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Director’s Note: The Little Prince

I can’t actually remember a time when The Little Prince was not a part of my life. I don’t remember the first time I heard it, read it, or when I saw the film with Gene Wilder as Fox and Bob Fosse as Snake. The story has always been a backdrop to my life. It was one of my mother’s favorites. I was certain she knew the answer to the Aviator’s question, that she could speak the language of the stars. When I was 16, I left for Africa on a Rotary Exchange. She told me to always look at the moon. She would always be looking at it too, so in this way, no matter where we were, we would always together.

When Laura invited me to co-direct this production, my mother was very ill and I knew I would be doing this story after her passing, in the sacred place of grief and gratitude. Laura, too, was in an underworld journey with the discovery of her son’s brain tumor. We were both living in the unknown with our best beloveds, and yet we were each able to turn to this masterpiece for solace. Exupèry says, “It is such a strange place, the land of tears.” And he was right. We began really feeling the paradoxes of life and death, love and loss, hope and renewal. We were somehow no longer in the world of either/or, but in the exciting realm of both/and.

In exploring the deeper mysteries of the duality of this story, one has to know how it came to be written. Antoine de St. Exupéry was a pilot at a time when the airplane was a new technology. His iconic writing about flying was considered vital to the development of the aero-technology. Exupéry was no stranger to sorrow. His father died before he was four, and so did his younger brother. Like the pilot in the story, Exupéry actually crashed in the Sahara desert with his navigator, André Prévot, on December 30th, 1935. They both survived, by nothing short of grace—they didn’t have enough food and water to last one person one day in such heat. They had no idea where they crashed, and were rapidly losing any chance of survival. Both men suffered from severe dehydration during this time and began to hallucinate quite viscerally. It was from these desert hallucinations that the story of The Little Prince was born. Some suggest that the boy who visited Exupéry when he was so close to Death, was the ghost of his little brother, who would not leave his side until he was rescued.

Throughout the show, you may notice that we made very specific choices to explore the duality we discovered. To begin, we have two directors on two different, yet similar, journeys with death: one which leads toward loss, and one which leads toward miraculous recovery. All of our principals hold different kinds of dualities: we find with Rose that when we fall in love, we must be willing to accept both the conscious and unconscious forces at work in the psyche of the Beloved, and in ourselves. Exupéry seems to suggest that we carry the wounds of our childhood into our adulting; he reminds us to be gentle with one another. Snake is the Great Goddess, the Womb and Tomb of Natural World. She inspires us to confront the fear of the unknown through acceptance of our constant ability to transform and transcend our limitations. Both roles are played by two actresses to amplify this powerful theme. We also have real people and puppet actors in the show. It was important to heighten the sense of distortion between those who see with the heart and those who see only with the eyes. We have two Little Princes: one, a girl, and one, a boy. Gender, after all, is a construct of the mind and of society, it is an agreement, not a truth. It’s time to really challenge paradigms which are based in power and move toward creating paradigms based in love. In this double-casting choice, the Little Prince is also not fixed to a single vision of “who the character was, or is,” it also suggests the possibility of who the character is going to become after returning home. Ironically, we had three sets of twins involved in the casting of this production: both actors playing the Little Prince are twins, as well as one of our Roses. You might also notice the striking similarities between the Aviator and Fox. I like to think of Fox as the Aviator’s higher self; the ancient one inside all of us, that gives us the exact wisdom we most critically need dark nights of the soul. And finally, the script called for an ensemble so we called upon the ancient and powerful idea of a Greek Chorus: the ensemble play the supporting cast members as well as create sunsets, baobobs, volcanoes, and birds; they are the landscape of the world around this story. Blending the idea of my love for Greek Chorus with Laura’s passion for ballet was so exhilarating to watch come to life.

We are so incredibly honored to share in this creative vision with such a talented dream team of designers as well as our unbelievably talented cast. We are deeply grateful to all of you for sharing this vision with the eyes of your hearts. Thank you to Harmonie, Michael, Liz, Evan, Mike, Mark, Linda, and David. Thanks to my son, Charlie. (I love sharing this story with you!) Thank you, Mary, for stepping in as ASM. Thank you, Kristelle, for lending your artistic expertise. Thank you to Doug for warmly welcoming us and cheering us on. Thank you to John Cramer for being our champion and never losing faith that we could tell this story through our own challenging journeys. Thank you to the WCT administrative team: Rhonda, Katie, Meghan, and Nancy for invaluable mentorship through the entire process. Thank you to Phillip and all the volunteers. Thank you for consulting on the set design, Derek Castor and Dustin Martin. Thank you, Jim Padovano. We so appreciated your welcome and support to us in this space. Thank you to all the parents and families that allowed us the time with your talented children and partners. Thank you to Katie Cummings and Pink Umbrella Theatre for consulting with us on sensory-friendly performances. Thanks to Peter for spear-heading WCT’s first inclusive show. We cannot think of a more beautiful story to launch this new WCT tradition.

Finally, we dedicate this performance to you, the audience, and to all who hold this story dear. Actually, no. We dedicate this show to the children you used to be, who knew the difference between a hat and a boa constrictor eating an elephant. Most importantly, we dedicate this to the little ones inside you who know how important it is to tend to the baobabs of doubt and fear, like Laura’s son, Burgoyne, who despite having a tumor removed from his brain, the size of a grapefruit, miraculously continues to get stronger and stronger every day! While we were in rehearsal, he not only traveled to Korea, he managed to complete his final class for his master’s degree in education! Burgoyne is living proof of the transformative and healing power in the stories we tell ourselves.

As for me, I am learning to see my mother with the eyes of my heart. On a quiet evening, when I look at the moon…I think…I can hear her laughing…

 

 

Dr. Shannon Sloan-Spice

Director

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Director’s Note: Thoroughly Modern Millie

Thank you for choosing to spend your time in 1922 New York City with us. We know that there are many things you could be doing, and the fact that you are here means more to each of us than you could even imagine. I would like to take a few minutes of your time to express my thoughts about Thoroughly Modern Millie, which hopefully will enhance your experience.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Music Director Yeng Parman-Thao; your musical prowess is certainly on display here. To Choreographer Jessica Fastabend: your creativity is as big as all outdoors. From Set Designer Marisa Abbott to Props Designer Johanna Kaye to Light Designer Mike Van Dreser. My dear friend, David A. Robins, who labors tirelessly with our sound design, shortly after the untimely passing of his father. Our Master Carpenter, Scott D. Prox, has never seen anything on paper that he could not build. Our Production Stage Manager, David Kaye, who kept everything organized and on track through all the rehearsals and through a very trying technical rehearsal process. Joshua Parman-Thao, who assembled and conducts our orchestra, an orchestra that boasts of some of the finest musicians to ever sit in an orchestra pit – most masters degree prepared in their instrument. Also, very special thanks to my friend and confidant, Jill Anna Ponasik, who lent her support and talent as vocal coach.

The list goes on and on, but it must be stated here for all to see. You will be amazed by the costumes designed by Nikki Maritch and assisted by Sharon Sohner, and our wigs by Eric Welch. These two areas which are often overlooked but absolutely are essential to this show.

This creative staff is without doubt one of the finest I have ever had the honor to work alongside. From concept to fruition of opening night, we had a vision for the production and we could not be more proud. This cast has never flinched and drove forward daily, striving to deliver the vision of the creative team. The words do not exist to praise them enough.

The original Broadway production won six Tony Awards and five Drama Desk Awards, including the win for Best Musical at both ceremonies. It is the vehicle that propelled Sutton Foster to stardom, as she stepped into the role of Millie after being the understudy for the workshop and preview performances!

All the way back in December, 2018, with auditions, we set upon our mission of providing the Waukesha Civic Theatre audiences an evening in the theatre that is enjoyable and special. We assembled our cast and made a very conscious decision to use the incredibly talented Keith R. Smith, in drag, as our Mrs. Meers. We were lucky to have two impressive actresses to play Ching Ho and Bun Foo, Delaney Schlake-Kruse and Anna Lapean absolutely amazed everyone with the amount of work they put in to learning and perfecting the Cantonese and Mandarin dialects. The entire cast worked through the awful winter and trudged through the snow and ice and the polar vortex to attend rehearsals and in the process they became the caring, loving family that they are. I believe we have assembled one of the most talented casts to ever trod the boards of the Civic stage. They are backed up 100% without question or pause by the production team – a team that I believe is unlike any team of creatives to work in the Milwaukee theatre community.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is a valuable show because it teaches us how a strong work ethic and desire to do what is right will always overcome evil and ill will. It entertains us with its exceptional musical score and helps us find a sincere level of cultural sensitivity.

Having said that, in our effort to achieve cultural sensitivity, we have done many things in regard to the roles of Ching Ho and Bun Foo. We reached out to the community to try to create interest in the audition process to cast these roles authentically. We did extensive research on dialect, costumes, make up, hairstyles and culture. We worked with a dialect and culture coach.

Our dialect coach was Waukesha Civic Theatre’s own Peter Kao. Peter has been involved with three other productions of Millie, and in fact had auditioned for this one but was unable to be in the cast due to some conflicts. Peter was a huge help in mounting this production.

The Thoroughly Modern Millie family is very proud of the show we have produced and are so excited to share it with you now. So come with us to New York City in 1922 and let’s have some fun.

I urge you to visit the lobby display featuring the work of the creative staff of Millie. The set drawings and costume plot as well as the lighting plot are all featured. See how the herculean task of putting a huge Broadway musical together is accomplished.

Thanks for coming and please enjoy the performance!

 

James Padovano

Director

Director’s Note: The Underpants

Whenever I told anyone I was directing a play called The Underpants, I was almost always met with the same response. A small smile. A polite laugh. A sideways glance, cautious but intrigued. I would go on to give a brief synopsis. 1910 Germany. A woman goes to see the king in a parade, and there is a mishap with her skirt. Her underpants are seen. In public. Then several guys want to move into her boardinghouse because of it. Typical hijinx ensue. And even better, it was adapted by Steve Martin. Yes, THAT Steve Martin, the hilarious American actor and comedian. All of a sudden, those smiles got bigger, those laughs got louder. It suddenly was not only acceptable, but understandable, that this show was about underwear. To me, that’s what theatre is all about. I love a great farce. The sillier the better. It’s an escape from reality. A chance for all of the stress and anxiety of daily life to melt away for a couple of hours. To not take life too seriously. To enjoy silly facial expressions, physical humor and witty wordplay. We had so many laughs as we brought these crazy characters and silly situations to life. I hope you have just as much fun watching it as we had putting it together. And it’s okay if you laugh loudly and laugh often, even if a few of the jokes are a bit naughty. You spent your hard earned money to come see a play about underwear. What else would you expect?

 

 

Phil Stepanski

Director

Director’s Note: Candy Cane Tales And Holiday Carols

Growing up, Christmas Eve was a night I couldn’t wait for. Not only because I knew Santa would be coming, but because it was always a night I got to see all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. We would drive to my grandparents and the kids would march upstairs to play together with the old toys that were still there from the generation prior to us. We’d rehearse and put on a concert for our parents (complete with ripped up paper snow) and we knew if we listened closely, we would hear Santa’s sleigh. We always knew we were too loud and rowdy when one of our parents yelled up the stairs because the dining room chandelier was shaking (which happened to be right under the room we were in and right above the table where they were playing sheepshead). Opening presents was always exciting, but not nearly as exciting as the quality time spent with family. It was a night filled with love.

After my grandparents all passed, the family rotated who hosted Christmas Eve for a couple of years and some family members stopped coming. Eventually, my husband and I decided we wanted to pick up the tradition. This year will be our 6th year hosting Christmas Eve and it’s now become one of the days of the year my daughter counts down until. The night is filled with family, friends, singing, laughing and, most importantly, love.

When John Cramer approached me about co-directing and shared the concept for the show, I knew I had to hop on board. I think just about every cast member has commented at some point how much the love the holiday season. It’s been fun hearing the stories from the cast on their favorite holiday memories. Thank you to our cast, crew and production staff for making this story come to life. Every time I work on a show, I’m reminded why community theatre is so amazing.

As you sit back and enjoy the show, you might find a scene reminds you of something, a character may remind you of someone, you might hear your favorite holiday tune, but what I hope the most is that you feel is just how much dedication and love went into this production. Happy Holidays and thank you for coming to the show! Enjoy!

 

 

Kelly Goeller

Director

Director’s Note: Billy Elliot The Musical

Bringing this story to life has been something of a challenge and at the same time, a real pleasure. Billy Elliot is a show that has a lot of dance elements in it (because Billy dreams of being a ballet dancer, that makes sense…) and I’m not used to working on a show that has so much dance involved. I have been SO lucky to be able to work with Ceci and Emily and their amazing commitment to creating the first rate dance numbers you’re about to see. It has been so cool to see the cast grow through rehearsals and watch the numbers really come together. Our collaboration has helped shape the feel of the production and helped me to be a better member of our creative team. I’m glad I had Ceci to rely on and bounce ideas off… she’s done amazing things!

I had the privilege of seeing this show in NYC in 2009 and it quickly became a favorite of mine.  I could easily relate to Billy and his dreams of being something other than what was expected.  The most moving part of this show to me, is how the community comes together in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty for them to help Billy reach for his dreams. Their support and encouragement help him find the strength to be true to himself and start down his path to the future.

I’ve always had the support of my family and close friends – they’ve been “right behind me” as I’ve been following my dream of doing theatre for nearly 40 years. This production staff has also been such a pleasure to work with – Ceci, Sharon, Yeng, Michael, Chris, Josh, Keith, Emily, Terri, Kristin and of course my Stage Manager (and right arm) – Debbie (you’re STILL not fired!!). Thank you guys SO much! My job is easy when I have the quality support and creativity that you bring to our productions! This cast has been a joy to work with as well. They truly represent the spirit of Community Theatre and have worked VERY hard to bring this story to the stage.

I hope you enjoy our show as much as we’ve enjoying bringing it to you. I have to agree with the lyrics in Expressing Yourself – “life is gray enough without making it worse – what we need is INDIVIDUALITY!” I hope you find the courage and the support to truly be who you are. Follow your dreams, you never know where they will take you.

 

 

 

Enjoy!

Mark E. Schuster

Director

Director’s Note: The Musical Comedy Murders Of 1940

If you like mysteries, you are probably fond of sifting through red herrings (“clues” that are planted just to mislead).  If so, The Musical Comedy Murders Of 1940 is the show for you. The red herrings begin even with the title.  (Did you think you were going to see a musical? Red Herring!). Although there are a few catchy numbers, this show is not a musical at all. Instead, the concept of a trying out a new musical is a red herring for the actor-characters who believe they are auditioning for the production. And that’s just the beginning!

The clues—real and not so real—in this show will keep you guessing. Are there actual police present? How many? Are they trying to catch “The Stage Door Slasher” or a Nazi saboteur—or

both? Is Eddie really a (very struggling) comedian or a fledgling detective?  Is Elsa a slightly ditzy hostess or a murderer on the loose? Is there one Helsa—or two—or three? And, in the midst of the murderous mayhem, is there romance in the air? In another two hours, you’ll know all the answers.

Thanks to the cast for hard work, good humor, and willingness to take chances. Special appreciation to the non-applauded production staff: Scott P. and Jeff for our secretive set, Sharon and Ellen for classy costumes, Scott F. and Keith for audible and electric effects, Matt for his creative compositions, Christopher for our frantic fights, Meghan for deft dialects, and Katie for her magnificent managing. A theatrical production does, indeed, take a village.

It’s a mystery. It’s a comedy (please do laugh!). And it’s just meant to be fun. So, stay awake and sift through those red herrings, but do relax and enjoy!

 

 

 

Thanks for supporting the arts!

Carol Dolphin 🐬

Director

Director’s Note: Father Knows Best

Thank you for coming to see our re-creation of one of the most beloved television shows of the 1950’s. The show ran for 6 seasons, on two different networks, and was watched by millions, maybe even you!

We are performing this as a period piece, and have kept the characters, language, and social mores of the fifties intact. If you are one of the lucky people to have seen the television show, we’re sure you’ll like our production. If you didn’t, we’re sure you’ll like our production!

 

 

 

Dave Scott

Director

Director’s Note: Wait Until Dark

Stillness. Darkness. Quiet.

Take a moment to close your eyes. Allow your other senses to take over. What do you hear? What do you smell? What are you touching? Imagine for a moment how it would feel if your sight were suddenly taken from you. How does it make you feel?

One of the things I love about directing theatre is how the process allows us as a cast/crew to step outside our lives and for a moment step into the lives of the characters in the show. This is done through sounds, lighting, set design, props, and character development. When Frederick Knott wrote Wait Until Dark, he certainly wrote it in a way that is designed to engage all of these senses.

The smell of something burning, the sounds of doors and footsteps, the warmth of the lights, the coolness of the dark. These are all things the characters experience, but they don’t all experience them the same.

Susy Hendrix is living in a world of dark. She recently lost her sight in an accident and is learning how to live without it. At first, it might seem that her blindness would be a disadvantage against Roat, Carlino, and Mike; however, as the story progresses, it turns out that might not be the case. Enjoy the characters, for each is unique and have different motivations. Each character is experiencing the days that the play takes place in different ways.

The process of bringing Wait Until Dark began with a cast sitting around a table, reading a script… but is ending with a show that engages all of the senses and will leave you wondering what happens next. Thank you to my amazing production staff and cast for bringing this show to life!

Enjoy the Show!

 

 

Kelly Goeller

Director

Director’s Note: The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged)

I usually use this space to share with you the themes of the play, what they mean to me, and how they apply to our present time and culture. And indeed, the plays of William Shakespeare have had a profound impact on my life. It was seeing The Comedy Of Errors as a sophomore in high school that first got me interested in theatre and radically changed my life. I am working my way through seeing all his plays performed on stage or screen (only six to go!).

Well, forget all of that. Sure, The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged) is an appreciation of the playwright and his immeasurable impact on the world. But, don’t worry – no knowledge or love of Shakespeare is needed. I think The Today Show put it best when, reviewing the show they stated: “If you like Shakespeare, you’ll love this show. If you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love this show!”

So, prepare yourself for a whirlwind theatrical experience that is unlike anything you’ve seen before. This is going to be a high-speed roller coaster ride so buckle in and keep your hands and feet inside the theater at all times.

Oh, and one more thing… you best be ready. You never know when we might be calling on you for help tonight!

 

Dustin J. Martin

Director

MAD Corner/Director’s Note: The House Without A Christmas Tree

As Andy Williams said, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.”  And in the words of Blues Traveler: “If it’s Hanukah, or Kwanzaa, Solstice Harvest, or December 25th, peace on earth to everyone, and abundance to everyone you’re with.”

I love this season, and I love WCT’s tradition of presenting an affordable family show for the community to enjoy.  This season we present a story that is near and dear to my heart.  I grew up watching after school specials (anyone else remember those?) and one of my favorites was The House Without Christmas Tree starring Jason Robards.  There wasn’t a stage adaptation of the story available to produce, so we asked our own Doug Jarecki to tackle the project.  He used the original story, the after school special screen play, and added a few things of his own to create a funny and heartwarming stage adaptation featuring seven adults and twenty children.

Not only are we presenting this beautiful adaptation as our December Mainstage show, the holiday season at WCT is full of amazing entertainment options, including Joel Kopischke’s I Got Yule, Babe, The Wisconsin Philharmonic Chamber Concert featuring The Apollo Trio, our PIX Flix feature film It’s A Wonderful Life, and The Four Guyz In Dinner Jackets: Now In Technicolor!

If you’re looking for even more holiday season entertainment, don’t miss ‘Twas The Month Before Christmas at Next Act Theatre.  This is another Doug Jarecki script, and we are both in it.

And remember, if you’re looking for a good gift to give this season, consider our Festive Flex Four For $64 ~ or a gift card ~ or one of Joel Kopischke’s CDs … wonderful gifts of theatre to share with anyone, or to treat yourself!  Happy Holidays!

 

John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

Director: The House Without A Christmas Tree