The Linsly School presents the 80th annual Extravaganza performance at 8 p.m. Friday, March 2, at the Capitol Theatre.
Celebrating its 80th year, the Linsly Extravaganza is the longest-running variety show of its kind in the Ohio Valley and has become an annual tradition for generations of Linsly alumni, many of whom have children or grandchildren who will perform in their footsteps on the stage Friday night.
Showcasing the talent of the Linsly student body, the Extravaganza will delight audience members with an eclectic range of acts including singing, dancing, instrumental performances, comedy and a few surprises along the way.
The history of the Linsly Extravaganza is closely tied to the history of Wheeling. According to the Linsly Museum and Archives, the first seven Linsly “minstrels” were held in the Madison School auditorium on Wheeling Island. In 1946, the venue was moved to the Virginia Theater, which was the home of the Linsly Minstrel for 16 years until it moved to The Capitol Theatre in 1963 for the 25th performance. The last minstrel was held in 1974, but the annual performance went on under the new name, The Linsly Extravaganza, in 1975, a tradition that continues to date as the school celebrates its 80th performance at the Capitol Theatre this year.
According to Frank Wilson, head of the Fine Arts Department at Linsly and director of the Extravaganza, the students and faculty put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to make this show better and better year after year.
One of the unique features of the Linsly Extravaganza is that every member of the Linsly student body and faculty is involved to make this show a success. From Linsly’s youngest fifth-graders, who will make their Extravaganza debut Friday night, to the senior class of 2018, who will be taking their last bow on stage, the students and faculty work together to make this performance outstanding every year.
Co-Director Kelly Soloninka and show choreographer Greta Foose, begin working with Wilson on every detail of the show, including choreographing the acts, costumes and music, very early in the year.
Foose explained that the opening act of the Extravaganza, commonly known as “The Opener,” is one of the most exciting acts to choreograph as it really sets the tone for the entire show and features some of Linsly’s most talented dance students.
In addition to the opening act, the audience will enjoy a variety of performances including fun novelty acts, talented Linsly student solo vocalists, the Linsly chorus and instrumentals from Linsly’s String Orchestra.
Soloninka explained that the Extravaganza has become a part of the tradition and culture that makes Linsly such a special place.
“The tradition that started 80 years ago that has become the Linsly Extravaganza has truly become an integral part of the Linsly experience,” said Soloninka. “The Extravaganza showcases the amazing talent of our student body and allows them to explore their interests in the performing arts, but it also is so much more than that! To perform in the Linsly Extravaganza is to be part of our school’s rich history. It is a thread that connects generations of alumni who fondly reminisce about their acts on stage during reunion weekends. It is spectacular that our own Linsly students in 2018 are dancing and singing on the same stage in the same show that their alumni grandparents and great-grandparents did 80 years ago. Now that is something special.”
For more information about the Linsly Extravaganza or to purchase tickets for the show, contact the school at 304-233-3260.