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Act One School Series

We are delighted to present the 2022–2023 Act One School season. The Act One School Series provides curriculum-linked, performing arts enrichment activities for students in grades K-12.

Review the event descriptions below, determine what programs work for you, and submit the order form.

Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion

November 3–4, 2022, at 9:45am
Pasant Theatre
Grades 5–12
Running time of one hour with Physics Day events to follow.

Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion will present an exhilarating performance that combines dance, video, and physics while featuring professional dancers and guest performances by local youth. The show highlights the wonders of science and illuminates the research at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) and was inspired by Dance Exchange’s critically acclaimed work The Matter of Origins. Following the performance audience members are invited to participate in a series of activities which explore dance, physics, and FRIB. Priority will be given to those schools that can commit to both the performance and Physics Day. Once registered for the performance, we will follow up with Physics Day information.

Performed by Dance Exchange and Happendance and co-directed by Elizabeth Johnson and Keith Thompson, in collaboration with Wharton Center Institute for Arts & Creativity, and Women & Minorities in the Physical Sciences. Underwritten by the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University with additional support by MSU University Outreach and Engagement, Science and Society at MSU, and Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation.


November 9, 2022, at 10am | SOLD OUT
Cobb Great Hall
Grades K–6
Curriculum connections: Performing arts, literacy, psychology

Wharton Center Arts Educators are available to come to your school and help prepare your students for this production.
Mummenschanz has been dazzling audiences worldwide for decades. Since its successful Broadway run many years ago, theater troupe Mummenschanz has pioneered a new form of visual theater that has also given rise to multiple new genres. By creating a playful yet compelling experience through the inventive use of shadow, light, and creative manipulation of objects, Mummenschanz offers timeless insight into the human condition. The result is a visually stunning spectacle that is funny, sweet, poignant, and transcends cultural barriers to spark the imagination.  

The Ugly Duckling

Featuring tutti frutti productions from England

January 20, 2023, at 9:45am and 12:30pm | SOLD OUT
January 19, 2023 at 9:45am | SOLD OUT
Pasant Theatre
Grades K–4
Curriculum connections: Performing arts, multi-cultural education, literacy, language arts

Wharton Center Arts Educators are available to come to your school and help prepare your students for this production.

Meet the most unusual duckling the pond has ever seen! 

In their nest at the edge of a pond, baby ducklings wait impatiently for Mummy’s enormous egg to hatch … but their new brother doesn’t look like everyone else. He doesn’t even quack like a proper duckling. 

Teased and called ugly by his siblings, our hero goes on an adventure in search of a place to fit in. As the seasons change, the woodland trees from dark weathered branches to silver sticks of frost, the lost and lonely fledgling meets a menagerie of mischievous animals ... but where does he really belong?

Black Violin

February 28, 2023, at 11am
March 1, 2023 at 11am 
Cobb Great Hall
Grades 3-8
Curriculum connections: music, history, social studies, multi-cultural education 

Black Violin is back by demand! Led by classically trained string players Wil B. on viola and Kev Marcus on violin, the group also features DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes for an electrifying, genre-bending mix of classical and hip-hop, often described as “classical boom."
With an aim to overcome stereotypes and encourage people of all ages, races, and backgrounds to join together to break down cultural barriers, NPR proclaims “their music will keep classical music alive for the next generation.”

Black Violin’s most recent release, Take the Stairs, debuted at the top of the Billboard charts, and received a Grammy® nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Their last record, Stereotypes, also debuted at the top of the Billboard Classical Crossover and R&B charts. With creative collaborations including Kanye West, Wu-Tang Clan, Wyclef Jean, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, and more, the group advocates for educational outreach and has performed for over 100,000 students in the US and Europe prior to 2020.

Cross That River

Written and composed by Allan Harris  

April 28, 2023, at 9:45am
Pasant Theatre
Grades 9–12

Curriculum connections: Performing arts, history, literacy, multi-cultural education
Wharton Center Arts Educators are available to come to your school and help prepare your students for this production.
“This sure ain’t a tale you gonna read about in them dime-store Westerns.”  
—Allan Harris   

The unsettled West of the 1860s provides a new life and new dreams for Blue, a freedom seeking enslaved person who escapes to Texas to become one of America’s first Cowboys. This moving musical and theatrical event spotlights a significant moment in American history, when Black Cowboys lived, helped settle the West and shape the country.     
Integrating fiction with historical fact, and each song represents a different page in this complicated chapter of American History. Award-winning musician Allan Harris (hailed as “my favorite singer” by Tony Bennett), along with fellow musicians tell the untold story of the Black West, empowering and inspiring with a story of perseverance, hope, and freedom. 

“A musical masterpiece” —Lawson Theatre Review 

Sponsored by the Arts Midwest GIG Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Michigan Arts and Culture Council; Jackson National Life Insurance Company; Michigan Arts and Culture Council; and TechSmith Corporation.


Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
TechSmith Corporation