Sue went on to Eastern Illinois University where she majored in piano with an emphasis in music education. She finished her student teaching on a Friday and went to work the following Monday in the classroom as a K-12 vocal music teacher in Cissna Park, Ill. During her three-year term there she began her Master’s program. As luck would have it, one of her instructors knew of a job in Woodland Park, Colo. and mentioned it to Sue. She was thrilled, as she had always wanted to live in Colorado. Sue applied for the job and was hired. After three years she took a job in Manitou Springs, Colo., teaching fifth to eighth grade vocal as well as instrumental music. She spent seven years in Manitou building her instrumental music program to over 90 students and her vocal music program to over 60 students.

While in the Colorado Springs area, Sue continued to participate in music outside of the classroom singing and accompanying for a women’s chorus called the Song Spinners. She also sang with the Colorado Springs Chorale. City life began to wear on her so she and her partner headed west in search of quieter climes. A stop in Pagosa Springs convinced them that this is what they were looking for. They purchased a home, he established a business, and the following December, Sue noticed an ad for a vocal music teacher at Pagosa Springs Junior High School. She was eager to get back into music teaching and happily she was hired. She later took on fifth and sixth grade general music and also directed several musicals, “Tom Sawyer,” “Scrooge” and “Annie” to name just a few. She took her choirs to Denver to compete in the Music in the Parks choral and band festival and won many superior ratings with her groups. In 2001, she quit full-time teaching, but wishing to stay involved with children and music, founded the Pagosa Springs Children’s Chorale with the support and mentoring of the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale. The program was very successful and her chorus garnered several distinguished awards. In 2008 she had to suspend the program due to a personnel shortage, but plans to bring it back this coming January.

In addition to her time with the children’s chorale, Sue served as assistant director and accompanist for the Community Choir of Pagosa Springs for nearly five years.

Sue’s first Music Boosters show was “Nunsense I” which she accompanied along with Melinda Baum and a small combo. Since that time she has either accompanied, played in the pit, or assisted with musical direction in many other shows, including “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Oklahoma,” Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” three more Nunsense shows, “ Oliver,” “Into the Woods,” “The Beat Goes On” and most recently, “Annie.”

The extent of her musical background and range of experience in musical education makes Sue a truly invaluable part of the production team at Music Boosters. We are so grateful for the endless hours of preparation and time on task that Sue has offered and continues to offer. The public is the ultimate beneficiary of all this hard work and expertise and can expect good things when the curtain rises Nov. 18th on Pagosa’s production of “Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings.” Don’t miss the excitement — get your tickets now at the Chamber or online at brownpapertickets.com. For more information or to volunteer, call Lisa Hartley at 731-4238 or Dale Morris at 731-3370. See you at the show!