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!
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!
Managing Artistic Director
Director: The House Without A Christmas Tree
Thank you for joining us.
I’ve been a lover of the theatre for more than three quarters of my almost 50 years here on Earth. At a young age, I was enthralled by the storytelling and the magic that happened on stage. I was also raised Catholic, and I think that a big part of my love for the theatre came from my time spent in church – the music, the pageantry, the storytelling, the grand design of the space and even the smells took me to another world. Theatre does the same thing. This show is an amazing combination of the two for me!
The classic story by Victor Hugo and this version made popular by the Disney animated motion picture asks us to consider the idea – What makes a monster and what makes a man? It raises many questions – is the lonely, deformed hunchback the monster or is it the pious, God-loving Archdeacon? Which one is truly ugly on the inside? Does the outside matter? Can we see beyond physical deformity to the person beneath the surface?
Ultimately, we are all human.
Frollo makes it clear early on that he despises all Gypsies. His hatred for them seems to drive his every move. Does any group of people deserve to be hated simply because of who they are or where they come from? Can a race justifiably be universally condemned? Doesn’t everyone deserve to be treated equally and fairly? Esmeralda challenges Frollo’s thoughts and awakens something in the Archdeacon that he’s never faced before. Opening ourselves up to one person could literally change our lives. This show will hopefully make us all think about “what side” we’d rather be on – the judge or the judged, the lover or the loved, the monster or the man. If theatre can entertain us AND make us think, then I think it is most effective.
I hope you enjoy the fruits of the labor of a truly incredible group of people. I am so very lucky to have the chance to work with these amazing performers, musicians and design team. They are all top notch and I thank them for sharing in this vision. I do what I do to work with folks like you!
May you be filled with more of Heaven’s Light and less Hellfire. Celebrate the good in your life. Accept and encourage. Take a chance. Stand up for what you believe. Love.
Enjoy the show!
Mark E. Schuster
On the surface, I am an unconventional choice as a director for Sex Please We’re Sixty. What does a man in his thirties know about the romantic lives of menopausal women and a sixty-something Casanova? Turns out, not a whole lot.
But as I got to know Bud, Mrs. Stancliffe, and the visitors of the Rose Cottage Bed and Breakfast, I discovered a more universal story, one that speaks to people of all ages; especially those of my generation.
In today’s world, more than ever before, we find ourselves looking for a sense of purpose. We get caught up in the business of our jobs, our kids, countless activities, the news of the world. We tell friends and family that we’ll visit, “when things settle down” or “when we have time.” We send emails or texts instead of making phone calls. Entire stories are told in 140 characters, a small series of pictures, or a six-second video. The digital age has made us more connected, but many people feel more isolated.
This show is a reminder that at all ages, we seek love, companionship, and a purpose in life. Sometimes we pretend to be something we aren’t in order to get what we think we want. Sometimes we get stuck in a routine and need an objective person to give us a push in a new direction. Sometimes the things we want require the most effort and time (even 20 years). Sometimes we need someone to see us for who we truly are, flaws and all. At the end of the day, we’re all just human beings wanting to be loved and accepted.
Thank you to the cast and crew for all their hard work on this show, to John Cramer for this opportunity to direct my first show at WCT, and to family and friends for their support.
Barefoot In The Park is known by many for the 1967 movie adaption directed by Gene Saks and starring Robert Redford (Paul) and Jane Fonda (Corie). However, it all started four years before that on October 23rd, 1963 when it opened at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway. It ran for a total of 1,530 performances closing on June 25th, 1967, making it Neil Simon’s longest-running hit. Robert Redford also played Paul in the Broadway performance, and Elizabeth Ashley played Corie.
This production is set in 1963. While times have changed around the woman’s role in the household since then, many of the challenges Corie and Paul are presented during their first four days living together after their blissful honeymoon, along with how they deal with them, remain timeless.
We laughed a ton during rehearsals as we each thought back to our own relationships, and how spot on Neil Simon was. The nosey mother, the crazy neighbor, and the reality that hits after the honeymoon is over. But, ultimately realizing that with your loved one at your side, you can conquer it all, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. For many actors, the roles in Barefoot In The Park are bucket list roles, and I know that to be true for several of our cast members. I think you’ll understand why after seeing the show. I am truly lucky for the caliber of cast, crew, and production staff I have working with me side-by-side on this production. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun at rehearsals as I did working with this cast. I hope you have as much fun watching the show as the cast does performing it!
Just after I finished college, my aunt and uncle paid for a trip to New York as a present. They had arrived earlier than I did, and when I landed, they told me they had bought show tickets for that evening but didn’t tell me what show. I had a list of a half dozen shows I REALLY wanted to see, and so I was very excited when I met up with them. They informed me that they had gotten tickets to see The Drowsy Chaperone, and I had a hard time concealing my disappointment. (I must have mentioned the show to them at some point.) I had been interested in the show, but it was maybe 7th on my list of 6 shows I wanted to see on that trip. But it was too late, and it was a gift. So we went to the show, and it was an utter delight from start to finish. Great characters, catchy songs, tongue in cheek humor. It was a total joy. A truly PLEASANT SURPRISE and one of the highlights of that trip.
Fast forward this past fall. I get an email from John Cramer asking if I’d be interested in directing the production at Civic. I was under the assumption that a director was already in place, so it was a very PLEASANT SURPRISE to have been given this opportunity.
This cast has been a joy to work with. The Civic has been very welcoming to me and I have enjoyed this experience immensely. When I direct, I tend to be on my feet a lot, playing around right along with the actors. I am fairly certain they’ve had as much fun as I have putting this show together, and today’s performance is proof of that. If you have never seen the show before, I hope you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was when I first experienced it.
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.