“Strong musicianship and spontaneous substantive musical ideas flow effortlessly from Mike’s performances.” - Pete Ford, jazz pianist
Michael Shirtz is a jazz singer and pianist whose performances reach out to jazz lovers and non-jazz audiences alike. His vocal style captures the warmth and lyricism of a Mel Tormé on smooth ballads, and up tunes with energy, drive, and a hint of blues. As a pianist, Shirtz has remained deeply influenced by the innovation of Brubeck’s keyboard styles, which are infused into Michael’s groups. Among Shirtz’s greatest attributes are his diverse, instrumental-like scat-singing and cool ease with his audiences. After a concert, an audience member told Shirtz’s band, “It’s like listening to Mel Tormé meets Brubeck!”
“It’s like listening to Mel Tormé meets Brubeck” - MSQ Fan
A native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Shirtz began his musical career while in high school leading small house bands to leading variations of big bands and jazz combos. It wasn’t long before Michael was traveling, performing popular themed concerts and tribute shows. These unique jazz infused tribute programs have reached out to a diverse audience, creating a unique following that embraces music lovers of all ages to Michael’s music. After a eight-year break from performing, Shirtz returned to performing in 2011 by reestablishing the Michael Shirtz Quartet and expanding his interest in composing and arranging music. In 2013, Shirtz returned to presenting theme shows by releasing his new show, “As I’ve Learned It” and returning to several programs from his previous time on the stage. Though Shirtz has recorded for other artists and projects since the late 90s, Shirtz plans to record his first solo album this coming year.
In addition to his work as a jazz performer, Shirtz continues to pursue other avenues in music as a conductor, composer, and educator.
"Michael Shirtz is one of my favorite musicians, both to work with and to watch. As a performer and bandleader, Michael clearly demonstrates a high command of the repertoire of the modern improvising musician, both as a pianist and vocalist. Additionally, Michael has a gift for engaging his audience, not only through his music, but by way of his openness and storytelling during the show. He possesses the ability to draw both his audience and bandmates into a shared experience that transcends the more common "concert" event. I have known Michael for many years, and it is my privilege to call him colleague, bandmate, and friend."
- Doug Neel, Benedetto Guitarist/Edwards Trombonist
Today, Michael Shirtz stepped down as Dean of Business, Communications, and the Arts at Terra State Community College in Fremont, Ohio. Shirtz will return to faculty as Assistant Professor for Music Business & Commercial Music and Director of Choral Activities. In addition, Shirtz will return to his previous role as Lead Faculty (chair) of the Department of Music & Humanities at Terra State. Shirtz served as the Dean since 2012, before that he served as Lead Faculty since 2007, and adjunct instructor and program coordinator since 2001. Shirtz will be teaching classes in vocal music, music business, management, marketing, commercial music studies, professional practicums, studio voice, Terra State Vocal Institute, and continue as the conductor/music director of the Terra Choral Society and Chamber Arts Orchestra.
During his tenure as Dean, he led the division in strengthening the academic rigor and quality in the degree programs, reestablished the real estate program, begun the review of the agribusiness programs, developed stronger scheduling options for students, renewed the Music Academy program, oversaw the expansion and construction of the Hospitality programs and facilities, oversaw the process of establishing Route 53 Records, expansion of the new Interactive Media and Post Production programs, and numerous other community, campus, and regional programs for the business and arts worlds. Shirtz made the decision to leave the dean's position to pursue new opportunities in composition, conducting and performing.
Pamela Shirtz is helping others "transform" as she takes the stage as Elle Woods in the hit musical Legally Blonde at the Sandusky State Theatre, Sandusky, Ohio, August 1-3.
Harvard’s beloved blonde takes the stage by pink storm in this fun, upbeat musical about self-discovery. Based on the adored movie, Legally Blonde: the Musical stays true to form with a peppy score and playful storyline. This musical is ridiculously enjoyable from start to finish and features a talented cast of experienced and young actors alike.
Elle Woods (Pamela) appears to have it all. Her life is turned upside-down, however, when her boyfriend dumps her so he can start getting serious about his life and attend Harvard Law. Determined to get him back, Elle uses her charm to get into Harvard Law. At school, she struggles with peers, professors, and Warner Huntington. With the help of Paulette and Emmett, though, Elle quickly realizes her potential and sets out to prove herself to the world.
Pamela's golden stage presence literally brings the character of Elle to life, and tells the story of her journey in finding strength that one can have to pursue their dreams by recognizing who they are already inside. Come see Pamela in her element as she leads a fun, energetic and sometime emotional experience about love, friendship, and transformation with a dynamic cast.
Legally Blonde is produced by the Sandusky State Repertory Theatre Company and directed by Artist Director Grechen Lynne Wingerter, Music Director Michael Shirtz, and Choreographer Caitlyn Elizabeth Reilly.
Get your tickets today by calling the Sandusky State Theatre Box Office at 419-626-1950 or go to sanduskystate.com. This will be a show you will not want to miss!
The New Sandusky Repertory Theatre Audition Calls & New Artistic Team
This summer the Sandusky State Theatre launches a new Repertory Theatre company that will bring quality artistic programming to the theatre’s stage. The Repertory Theatre will be a year-round program that will offer both musicals and straight plays to community and professional actors alike. The theme of this summer is new renaissance, presenting the famous Shakespeare comic play, Twelfth Night and the newer Broadway musical hit, Legally Blonde. The theatre is planning on presenting the Holiday Classic musical White Christmas in December.
The artistic direction staff of the new Repertory Theatre includes Grechen Lynne Wingerter of BGSU Firelands College, Michael Shirtz of Terra State Community College, and Caitlin Elizabeth Reilly of Above the Barre Dance Studio in Berea. Wingerter first came to the State Theatre to direct Miracle on 34th Street this past December and will be returning to present a modern presentation of Shakespeare classic Twelfth Night, and collaborating with Shirtz on the musical Legally Blonde. Shirtz served as musical director at the State Theatre for Sound of Music (2010) and presents the popular Jazz @ Eight Series. Shirtz is excited to return in a director’s roll to present Legally Blonde and team up with new choreographer to the State Theatre, Caitlin Elizabeth Reilly, a Cleveland area Equity Actor.
“This artistic trio will not only bring rich professional experience to the theatre, but are also educators, which ensures that the actors and all involved with these shows will be learning the art and craft of entertainment,” said David Taylor, Executive Director of the Sandusky State Theatre. “This truly is an exciting time as we go through transforming and expanding the mission of the State Theatre.”
The summer shows are open to both students and community members to participate as actors, singers, dancers, or production team members. Through a partnership with BGSU Firelands and Terra State, students may enroll in the summer programs for college credit in acting or production. Internship programs are also available through Terra State throughout the year. Information for performance based college credit will be available to performers at auditions. Students interested in production or year-round college internships should contact Terra State at 419-559-2233.
In recent years, the programs at the two-year colleges have been transforming the experience and education of students studying careers in the performing arts to become practical applications with job-based opportunities in their training.
“We believe that the best form of education is the philosophy shared by our regional community college partners – hands-on, real-life experience. We want those students and the community to get that training right here in our theatre. We want the stage to be their world classroom,” said Taylor, who explained that this was part of the objectives in designing the Sandusky Repertory Theater Company.
Auditions for the Sandusky Repertory Theatre’s summer shows will be held at the Sandusky State Theatre on May 5-7, 7:00pm. Performers should come prepared to present a classical and contemporary monologue (1-2 minutes in length), a musical number that best demonstrates their vocal capabilities (1-2 minutes in length, not from the show), and auditionees will be notified about dance call backs at auditions. For more information or to schedule an audition, call the Sandusky State Theatre at 419-626-1950.
The Sandusky State Theatre will present Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on June 20-22. Legally Blonde the musical will be presented August 1-3. Auditions are open to everyone! For more information about the Sandusky Repertory Theatre Company or summer camps and enrichment opportunities at the State Theatre, call 419-626-1950 or go to the theatre’s website.
Michael Shirtz returns to the Sandusky State Theatre as the Music Director for the new Sandusky Repertory Theatre Company opening this summer. Shirtz served as a music director for the theatre in previous productions and left in 2010 to pursue new opportunities in production and jazz performance. This summer the Repertory company we will be producing Twelfth Night and Legally Blonde, collaborating with the talents and resources of BGSU Firelands Theatre Department and Terra State Community College Music & Production programs. Grechen Wingerter will serve as the Artistic Director for both shows. Michael Shirtz will serve as Music Director and Caitlyn Elizabeth Reilly will serve as Choreographer for Legally Blonde.
Though not trained in theatre or acting, Shirtz began serving as a vocal coach for musical theatre in Columbus, Ohio. Shirtz’s first round in producing any theatre productions came as his involvement with education grew. It wasn’t until he married Pamela, that Michael became involved in theatre on a professional level. Since then, Shirtz has produced, musical directed, and conducted numerous musical productions. Shirtz is excited to return to the State Theatre to work with friends and colleagues Grechen and Dave Taylor (State’s Executive Director), and collaborate for the first time with the summer’s choreographer, Caitlyn.
“I’m excited to be working with Dave and these wonderful ladies to get down to the work of taking a story, and not just telling it on the stage, but making it come alive,” said Michael in an interview about his new work with the theatre.
“Mike’s gift as a musical director are unparalleled,” said actress Cindy Bilby. “He is a true artistic leader and educator who loves what he does and motivates others to see a piece through his eyes. As a non-singing actor, I can honestly say that my experience with Mike is that he can craft a silk purse from a sow’s ear!”
Musicals Michael has produced, music directed, or conducted includes West Side Story, Candide, Wizard of Oz, Wicked, Sound of Music, Grease, Chicago, Little Women, Hello Dolly, Les Miserables, Gilligan’s Island, Hats, and others.
Auditions and interviews to join the Sandusky Repertory Theatre Company will be held at the Sandusky State Theatre on May 5-7, 7:00pm. Places for leads, chorus, musicians, and production crew will be available. Students may receive college credit for their experience. For more information call the Sandusky State Theatre at 419-626-1950.
Mary McClendon, a regionally renowned jazz singer from Columbus, will perform two concerts next weekend in Sandusky and Fremont, Ohio.
A regular on the central Ohio jazz scene since the late 1970s, McClendon's smooth vocals and scat singing have made her an audience favorite. She has shared the stage with many jazz greats like Benny Carter, Louie Bellson, Clark Terry, Harry 'Sweets' Edison and the great Sarah Vaughan, to name a few.
She has performed with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and continues to be a featured vocalist in club shows, concerts and private appearances. In addition to her career as a jazz singer, her resume performance credits also include time on the golden stage and silver screen, including roles in such movies as The Jesse Owens Story.
Along with her music and acting, McClendon has dedicated her life to serving others, participating as a volunteer for Children's Hospital, the famed Ebony Fashion Fair, and public schools, and many other organizations and events.
McClendon's performances will be accompanied by a familiar group with Michael Shirtz (piano) joined by Doug Neel (bass), Keith Barber (guitar) and Chris Cavera (drums).
Friday, March 28, 8:00 p.m.
Sandusky State Theatre
107 Columbus Avenue, Sandusky
Tickets: Call 419-626-1950
The Sandusky State Theatre's Jazz @ Eight series presents McClendon in a unique jazz club setting. Opening for McClendon is the Terra Jazz Ambassadors under the direction of Kris Burt. For tickets, please call the Sandusky State Theatre Box Office at 419-626-1950 or visit their website today at sanduskystate.com. Snacks and cash bar available.
Saturday, March 29, 8:00 p.m.
Terra State Community College
Recital Hall, Bordner Arts & Health Technologies Center
Building D, 2830 Napoleon Road, Fremont
Tickets: Call 419-559-2379
Terra State Community College's Jazz and American Music Series presents a concert and conversation with McClendon in another jazz club venue located in the Recital Hall, Bordner Arts and Health Technologies Center (Building D), on Terra's campus. For more information or tickets, please call the Terra State Box Office at 419-559-2379. Snacks and cash bar available.
No ticket discounts, all general admission pricing.
Michael's new show "As I've Learned It" was featured at the Sandusky State Theatre for the Jazz @ Eight music series. Michael Shirtz and the Pete Ford Trio performed for over 120 people on the actual stage itself. Michael and the musicians absolutely loved performing in this atmosphere of bringing the "small club" experience onto the stage of the theatre for the first time. The brick backdrop, along with the stage lighting created a very unique jazz club feel. The performance was loved by all who attended as well as the online audience who joined the concert via streaming. This was Michael's first concert that was broadcast live. (Check out photos of this event on the photos tab at michaelshirtz.com.)
A special thanks to the Sandusky State Theatre and the opening act 'The Jazz Pilots'
"I've always believed that arts stimulate the economy!"
Thursday evening was a touching night for Michael and his wife Pamela as Shirtz received the Distinguished Service Award from the Chamber of Commerce of Sandusky County, located in Northwest, Ohio. The award was presented to Shirtz for his efforts to increase the arts and arts education in Sandusky County and the region. Dr. Charles Hull, who presented the award, commented on the many programs, initiatives, and opportunities Shirtz has brought to Northwest, Ohio over the past decade. Credited for seeing the vision of Terra State's pro-training music degree programs, developing active community music and arts enrichment programs, initiating the Northcoast Arts Alliance, and establishing numerous collaborations in advancing the creative economy and exploration of arts and commerce opportunities, Michael's service to the community has made an everlasting change on "how" we think about the arts.
"I just believe in giving people opportunities and experiences, especially when they are told they can't, or don't feel the opportunities are possible."
Shirtz later shared with OCM staff, "This award means a lot to me because it was really an honor for all the work WE are doing in the arts community to make a difference in our schools, our towns, and for the economic impact and sustainability of quality living for the future! Whereever the arts are, people will always do well. I look forward to many more things to come in our journey of enhancing arts and culture! I am so grateful to everyone who really shares in this recognition with me."
For the past four years, audiences have enjoyed the Sandusky State Theatre's "Jazz @ Eight" Series. Often spearheaded by Michael Shirtz, this series has presented numerous tribute shows to jazz legends, featured various jazz artists, as well as highlighted student musicians. The State Theatre and Shirtz enter into a new partnership that enhances the programs and the audience experience in the new "Michael Shirtz Presents Jazz @ Eight!"
The new series will be organized with OCM Productions and will present more interaction between audience members and musicians, streaming and internet video opportunities, educational materials and information about the musical themes of the evening shows, and continued performance opportunities for student music groups and young starting artists to open for the main featured acts. In addition to jazz, audience goers will experience art displays by regional and student artists throughout the venue. Focused in a true club setting, this new series highlights the world of artisitic creativity.
The "Michael Shirtz Presents Jazz @ Eight" series begins February 20 with a show that highlights jazz from the 1950s up through the 70s entitled, "From Miles to Motown!" Check out the complete series by going to the Sandusky State Theatre. Audiences can also buy tickets or reserve a table by calling the Sandusky State Theatre Box Office at 419-626-1950.