Blog Archives

MAD Corner: The Drowsy Chaperone

I had the pleasure of seeing The Drowsy Chaperone on Broadway when it was brand new, and absolutely fell in love with it.  It has all the elements that make musical theatre the favorite genre of most theatre lovers. The show incorporates everything except the kitchen sink – mistaken identities, dream sequences, spit takes, a deus ex machina, an unflappable English butler, an absent-minded dowager, a Broadway impresario and his Follies production, comic gangsters, a ditzy chorine, a harried best man, and a “Drowsy” (i.e. “tipsy”) Chaperone, played in the show-within-a-show by a blowzy Grande Dame of the Stage, specializing in “rousing anthems” and not above upstaging the occasional co-star. As The Man In The Chair states in his opening monologue “that’s what the show is – fun!”  I hope you think so too!

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

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Spinning Gender in WCT’s You Can’t Take It With You

Waukesha Civic Theatre is taking a “gender spin” in its revival of the Kaufman and Hart’s comedy You Can’t Take It With You. It’s still 1938 but the eccentric Sycamore clan will be headed by a matriarch called “Nana”. New Berlin-based veteran actress Antoinette Stikl will step into the shoes of the typically male role when the play opens on October 18.

“This beloved, Pultizer-prize-winning comedy has been a revival favorite for theatres of all kinds since its premiere almost 77 years ago,” says first-time WCT director, John Kibler. In his research for the play, which premiered in December 1936, the idea of casting a woman in the patriach’s role took shape because all the historical information supported the idea so well.

“Often during the Depression, women stepped into men’s traditional role of family breadwinner out of necessity,” says Kibler, “given that many men refused clerical and secretarial jobs that were typically identified with women.” The rapid growth of the New Deal in the early 1930’s lead to the first female cabinet secretary in American history (Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor) and expanded working opportunities for all working women (not to mention the two million unemployed in 1933) dealing with the economic and social challenges of the Great Depression.

“The affirmation of individuality that lies at the heart of this play,” says Kibler, “creates the perfect environment for Nana Vanderhoff to share the Sycamore family’s belief in charm, wisdom, eccentricity, innocence, selflessness and good will to a 21st century audience.” Eager to forget the bad news at home and the worse news abroad, people flocked to You Can’t Take It With You when it opened in 1936 for a much needed laugh. Nana Vanderhoff will provide that same experience for a 21st century audience eager for exactly the same thing.

Come check it out between October 26th and November 3rd! For more information, including pricing and show times, please feel free to contact our Box Office at 262.547.0708 or boxoffice@waukeshacivictheatre.org or visit our website: waukeshacivictheatre.org

The View from the Pit

I love live theatre, especially musical theatre! I love getting to the final product and knowing all the weeks of hard work that were put into that performance. I love watching actors and singers learn, practice, grow, conquer, and create. I love working with musicians to build the musical foundation for the folks on stage. I love watching the collaboration between cast, crew, orchestra and audience. I love it all, because you need it all to bring a story to life.

All of this has happened at Waukesha Civic Theatre the past couple months to bring The Goodbye Girl to life on the stage. I am blessed to be the music director as well as one of the musicians in the pit. This show is orchestrated for 21 people, and we’re doing it with 8. That requires a lot of creativity with the instrument books and very talented and flexible players. Luckily, we’ve got all of that. The members of the orchestra have worked hard to create the proper blend to support the style of the music and give the performers and audience a full sound.

Add to the mix the fact that we’re playing in a room separate from the theatre space and you’ve got the recipe for an exciting adventure. Our 8-piece orchestra spends show time in a corner of the back studio. Each of us is mic’d and the sound is piped into the theatre. Monitors on stage help the actors hear what we’re playing, and monitors in our corner help us hear what’s happening on stage. In addition, our conductor has a video monitor to watch the action, as well as a head-set to communicate with our stage manager. The actors on stage get no visual cues from the conductor.

What makes a system like this work? TRUST, FOCUS, FLEXIBILITY. Every person has to trust that every other person will do his or her job. The actors, the orchestra, the stage manger, the sound technicians – we’ve all done our prep work to make the lines of trust work. Focus is also a huge piece. Because we can’t rely on visual cues when something goes wrong, we must stay focused on the present. Again, the key players in the game are aware of everything going on around them so that they’re ready to go at all times. And flexibility is a must. Every person has to be willing to adjust to anything and everything. Missed lines, set pieces that get stuck, a lengthy costume change, a dropped beat. Anything can happen. And it probably will, which just adds to the excitement.

It’s a bit crazy, I agree. But sooooo much fun! Knowing that we’re all invested in doing our part to give our audiences the very best we can makes it all work. We’re a great team, and we’re having the time of our lives! See you at the Theatre!

~Anne Van Deusen, Music Director

The Goodbye Girl

We are very proud of our current production, The Goodbye Girl. It is the second mainstage production in our 57th season and it is beginning its second weekend of performances on Friday at 8pm. If you are looking for an entertaining night with witty banter, excellent musical numbers, and snappy dance routines, then this is the show for you. Hurry and get your tickets today because there are only 10 performance left (5 this weekend and 5 next weekend) of this amazing show.

There are many different way to purchase tickets to the show: by calling our box office at (262) 547-0708, on The Goodbye Girl page on our website, at our Facebook page, or by stopping in at the theatre.

Still not sure? Check out these fantastic photos from the show.

Meet The…Office Manager!

Floyd, COO Floyd the Flamingo, local celebrity and COO (Chief Office Ornithologist) of WCT recently sat down with the new(ish) Office Manager Kelly Doherty. 

Floyd: I know the people here at Civic are just dying to know more about you.  Are you originally from the Waukesha area?

Kelly: In northern Minnesota I was born and raised.  On the lake is where I spent most of my days.  Swimming and kayaking, paddling the canoe, throwing some Bocce Ball (man, I was cool).   To make a long story short, my family moved to Madison when I was in grade school when my dad got a new job.

Floyd: Did you always want to work in theatre, or was this job a crazy random happenstance?

Kelly: Theatre has been a very big part of my life ever since middle school when I got cast in my very first show.  In high school, I wowed audiences in such critically acclaimed roles as Offstage Voice and Lady 1, just to name a few.  Buoyed by the success of those roles, I decided theatre was my life and focused on it all through college.  It is really great that I still work in theatre.  I can’t say that about all of my classmates.

Floyd: Do you ever bridge out into the performing aspect of theatre, or you a strictly behind the scenes kind of gal?

Kelly: Since moving to Milwaukee six years ago, I’ve appeared onstage with a number of theatre companies including Optimist Theatre, Uprooted Theatre, and was a founding member of Kohl’s Wild Theatre.  I’ve most recently appeared as Oddyseus in the The Penelopiad with Luminous Theatre, and as Sister Berthe in The Sound of Music with Skylight Music Theatre.  You may have also seen me perform in WCT’s very own Comedy Tonight’s Love American Style this past February.  I have recently added the title Playwright to my resume and have written a few shows for Kohl’s Wild Theatre.  When I’m not acing, writing, or office managing, I also teach a number of our ACT classes.

Floyd: What kind of things do you like to do in you free time?

Kelly: When not doing theatre, you can usually find me knitting, sewing, or reading, usually with the assistance of my ever-helpful lap-cat Christine (yes, she is named after the ingénue from Phantom of the Opera).  She is very good at holding things down so they do not float away.  I also love thrifting.  Macklemore got nothing on me.

Floyd: If you could be any bird, what kind would you be and why?

Kelly:  I would like to be a little penguin because they are so flippin’ cute and everybody loves them.  Also, sushi is my favorite food.

Floyd:  What is the one thing you would like everyone to know?

Kelly: I am the funniest person my little sister knows.  No joke.