Thoughts From The Bench On Mockingbird

atticusThe last we saw of Atticus Finch, when the Oscar winning performance of Gregory Peck’s film followed the release of the novel, he was sitting in the corner of injured son Jem’s bedroom, the warm arms of his cardigan sweater wrapping and re-wrapping around the clinging figure of his daughter Scout, the three of them recovering from a painful experience of racism, hatred, and violence, and the often lonely cost of standing against it.

I have a feeling that many of us, both on the stage and in the audience, whether fans of the book or film or both, join Scout and her older self Jean Louise in waiting to see Atticus again.

The play strikes a chord for me as I had a very Atticus-like father, a dead ringer in both looks and mannerisms and as I grew into an adult and journalist, I had the opportunity to see lawyers and judges in action at the county courthouse in Virginia.  And just as I still get that experience today covering trials today in rural Wisconsin, I also have witnessed the conflicts of race and prejudice all too recently near us in Milwaukee and through the nation.

Like Scout at the start of the play we wait for Atticus to return from the courthouse.  Like Jean Louise at the end we look back through the window, and through the decades, wishing we could go back to him, to speak to him and finish the lessons. Lessons of putting ourselves in others shoes, and realizing that even as we rail against what isn’t right, we are not alone as others quietly do the uncomfortable business of protecting Mockingbirds be they a Tom Robinson or a Boo Radley.

I suspect those of us who were graced with a great father miss him; and those of us who didn’t miss and yearn for such an experience.

Fortunately Christopher Sergel’s play gives us that opportunity in an up-close and live setting not to be missed.  It’s been said that in some ways To Kill A Mockingbird is a love letter from novelist Harper Lee to her father.  Of the several Sergel versions of the play that exist, the one being performed at Waukesha Civic Theatre comes closest to depicting that moment, and lifetime of reaching out to Atticus.

It’s a safe bet you’ll feel him reaching back and holding you safe.

Written by Jim McClure, who plays Judge Taylor in To Kill A Mockingbird at the Waukesha Civic Theatre

PIX Flix: Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

“I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn’t have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too.” – Jefferson Smith

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s next PIX Flix presentation is Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, starring James Stewart, Claude Rains, and Jean Arthur, and directed by Frank Capra.

“Aah, he’ll never get started. I’ll make public opinion out there within five hours! I’ve done it all my life. I’ll blacken this punk so that he’ll – You leave public opinion to me. Now, Joe, I think you’d better go back into the Senate and keep those Senators lined up.” – Jim Taylor

When it premiered in 1939, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington was a widely celebrated, highly controversial film. The story of idealistic everyman Jefferson Smith, who is temporarily appointed to the United States Senate only to find it filled with corruption, has inspired audiences for over seventy-five years.

“You can’t count on people voting, half the time they don’t vote, anyway.” – Senator Joseph Paine

Politics may seem inescapable at times, but this film still speaks to audiences today. Neither the Republican nor Democrat parties are ever mentioned or even hinted at on screen, and at the time of its release, it was both lauded for its patriotism and decried as pro-communist and anti-American. Washington insiders hated it, but fascist states in Europe banned it for fear that it showed that democracy worked.

“This is the most titanic battle of modern times. A David without even a slingshot rises to do battle against the mighty Goliath, the Taylor machine, allegedly crooked inside and out.” – Diz Moore

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, one of the great films of 1939 (a prestigious company that includes classics such as The Wizard Of Oz, Gone With The Wind, Stagecoach, and Goodbye, Mr. Chips), was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, ultimately winning for Best Original Story. It made the American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Movies list, ranking at number 26, and it is widely considered one of Frank Capra’s best films.

“Because of just one, plain, simple rule: Love thy neighbor. And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust.” – Jefferson Smith

For only $5, join us at 6:30 on Monday, November 7th for this classic American film. And don’t forget to vote!

hopper-meghan-2014Meghan Hopper

Office Manager

Lights! Camera! Action! & The ACAP PlayMakers

Well, we are right in the middle of our latest outreach offering – Lights! Camera! Action! with the ACAP PlayMakers. Only this time, there is a twist. The PlayMakers are playing the role of video editor/director. We’ve never offered something like this before, and so far the results have been outstanding!

Let me back up for a minute and give you a quick history here. Last year, Matt Huebsch and I taught Lights! Camera! Action! (LCA) for the ACAP PlayMakers. LCA is an on-camera acting class that has been a part of the A.C.T. program for years. The ACAP PlayMakers are a community partner that has performed at Civic for years. I guess it was only a matter of time before these two met!

The PlayMakers are an inclusive group of performers that feature performers with and without disabilities. It gives a voice to performers who might not otherwise get the opportunity. But even while being so inclusive, there were still some members who were not able to participate in a stage production. That’s where LCA came in. As you well know, acting on camera and acting on stage are two very different skill sets, and some of ACAP’s members were more suited to have their voice heard on camera instead of the stage.

Matt and I worked with the group for six weeks, writing and filming a series of scenes that showcased some of the hidden talents of the group. It was a fun and unique way to show what a great sense of humor these guys have. They love to perform, and it showed in every frame of the video.

This year, we decided to take it one step further and shift the focus.   Instead of focusing on the acting, we put the PlayMakers in charge of the directing and editing. A beginner’s course for how to put a movie together. Matt and I filmed ourselves in a short scene together, filming multiple takes and multiple “moods” of each scene. We created a very loose template for the video, with a lot of options for our editors to choose from. Starting Week 1, we worked with the group to give them an understanding of the tools and concepts of video editing, sound and visual effects. As the weeks have gone on, members of the group have become more proficient in piecing their videos together.

Think of it as a choose-your-own-ending kind of book, except in video form. The PlayMakers work with the footage we provided and piece together scenes that are coherent and follow a logical path (Ok, full disclosure here – sometimes the videos are extraordinarily silly and don’t make much sense, but that’s part of the fun of learning how to do all this!).

To give you an example of how things have been going, there is a scene in which I appear at the door of a home. We filmed me doing several versions of this, and even filmed a dog in place of me. Lorraine, a longtime PlayMaker who has enjoyed poking gentle fun at me for years, wanted to find a way, through the magic of editing, to turn me into the dog. Did I say “wanted to”? I meant “insisted.” We worked together for an entire class, figuring out how we could make this happen. And by the end, sure enough, I was a dog! Thanks, Lorraine.

If this class were to just stand alone, it would be an enjoyable six weeks where we all got to learn something. However, the hope is that this can be a starting point for video to play a more prominent role in how the ACAP PlayMakers continue to help their members find their own voices, their own stories to tell. This is in no way going to replace the excellent stage work they do, it is going to add to it. Classes like this lay the groundwork for an idea that big. It all starts somewhere. And in our case, it started with my friend Lorraine turning me into a dog.

Jarecki Doug 2008 CroppedDoug Jarecki

Education & Outreach Administrator

Waukesha Civic Theatre Chosen by Staples Associate to Receive $500 Grant


Waukesha Civic Theatre has been awarded $500 by Staples Foundation, the private charitable arm of Staples, Inc., through a program called 2 Million & Change that allows Staples associates around the globe to direct donations in the total amount of about $2 million each year.

Theatre arts education and community outreach has been a part of the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s mission since its inception, 60 years ago. These funds will help cover the costs of offering daytime performances of To Kill A Mockingbird for school groups.

Created in 2012, the 2 Million & Change program is a philanthropic initiative created by Staples Foundation which allows Staples associates around the world to direct funding to non-profit organizations of their choosing that are focused on education or job skills. The program encourages local community engagement by awarding larger grants to organizations where associates are highly engaged in volunteering or fundraising – up to $25,000 per organization.

In 2015, associates globally directed more than $2.5 million of Staples Foundation grants to 875 non-profit organizations.

“For 30 years, Staples associates have been making a difference in their communities around the world,” said John Burke, chief culture officer, Staples, Inc., “We’re thrilled that the 2 Million & Change program lets our associate make an even greater impact on the organizations they are passionate about.”

Cramer’s Corner: Entertainment Falls Into Place At WCT!

The ACAP PlayMakers’ Show Of Shows III is WCT’s next show, running October 6 through 9.  The show features songs and scenes from previous PlayMakers’ shows mixed with some new material.  Click here to buy tickets.

Our new screen and projector is once again helping us bring the silver screen back to the PIX.  Our next movie of the season will be Young Frankenstein on October 10 at 6:30 pm.  The cast of the movie includes Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, and more.  All tickets are $5.00, and we have concessions available, including soda, water, beer, wine, cookies, beef sticks, and … wait for it … POPCORN!  Click here to buy tickets.

Our next Random Act of Entertainment is David Seebach’s Illusions In The Night, October 14-16.  Spectacular illusions, mystery, eerie music, colorful costumes, and comedy are all woven together in this family-friendly show with one of Milwaukee’s greatest treasures.  Click here to buy tickets.

Our next Pee Wee Players opportunity is Saturday, October 15.  4-5 year olds get together for a few hours to of singing, dancing, and imagination.  Click here for more information or to register.

Our second Mainstage show of the season will be To Kill A Mockingbird October 28 through November 13, including three daytime performances for schools to take advantage of.  We are partnering with Waukesha Reads, as the novel by Harper Lee is the featured book this year. Click here to get your tickets.

Fred Klett will bring his unique brand of comedy to our stage in a one night only benefit performance full of good, clean fun, aptly titled A Night Of Comedy With Fred Klett on Tuesday, November 1 at 7:30 pm.  Click here to buy tickets.

Ex Fabula Story Slam will take our stage as part of Waukesha Reads on Thursday, November 3, at 7:00 pm.  Tickets are FREE for this event.  Click here for more information.

WCT was awarded $500.00 by Staples Foundation as part of 2 Million & Change philanthropic initiative. We will use the funds to support our daytime performances of To Kill A Mockingbird.

Share Your Heart! Heart of Canal Street is Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s community program that raises funds for children’s charities – and WCT is in the running to be a beneficiary.  Heart of Canal Street has raised nearly $16 million for hundreds of area children’s charities since 1994. The program honors the Potawatomi tradition of nurturing younger generations so they grow to lead healthy, productive lives.  Half of each $3 or $7 Canal Street Bingo game purchased goes to the Heart of Canal Street fund, which totaled more than $1 million last year! Share your heart by playing the Canal Street Bingo game now through Dec. 15. Visit to learn more.

Our current featured artist in the Waukesha State Bank Art Gallery in our lobby is Wendie Thompson.

Our 60th Season is on sale now.  Subscription packages for the Mainstage shows, and individual tickets for everything can be purchased now.  Please join us for another great season of entertainment!

Thank you to all of the generous donors that have supported us so far this season.  If you would like to donate, you can choose from any number of ways you could help us not only maintain, but thrive, as Waukesha’s Cultural Cornerstone.

Please Consider Giving …

* A gift to our Operating Fund

* A gift to our Spotlight On The Future Capital Campaign

* A matching gift through local sponsoring business employers

* A gift that will last a lifetime through your Will or Estate Planning

* A gift by donation to CARS

* A gift by shopping through Amazon Smile

* A gift by purchasing something on our Amazon Wish List

* Choose WCT as your Thrivent Choice charitable organization

* Become a Sponsor of outstanding performances and educational programs

Have a Happy Halloween, and I’ll see you at the Theatre!

Cramer John 2006John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

262-547-4911 ext. 13 office

PIX Flix Spotlight On The Board: Young Frankenstein

“For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius.” – Dr. Frederick Frankenstein

Young Frankenstein is our third PIX Flix in our 60th season! Gene Wilder called this his favorite of all the films he made. Join us as we celebrate his legacy! Get in the Halloween spirit by joining us for this spoof of Mary Shelley’s classic tale on October 10th at 6:30 pm! Tickets are $5 for everyone – you won’t find a better deal than that!

As in all his roles, Gene Wilder lent a certain genius to this film. Playing the grandson of the legendary Dr. Frankenstein, he sets out to explore his grandfather’s castle and writings. While trying to prove that he is not as crazy as people think he is, he discovers the secret to reanimate the dead. What follows is a treat you won’t want to miss!

When Mel Brooks was preparing this film, he found that Ken Strickfaden, who had made the elaborate electrical machinery for the lab sequences in the Universal Frankenstein films, was still alive and in the Los Angeles area. Brooks visited Strickfaden and found that he had saved all the equipment and stored it in his garage. Brooks made a deal to rent the equipment for his film and gave Strickfaden the screen credit he’d deserved, but hadn’t gotten, for the original films. –IMDb

The film has been critically acclaimed. Among other nominations and awards, Young Frankenstein was nominated for two Oscars, a Golden Globe, and a Writers Guild of America Award in 1975. It won a Golden Scroll from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror Films, USA in 1976. And as of 2016, it’s been inducted into the OFTA Film Hall Of Fame.

For only $5, join us on October 10th to celebrate the legacy of Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, the Halloween season, and our 60th anniversary all at once! See you at the PIX!

danner-jonathan-2010Jonathan Danner

WCT Board Secretary

Spotlight On The Board Of Directors: Gypsy

We weren’t much when we started.

The first play we put on was The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman. The year was 1957 and the performance space was Waukesha High School (known later as Waukesha Central Middle School and currently as Les Paul Middle School).

David Hundhausen writes: “On opening night, one of the actresses … did not make her entrance because she was afraid to go onstage. Cast members … had to literally push her onstage as her lines were crucial to the audience’s understanding of the play.”

Look at us now. Under John Cramer’s leadership our beautiful theatre is open all year, with dozens of performances of all kinds. Our educational programs are second to none. And the performers, volunteers, and staff maintain the same spirit that infused our founders.

In the very first program, Harold Brierton, our first board president, said, “The future of our organization depends on you!”

His words are just as true today. We need your financial support to maintain and grow programming that will enrich, challenge, and entertain this community for decades to come.

Welcome to the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 60th season. The future of our organization depends on you!

Penzkover Angela 2012Angie Penzkover

WCT Board President

The Hovick Family Timeline

c941eb8221c6da3b89e2583070d35b2aAugust 31, 1890 – Rose Evangeline Thompson was born







May 28, 1910 – Rose married Jack Olaf Hovick at age 19

d7d078f440e43af10dad73571fa4ecf0January 8, 1911 – Louise (Rose Louise Hovick) was born. Rose was 20 years old.








4ecafd75d19d051293b0dd88e8c91929November 8, 1912 – June (Ellen June Hovick) was born (some sources say her name was Ellen Evangeline Hovick). Rose was 22 years old.









August 20, 1915 – Rose and Jack divorced, and June began performing in vaudeville at age 2 ½

May 26, 1916 – Rose married Judson Brennerman at age 25

December 1928 – June eloped with Bobby Reed (Weldon Hyde), a dancer in their vaudeville act, at age 16. Rose was 38. Louise was 17. June and Bobby both left the show. They later divorced.

January 1930 – Louise became Gypsy Rose Lee. She was 19 years old. Rose was 39 years old.

April 2, 1932  – June gave birth to April Hyde.

1935 – June married Donald S. Gibbs. They later divorced.

August 25, 1937 – Louise married Arnold “Bob” Mizzy. They later divorced.

1942 – Louise married William Alexander Kirkland. They divorced in 1944.

December 11, 1944 – Louise gave birth to Otto Preminger’s son, Erik Lee.

January 25, 1948 – June married William Spier. They remained married until William’s death in 1973.

1948 – Louise married Julio de Deigo. They later divorced.

1950s – April Hyde became an actress with the stage name April Kent.

mqdefaultJanuary 28, 1954 – Rose died at age 63






1957 – Louise wrote and published her memoirs, titled Gypsy: A Memoir

1959 – The musical Gypsy: An American Fable premiered on Broadway with Ethel Merman as Rose

1962 – Gypsy was made into a movie with Rosalind Russel as Rose


April 26, 1970 – Louise died at age 59









December 28, 1998 – April Kent died


June-Havoc2March 28, 2010 – June died at age 97

Cramer’s Corner: Gypsy, Miscast, And More Gems In Our 60th Anniversary Season!

Happy Birthday To Us! WCT is 60 years old this season, and we are celebrating.  The first mainstage show of our 60th season, Gypsy, runs through October 2nd! Considered by many to be one of the greatest American musicals ever written, the show features a score by Jules Syne and Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents.  The songs in the show read like a top ten list of all-time greatest songs EVER!  “Together Wherever We Go,” “Some People,” “Small World,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “You Gotta Get A Gimmick,” “All I Need Is The Girl,” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses!”  And of course, “Rose’s Turn” at the end of the show is possibly the greatest musical theatre moment ever created.  We have a cast of 25 talented community members that are bringing this story to life with incredible vim and verve.  You don’t want to miss this show!

As part of our celebration, my wife Kelli, is playing Rose, and I am playing Herbie.  Kelli and I haven’t been on stage together since we did I Do! I Do! ten years ago.  You never know when we will be on stage together again so don’t miss this chance to see us.  I can’t say enough about Kelli’s interpretation of this incredible woman.  Kelli had a very successful career when we lived in Chicago, playing a multitude of show stopping roles, and earning a Joseph Jefferson Award for her portrayal of the title character in Annie Get Your Gun.  Locally she has played Patsy Cline in several different productions, including the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, the Oconomowoc Arts Center, the Sharon Lynn Wilson Center, and of course right here at WCT.  I realize that I may be a little biased, but her version of Rose rivals the great women who have played her for the past half century.

Our current featured artist in the Waukesha State Bank Art Gallery in our lobby is Michael Karl. Check him out on Facebook: MichaelKarlEncausticArtist

Right Singer, Wrong Song! Miscast is a one night only cabaret on September 22 at 7:30 pm. Come check out a night of showtunes performed by WCT singers who would never be cast in those roles.  For instance a young girl singing “If I Were A Rich Man” from Fiddler On The Roof, or a young man singing “And I Am Telling You” from Dreamgirls. Click here to get your tickets.

Our 60th Season is on sale now.  Subscription packages for the Mainstage shows, and individual tickets for everything can be purchased now.  Please join us for another great season of entertainment!

I am thrilled to announce that we are now participating in Thrivent Choice, a member-advised charitable grant program of Thrivent Financial.  Eligible members of Thrivent Choice can recommend that WCT is a recipient of Thrivent grant funds.

I also want to remind everyone who shops on (and who doesn’t) to go through Amazon Smile and select WCT as your charity.  Every purchase through Amazon Smile (which is the same as Amazon) qualifies for a donation to the chosen organization.  You can really help us just by buying what you buy anyway!

Our Mainstage season includes:


To Kill A Mockingbird

For Purely Elfish Reasons

Blithe Spirit

33 Variations

The Drowsy Chaperone

Barefoot In The Park

Our Random Acts Of Entertainment and Education And Outreach Shows include:


ACAP PlayMakers’ Show Of Shows III

Illusions In The Night

A Night Of Comedy With Fred Klett

ExFabula Story Slam

I Got Yule, Babe

Elvis: The Legend Lives On

A.C.T. Combat Boot Camp

Xanadu JR.

A.C.T. Live!

My Funny Valentine

2017 Gala: A Festival Of Fools

Snow White And The Magnificent Seven

Broadway Bound Showcase


A.C.T. June Summer Showcase

So many gems it’s dazzling and spectacular!  I hope you’ll join us all season long. Thank you to all of the generous donors that have supported us so far this season.  If you would like to donate, you can choose from any number of ways you could help us not only maintain, but thrive, as Waukesha’s Cultural Cornerstone.

Please Consider Giving …

* A gift to our Operating Fund

* A gift to our Spotlight On The Future Capital Campaign

* A matching gift through local sponsoring business employers

* A gift that will last a lifetime through your Will or Estate Planning

* A gift by donation to CARS

* A gift by shopping through Amazon Smile

* A gift by purchasing something on our Amazon Wish List

* Choose WCT as your Thrivent Choice charitable organization

* Become a Sponsor of outstanding performances and educational programs

Cramer John 2006I’ll see you at the Theatre!

John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

262-547-4911 ext. 13 office

Director’s Note & MAD Corner: Gypsy

Sixty Sparkling Years. Wow! Since its very modest beginnings in 1957, WCT has produced more than 400 shows and continues its long-standing tradition as Waukesha’s first choice for quality live entertainment … truly a “Hidden Gem!” According to the American Association of Community Theatres there are over 7,000 community theatres in the nation, and only 100 of them are on record of having survived for 60 years or more, so WCT is in a very elite group of theatres. In this extraordinary year, we offer you a multi-faceted line-up to celebrate the last 60 years of quality live entertainment at WCT.

I can’t believe I am starting my fourteenth season with the Waukesha Civic Theatre. My how time flies when you’re having fun! It has been a pleasure and an honor to work in this beautiful facility for this incredible organization and with this amazing community, and I look forward to many more seasons of high quality live entertainment.

I am thrilled that WCT is kicking off this Mainstage season by presenting Gypsy. This is one of my all-time favorite musicals. The Styne/Sondheim score is truly amazing. The characters are all full of life, love, humor, and pain … and they are based on real people! I am very excited to bring it to the WCT stage. We have a live, six piece orchestra conducted by Jim Van Deusen; Mark E. Schuster is our scenic designer and associate director; Anne Van Deusen is our music director; Sharon Sohner is our lead costume designer, and of course the incomparable Kelli Cramer taking her turn as Rose. What an incredible gathering of talent!

The 1959 Broadway musical is loosely based on the lives of Rose Hovick and her daughters Louise and June, who both reached stardom later in life. Louise became Gypsy Rose Lee and June became June Havoc. The original stage production starred Ethel Merman as Rose.

Speculated by many (including NY Times critic Ben Brantley) to be the greatest of all American musicals, Gypsy tells the story of the dreams and efforts of one hungry, powerhouse of a woman to get her two daughters into show business. Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoir of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, entitled Gypsy: A Memoir. The memoir and the musical focus on the story of Gypsy Rose Lee’s mother, Rose, and earned Rose a place in the theatrical and literary canon as the quintessential, archetypal “Stage Mother.” The musical features songs that have become standards of the musical theatre canon, including “Some People,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Together Wherever We Go,” “Rose’s Turn,” and the show-stopping, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Gypsy is famous for helping launch lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s career, and features a book by Arthur Laurents that is widely considered to be one of the classic examples of a traditional “book musical.” At the heart of the musical is the gregarious Rose, whose journey made critic Frank Rich call Gypsy “Broadway’s own brassy, unlikely answer to King Lear.” Next week, we’ll post a fun “Hovick Family Timeline” and a few photos of Rose, Louise, and June for your enjoyment.

In addition to our incredible 60th season Mainstage shows, we have more than 80 entertainment options throughout the year, including our Random Acts Of Entertainment, our Education And Outreach productions, our new PIX Flix Movie Series, and more. We offer great benefits to our subscribers (up to 39% off!), including our partnership with 16 downtown Waukesha restaurants offering great discounts to all WCT subscribers. You could literally save as much as you spend if you join us as a subscriber. We also have a year-round theatre arts education program with offerings for students of all ages, including adults.

We are close to wrapping up our Spotlight On The Future major gift campaign with a goal to raise $750,000, providing capital for upgrades that will enhance the theatre experience, increase advertising revenue, decrease operating expenses, and provide for building maintenance. So far we have raised 49% of our goal and have already put these donations to good use. A new HVAC unit, our new lighting catwalk, our new retractable movie screen and projector, a new sound board for the Mainstage, and new sound and lighting equipment for the Studio Theatre and Rehearsal Hall. We still need your help. If you haven’t given to the Spotlight On The Future campaign yet, please consider a gift! If you already have given, thank you, and please consider an additional gift to help us reach our goal.

The generosity of the Waukesha community astounds me, and I truly appreciate all the time, talent, and treasure that you give to WCT. Keep watching, keep participating with, and keep supporting this cultural cornerstone!

Cramer John 2006John Cramer

Director / Choreographer

Managing Artistic Director