New director guides Musicmakers for show inspired by movie songs

When the Musicmakers take the stage in May, audience members may notice a reinvigorated group. Not only is the choral gaining members, it’s benefiting from the guidance of new director Megan Schnizlein.

“Sun City Musicmakers Go to the Movies” is planned for 7 p.m. May 3 and 2 p.m. May 4 at the Starbright Theatre, 2215 Thomas W. Ryan Blvd. The group’s president, John Harris, called Schnizlein “outstanding.”

“Our club is having so much more fun with her,” he said. “She has great ideas, and her choice of music is wonderful.”

The May show will feature musical selections from the movies, including “The Lion King,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music.” Movie clips will be shown behind the singers.

Schnizlein, a Las Vegas native, is working toward her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music education, with an emphasis in choral studies and vocal pedagogy. She came aboard as an accompanist for the Musicmakers in December 2012. Since then, she’s taken on the title of musical director while the group has grown from 21 to 33 members.

The Musicmakers also benefit from the talents of Eddie Fluellen, a pianist who has been in the music industry for 40 years.

A visit to a rehearsal gave an inkling as to the spirit of the upcoming show. The arrangement for “Singin’ in the Rain” had a segment that was sung to give the feeling of droplets dripping from the eaves. Instead of having the singers run through the entire song, Schnizlein focused on parts.

When the timing got tricky, she urged members to “put the beat into your body. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to tap your foot. This is an internal pulse.”

Schnizlein said the Musicmakers sing in four parts, even though the group is nearly 90 percent women.

“Even though we have just a couple of guys, they can hold their own,” she said. “… You’ll be surprised at the concert how well it balances out. The sopranos know they’re a bigger group, so they have to bring it down a level. No one’s ever going to have a perfect choir (ratio).”

Schnizlein’s enthusiastic approach to the songs was contagious, and after rehearsal the group had only good things to say about her direction.

“She has a feel for the group. When we’re practicing, she knows when to push the right button,” member Bill Muench said.

Nancy Welsh has been in the group for four years and said she likes to do songs with a good alto part. She said having a new director affected her tremendously.

“For me, it’s, like, 1,000 percent better,” she said. “She sings with us instead of just telling us to sing. She makes us feel like she’s there (with us), not just standing up there and we’re singing.”

To choose what music to perform, Schnizlein said she looks for something with which the singers and audience are familiar.

“We try to put emotions into our songs,” she said. “I also look for something that’s going to be challenging enough, (tempered with) pieces that are easy so they can have fun with it.”

Tickets are $8. For more information, call Harris at 702-255-4738.

Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.