As the Morrison Center celebrates its 40th anniversary faculty and past BSU alumni take a walk down memory lane

Design by Kelsey Mason

The Morrison Center has held incredible performances and provided students across the Treasure Valley with incredible opportunities. As the organization celebrates its 40th anniversary, executive director Laura Kendall shares what makes the Morrison Center so special and highlights its values and goals for the future. 

In reference to the $15 Hamilton ticket opportunity the Morrison Center provided students with in 2022, Kendall discussed the organization’s desire to replicate opportunities for discounted tickets for students.

“We are very interested in having students attend events. So whenever we can we do a student rush, which is what you’re talking about with the $15 tickets,” Kendall said. “We try to do as many opportunities like that as possible, we offer tickets to classes for faculty, if they want to bring their class to an event.”

Employment for students is also a big focus for The Morrison Center. Kendall discussed ways students can get involved behind the scenes through working at the performing arts center.

“We are just starting to build out our student employment program, we have lots of opportunities to learn about the arts,” Kendall said. “We need marketing people, we need people who want to work in our box office, we need people who love arts education… We’re really hoping to build a program where a student really feels like they have a community and that they’re building skill sets that will help them after they graduate.”

Kendall discussed how education is another important aspect of The Morrison Center’s mission. 

“We also bring artists into classrooms,” Kendall said. “So sometimes we’ll have visiting artists and they’ll go into a music classroom or a theater classroom or even if their work deals with a certain subject they will go into a classroom… so that the students get a different perspective and learn a little different way of thinking about what they’re learning.”

Kendall discussed the dedication The Morrison Center staff feels to providing students with educational experiences that foster a love of the performing arts.

“All of us that work here are very interested in nurturing the next group of arts leaders,” Kendall said. “We’re always looking for those opportunities and spending time with students is really important …we need young people, we need our next generation to continue the Morrison center, so we are keenly looking for those ways to build community among students and be able to help influence the culture as we can.”

Kendall felt that the Hamilton performance in 2022 provided a unique audience experience for both students and performers alike. 

“We’ve never had that experience where we had an entire room full of only students to see Broadway, and I will say that it affected the cast,” Kendall said. “The cast loved that experience because of the energy that was coming their way. I think students affected the show, maybe more than the show affected the students.”

A current project The Morrison Center is working on is the arts education program, The Patty Duke Awards, which is in its third year. Kendall discussed the positive impact of this effort that has hosted up to twenty schools.

“We’re bringing kids in from all different schools across the Treasure Valley and then some and giving them a week to work together on our stages and our facilities and are staying in the dorms,” Kendall said. “So they’re getting that college experience. …we hope that they continue to be great patrons of the Morrison Center but also maybe consider Boise State as a place for them to continue learning.”

Kendall gave the rundown on what students should expect this season from The Morrison Center’s lineup. Ranging from “My Fair Lady” which was the first show ever performed on The Morrison Center’s stage, to “Six” and “Hadestown”.

“Our Broadway series this year is phenomenal. The first show that was ever done (My Fair Lady) that opened the theater on April 6, 1984, was a total homegrown production. It was directed by the first executive director here, Fred Norman. It was a complete university student and community cast,” Kendall said. “I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to have a chance to see that because I can’t imagine the excitement of being able to perform on that stage for the very first time.”

It’s important to consistently invest time and energy into an organization that provides so many vibrant theater performances for the community to enjoy. 

“I care deeply about this organization. I think it’s very important for not only Boise and the Treasure Valley but for the entire state,” Kendall said. “We’re hosting a fundraising event, June 1, which will be a lot of fun. And that will really help us kind of launch the plans that we have for the future.”

Kennedy Sandau, Boise State alumni and digital marketing manager for The Morrison Center discussed her love for the arts and what drew her to working for the performing arts center.

“I actually started going to the Morrison Center when I was a kid… I used to go to shows starting probably when I was like, in fifth grade and my parents would take me to Broadway shows,” Sandau said. “ I ended up getting a student position in the ticket office during my sophomore year of college and I worked there throughout college, and then afterwards, they hired me on full time.” 

The thrill of the theater still hasn’t worn off for Sandau, each show that comes through brings its one of a kind excitement.

“I still get so excited every time we have a show,” Sandau said. “ Right now, My fair lady is in the building and for me to listen to this, the orchestra practicing and to see all the costumes and stuff … I don’t think it’ll ever get old to see all those guys, it’s so fun.” 

When asked about the most rewarding aspect of the job, Sandau discussed how fulfilling it’s been seeing the effect incredible theater has on people.

“Probably watching people experience theater, getting to see kids come through and knowing that they’re having the same experience that I had when I was a kid,” Sandau said. “But getting to have a hand in it is so much more rewarding, I would say. Making it special for them and knowing that they’re falling in love with the performing arts, it’s really cool.”

Sandau discussed how The Morrison Center wants to create more opportunities for students who are not a part of the arts to get involved as well.

“I was a business major and I would know a lot of other business majors who, when I would tell them where I worked as a student, they didn’t necessarily know what The Morrison Center was,” Sandau said. “So we’re really trying hard to change that and to let students know about all the opportunities that we have for them.”

Thanks to increíble faculty members like Sandau and Kendall, The Morrison Center is a performing arts center filled with love, a dedication to the arts and especially to students. Due to a team that is passionate about finding ways to give students a chance to get involved or support the arts, The Morrison Center is a valuable asset to the Treasure Valley and Boise State. 

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