The Wartburg Information Technology Department (ITS) is confident this year’s Christmas with Wartburg performances will be successful even without Hans Pregler, Director of ITS and Chief Information Officer Gary Wipperman, said.
Pregler, who took the technical director of Young Auditorium position at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, served as the production and ticket office manager at Wartburg and was one of the vital leaders of the annual Christmas program, Wipperman said.
“It’s going to be difficult to replace him,” Wipperman said. “I expect everybody is going to do their best, and we’re going to have as good a show as we have had in previous years.”
Since joining the Wartburg staff in 2005, Pregler had been a part of every Christmas with Wartburg while employed at the college. With that experience, Pregler said he has learned how the entire performance can run smoothly.
“I think you definitely have to go through Christmas with Wartburg several times to know all the little details. That being said, I think the show is in good hands,” Pregler said.
Caitlin Hurban, hired at ITS at the beginning of the 2014 academic year as Pregler’s assistant, has had seen an increase in hours and responsibilities and will serve as the interim production manager until an official replacement is made, Wipperman said.
“Luckily, Christmas with Wartburg isn’t quite reinventing the wheel,” Hurban said. “They have done it for a number of years so there are a lot of outlines in place.”
The notes and photographs from past shows along with a lighting design he provided should better prepare staffers, Pregler said. He also said the entire team responsible for the show held extra planning meetings this year in advance of his absence.
“The communication has been great,” Hurban said. “There are a lot of people involved who have been involved in this show for many years.”
Chris Knudson, director of creative strategy, said he has always been very involved in the visual aspect of the show. He has designed the murals and illuminations used in past performances and originally introduced the current ticketing system to Wartburg, but this year has had to step in and aid in the more technical aspects in the Ticket Office.
“It seemed to make sense that I could help pitch in since I was familiar with the system,” Knudson said.
The department has also hired several alumni with experience preparing for the performances to aid in this year’s set-up, Wipperman said. He also said they have also started building the set in Neumann Auditorium to get ahead of schedule by several weeks, compared to the last few years.
Hurban said it helps in the preparation with a definite schedule to follow. Each day is laid out with specific goals to accomplish, she said.
“We’re trying to treat Christmas with Wartburg as normal,” Hurban said. “The show has to go on.”
ITS is thankful for the experience gained from Pregler’s 10 years at the college and is looking forward to the upcoming event in both Waverly and Des Moines, Wipperman said.
Pregler, who has been connected to the show since his childhood, said it already feels odd not being able to help with setting up for the show.
“I want to wish all my best to the directors, the choirs, the band and most of all, the technical staff,” Pregler said. “You will make magic as you have for many years.”
The four-concert series of Christmas with Wartburg is themed “The St. John’s Bible” and spans from Dec. 5–7.