From the stage to the TV screen

Port High’s Limited Edition ensemble to host concert ahead of filming for Wisconsin Public Television documentary focusing on a cappella group

POSING AT THE Black Cat Alley outdoor art gallery in Milwaukee were members of Port Washington High School’s Limited Edition a cappella group (front row, from left) Ivy Anderson, Taylor Piotrowski, Emma Delie, Lyla Waranka, Celeste Hermans, Laura Cashin, Regan Surges, (second row) Eli Buczek, Tyler Grant, Tylar Schaefer, Zach Gephart, (back row) Isaac McKinney, Alex Orten, Alex Poull and Hayden Ortiz. Photo courtesy of Limited Edition
Ozaukee Press staff

Members of Port Washington High School’s Limited Edition are about to go from stars of the stage to the subjects of a television documentary on a cappella music.

The group will host its Final Countdown concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, in the Port High Performing Arts Center, then begin filming for a Wisconsin Public Television documentary that will focus on the group and its members, Port High Vocal Director Dennis Gephart said. 

“People just Google a cappella and our name comes up. I guess that’s how this started,” Gephart said, noting Port High has one of the most established high school a cappella programs in the country.

More than a year ago, a Wisconsin Public Television producer contacted Gephart and expressed interest in including one of Limited Edition’s performances in a concert series program and taking an in-depth look at a cappella music and the people behind it by producing a documentary on the genre and Limited Edition.

High school construction last year delayed the project, but with the school’s performing arts center now finished, the documentary project will begin later this week and culminate with Port High’s Acapocalypse A Cappella Festival on March 29 and 30.

Camera crews have already been at the high school to film a one-minute teaser video for the documentary, and over the course of the next two-and-a-half months they will follow the members of Limited Edition as they prepare for a series of performances and competitions.

“He (the producer) wants the kids to explain why they sing, what happens to them when they sing and what it means to them,” Gephart said. “It’s really neat to see them explain their music in their own words.

“This is a unique experience for the kids. They’re excited to do this, and I’m excited to help make it happen.”

The documentary makers are expected to be at Thursday’s concert to scout the new performing arts center, Gephart said. 

In addition to Limited Edition, Thursday’s Final Countdown concert, so-named because it comes at the end of the last week before final exams, will feature Port High’s extracurricular a cappella group Focus, the University of Wisconsin’s men’s a cappella group Fundamentally Sound and its women’s group Pitches and Notes. Also performing will be Oak Creek High School’s women’s group Ladies Knight and its mixed ensemble Knight Club.

Pitches and Notes’ performance will bring a familiar face back to the Port High stage. Rachael Billmann, a 2016 Port High graduate, is a rising star in the UW group, Gephart said. 

“She was great in high school and she’s only getting better,” he said. “It’s been a real joy for me to watch her grow.”

Tickets for the concert, which will be sold at the door, are $5 for adults and $3 for students and children.

Then things get serious for Limited Edition. The group will compete against nine ensembles, including Grafton High School’s Graftonics and Cedarburg High School’s Bella Voce, in the Varsity Vocals International Championship of High School A Cappella Midwest quarterfinal competition at Alverno College’s Pitman Theater on Jan. 26. Limited Edition will seek to defend the quarterfinal title it won last year and advance to the semifinals on March 23 at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. The championship will be April 26 in New York City.

Limited Edition won the championship in 2010.

While competing, the group will have to prepare for the Acapocalypse festival, which will include a public concert on Friday, March 29, in the Port High Performing Arts Center featuring five of the top high school a cappella groups in the nation. 

Tickets will go on sale next month.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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