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Alicia Birder carries on a legacy of sharing performing arts at Broadway Theatre

Posted at 7:42 PM, Mar 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-28 20:42:45-04

DE PERE (NBC 26) — Alicia Birder grew up in De Pere, just blocks from Broadway Theatre. She studied and performed around the country before returning home, and eventually opening Birder Studio in 2010.

  • A theatre has stood on Broadway in De Pere for nearly a century
  • The current version of Broadway Theatre is now home to the Birder Studio, the movement studio Move on Broadway, the Birder Players troupe, and, of course, a stage for performances
  • Alicia Birder shared how she hopes to carry on her family's legacy by investing in the youth of Northeast Wisconsin
  • NBC 26 has been covering Women's History Month throughout March, and those stories are posted on our website
  • Video shows Birder touring the theatre, and a testimonial from a former actress at Birder Studio

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

From backstage to center stage — I'm your De Pere neighborhood reporter Karl Winter with the story of a woman who grew up in this theatre and is now back home for a curtain call.

The Broadway Theatre has been a mainstay of east De Pere for the better part of a century, under a few names.

Alicia Birder has seen the building evolve.

"We started with just the theatre space," Birder said.

Her father Dudley taught music and theatre in De Pere for 60 years.

"We lost him this past year, but he had a brilliant life," Alicia Birder said.

Alicia taught her first workshop as a teenager.

"My father said, 'Why don't you come in and sing for me?' so I did, and that changed my life," Birder said. "Little did I know that from that small workshop that I'd be sitting here today."

After studying at St. Norbert College and performing around the country, Birder returned home and launched Birder Studio in 2010.

"You can't really can't really label what arts education does for you," Birder said.

Her former student Emily Burgess took classes and performed at Birder.

"Theater is really beautiful because you can dress up and act and just put on different hats," Burgess said.

Now Burgess takes children she works with to shows there.

She says Alicia Birder is a great role model.

"She's always done a very great job of making sure that kids feel comfortable and appreciated when they come here," Burgess said.

Now, Birder Studio is entering its tenth show season, Birder's daughter Ana Bakken is the educational director, and the majority-female board of directors is leading Broadway Theatre in De Pere into the future.

"I just never dreamed it would be what it is today," Birder said. "And honestly, it's because of the community's support."

On April 12, the Birder Players open their next show "Steel Magnolias," right here at Broadway Theatre.