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The stage is where her heart is 

New fine arts center director oversees school arts programs 

Bryon Center — As Van Singel Fine Arts Center’s new managing director, Michelle Wagner is all about details. 

From creating a full calendar of events a year in advance to directing a musical in just two months, Wagner said everything is falling into place.

‘My heart has always been in musical theater and being with students on the stage is everything to me.’

— Michelle Wagner, managing director, Van Singel Fine Arts Center 

“I’m no stranger to a directing role, but what is new to me is creating the playbills and overseeing the staff — the logistical side of things,” she said. “I’m very detail oriented and feel lucky to have so many inspiring and talented staff members.”

As the director of the district’s and community’s shared fine arts center, Wagner oversees Van Singel’s youth and community theater programs, in addition to Byron Center High School’s theater club and the district’s choir, band and orchestra programs. 

“My fire for the fine arts and theater is so strong, there is no better place for me,” Wagner said about her new role. “With community theater, the sky’s the limit and it’s really neat to see whole families be involved in the shows.” 

Wagner is currently directing the Van Singel Community Theatre’s production of ‘The Sound Of Music,’ to be performed Sept. 15 and 16. 

She added: “I felt that there was no better position for me to see all aspects and support fine arts than in this position. Am I perfect? No, but I’m continuing to work and learn.” 

About the Director 

Michelle Wagner is Van Singel Fine Arts Center’s new managing director (courtesy)
Michelle Wagner is Van Singel Fine Arts Center’s new managing director (courtesy)

Raised in West Michigan and an East Kentwood High School graduate, Wagner studied music education at Grand Valley State University. There, she also met her husband, Roger, who played in the marching band and is now a band director for Allendale Public Schools. 

The musically-inclined couple have a dog and cat and enjoy hiking, camping, spending time with family and playing pickleball. 

Wagner has directed shows and taught elementary music for 11 years, the most recent two at Brown Elementary. She also directed seven in Arizona, where she and Roger lived before moving back to Michigan four years ago to be closer to family.

“I’ve always been a fan of the lightbulb moment for students,” she said. “My heart has always been in musical theater and being with students on the stage is everything to me.” 

While directing her current production, Wagner has learned how to work with multiple generations of actors.

“I’m loving every second of seeing the older generation come together with the younger generation for this show,” she added. “There is a lot on my shoulders, I care so very much and it’s been a rewarding experience.” 

Read more from Byron Center: 
A festive display of art
Fifth- and sixth-graders to start school in new building

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”

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