Author Archives: Katie Danner

Spotlight On The Board Of Directors: 33 Variations

Welcome to another jewel of the 60th Waukesha Civic Theatre season. You are in for another Civic treat. From the start of 33 Variations, you will be entranced by the phenomenal work of Ludwig van Beethoven.  Throughout the show, you will hear the works of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and follow the journey of a musicologist as she discovers the reason for 33 distinct variations on a waltz theme.

This unique play is like no other in that we get to enjoy classical music inside a personal journey around that music. The music in this play is often considered to be one of the greatest sets of variations for piano. This play holds a special place in my heart because of my musical background in playing in various symphonies through my younger years. While I didn’t have the opportunity to perform this specific variation since it was written for the piano, I did enjoy the other Beethoven pieces that I have played in the past. Since my primary instrument was bassoon, I will unfortunately not have the opportunity to play this variation. I do, however, get the pleasure and the honor to hear my wife practice and perform these Beethoven variations at home and while I watch this moving story unfold around the music.

Please enjoy this production of 33 Variations and tell your friends and family about the show.  We have many ticket packages to enjoy this and as many productions of Civic that interest you.  Please remember that we thrive on entertaining the community and the generosity of our civic family.

Richard Johnson

Treasurer

Board of Directors

Director’s Note: 33 Variations

I love how highly theatrical 33 Variations is in examining how we choose to live our lives when we know the end is closer than the beginning. It is this combination of theatricality and powerful storytelling that drew me to this play.

“Time is scarce” multiple characters tell us during the play. Both Dr. Katherine Brandt and Beethoven are trying to complete their work before their bodies ultimately rob them of the ability to do so.

For me, it is much broader than that. Time is scarce for all of us. None of us know how much time we have left. Therefore, we need to lives our lives to the fullest and enjoy what we have been given and those closest to us.

My eldest daughters are entering high school this fall. I have spent a lot of time recently bemoaning the little time I have left with them until they become adults and head out into the world. This play has directly challenged me to be sure that I do not waste that time while I have it.

After all … Time is scarce.

Dustin J. Martin

Director

MAD Corner: 33 Variations

Life.  Death.  Health.  Illness.  Past.  Present.  Simple.  Complicated.  Words on a page; just like these words you are reading now.  They mean nothing without the experience to understand them.  Every day we all encounter these things on some level; they are all a part of the human experience. So is theatre; and it is always a cathartic event.  Comedy, tragedy, musical, mime … no matter what the genre; the storytelling is the key to sharing the joys, the sorrows, the laughter, and the tears.  We hope you enjoy Katherine and Ludwig’s combined journey

Thank you to everyone that supports WCT!  All of our volunteers help us out in any number of ways by acting, ushering, serving on the board of directors, providing maintenance or office support, or working on sets, costumes, props.  Our patrons come to WCT see quality live entertainment, the fruits of our volunteers’ labor.  Our donors help keep us financially sound by their gifts to the Annual Operating Fund, the Endowment Fund, or by including us in their planned giving. 

The generosity of the Waukesha community astounds me, and I truly appreciate all the time, talent, and money that you give to WCT. 

One way, and arguably the best way, to support WCT is to spread the word about Waukesha’s best kept secret.  It always amazes me when I meet someone in Waukesha who has no idea what a fantastic organization we have right here in the heart of the community.  Tell people about what we do and all we offer. 

Enrich.  Challenge.  Entertain.  That says it all, so keep watching, keep participating with, and keep supporting this cultural cornerstone.  We couldn’t do it without you. 

John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

The Waukesha State Bank Art Gallery Presents: Waukesha South High School

The artworks in this exhibit were created by art students at Waukesha South High School. The thirty-three-day project challenged students to briskly produce artworks inspired by Moisés Kaufman’s play, 33 Variations. Various mediums and materials were explored.

The use of sheet music was a popular collage material. In Collection of Diabelli Variations, the student listened to the entire set, purchased the sheet music, and highlighted four variations by their tempo/mood. Master of Music was completely built with bits of sheet music in the likeness of Beethoven. Overall, sheet music and other paper products created a rich texture to the surfaces of many artworks.

Students examined certain themes to guide their work. Some students incorporated thirty-three components into their work such as flowers and human heads. To many, the brain symbolized ALS, the vehicle for creativity, or physical ability. The color blue was also used to represent the disease. The ear symbolized hearing loss; the heart symbolized energy and passion despite deteriorating physical abilities. Warm colors were used to show intensity and creative energy.

Some students took a personal approach by relating to their own specialty or uniqueness. In the piece, Hearing…My Wings, the student incorporated her ear/hearing aid in place of the painted eye which was a portrait-style jewelry fad of the late 1700’s. Another showcased her creativity in a painting of her trumpet.

Even though the subject matter was interpreted individually and described in a compartmentalized way, an overall commonality existed: passion and creativity endure.

Theresa Leal

Art Instructor

 

Partnering With The Medical Community On 33 Variations

Verisimilitude is a term often associated with theatrical productions. It is defined as “the appearance of being true or real.” For me, plays need to contain a similarity to truth which helps the play be relatable for the audience. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it perfectly resembles reality, but suggests it enough for each individual audience member to build off the verisimilitude by filling in the gaps themselves.

While I was studying 33 Variations in advance of our rehearsal process, it was clear to me that verisimilitude would not be enough for a character who has ALS that would progressively get worse as the play went along. An accurate portrayal of the physical and vocal impediments of this debilitating disease would be vital. Having never personally experienced ALS, I knew that I would need to connect with those who had.

By day, I work at the Medical College of Wisconsin. In partnership with Froedtert Hospital, there is an ALS Clinic located right here in Milwaukee that is one of only 26 in the United States to be certified by the ALS Association. I was able to connect with the physicians who work in the clinic, who then connected me with the Wisconsin chapter of the ALS Association.

The individuals who work there were tremendous. They fully supported our efforts to learn more about ALS and to create an accurate picture of the disease. They invited us to attend an ALS support group meeting to talk about the show and to allow us to observe and interact with ALS patients. Two actresses, Beth Perry and Paula Garcia, and I were privileged to attend. As Beth portrays the ALS patient in the play, this time of interaction was invaluable.

They also lent us a rolling walker for use in the show and a physical therapist came to a rehearsal to help us accurately stage a scene that revolves around physical therapy. Their enthusiasm and willingness to assist our production has been greatly appreciated.

To return that appreciation, we’ve arranged for ALS literature and a donation box to be available in the lobby during the run of the show. ALS research is heavily reliant on private donations. The ice bucket challenges from a few years ago certainly helped raise awareness and donations but more help is needed. I know they will be thankful for any amount you would be willing to give.

In addition, representatives from the ALS Association Wisconsin Chapter and the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin ALS Clinic will join the cast and crew for talk backs immediately following the performances on March 12 at 2:00 pm and March 19 at 2:00 pm.

I hope you will come out to see this fantastically theatrical and powerful show. It is one that you will not soon forget.

Martin Dustin 2012Dustin J. Martin

Director

Cramer’s Corner: We Are Marching Along With Another Great Month Of Entertainment!

Everyone marches to the beat of a different drummer but, lucky for you, we have something for everyone at WCT during the month of March.

We open our next Mainstage show, 33 Variations, next week.  This innovative and inspiring show focuses on a modern music scholar facing the end of her life as she studies the mysteries of Beethoven and the 33 variations of a simple melody he composed while facing the end of his.  The show runs March 10-26 with two Pay What You Can performances on March 11 at 7:30 pm and March 25 at 2:00 pm.  We will also have two talk backs with ALS specialists joining the cast and crew immediately after the performances on March 12 at 2:00 pm and March 19 at 2:00 pm.  And we will be selling raffle tickets for several amazing items including the always popular Discount Liquor Basket.

 

We have two auditions coming up this month.  Barefoot In The Park auditions will be held on Monday, March 13, and Tuesday, March 14, starting at 6:30 pm both nights. Kelly Goeller is directing. And Miscast auditions will be held on March 27 starting at 6:30 pm.  Meghan Hopper is directing.

 

Our next PIX Flix movie of the season will be Mr. Holland’s Opus on March 20 at 6:30 pm.  The cast of the movie includes Richard Dreyfuss, Glenne Headley, Jay Thomas, Olympia Dukakis, William H. Macy, Alicia Witt, 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!

 

Our spring fundraiser gala, Festival Of Fools, will be held at Westmoor Country Club on Saturday, April 1st.  We are thrilled to announce that our King And Queen of the festival will be Joel and Rebecca Kleefisch, and our emcee will be Vince Vitrano.  This will be an event you don’t want to miss, so get your tickets NOW!

 

 

Our current featured artist in the Waukesha State Bank Art Gallery in our lobby is a group of students from Waukesha South High School.  They were challenged to create art inspired by 33 Variations in only 33 days, and it is amazing!

 

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 the second half of our current great season of entertainment!

 

Registration is open for our A.C.T. spring and summer sessions, including our summer ACT production Disney’s The Lion King JR.

 

Just in case you missed it last month, our 61st season will include:

Sex Please We’re Sixty (directed by Peter Kao)

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (an area premier directed by Mark E. Schuster!)

The House Without A Christmas Tree (an original adaptation by our own Doug Jarecki directed by moi)

The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged) (directed by Dustin J. Martin)

Clue: The Musical (directed by Ken Williams)

Wait Until Dark (directed by Kelly Goeller)

Father Knows Best (directed by Rhonda Schmidt)

Amazing, right?  Season Tickets will go on sale in May 2017.

 

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

On a personal note – my daughter, Elena Cramer, will be playing Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point March 3-5 and 9-11.  My son, Jude Cramer, will be playing Gomez Addams in The Addams Family at Waukesha South High School March 9-11.
I’ll see you at the theatre!

Cramer John 2006John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

jcramer@waukeshacivictheatre.org

PIX Flix Spotlight On The Board: Mr. Holland’s Opus

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!

Penzkover Angela 2012Angela Penzkover

Board President

MAD Corner: Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit is one of my favorite plays of all time.  It is also one of the most produced plays ever, and there is a good reason for that … it is awesome.  Noël  Coward got the title of the play from Percy Shelley’s poem “To a Skylark.” “Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! Bird thou never wert.” The play was first seen in the West End in 1941, creating a new long-run record for non-musical British plays of 1,997 performances. It also did well on Broadway later that year, running for 657 performances. Coward adapted the play for film in 1945, and directed a musical adaptation, High Spirits, on Broadway in 1964. It was also adapted for television and radio in the 1950s and 1960s. The play enjoyed several West End and Broadway revivals in the 1970s and 1980s and was revived again in London in 2004, 2011, and 2014. It returned to Broadway in February 2009.

We hope you enjoy this classic comedy, and that it raises your spirits!

Thank you to everyone that supports WCT!  All of our volunteers help us out in any number of ways by acting, ushering, serving on the board of directors, providing maintenance or office support, or working on sets, costumes, props.  Our patrons come to WCT see quality live entertainment, the fruits of our volunteers’ labor.  Our donors help keep us financially sound by their gifts to the Annual Operating Fund, the Endowment Fund, or by including us in their planned giving. 

The generosity of the Waukesha community astounds me, and I truly appreciate all the time, talent, and money that you give to WCT. 

One way, and arguably the best way, to support WCT is to spread the word about Waukesha’s best kept secret.  It always amazes me when I meet someone in Waukesha who has no idea what a fantastic organization we have right here in the heart of the community.  Tell people about what we do and all we offer. 

Enrich.  Challenge.  Entertain. 

That says it all, so keep watching, keep participating with, and keep supporting this cultural cornerstone.  We couldn’t do it without you. 

Cramer John 2006John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

Spotlight On The Board Of Directors: Blithe Spirit

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!

danner-jonathan-2010Jonathan Danner

Secretary

Board Of Directors

Director’s Note: Blithe Spirit

I’m an enormously talented man and there’s no use pretending that I’m not.

-Noël Coward

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.

dolphin-carol-2006-cropped

Carol Dolphin

Director