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.
We end our 59th Mainstage season (and thirteen years of putting up with me as WCT’s Managing Artistic Director) with a show that is perfectly silly and full of fun … Fawlty Towers. This John Cleese British television farce has become a cult classic and Netflix favorite. The show is a potpourri of delightful and hilarious characters and situations.
We recently announced our lineup for our historic 60th season and are thrilled about the variety of high quality entertainment we are offering for our Diamond Anniversary. We are sure that you, the Waukesha community, will find something you like from our list of exciting entertainment.
In addition to that, we have been blessed with the incredible support of the Waukesha community as you support us as patrons, donors, and volunteers. We are excited about the future and the possibilities that lie before us, and we can’t to move into the next season with enthusiasm for the arts, our community partners, and all of the people that have been touched, and will be touched by the Waukesha Civic Theatre, a true gem in the heart of Wisconsin. I want to thank everyone for joining us, and I hope you are enjoying the ride as much as we are.
If you haven’t already done so, please consider a donation of any size to our Spotlight On The Future Campaign, a major gift drive 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. We have raised more than a third of our goal, but we need your help to reach the full amount.
Managing Artistic Director
What better way to end our 59th Season at Waukesha Civic Theatre than with the outrageous laughs provided by Basil Fawlty and friends in Fawlty Towers, based on the 1970s British sitcom of the same name. I have fond childhood memories of watching Fawlty Towers with my father when it was first aired in the US; it was one of the few TV shows he thought was worth watching. It’s an all-time classic, to be sure, as the British Film Institute put the show at #1 on its BFI TV 100 in 2000.
In our upcoming 60th Season, we’ve got more classics planned in our Mainstage series, starting with Gypsy in September and followed by To Kill A Mockingbird. To help celebrate this big milestone season, the cast of Gypsy will include the incomparable Kelli Cramer, starring as Rose, and John Cramer as Herbie. John will also direct Gypsy, and auditions for all remaining roles will be held on June 17-18.
For further details on Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 60th Season, feel free to pick up a 2016-2017 Season Calendar on your way out – better yet, take more than one, give them to friends, and let them know about the wonderful shows you’ve see here.
Finally, as a board director who is also an actor, I want to thank each and every one of you for your support of Waukesha Civic Theatre. This institution means so much to me and to everyone else on-stage, off-stage, and behind the scenes; it’s truly a blessing in our lives. Thank you!
Welcome to Fawlty Towers. Or should I say, welcome to the 70’s. Of course, there’s nothing screamingly dated about this play, nor is there anything offensive, so as they say, it holds up. No my friend, what you are about to witness (or have already witnessed, if you waited to read this until you arrived at home) is simply a British themed comedy sometimes called “farce”, which is simply funny. There’s no plot, or deep-seated theme that you must be emotionally affected by, there’s no “message” to perceive, no mystery to unravel. Nope. None of that here. Just some harmless laughter at Basil Fawlty’s expense. It is your opportunity to forget the insanity and drama of the world outside these doors, and have a good time. Laugh! After all, laughter is the best medicine, good for the soul, and it burns calories!
Fear not, Waukesha Civic Theatre fans–WCT’s dress rehearsals are going just fine. The same can’t be said for the poor, harried cast and crew of Nothing On, the play-within-a-play of WCT’s latest production, Noises Off. This hysterical, award-winning farce follows the haggard cast and crew from a terrible final rehearsal to a ridiculous opening night and, finally, to a disastrous closing show. The onstage mix-ups and the backstage drama blend to create a delightful and very funny theatre-going experience.
Written by Michael Frayn, Noises Off was inspired by an experience Frayn had while watching a farce from backstage. He found what happened behind the scenes was even funnier than what was happening onstage, and he wanted to give audiences that same experience. Thus, Noises Off was born. The first act shows the action onstage during the final rehearsal of the farce Nothing On. For the second act, the set flips around and the audience gets to watch opening night from backstage, as actors and crew members scramble to bring the show to life. The third act sees the set flipped once more, with an exhausted group now just trying to survive the play’s closing night.
Nothing On may be a disaster, Noises Off is anything but. The show is critically acclaimed. “There has never been a more brilliantly conceived machine for generating helpless audience laughter than Michael Frayn’s 1982 classic Noises Off,” writes Paul Taylor of The Independent. Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph proclaims, “Noises Off offers an infallible escape into happiness.”
WCT’s production of Noises Off, directed by Mark E. Schuster, runs from May 2 through the 18th, 2014. The show features the charming talents of Randall Anderson, James Baker, Jim Donaldson, Gemma Fitzsimmons, Patti Anne Hachmeister, Kassandra Novell, Beth Perry, David Scott, and Phil Stepanski. The dedicated crew includes Jacob Dougherty, Leah Teske, Patrick Schuster, A.J. Simon, Sharon Sohner, Cindy Velcheck, Aaron Schmidt, Breanne Brennan, and Anthony Mackie.
To purchase tickets, please call the WCT box office at (262) 547-0708 between 12 and 5 Tuesday through Friday, or visit our website here: http://waukeshacivictheatre.org/57thSeason/NoisesOff.html
See you at the Theatre!