Next month, on Monday, March 20th, we bring Mr. Holland’s Opus back to the big screen. Friends, bring tissues.
Glenn Holland is a composer who wants to write the great American symphony. Instead he grinds out a career teaching high school music for decades to children of widely varying attitude and aptitude, while fighting his administration for funding and appreciation.
At home he’d love nothing more than to share his love of music with his only child, but tragedy strikes and his son is born deaf. Along with this heartbreak, Holland’s stubbornness causes him to estrange himself from the boy for years.
Michael Kamen was so moved by his experience composing for this movie that afterward he founded the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (www.mhopus.org) to “[keep] music alive in our schools by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs nationwide.”
Richard Dreyfuss gives us yet another Oscar and Golden Globe nominated performance in this modern family classic, with an ending evocative of It’s a Wonderful Life.
Please join me on Monday, March 20th for the feel-good movie of 1995. I’m not crying – you are!
I’d like to welcome you to Blithe Spirit, the fourth Mainstage show of our historic 60th season. We are thrilled to present this classic play by Noël Coward! With such timeless opportunities for our local talent, I’m honored to be a member of the Board. Yet, surprisingly, there are still some people who don’t know of this entertainment gem centered right here on Main Street!
We have a plethora of different entertainment options running year-round! Between 135+ stage performances, 12 movies, 27 weeks of A.C.T. classes, 18 Friday Night Live concerts, countless hours of design, rehearsals, & construction (and so much more!), the Waukesha Civic Theatre is a bustling metropolis! Our special events – like the upcoming Festival Of Fools – provide entertaining and fun ways to support the theatre. And our education program even extends beyond our doors to teach kids in local schools. That’s right: we’re not just for actors! Whether you can pound a hammer, program a computer, alphabetize a file cabinet, or perform an aria, there are plenty of ways to get involved almost every day of every week. So spread the word!
You are also invited to join in celebrating the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s proud achievement of providing challenging, enriching, and entertaining opportunities for 60 HISTORIC SEASONS. Having reached this elite diamond status, we ask you to help us look to the future with your support. Without the generous support from our guests, we could not continue to provide these great services to the Waukesha County community and beyond. Please consider a donation today. Thank you!
I look forward to seeing you, and let me know what you think!
Board Of Directors
I’m an enormously talented man and there’s no use pretending that I’m not.
Noël Coward is one of the wittiest, funniest, and most outrageous playwrights of the British theatre. Somehow, it doesn’t matter that his plays take place in another country, that they present outlandish situations with equally outlandish characters, or that they were written three-quarters of a century ago. They still work.
Noël Peirce Coward was born in 1899 and made his professional stage debut as Prince Mussel in The Goldfish at the age of 12, leading to many child actor appearances over the next few years. During the frenzied 1920s and the more sedate 1930s, Coward wrote a string of successful plays, musicals and intimate revues. He remained a successful playwright, screenwriter and director throughout the World War II years, as well as entertaining the troops and even acting as an unofficial spy for the Foreign Office. His plays during these years included Blithe Spirit which ran for 1,997 performances and outlasted the War.
The post-war years were more difficult for him. Austere Britain – the London critics determined – was out of tune with the brittle Coward wit. In response, Coward re-invented himself as a cabaret and TV star, particularly in America, and in 1955 he played a sell-out season in Las Vegas featuring many of his most famous songs. In the mid-1950s he settled in Jamaica and Switzerland, and enjoyed a renaissance in the early 1960s becoming the first living playwright to be performed by the National Theatre.
Writer, actor, director, film producer, painter, songwriter, cabaret artist as well as an author of a novel, verse, essays and autobiographies, he was called by close friends “The Master.” Coward was knighted in 1970 and died peacefully in 1973 in his beloved Jamaica.
There is nothing deep about this play. There are no symbols, hidden meanings, or secret situations. What we have is the amazingly creative mind of a writer whose sole purpose seems to be to give us enjoyment. So – please laugh. Please enjoy. Please leave your worries behind. This is what Noël Coward would have wished. And so do I.
Theatre and music have always been a big part of my life. From sitting in the audience, to dipping my toes in my opera studies in college, to jumping in head first into musical theatre after I graduated, I have immensely enjoyed the creativity and passion that are invested in a show. I have always loved being on the stage. Each opportunity I have had has helped me grow as an artist and musician. I never thought in a million years that I would be directing a show. I just loved being on the stage so much that I never thought about reversing my role. When I was presented with this opportunity, I was scared, overwhelmed, excited, and thrilled all at once. There were times when I wasn’t sure how it would all come together, but the magic of theatre and the magic of hard work is a real thing. I have always appreciated the work that a director puts into a show but I’ve never understood it until now. I am very lucky to have a wonderful group of students who want to bring this show to life as much as I do!
Throughout the entire process they have been collaborating with one another and with me to turn our music rehearsals into visions of what the show will be. Our rehearsal space up until now has been a small music room with our twenty-nine person cast crammed into it. As you can imagine, envisioning what it would look like on stage was a challenge. Now we have moved onto the stage and we have fallen in love with the space and even more in love with the show.
Up until a few months ago, I had never even heard of Xanadu JR. When I found out what it was about, I just laughed. We all did. I think that is what made this process even more fun. We knew since it was an unfamiliar show, the expectations would be tempered. So, we played around with it! We created our own vision for our Xanadu JR. Sometimes when you don’t have a preconceived notion of what to expect, you can create your own version of the story.
Another collaboration we have loved is with the art teacher, Anne Fitzgerald. We took our vision to her and she and the art students are bringing that to life. She has been such a joy to work with and has made my first directing experience so fun! The in-school collaboration makes this process feel like a family effort.
Speaking of family, I have been fortunate enough to have a mother, Kitty Messplay, who took my vision for costumes and made it a dream come true. After I had searched high and low for costumes without any luck she whimsically came in and took on the task with determination and grace.
We are very excited to share our show with everyone. Our story is fun and we can’t wait to tell it. There has been, and continues to be, a lot of hard work that goes into Xanadu JR. Over the weekend we will be building our set and making our last finishing touches on the costumes. Be sure to come see our crazy mesh of Greek mythology and 80’s zaniness. Tickets are only $10 each! We cannot wait to share our show with you!
There was a time in my life as an actor, when I would put off the hardest thing about a role. Perhaps it would be a difficult emotional moment, or a new dialect, or any number of things that would make me uncomfortable. I would hope that through the process of rehearsal, these moments would take care of themselves. Of course, they seldom did, and come opening night I would dread those moments.
I got involved in a 24 hour theatre project when I was living in Los Angeles and it changed my perspective on tackling a role. Here there was no time to prepare. Too many lines? Too bad, you’ve only got 12 hours. You’ve never done a Spanish accent before? Sorry, you go up in 6 hours. Having a hard time crying for this scene? Better figure it out because you are going on next.
There is a moment just before you enter the stage where you are absolutely terrified. This could very well not work. But you push yourself over that threshold, somehow it does work, and you leave the stage feeling like you can do anything for the next month. From that moment forward I haven’t looked back on my old way of thinking. I now find the most difficult part of a role and I tackle it first.
I’ve been producing Combat Theatre for almost 20 years now, Combat Boot Camp for 12, and I’ve seen so many other actors, both professional and student, face that same fear and challenge over and over again. And I’ve seen the way they feel after they triumph, and how it changes them. I can’t think of a better or more entertaining acting exercise.
Kathleen received her BA in Art Education at UW-Milwaukee and a Masters in Integrated Arts Education at Alverno College. She worked as an art teacher for 35 years in the West Bend public school system and then as an adjunct instructor in the Art Department at Alverno College for 8 years.
She has lived for the past 37 years with her husband on a 10 acre farm outside of Slinger, WI where she raises vegetables, sheep and chickens. This space affords her endless opportunities to continue exploring and discovering the marvels in nature and the intersections and collisions between nature and humankind.
Kathleen has created both individual and collaborative art installations. Her work has been exhibited in numerous one-person shows as well as juried, group and invitational exhibitions around the state.
My work is reflective of my fascination with the natural world and the interconnectedness I see in all living things including the human race. Each piece tells a story reflecting my interpretation of events unfolding across continents and in my own space. Through my story boxes I try to make sense of the incomprehensible things that are happening in this world. The maps that become a part of much of my collage work are, for me, a statement about the mistaken human belief that there is a way to divide, contain and control the earth and all it is composed of and record this with simple lines, symbols, charts and graphs.
My work incorporates natural materials and found elements to create a more direct link between the natural world and human interpretation. I continue to explore these themes with an endless curiosity and desire to make sense of this world.
Put Monday, February 13 at 6:30 p.m. on your calendar to join my wife Dawn and me at the Waukesha Civic Theatre to see one of my all-time favorite films – Casablanca for only $5.00. Critic Leonard Maltin considers it to be “the best Hollywood movie of all time.”
It stars Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, in his first truly romantic role and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund which her website calls her “most famous and enduring role.” Critic Roger Ebert called her “luminous” and her chemistry with Bogart: “she paints his face with her eyes.”
Casablanca has some of the most famous lines ever! Watching today’s news, an anchor said they “rounded up the usual suspects” which Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault says twice to great effect.
One of the best final lines in any movie, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” was added a month after shooting ended. Other famous Bogart lines are: “We’ll always have Paris,” and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
Personally I love when Renault says, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling’s going on here” and then’s told, “Your winnings, sir.” I also love when Bogart tells the head Nazi, “Well, there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.”
So come see why Casablanca, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, won Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay at the 1943 Academy Awards and includes the iconic theme song, “As Time Goes By” sung by Dooley Wilson. Then you should watch Woody Allen’s 1972 film, Play It Again Sam, which Bogart never actually says.
I guarantee you’ll enjoy seeing it on the big Civic screen – “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” How many films offer comedy, romance, suspense, and the fifth most memorable line in cinema – Rick’s toast to Ilsa, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” which Bogey said to Bergman as he taught her poker between takes.
Waukesha Civic Theatre Board Director
This exciting film did not come without its dangers, however. The original Tin Man, Buddy Ebsen, reacted to the makeup and had to be replaced. The aluminum powder makeup coated his lungs, causing him to be hospitalized and the makeup team to switch to an aluminum paste over a layer of clown white. Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch Of The West, suffered second degree burns when the grease in her makeup caught fire during a Munchkinland scene. They had to fully remove the makeup before treating her burns. After six weeks in the hospital, she returned to finish filming.
Over the years, many people have asked me how my odd sense of humor came to be. Of course, some of the credit/blame falls on my parents, but so much of it came from another source. On so many weekends, my sister and I would get our parents to take us to Blockbuster Video to rent VHS tapes of the Marx Brothers. Oh, the Marx Brothers… they only made sense when absolutely necessary, but you still could find layers in their humor. From the wit and verbal jabs of Groucho to the wisecracking foolishness of Chico and the sweet pantomime of Harpo, these brothers helped form my humor from a very early age.
In December of 2014, I went to the Alchemist Theatre to see a brand new, five-person show by my old friend Jason Powell. I hadn’t read anything in advance about this Elfish Reasons show, so I didn’t know what the show was about. Almost immediately, a performer came on stage dressed as a Christmas elf Groucho Marx! Then we got to see Jason himself as Chico! And look – Harpo too! I feel as if I owe an apology to anyone else that was in the theatre that night. I have never been a subtle laugher, and I worry I may have ruptured an eardrum or two with my uncontrollable guffaws.
This year, Christmas came early and I was tasked with bringing the new expanded version of this wonderful musical to the stage at Waukesha Civic Theatre. This has been a monumental task (as I’ve directed only one musical, and never a show with more than 14 people) but also a monumental joy. Working with this cast and this crew to bring purely silly holiday frivolity to the stage is a privilege I may never be able to match.
This is a sweet show. It is about caring and joy and love beyond the jokes and jibes. It is also about sitting back in a theatre and laughing with a whole room full of people. There are no great lessons from a ghost of Christmas future, but this show offers a chance to laugh and smile with those around you and those you love. For me, that is the true meaning of Christmas.
Thank you for coming, enjoy the show, and hail, hail Fredonia!