The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College Announces line-up for 2018-19 Mainstage season

May 23, 2018

Pre-sale for renewing Series members going on now; individual shows on sale June 13





Southwest Michigan’s largest non-profit performing arts venue has unveiled its 27th season lineup of nationally and internationally touring artists and performances. The Mendel Center Mainstage 2018–19 season begins Saturday, September 29, when Piano Men – A Tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel starring Craig A Meyer and Donnie Kehr with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra takes the stage.


Among the other 13 season headliners are the Tony- and Grammy-winning smash Broadway hit Jersey Boys, the 2019 world tour of Celtic Woman, the Russian National Ballet’s presentation of Sleeping Beauty, and Peg + Cat LIVE!, the stage adaptation of the hit PBS Kids show.


“We’re excited to open our season by co-presenting with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra again. The performance by Meyer and Kehr backed by SMSO will blow people away,” Mendel Center Executive Director Mike Nadolski explained. “We are equally thrilled to close the season with Jersey Boys - a show that has consistently been one of the top-requested performances by patrons. Being able to bring this show to southwest Michigan is a big win!”


During the season reveal party for Mainstage Series members, Economic Club members, corporate sponsors, and donors, The Mendel Center provided a first look at The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series season with the announcement of Wes Moore who will speak November 14. This event is presented with the support of Benton Harbor Promise and First Tee of Benton Harbor.


New York Times best-selling author and CEO of Robin Hood, Moore energizes audiences with his remarkable personal story of overcoming adversity through education, embracing personal responsibility, and emerging as an inspirational leader. His moving life journey from wayward inner-city youth to decorated veteran, Rhodes Scholar, White House fellow, and business leader is the subject of the much-anticipated major motion picture, The Other Wes Moore, from Executive Producer Oprah Winfrey.


The complete Economic Club series will be announced later this summer, at which time membership renewals will take place, followed by sales of new memberships.


The Mendel Center Mainstage 2018-19 season lineup is:


Special Pre-season Engagement

The U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus

Thursday, July 5, 2018, 7 pm

Admission is free

The Concert Band & Soldiers’ Chorus are the oldest and largest of The U.S. Army Field Band’s performing components. The 60-member Concert Band and 29-member Soldiers’ Chorus perform regularly in some of the most famous concert halls in the world and just as often in the humblest auditoriums in the smallest of communities. The joining of these two ensembles allows them to offer unparalleled versatility of programming, ranging from orchestral masterworks and operatic arias to Sousa marches, jazz classics, and Broadway musicals. The band and chorus also perform independently and have recently shared the stage with the Boston Pops, the Cincinnati Pops, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Tickets are required for this free event. This event does not count toward the number of performances needed for Series member discounts. Limit 4 tickets. For group sales, contact the box office. Sponsored by Lest We Forget and News/Talk 94.9 WSJM



Special Engagement

Piano Men – A Tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel starring Craig A Meyer and Donnie Kehr with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, September 29, 2018, 7:30 pm

$38 – $72

What do you get when you combine Elton John and Billy Joel on one stage? A night of Grammy Award-winning, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducing magic! Broadway veterans Craig A Meyer and Donnie Kehr bring these amazing Piano Men to life in an unbelievable concert featuring the legendary songs of Billy Joel and Elton John. The Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, led by Maestro Robin Fountain, will weave an orchestral score to highlight the vocal and piano talents of these incredible performers. Get swept away in this dynamic, interactive concert celebrating two giants of pop music! This special engagement is a presentation partnership between The Mendel Center and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. Sponsored by SuperHits 103.7



Discovery Series


Thursday, October 11, 2018, 7:30 pm

$14 – $24

With a palette that mixes captivating vocals, intricate choreography, and exciting audience interaction, Artrageous takes you on a unique visual journey packed with wild inspiration, creativity, and fun. The Artrageous troupe of artists, musicians, singers, and dancers pay tribute to a variety of art forms, pop icons, and musical genres culminating in a gallery of fabulous finished paintings. The result? A one of a kind crossover experience! The signature of the Artrageous troupe is interaction and engagement, so be prepared to be a part of the show. Artworks created during the performance will be auctioned off at the end of the evening with proceeds benefiting Arts Factor, a fund that provides underserved community members with access to Mendel Center programming. Made possible in part by the Gast Young People’s Performance Endowment. Sponsored by The Herald Palladium and Hilton Garden Inn – Benton Harbor



Indie Fest 18

Saturday, October 20, 2018, 4 – 10 pm

$50 reserved Stage Side; $25 general admission

Indie Fest 18 is an exclusive, all-ages Mendel Center event featuring live music from three headline bands – Switchback, The Accidentals, and The Hunts. Age-appropriate attendees can sample a wide selection of Michigan craft beers and wines. Everyone can enjoy mouth-watering variety from the area’s best food trucks, and wares from local artisans. Sponsored by, The Livery, and 98.3 The Coast.




As seen on PBS, Switchback’s music is energetic, soulful, and versatile, combining elements of Americana-country, rock, and Celtic. Music Connection Magazine said, "The words ‘American Roots & Celtic Soul’ only begin to describe this unusual act, whose vocal prowess is as pure as it is unique. There is no denying the stunning vocal blends that are achieved by this duo."


The Accidentals

The Accidentals have affirmed their place among contemporary music’s most original and adventurous new bands. This Michigan-based band has crafted a genre all their own, fueled by their uniquely limitless approach to musicality and songcraft. “Musically, their songs sift together folk, bluegrass, alt-rock, and even classical music.” 10 Artists to Watch in 2017 – Yahoo Music


The Hunts

Known for their harmony-laced take on alt-folk, The Hunts are seven siblings from Chesapeake Virginia, who’ve been playing music together almost their entire lives. That unified approach infuses their music with an irresistible richness of spirit. Their songs that reveal their sophisticated sense of melody and undeniably dreamy innocence while capturing heartache and wonder with a wide-eyed but wistful elegance.



Special Engagement

The Drifters, Cornell Gunter’s Coasters, and The Platters

Thursday, October 25, 2018, 7:30 pm

$39 - $59

The Drifters, Cornell Gunter’s Coasters, and the Platters are the longest running music show in Las Vegas history. These three Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends will be on the same stage, for one night only at The Mendel Center. With more than 94 charted records and over 45 top 10 hits combined, the audience will hear favorites like "Under the Boardwalk," "Stand By Me," "On Broadway," "This Magic Moment," "Up on the Roof," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Yakety Yak," "Charlie Brown," "Poison Ivy," "Only You," "The Great Pretender," "Magic Touch," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and many more.



Bryan Lubeck Hosts Rejoice 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018, 7 pm

$24 – $48

Rejoice, the annual holiday tradition hosted by Bryan Lubeck, returns to The Mendel Center with even more Christmas favorites packed into a 90-minute tapestry of musical delights. He brings together an all-new lineup to make your season sparkle. Bryan, who had the #2 holiday album on the Sirius/XM Watercolors channel in 2017, will be joined by internationally renowned and top-ten Billboard-charting guitarist Johannes Linstead, soulful singer-songwriter Selina Albright, who embarked on the 24-city Dave Koz Christmas tour last year, and local favorites Kennedy’s Kitchen and the All God’s Children Community Choir. You’ll be inspired by the spirit of the season while groovin’ in the aisles. Sponsored by 98.3 The Coast


Before the show, The Mendel Center hosts the Mix & Mingle Holiday Party in Grand Upton Hall beginning at 5:30 pm. The party includes a sumptuous buffet, cash bar, and entertainment surprises – all just a short walk away through The Mendel Center to the Mainstage for after-dinner entertainment. The party is ideal for workplace groups, service and social clubs, get-togethers with friends, or dinner with that special someone. It will be a night of holiday dining and entertainment brought together in one neatly wrapped package. Tickets are $25. Mix & Mingle and Rejoice tickets are sold separately.



Discovery Series

The Russian National Ballet presents Sleeping Beauty

Friday, January 18, 2019, 8 pm

$32 – $54

Exquisite storytelling through the time-honored art of dance – The Russian National Ballet’s performance of Sleeping Beauty is an adaptation of the centuries-old fairy tale. Backed by a classical music score, the dancers of this internationally-renowned troupe direct from Moscow expertly interpret this beloved story. With a company boasting more than 50 dancers of singular instruction and vast experience, The Russian National Ballet will deliver a performance demonstrating the best in ballet artistry during this stop on their coast-to-coast U.S. tour. Made possible in part by the Gast Young People’s Performance Endowment and sponsored by Honor Credit Union and WNDU Channel 16


Before the show, The Mendel Center hosts the Fairy Tale Dinner & Tea beginning at 6:30 pm in the Mainstage Lower Lobby. Tickets are $10 for ages 3 – 12, and $15 for ages 13 and older.



Discovery Series

Cirque Mechanics: 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels

Friday, February 1, 2019, 8 pm

$26 - $48

Step right up ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! At the center of every circus rests a 42ft ring full of thrills, laughs, and excitement. 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels dares us to leap into the circus ring and experience the timelessness of this evolving art form. The show’s unique mechanical interpretation of the traditional, and its story full of the lore of the historic one-ring circus, create a welcoming place, like a big top, where we can be amazed. The action in 42FT is full of theatricality and a modern sensibility, showcasing a galloping mechanical metal horse and a rotating tent frame for strongmen, acrobats, and aerialists. Made possible in part by the Gast Young People’s Performance Endowment and sponsored by Chemical Bank and Kruggle Lawton CPAs



Discovery Series

Peg + Cat LIVE!

Sunday, February 24, 2019, 1 pm & 4 pm

$20 – $32

Based on the Emmy-winning PBS Kids show Peg + Cat, this totally awesome musical features wild comedy, countless favorite songs from the show, and Peg’s super coolest pal Ramone. When Peg’s Mom asks Peg and Cat to mail some really important letters, they come face to face with a really big dog. Really big problem! To solve it, they’ll need math—bar graphs, size comparison, position words, fair sharing, and a whole lot of counting. They’ll also need to count on each other, and the audience too, for their problem to be solved. Great for kids ages 3 to 6 and their families. Made possible in part by the Gast Young People’s Performance Endowment and sponsored by Meijer



Recycled Percussion

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 8 pm

$24 – $54

Recycled Percussion mixes their gritty assault on buckets, power tools, or anything else they can get their sticks on with a sense of humor and gravity defying athleticism. Each performance is a dynamic mix of high-energy rock drumming, guitar smashing, and DJ spinning blended into recyclable junk rock music. They became a national phenomenon week after week during their smash hit performances on America’s Got Talent where Sharon Osbourne called them “sexy and dangerous.” Recycled Percussion is a don’t-miss experience that will take your breath away. Sponsored by The Boulevard Inn & Bistro and Rock 107 WIRX



Broadway’s Next Hit Musical

Friday, March 29, 2019, 8 pm

$29 – $45

Every song is fresh. Every scene is new. Every night is different. It’s all improvised and it’s all funny. The hysterical Broadway’s Next Hit Musical is the only unscripted theatrical awards show. Master improvisers gather made-up hit song suggestions from the audience and create a spontaneous evening of music, humor, and laughter. The audience votes for its favorite song and watches as the cast turns it into a full-blown improvised musical. The New York Times calls it “Hilarious!” Time Out NY says, “At last! A musical of, for, and by the people.” Don’t miss the next great American musical – created at The Mendel Center. Sponsored by Holiday Inn Express – St. Joseph and MailMax



Stars of the Sixties

Saturday, April 6, 2019, 7:30 pm

$35 – $65

It’s a rock n’ roll reunion celebrating the greatest era of American music. Stars of the Sixties come to The Mendel Center with The Lovin’ Spoonful (“Summer in the City,” “Do You Believe in Magic?,” “Daydream,” “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?,” “Darling Be Home Soon”), Dennis Tufano, the original lead singer of The Buckinghams (“Kind of a Drag,” “Hey Baby! They’re Playing Our Song,” “Don’t You Care,” “Susan,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy”), and The Happenings’ original lead singer Bob Miranda (“See You in September,” “Go Away Little Girl,” “I Got Rhythm”). Presented by Praia Entertainment Group



Special Engagement

Celtic Woman: 2019 Tour

Thursday, April 11, 2019, 7 pm

$40 – $100                                              

Since its debut, global musical sensation Celtic Woman’s concerts continue to capture the hearts of an audience that spans the globe. Both an accomplished recording ensemble and a world-class performing collective, Celtic Woman celebrates Ireland's rich musical and cultural heritage, while continuing its remarkable legacy of introducing some of Ireland's most talented singers and musicians onto the world stage. It’s a universal celebration of life. It’s traditional, it’s contemporary. It’s yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Celtic Woman continues to transcend national and cultural boundaries to celebrate the timeless emotion of Ireland's centuries-old heritage. A one-of-a-kind live act, Celtic Woman combines the country's finest musical talents with epic stage production to present a uniquely inspiring live experience.



Jersey Boys

Thursday, May 16, 2019, 7 pm

$47 – $95

They were just four guys from Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard…and the radio just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story -- a story that has made them an international sensation all over again. Go behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in the Tony Award®-winning true-life musical phenomenon, Jersey Boys. From the streets of New Jersey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is the musical that’s just too good to be true. Featuring the legendary Top Ten hits “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” and “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night).” Sponsored by Whirlpool Corporation and 1st Source Bank


 Tickets for The Mendel Center Mainstage 2018-19 season are available:


  • Now through June 5 – Pre-sale for renewing Mainstage Series members and current Economic Club members who purchase three or more shows

  • June 6 to 12 – Presale for new and renewing Mainstage Series members who purchase three or more shows

  • June 12 – Public pre-sale for in-person individual show ticket purchases, 10 am to 6 pm at The Mendel Center Box Office

  • June 13 – Individual shows go on sale to the public at 10 am. Series member ticket packages are available throughout the season.


Mainstage Series member ticket packages are available by purchasing three or more shows and come with a number of benefits including ticket pre-sale opportunities, discounts, exclusive services, and advance notice of ongoing additions to the season.


To purchase tickets or get more information visit or contact The Mendel Center Box Office at (269) 927-8700, option 1, weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm.




About The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College
The 1,559-seat Mendel Center Mainstage Theatre offers state-of-the-art acoustics and comfortable seating in elegant surroundings. Other amenities include free parking, handicap accessibility, and an array of special services including catering and bar service for private pre- and post-show events, booster seats for children, hearing-assist devices, non-spill cups for beverages inside the theatre, and premium seats in the Stage Side section.


The Mendel Center is 30 minutes from Niles and 40 minutes from the Kalamazoo and South Bend areas. It is located on the Lake Michigan College campus at 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor, Michigan. The Mendel Center is one mile east of I-94 (Exit 30) and one mile west of the US 31 Bypass (exit 24). The GPS mapping address is 1100 Yore Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI.


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