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Band Director Steve Johnson Played Saxophone for ‘Tina Turner Story’ at Fox Cities PAC


In addition to teaching music at Notre Dame, band teacher Steve Johnson has an impressive resume of musicals he’s done.

Most recently, Johnson played saxophone in “The Tina Turner Story” at the Fox Cities PAC, a touring national show.

The Tritonian learned about Johnson’s performance from Mrs. Jaime Danen, who said, “I was sitting at the show and suddenly realized that was Steve Johnson there on the stage.” Mrs. Danen provided the picture used with this story.

“I was contacted by a local contractor about a year ago to play the show. National touring companies will travel with a number of musicians and hire some number of local musicians in each city,” he shared.

Johnson added that he’s been playing shows at the Fox Cities PAC for the past twenty years, starting with “Hairspray” in 2004 or 2005, and including “West Side Story,” “Chicago” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”

He called his experience with “The Tina Turner Story” really great and praised his fellow musicians.

“Part of the fun of playing these shows is getting to play with some really amazing musicians,” Johnson said. “This particular show featured a horn section of two saxophones, trumpet and trombone. Our lead trumpet player, Brent Turney, teaches trumpet at UWSP and is the lead player in the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. The overall vibe of the company for this tour was really positive, and the music director was particularly well-prepared and helpful.”

The players had to memorize the music for the end of the show, which is unusual, but Johnson said the music director helped them through their in-ear monitors, where she gave them verbal cues through the eight-show run.

The musicians only had one rehearsal, which happened the day of the first show.

“We get the music ahead of time, and the expectation is that you learn the music cold on your own. For the ‘rehearsal,’ we really just play through the music for the show with the conductor/music director explaining transitions between numbers or things that are somewhat unclear,” he said. “It’s rare to hear a mistake from anyone in the rehearsal. For this show, we were done an hour early because it went really smoothly.”

Johnson admitted it can be a challenge to manage the shows alongside teaching and spending time with family, but is grateful for the opportunity to play music.

“Getting home each night after 11 pm, teaching the next day, and then spending time with family after school before heading back down to play the next show each day is a challenge,” he shared. “That said, I’ve worked really hard to be able to do what I do, and it’s rewarding to get the opportunity to do it. I’m fortunate.”

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About the Contributor
Cassi Garrison
Cassi Garrison, Staff Writer
Cassi Garrison is a junior excited to enter her third year of writing for the Tritonian. She is very interested in current events, particularly social and environmental issues. Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing pickleball, participating in the school band, and spending time with family.

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    Maureen VolkMay 2, 2024 at 10:40 pm

    Fantastic article and well written. Thank you!