MENDOTA – Get ready for singing, dancing, and jazz hands with VH1’s newest reality show, Off Pitch as it follows the tryouts and trials of the Grand River Singers of LaCrosse, Wis.
This may seem like just another spin on an already abundance of reality shows on TV, but the difference is its connection to Mendota.
Former Mendotan Robert Jones will lead the Grand River Singers beyond their small town and onto a much larger stage on Off Pitch. He is described by VH1 as flamboyant and larger-than-life.
Now living in LaCrosse, Wis., Jones co-founded the Grand River Singers with partner, Tim Rortvedt. He serves as the artistic director/choreographer while Rortvedt is the music director. Rortvedt has compared the GRS to a theme park or cruise ship show more than a traditional show choir.
Previously performing to 30,000 people each year, the GRS is sure to expand their audience viewing with the airing of Off Pitch. The show premieres April 17 at 9 p.m. on VH1.
VH1 describes the series as “revolving around a young adult show choir in Wisconsin where cliques, jealousy and love all blend together in a quirky musical family.”
Jones tweets and writes on his Facebook page:
“Do you enjoy watching crazy? Then you'll love Off Pitch and the Grand River Singers!”
“My Grand River Singers family will make you laugh, make you cry and make you want to kick them in the a**!”
Jones graduated from MHS in 1985 and continues to return to the school where he started his career in performing. He has choreographed the MHS show choir, Rhythm Express, for the past 27 years, along with several of the MHS musicals. “We’ve known since last spring that he was taping a pilot for the show,” stated Lori Schrock, MHS choir director. “When he was here four weeks ago, he was very excited about it.”
His last visit included three intensive days of teaching choreography to this year’s show choir members. He will return this spring to help them perfect it.
“He is very creative. We are very lucky to have someone who has worked under such experienced choreographers,” said Schrock.
Jones has worked as a singer and dancer for Walt Disney World, Opryland USA, Department of Defense (USO), Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines. One of his favorite roles included “Gaston” in Walt Disney World’s Beauty and the Beast. For the last 20 years, Jones has choreographed show choirs and musicals as well as judged competitions across the country.
“I think it's really exciting that Rob and his show choir have their own reality show,” said Brady Hughes, MHS Rhythm Express show choir member.
Hughes had the opportunity to work with Jones the past four years that he has been involved in the MHS show choir. “One thing I really enjoy about working with Rob is that he always finds new ways to challenge us, and to help us break the barriers we set for ourselves, taking our performance to the next level, year after year,” he said.
What Hughes likes the most about working with Jones is that he still pays homage to his roots in Mendota. In his time spent working with Jones, Hughes stated it has become very clear to him just how dedicated Jones is to the performing arts.
The upcoming show will feature Jones, Rortvedt, a stage manager, and 18 cast members ranging in age from 20-33.
Whether you tune in to see Jones, the singing and dancing, or the crazy antics, Jones says, “Watch our show! It's going to be good, it's going to be good...."