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2019's “Thoroughly Modern Millie”

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Playing a New Story

Boise Music Weeks Aims for Another Century as It Returns to Live Events

Article by Jordan Gray

Photography by Phil White, CsiPhotoDesign

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

Once upon a time, Eugene Farner realized Boise needed strength and healing after a deadly pandemic and devastating war. Knowing music could grant both, he took his idea for a special event to the town leadership for support. 

More than a century later, Boise Music Week aims to provide strength and healing to Boise once again. The three-week performing arts celebration will culminate in the production of the fairy tale musical, “Into the Woods.” 

Carrying on Farner’s vision is the Boise Music Week Executive Board’s mission. The all-female board, led by President Shannon Smurthwaite, also features Vice President Roxanne Coate, Secretary Michelle Wickard, Treasurer Melody Arsenault, and Past President Beverly Schumacher. 

“We’re excited to welcome our friends, donors, volunteers, and, of course, our performers back to our venues,” Smurthwaite said. “We’ve missed the human connection the last two years.” 

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 meant the board had no choice but to cancel all events. When 2021’s outlook for live events wasn’t much better, the board got to work.  

“Boise Music week is all about tradition,” Smurthwaite said. “We had to accept that there would be changes and use our creativity to come up with an alternate approach.” 

The solution was two weeks of genre-spanning music offered online.  

“I was so proud of our organization,” Smurthwaite said. “Many of our board members don’t even like to use email, but we all learned together and ventured into the unknown. We became tech-savvy very quickly because we had to. (We) provided our musical offerings any time, day or night, to anyone in the world to watch us during the two weeks. We actually had people in Europe who watched Boise Music Week last year!” 

This year, live events are back. They’re also, as they’ve always been, free.  

“You can find something for almost every taste during the three weeks,” Smurthwaite said.  

On the menu are some new offerings. 

“This year, we have a new Boise Music Week Youth Choir,” she said. “Under the direction of Emily Godfrey, and with more than 40 youth voices, you can watch their live performance at JUMP on May 5.” 

Directed by Larry Dennis, Boise Music Week’s musical, “Into the Woods,” managed to retain 14 of its original 19 cast members. They started their journey through the deep, dark forest with auditions back in 2019.  

“To say these actors are ready to get on with the show is an understatement,” Smurthwaite said. “They’ve been eager to share this musical for two years and soon they’ll get their chance.” 

Interested in getting involved or lending your support? 

“We love our volunteers, and with our expanding events, we can always use extra hands,” Smurthwaite said. “We understand the ability to donate may be limited, but it’s through contributions that we can ensure we’ll be around for another 100 years.” 

You can find information on or offer donations at performance venues.   

Much like the fairy tale wishes in “Into the Woods,” the wish for Boise Music Week is continued support so it can carry on “happily ever after.”  

“We don’t want to see this century-old tradition evaporate,” Smurthwaite said. “It really is something that makes the Treasure Valley special. If you’re new to the area or have new neighbors, we hope you will attend and join us as we celebrate music and the arts.” 

Upcoming Shows 

Exceptional Young Musicians
JUMP Amphitheater
5:30-8 p.m. 

International Dance        
Borah Auditorium
7 p.m. 

All That’s Jazz!   
Borah Auditorium
7 p.m. 

Children’s Musical Adventures “Carnival of Animals”
JUMP (Jack’s Urban Meeting Place)
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 

A Variety Night
Borah Auditorium
7 p.m. 

Treasure Valley Concert Band & Friends
Borah Auditorium
2 p.m. 

Community Worship Service       
Cathedral of the Rockies
7 p.m. 

Organ Recital     
St. Michael’s Cathedral

Silent Movie & Organ Recital       
Egyptian Theater

Into The Woods 
Morrison Center for the Performing Arts
7:30 p.m. 

For a complete event listing, along with volunteering and donation information, visit

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