MikeNadolskiFor nearly five years, Mike Nadolski has been the Pied Piper of Southwest Michigan leading thousands of tourists here. They pour in from across the state and from Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and beyond. As executive director of The Mendel Center, he attracts them with national acts, popular events and business meetings he and his staff host each year. Here’s what he shared from behind the scenes:

Standing out
Our focus at The Mendel Center is to provide performances, events and memories. We do that by giving our patrons, clients and performers an exceptional experience. Because we’re part of Lake Michigan College, we also serve as a learning laboratory for dozens of students. For many of them it’s their first opportunity to see national acts and interact with renowned performers. We’re also a venue for students to showcase their talents on stage and behind the scenes in musical and theatrical productions. In addition, we give students resume-building experiences in hospitality, business and service. They not only help us create a quality experience here, but when they graduate they bring what they’ve learned into our communities and businesses.

Coming soon
We’re excited about this season. If you go to our website, you’ll see we’ve booked shows and events for all ages and all entertainment tastes. One experience that I’m particularly excited about providing this year is the opportunity to offer individual tickets to The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan’s speaker series. For years, you had to be a member to see these world-famous people in person. Now you can get tickets through our box office:
March 22: History-making Astronaut Capt. Scott Kelly
April 20: World-renowned Physicist, Futurist and Best-selling Author Michio Kaku
May 17: Broadcast Journalist and Anchor of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°” Anderson Cooper

Adults also will enjoy:

Jan. 28: Wedding World 2017
Feb. 11: Sinatra: The Ultimate Tribute Concert
Mar. 4: Winner’s Circle Benefit Auction
Mar. 18: The Art of Beer Festival
Mar. 24-26: Spring Awakening: a Tony-award winning musical performed by LMC students
Mar. 30: The Very Huge Improv Comedy Show
May 21: Letters Home

Families won’t want to miss:

Feb. 10: Paul Mow Presents Lauren Kunkel and Friends
Feb. 17-19: 37th Annual SW Michigan Home, Garden & Leisure Show
Feb. 25: Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen
Mar. 13: Miss Blossomtime Pageant
Mar. 15: Pippin
Mar. 18: Odd Squad Live!
April 22: Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live!

Vowing to be different this year
The Mendel Center is one of several venues making Southwest Michigan a wedding destination. This year we’re distinguishing ourselves further by offering couples the unique opportunity to hold their ceremony on stage in the 250-seat Hanson Theatre or 1,500-seat Mainstage Theater. It’ll give them creative latitude with the lights, sound, theater equipment, Mainstage’s video screen and more. They can use everything we have available to present world class productions for the most important production of their lives. Afterward, they can hold their reception in the spacious and hospitable Grand Upton Hall or outdoors near our ponds under tents.

On the horizon
Over the next two years we are going to phase in renovations to Grand Upton Hall. Our plan is to upgrade our technology and freshen our aesthetics as we work to attract larger events. We are an ideal place for conventions or corporate sales training or all-hands meetings. Not only do we have the 14,400-square-foot Grand Upton Hall which can house up to 900 banquet style or 1,600 theater style, but we also have Mainstage Theater that can seat 1,500. We have eight break out rooms for up to 500 people and even the Grand Upton Hall can be subdivided for smaller gatherings. We’re a place where you can hold a spectacular concert in the Mainstage Theater and then go into Grand Upton Hall for a quality meal with very attentive service.

For all the same reasons, we can be a beautiful place for proms, a fun place for family reunions or anniversary celebrations, or a comforting place for large memorial services for loved ones. Afterward you are just minutes from hotels and other Southwest Michigan activities.

Reasons to not leave
The Mendel Center is within 5 to 15 minutes of major hotel properties. That lets visitors experience a great meal, a great show or event, and a great place to stay so they can enjoy even more fun the next day — and there is more to do. We are near Lake Michigan beaches, renowned golf courses, award-winning wineries and craft breweries, farm markets and pick-your-own orchards, and art districts. At The Mendel Center, we believe that when we help you make great memories you’ll want to come back again and again to make even more.

 

Mike Nadolski is the executive director of The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor, Mich.