Local teacher among the performers readying for the Broadway in the Bluffs spotlight

January 23, 2019 GMT

SCOTTSBLUFF — Deanna Goranson teaches music at Lake Minatare Elementary School and at Community Christian while also serving as the music director at Summit Community Christian College in Gering. Her passion for teaching others about music developed early in life as Goranson found a love for performing.

When she was 6 years old, Goranson had her first solo as she portrayed the Virgin Mary at a church function in Cozad, Nebraska.

Goranson said her mother played a role in getting her involved in theater and performing. Throughout her youth, she was involved in choir, musical theater, and acting camps. When she was in high school, her high school choir director inspired her to become a music teacher.

“Strangely enough, I started in theater first,” she said. “I went to Shakespeare camp when I was 8 years old. Then an interest in theater got me involved in musical theater, which then led to deciding to pursue a career in music education.”


While dedicating her career to teaching students about the value of music, Theatre West provides Goranson an opportunity to perform.

“Especially with Theatre West since my career is not as a performer, it’s as an educator, Theatre West is one of my few chances to go on stage and perform, which is something I love,” she said. “It’s great to be part of the shows and Broadway in the Bluffs because it’s such a creative outlet for me. I look forward to Broadway in the Bluffs and start looking at songs in October because I’m so excited.”

Her first time participating in Broadway in the Bluffs was in 2015. Over the summer of 2014, Goranson was a part of the ensemble for Les Miserables at Theatre West.

“When they did Broadway in the Bluffs in 2015, they asked if I would be one of the performers because they knew me from Les Miserable.”

While the summer series at Theatre West offers local talent an opportunity to personify a character, the fundraiser Broadway in the Bluffs gives performers more freedom in song selection.

“What’s cool about Theatre West’s Broadway in the Bluffs is you have the opportunity to sing pieces you wouldn’t ordinarily get to sing,” said Goranson. “For instance, this year, I’m singing a song from the musical called ‘The Band’s Visit’ and the character is Middle Eastern, which is a character I would never get to play in a show. Because it is a cabaret style performance, I get to sing this piece.”

In the musical, Dina owns a small restaurant and invites the band members to stay the night at her apartment, at her friends’ apartments, and in the restaurant.

“This song gives a snapshot of life growing up in Israel. It’s really an opportunity to be transported to this woman’s childhood growing up in Israel and hearing the music coming from India and Egypt coming from the television and the radio.”

Performing the song poses a challenge, but Goranson said the music is easier than what she studied in college.


“It’s almost harder because you have one song to portray a character as opposed to an entire show,” she said. “In comparison to the classical music I sang in college, this is pretty easy because most of the musical theater pieces are in English.”

In preparation for this year’s Broadway in the Bluffs on Feb. 2, Goranson worked with pianist Maren Chaloupka to select a piece that fits the show.

“Often you come up with a few ideas and then email back and forth with Maren. It depends on what other people are singing. Are there too many slow songs? Are there too many songs that are similar? You want the show to have variety, so based on what the entire group is doing, you can narrow down songs that will fit this year’s program.”

The singers have four weekends to rehearse with Chaloupka prior to the dress rehearsal before the Broadway in the Bluffs.

Prior to pursuing a career in elementary music education, Goranson was an adjunct professor of voice at Western Nebraska Community College and substitute taught in the Scottsbluff Public Schools district for a year and a half. Aside from the classroom, Goranson offers voice lessons for students.

“One of my favorite things to do is to work with students on their stage presence, on their singing and acting ability,” she said. “So, I do a lot of one-on-one coaching, which I absolutely love to do.”

She has been a Scottsbluff resident for seven years.

Theatre West’s 18th annual kick-off fund raiser Broadway in the Bluffs is on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Midwest Theater. The annual event features visiting and local Theatre West All-Stars from past and present seasons singing and dancing to songs from Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals.

Broadway in the Bluffs officially kicks off the 2019 season. Musicals Theatre West will put on include: “Forever Plaid,” “Shrek,” and “The Music Man” on the main stage and “Lion King Junior” — a Theatre Opportunity For Youth (TOFY) Camp children’s musical.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets are available at the Midwest Theater by calling 632-4311 or online at, from Theatre West board members and at Compliments and The Mixing Bowl.

Tickets will be available at the door beginning at 6:30 p.m.