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Show Information

Speed Dating Tonight!
Music and words by Michael Ching
Based on a concept by Dean Anthony

Originally produced and directed by Dean Anthony at Janiec Opera Company, 2013.

The show will run approximately 70 minutes without an intermission.

Any video and/or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.

From the President

Dear Arts Supporters,

On behalf of everyone at ­Viterbo University, I would like to welcome you to the Fine Arts Center as we celebrate the return of in-person performances. The pandemic necessitated a year and a half-long pause in our live event schedule, and both our artists and audience members have been sorely missed. It is truly great to have you with us.

It’s only fitting that the Fine Arts Center should be fully used to its intended purpose during its 50th anniversary year. Opened in 1971, it remains not only the premier arts facility in the region, but also a wonderful testament to the vision and courage of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who made it possible. Their collective love and appreciation for the arts led to countless cultural opportunities in the greater La Crosse community and has enhanced all our lives.

New Fine Arts Center director Dillion McArdle and his staff have an outstanding season planned for you this year. I invite you to pick up an On Stage book or visit the Viterbo website for the complete schedule. There is a wide variety of offerings from which to choose, and tickets make wonderful gifts. Included in the schedule are the Conservatory for the Performing Arts student productions. I am continually amazed at the incredible talent of our students, and seeing them put it to use always fills me with pride, no matter their role, pursuit, or field of study.

While live performances and other events have returned, we must remain vigilant in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. I ask that you adhere to the university’s safety policies, including remaining masked while anywhere inside the building.

The arts will always be an integral part of the Viterbo University experience, which is made even more special through the support of our patrons, benefactors, sponsors, and volunteers. It would not be the same without you. Thank you.

Rick Trietley, President

Music Director's Note

To Our Audience,

Erin Jerozal and I are pleased to present Speed Dating Tonight!, our first musical collaboration as directors in the new Conservatory for the Performing Arts at Viterbo. This show in many ways represents what we strive to be as a community of artists, where students are both comfortable and capable of crossing the traditional stylistic guardrails set between opera and music theatre. There is an ever-expanding core of dramatic music that in some way blurs these lines, and this is part of what originally attracted us to Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight!

Composed and premiered in 2013, Speed Dating Tonight! sought to accomplish two goals for the opera program at the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina: to give meaningful roles to a larger number of singers and to explore characters relatable to today’s young artists. The show breaks from one of the drawbacks of traditional opera where a handful of primary leads is supported by a chorus of talented singers situated mainly in the background. In Speed Dating Tonight!, each singer gets a primary role, uniquely chosen for them from a list of over 100 possible scenes. Figuring out how to assemble and cast the show was a jigsaw puzzle for all involved, but the result is a tailor-made show built to highlight individual talents.

Stylistically, Speed Dating Tonight! is what its librettist and creator Dean Anthony calls, “not an opera or a musical but a sort of musical storytelling.” The composer, Ching has written several operas, but he often composes for other genres including blues and pop. The result is a show with varied scenes and musical styles where Car Man sounds like the blues, Fargo sounds like Bernstein, OSD sounds like Mozart, and Fragile Heart sounds like Sondheim. In Speed Dating Tonight!, there is literally something for everyone.

Thank you for taking the courageous step of coming to a show where you’re not entirely sure of what to expect. It’s almost as courageous as signing up for speed dating.

James Wilson
Music Director

Dramaturgical Notes

An Introduction and Orientation from Michael Ching:

Speed Dating Tonight! is what I call a "new numbers opera." Much of traditional opera is based on musical numbers: arias, duets, ensembles, and finales. Speed Dating Tonight! is similarly structured but with some twists. As for the songs and ensembles themselves, most of the material is not gendered and not limited to one vocal type. Even the order of the pieces is up to the producer. The cast needn't be based on a 50/50 gender balance. In the over 100 productions the smallest cast has been four and the largest around 50. The goal is to have 100 options with the idea being that you use only the material you want for your cast.


Joe's Bar
Fargo, N.D.

Synopsis of Scenes


Quinn, bartender: Matthew Olson

Stephanie, waitress: Rhiannon Baasch

Kaylee, dating coordinator: Anika Philips

Busboy: Zachary Anderson

Dater #1: Isabella Dippel

Dater #3: Sophia Niblock

Dater #5: Ellery Larson

Dater #9: Ellyn Werner

Dater #14: Nathan Janzen

Dater #15: Grace Peña

Dater #19: Zane Rader

Dater #20: Carson Carter

Dater #21: Katie Schafer

Dater #22: David Caliri

Dater #52: Levi Magnuson

Dater #59: Greta Schwandt

Dater #73: Kieran Sween


Clarinet: Jake Erickson

Piano: James Wilson

Bass: Troy Birdsong

Drums: Dave Kies

Production Team

Director: Erin Jerozal

Music Director: James Wilson

Assistant Director: Emma Phillips

Stage Manager/Light Board: Will Handrick

Costume Coordinator: Sarah DeMinter

Props Coordinator: Grace Peña

Special Thanks: Jen Brown, Alex Bell, Jack Hamilton, Jessica Rigdon, Dillon McArdle, Martha Boehm, Gary Moss, Monika Sutherland, and Riley (for sharing her bear)



Michael Ching
is an opera composer/librettist, conductor, and songwriter. With over 100 productions since its 2013 premiere at the Janiec Opera of the Brevard Music Center, Speed Dating Tonight! is one of the most popular operas of the 21st century. Recent projects include All Dressed Up (No Place to Go) for L'arietta Productions in Singapore, a series of nine quarantine-related songs which are now part of Speed Dating Tonight! His newest opera, RSBE, had its premiere at the University of Alabama in 2020. In 2018-19, two new one-act operas had their premieres, Thrivers, at Palm Springs Opera Guild, and Eight Woods and a Van, at the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. Additional shorter operas include Birthday Clown at the Savannah Voice Festival, Dinner 4 3 (with librettist Deborah Brevoort) for Fargo Moorhead Opera, and Completing the Picture for Utah Opera’s commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. As composer-in-Rresidence of Savannah Voice Festival, Ching wrote Alice Ryley (2015) and Anna Hunter (2017) two works with Savannah subjects. Other works include Slaying the Dragon and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, opera a cappella, recorded on Albany Records. Ching’s other well-known opera is Buoso’s Ghost, a comic sequel to Gianni Schicchi. Recently, Buoso was performed at the Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Delaware. In 2021, Savannah Voice Festival workshop his Cenerentola sequel, A Royal Feast. In 2022, the Towson University will premiere a revised version of his Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Many of these operas have free downloadable perusals scores through Ching's blog.

Ching works regularly with Amarillo Opera, is composer-in-residence at Savannah Voice Festival, and Opera consultant at EC Schirmer. He is the former artistic director of Opera Memphis. In 2019, Ching was elected to the board of directors of the National Opera Association. Ching studied composition with Robert Ward at Duke University and Carlisle Floyd at the Houston Opera Studio.

With a lifelong devotion to the craft of operatic composition learned through the success and failure of over a dozen operas, through composition study, and through years of conducting the standard operatic repertoire; and with a strong interest in folk and country music, Ching is a somewhat of an outlier in the world of new music.



Zachary Anderson
is a senior vocal performance major with a minor in dance. He has previously participated in The Bewitched Child (2019) as the Teapot and was a pit singer in CATS (2018). Outside of Viterbo, Zack is a prolific knitter and loves to dance.

Stephanie, waitress

Rhiannon Baasch
is a junior music education major with a minor in English literature. She has previously participated Viterbo’s I Have a Song to Sing, a collection of scenes from multiple Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Outside of classes, she enjoys reading, writing, and baking.

Dater #22

David Caliri
is a junior vocal performance major from Bemidji, Minn. He has performed in two opera scenes shows at Viterbo and is a member of the 9th Street Singers. In his spare time, he enjoys being the president of the TRAP Club at Viterbo, archery, and hanging out with his friends.

Dater #20

Carson Carter
is a junior music performance major. He has been previously seen in Viterbo’s I Have a Song to Sing. Outside of school he enjoys cooking, playing video games, and spending time with his wife Susannah and their two cats.

Dater #1

Isabella Dippel
is a first-year vocal performance/theatre major. Previous Viterbo productions include I Have a Song to Sing and the Viterbo Student Theatre Project's (STP) production of Never Would I Ever cabaret. She is currently in rehearsals for STP’s production of Puffs. Outside of her majors, she enjoys writing, dance, the outdoors, and any other creative activity.

Dater #14

Nathan Janzen
is a senior double major in finance and music. Previous productions include Ravel’s The Bewitched Child (2019) and the President’s Festival of Lights and Carols (2020, 2021). When not in the classroom, he enjoys writing, composing, and taking care of his betta fish, Buddy.

Dater #5

Ellery Larson
is a junior music education major who has previously been seen in Viterbo’s I Have a Song to Sing. Outside of classes, she loves to read, spend time with her roommates, and make miniature models.

Dater #52

Levi Magnuson
is a sophomore music education major. This is his first production at Viterbo, and he is thrilled about it! He is also part of Viterbo's Concert Choir, Platinum Edition, and the St. Francis Choir. Outside of school, he spends his time with his friends and girlfriend, cooking, and doing outdoor activities.

Dater #3

Sophia Niblock


is a first-year vocal performance major with a double minor in dance and theatre. This is her second chamber opera with Viterbo and she is very excited to continue doing more! Outside of school she enjoys mostly dancing, of any kind, and chilling with her friends.


Matthew Olson
is a senior vocal performance major. His last Viterbo production was Ravel’s The Bewitched Child (2019). When not in the classroom, he enjoys gaming, cooking, golfing, and listening to heavy metal.

Dater #15/Props Coordinator

Grace Peña


is a transfer/junior music theatre major originally from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. This is her second production at Viterbo, with the Student Theatre Project’s Never Have I Ever cabaret being the first. She works as a technical assistant at Viterbo's scenic studio for work study. When she’s not on stage or working behind the scenes, Peña loves to hike, cook, bake, and watch campy mystery movies with friends.


Anika Philips
is a sophomore music education major. This is the first production they will be participating in at Viterbo, and they are very excited about it. When not practicing music, they enjoy writing, outdoor activities, and listening to music.

Dater #19

Zane Rader
is a fifth-year senior music major. He has previously participated in Viterbo’s Hansel and Gretel, The Bewitched Child, and I Have a Song to Sing. When not performing or in class, he enjoys reading, writing, composing, and playing tabletop games with his friends.

Dater #21

Katie Schafer


is a first-year music theatre student from Macomb, Mich. This is her first production with Viterbo, but has had performance opportunities through Diamond Edition, as well as Concert Choir last semester.

Dater #59

Greta Schwandt
is a sophomore music major with a minor in neuroscience. This is her first show at Viterbo, however she did some theatre in high school. When not studying or in classes, she likes to cook, spend time reading in her hammock, and finding good coffee shops.

Dater #73

Kieran Sween


is a first-year vocal performance and business administration double major. This is her first show at Viterbo, but certainly not her first show ever. Outside of classes she enjoys baking, painting, and spending time with animals.

Dater #9

Ellyn Werner
is a sophomore music education and vocal performance major with a dance minor from Lake Mills. She has performed in I Have a Song to Sing and with Platinum Edition show choir. Outside of school, she enjoys being outside and spending time with friends and family.

Production Team


Erin Jerozal
is an actor (AEA/SAG/AFTRA), educator, director, and writer. She earned an MFA in Classical Acting from the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for classical acting at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and has a BFA in musical theatre from Syracuse University. As an actor, she has worked off-Broadway and regionally in both musicals and plays. Highlights include: Hamlet, The Secret Garden, Company, Measure for Measure, and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, along with many new works developed with New York City acting companies, writers, and directors. While in New York, she performed with the long-time musical improv group, Chicago City Limits, as well as with class teams at Upright Citizens Brigade and the Magnet Theater.

Music Director

James Wilson
is an associate professor of music at Viterbo where he directs the Concert Choir and 9th Street Singers. Wilson also teaches conducting, choral methods, diction, and serves as the artistic director for the annual A Viterbo Christmas performances. Wilson’s education includes an BA in voice performance from The Hartt School, a MA in choral conducting from Boston University, and a DMA in choral conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His teachers and mentors include Ann Howard Jones, Peter Eklund, and Paul Head.

Costume Coordinator

Sarah Deminter


is a first-year theatre major from Madison. This is the first show she is costuming and she is very excited! Outside of classes you will most likely find Sarah in the costume shop or talking to her friends.

Stage Manager

Will Handrick
is a first-year music theatre student from Woodruff and this is his first production position at Viterbo. He has previously been involved in A Viterbo Christmas, worked on the props team for The Pajama Game, and soon will perform in the ensemble in the Viterbo Student Theatre Project (STP) production of Jesus Christ Superstar. In the past, he has participated in numerous musicals, plays, honors choirs, and other creative ventures and hopes to continue being involved in performances. When not performing, he enjoys collecting vinyl records, discovering new music, shopping, and a good thriller.

Assistant Director

Emma Phillips
is a sophomore musical theatre student from Las Vegas. This is her third production position at Viterbo and her first production as an assistant director. Last year, she was the assistant stage manager for Julius Caesar as well as the stage manager for one of the cabarets. She will soon assistant direct and perform as one of the leads in Viterbo’s Student Theatre Project (STP) production of Puffs. One of her favorite forms of theatre is improv. She loves participating and helping run the Improv Club on campus and she truly enjoys all aspects of theatre whether that be performing, setting lighting cues, or anything in between. She is so proud to have been a part of this production and cannot wait for you all to see it!

Viterbo Fine Arts Center
900 Viterbo Drive
La Crosse, WI 54650
608-796-3737 | finearts@viterbo.edu

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