‘This is The Greatest Show’
Humboldt Community Chorus is ready for showtime
HUMBOLDT — Directed by Terry Nelson, the Humboldt Community Chorus will continue its longstanding tradition of performing an annual variety show Feb. 1-3 at the R. Wesley Carlson Auditorium in Humboldt.
This year’s program, entitled “This is The Greatest Show,” will include a wide variety of musical numbers, as well as some entertaining small groups.
The ensemble of 70 musicians from Humboldt and the surrounding area is accompanied each year by a 20-piece big band. The big band will perform for 30 minutes before the show while patrons are seated and again during intermission.
While the season technically runs from mid-October through the annual show, the chorus members perform at a variety of events throughout the year, including county fairs, the Iowa State Fair, and church service.
Rehearsals for this show began in mid-October when chorus members first gathered to learn the theme for this year’s show. When many of them first looked at the opening number, “The Greatest Show,” from the film “The Greatest Showman,” they knew they were in for a real treat. Though the music was daunting at first, the group soon fell in love with the song and the many other songs included in the show.
“We pride ourselves on having an upbeat, fun show that’s good for the whole family,” Barb Nelson, chorus member and event planner, said.
It’s a show for the whole family, she said.
The chorus has several group favorites from multiple genres that they will be performing. Some of those favorites include “The Greatest Show,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Good Vibrations,” and “Africa.” There will be a gospel set including “Dry Bones,” “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” and “God of Our Fathers.” The group will also perform a 1980s medley including “Footloose,” “Flashdance,” “Thriller,” and “Material Girl.”
In addition to the full chorus numbers, small groups will perform. From the women will come “Dancing Queen,” while the men will perform the “James Bond Theme.” Small groups will also perform music from “Shrek,” “The Newsies,” and “Trolls.”
A comedy routine will be based off the old television show “Hee-Haw” from the 1970s and 1980s. The routine was a part of the show for several years as part of the late Dean Harklau’s performance. After his passing, the group no longer included “Hee-Haw,” however “Hee-Haw” was included again last year as part of the annual program to celebrate Judy Harklau’s 50th year with the group.
Harklau, the longest standing member of the group and group historian, provided some interesting details on the formation of the group.
Its very first performance included selections from “The Messiah” in 1935. At that time, they were known as the Humboldt County Singers. The group then went on to be known as the Humboldt Civic Chorus. It wasn’t until the performance of Campus Capers in November 1955 that the group became known as the Humboldt Community Chorus.
Although the first set in “This is The Greatest Show” is exciting to sing, according to Harklau, it’s not her favorite. “I really love the gospel set, though. It’s one of my favorites,” she said.
She loves music and loves to sing, but it isn’t just the music that draws her back to the chorus year after year. “I love being around the people. They really are like a family.”
Many members of the chorus have been involved for years.
But there are also young, new members who have joined.
Fresh faces will continue to learn from those who have been members for years, and the new voices will help keep the community chorus alive for future generations.
Michelle McKenna, another of the longstanding member, has performed with the group for almost 30 years. “I just keep coming back every year because they become part of your family,” she said.
The chorus becoming part of each member’s family is a recurring theme.
Caleb Johnson, who is the Ringmaster of the show and a board member, agreed. “Being a part of the Humboldt Community Chorus is not just being a singer or performer, it is becoming a part of a family, a group of people that work and work hard to create the greatest show.”
With that in mind, the chorus will perform a special song this year. Mike Williams, a beloved member who passed away in August 2018, had written a few pieces which the chorus previously performed. The chorus will honor him and his family this year by again performing his piece, “Almighty On Your Throne.”