Special Events

Performing Arts

Midwest Vocal Express plans special spring concert to coincide with Mother's Day
Portion of proceeds from May 11 show to benefit Waukesha-based Safe Babies Healthy Families

By JODY L. MAYERS - Special to TimeOut

May 2, 2013

PEWAUKEE - What do Bing Crosby, Groucho Marx and Harry S. Truman have in common? At one time, they were all members of the Barbershop Harmony Society, said Gary Pratt, a member of the Midwest Vocal Express chorus.

The group will perform “A Night to Remember” on May 11 with a portion of proceeds going to Safe Babies Healthy Families, a Waukesha-based nonprofit organization, whose mission is to break the cycle of child abuse, neglect and poverty by empowering new parents with education, support and the resources necessary to create a healthy and positive environment for children in southeastern Wisconsin.

The event at Pewaukee High School will feature award-winning live a cappella music by the Midwest Vocal Express chorus and their special guests, 2012 Sweet Adeline champions Martini!, said Randy Will, a member of Midwest Vocal Express and the vice president of marketing.

“We are always tuned in to creating family-friendly entertainment, and we wanted to give props to all the moms this year,” Will said. “Our show falls on Mother’s Day weekend, so this just all fits together perfectly.”

Will said the group consists of four parts in barbershop a cappella harmony, lead, bass, tenor and baritone.

“Fans will experience live, close harmony, a cappella music - not a scripted TV ‘reality’ show,” Will said. “They’ll experience a gamut of emotions, listening to exciting arrangements of doo-wop, the Beatles, Billy Joel, stirring renditions of American spirituals and a rousing tribute to our members of the military.”

Since joining the group in 1999, Will said he’s experienced many special moments - too many to enumerate.

“I’d say the most rewarding aspect of our mission of storytelling through song is audiences telling us how their lives changed in some way through our performance - evoking memories, creating new ones, eliciting laughter - or perhaps even tears,” he said. “This is a really, really special group, like a family unto itself.”

Pratt, one of a dozen or so members from Waukesha County, said the Midwest Vocal Express’s goal is to change lives through song. Part of its stated mission statement is “A cappella entertainment excellence,” which is demonstrated with regular high ranking in international contests and well-attended Christmas and spring concerts, as well as invitations to sing the national anthem at the Brewers and Wave games, and to sing for the national heroes at the Honor Flights which leave from Milwaukee, he explained.

“With all the expenses of custom arrangements, sets, guest conductors and other expenses, fundraising is always a challenge for a group like this,” he said. “This is why we hope to pack the Pewaukee auditorium for both performances (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) on May 11.”

Pratt said while Midwest Vocal Express is a part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, their musical portfolio extends well beyond the traditional barbershop genre.

“For our spring show, ‘A Night to Remember,’ we are performing arrangements of a Beatles tune, some doo-wop, a Billy Joel classic, and an absolutely incredible arrangement of ‘This is the Moment,’ which is guaranteed to raise goosebumps.”

Pratt said attracting new members is always a challenge and a goal. The group let the music directors of Waukesha County high schools know about this opportunity for their students to experience an outlet for their musical talents once they graduate from the high school program.

“We hope at least a few men who enjoy our performance on May 11 will consider being a part of our group,” he said. “We also hope some of the women in the audience will enjoy the performance by our guest quartet and consider joining the Sweet Adelines.”

At a glance

Who: The Midwest Vocal Express

What: “A Night to Remember” spring concert to benefit Safe Babies Healthy Families

Where: Pewaukee High School Theater, 510 Lake St.

When: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows May 11

Tickets: $18 and $21 for general admission and $25 for reserved

Contact: For more information about the Midwest Vocal Express,to buy tickets online or learn about how to be a part of the group, call 888-240-4426 or visit