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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

MAD Corner: To Kill A Mockingbird

This American classic is inspiring, beautiful, funny, and emotional. I am thrilled that WCT is producing this incredible script.  I think it is one of the best plays ever written, and in the hands of this awesome production staff, cast, and crew, it is sure to be a moving experience for everyone! And I am thrilled that we are able to partner with Waukesha Reads to help reach as many people in our community as possible.

I would like to thank everyone that supports WCT! We wouldn’t be here without you. 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.

We will be closing our Spotlight On The Future campaign at the end of this calendar year. If you haven’t given a gift yet, or have but would be willing to give even more, we still need your help! This major gift campaign has 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 about half of our goal, but we need your help to reach the full amount. Please consider a gift of any size!

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

Director’s Notes: To Kill A Mockingbird

When the 2016/2017 Waukesha Civic Theatre season was announced and I saw that To Kill A Mockingbird was on the list, I knew that I would clamor and claw for the opportunity to direct this play. I have taught the novel to my freshman World Literature class, and year after year, it sparks a vibrant conversation of race, equality, poverty, violence, innocence, desperation, and hope. It is a story that speaks to my heart and screams to my conscience. I see myself in Scout – in her compulsion to stand up for what’s right, and to be the voice for those who are too scared or unable to speak up. I even named my daughter Harper in tribute to Ms. Lee. It is a dream of mine to direct the stage play of Mockingbird – to bring this conversation to life as only theatre can, and I am deeply humbled to be trusted to tell this story with an incredible team of actors and designers.

I am thrilled to see Harper Lee’s novel bringing our community and schools together, in partnership with the Waukesha Reads program. To Kill A Mockingbird is an intelligent and timely choice for Waukesha Civic Theatre at this point in history. With tensions high, the conversation of the racial divide in America is vital as ever. Voices are raised, fires are burning, and yet voices are going unheard. We need to hear one another and listen to the singing of the “mockingbirds,” so that we can find understanding. In this play, the echoes of slavery are heard in the deeply-rooted segregation of the South, just as the echoes of segregation are heard in towns across America today. Mockingbird not only serves as a reflection of the past, but it mirrors today’s world and provides a lens through which we can look into the future. While you can look for villains in this play, they are hard to pin down. Even the apparent villains are victims of circumstance, aren’t they? Ignorance, poverty, culture, and fear stand in the way of progress in Harper Lee’s 1934 Maycomb, Alabama as they continue to do today across America. If I had to guess, I would say that Harper Lee would never have imagined just how relevant her story would be in the year 2016, and I have to wonder if she would how discontented she would be. My fervent hope is that in my lifetime, this play will become antiquated; it will become a piece of history we will use to look back with gratitude on a time before things changed.

I hope that you find truth here today – that you find laughter, and that you find heartache; I most certainly have found all of these things in building this show with our team. I would like to thank John Cramer for giving me the opportunity to direct Mockingbird, my incredible cast for trusting me and one another, and bringing with them a goodness of heart that moves me, and my production team of artists and organizers who make this show possible. I am forever grateful to my supportive and loving family, Aaron (lighting/sound designer), Jaxon, and Harper. Please help us spread the word and fill this house each performance. We are so glad you are here.

schmidt-rhonda-2016Rhonda Marie Schmidt

Director

The Anatomy Of A Film Series

By Katherine Simon

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 2015-2016 season saw some exciting new additions to the calendar, including the PIX Flix Movie Series, our very own season-long film series that’s bringing the Silver Screen back to the PIX. Over the course of the season, we bring you 12 different movies, each with their own unique connection to the live productions and events taking place here at the PIX.

As this was WCT’s first time doing something like this, I quickly realized the first thing I would need were some guidelines. For this and the coming season, I have operated under four relatively loose restrictions:

  • To include as many people as possible in this exciting new endeavor, the movies would not be rated anything higher than PG.
  • The films would somehow compliment the live offerings of the theatre at the time of the screening.
  • Whenever possible, the movies would not exceed two hours in length (there are a few, rare exceptions, of course).
  • The series itself would be a mix of movies from across decades and genres.

Some choices were easy, like the very first movie of the season. I knew our first should be a first, and, as Toy Story was turning 20, it seemed only logical, to my mind, to choose the first feature length, computer animated film as our first offering.

During the parts of the calendar when we don’t have a show running, we always offer Academy at Civic Theatre sessions. As such, I wanted to program movies for the whole family. Finding Nemo helped round out the summer, and Happy Feet accompanies the frigid January temperatures.

For the bulk of the calendar, though, I tried to choose movies that would augment the shows being produced at the time. Some are obvious choices, like the pairing of Leading Ladies and Some Like It Hot in March, or Cinderella’s Fella and Enchanted in April. Some are less so and rely on thematic ties, like September’s pairing of An American In Paris and A Little Night Music, which shared the interplay of social and economic classes in a European setting. Or the varied perspectives on love brought to the stage and screen by Almost, Maine and Breakfast At Tiffany’s in February. Some not only matched the mainstage shows, but also the time of year, like Hocus Pocus (October) and Elf (December).

Most of the films also match their respective live theatre pairings in genre. The Turn Of The Screw and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane chilled us in November. May will find us tapping our toes to musicals loosely based on real people and events with The Harvey Girls and Annie Get Your Gun. In June, we’ll finish the season laughing at the British farce of The Pink Panther Strikes Again and Fawlty Towers.

Covering genres ranging from thriller to musical to comedy and 61 years of film history, the PIX Flix Movie Series seeks to enhance your Waukesha Civic Theatre experience by bringing movies back to the PIX. Movies are screened one Monday a month at 6:30 pm and tickets are only $5. See you at the Theatre!

Our Historic 59th Season Is Nearly Here!

59th season blogThe Waukesha Civic Theatre is proud to announce its 2015-2016 season! With seven Mainstage shows and plenty of special events, our 59th season is sure to have something for everyone! Here are our Mainstage shows:

A Little Night Music, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler. Directed by John Baiocchi.

When a fading but glamorous actress unexpectedly encounters an old flame, buried passions are rekindled in this classic from Stephen Sondheim. Weaving a complex story of jealousy, betrayal, lust, and love, A Little Night Music is a mature and sophisticated musical. (Sept. 18-Oct. 5, 2015)

The Turn of the Screwby Jack Neary. Directed by Mary Rynders.

A governess, isolated in a sprawling manor home, must contend with the ghosts haunting her two young charges. When no one else believes her, she struggles to prove she isn’t crazy in this psychologically eerie Henry James tale. (Oct. 30-Nov. 15, 2015)

Candy Cane Tales and Holiday Carols, originally conceived by John Cramer. Additional material by Katie Danner, Jes Sudbrink, and Jacob Sudbrink. Directed by Jes Sudbrink and Jacob Sudbrink.

The Civic’s holiday tradition returns for its seventh year. Featuring beloved Christmas songs and characters, Candy Cane Tales And Holiday Carols brings a mix of old and new, classic and contemporary holiday cheer. Come ring in the season with WCT! (Dec. 4-20, 2015)

Almost, Maine, by John Cariani. Directed by David Kaye.

Love comes (and goes) in all shapes and sizes. Almost, Maine, one of the most popular American plays of the last decade, features interlocking vignettes of finding and losing love in a small Maine town that almost wasn’t. (Feb. 5-21, 2016)

Leading Ladies, by Ken Ludwig. Directed by Dustin J. Martin.

Jack and Leo are down on their luck Shakespearean actors with dreams of Hollywood. When they learn a wealthy older woman is seeking her long-lost relatives and heirs, they decide some impersonation is in order. Their plot hits a snag when they learn the young relatives aren’t nephews, but nieces! (March 4-20, 2016)

Annie Get Your Gun, music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, book by Dorothy Fields, revised by Peter Stone. Directed by John Cramer.

Sharpshooters Annie Oakley and Frank Butler find fame, love, and rivalry in this bombastic musical, featuring popular songs like “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “The Girl That I Marry” and “Anything You Can Do.” (April 29-May 15, 2016)

Fawlty Towers, by John Cleese. Directed by David Scott.

Basil and Sybil Fawlty run a lovely countryside hotel, but Basil’s short temper and Sybil’s bossiness assure that everything that can go wrong will.  Based on scripts from the brilliant British sitcom starring Monty Python vet John Cleese, Fawlty Towers will leave you in stitches. (June 3-19, 2016)


All Mainstage shows run for three weekends. The performance schedule is as follows:

Day Time
First Friday (Evening) 7:30 p.m.
First Saturday (Evening) 7:30 p.m.
First Sunday (Matinee) 2:00 p.m.
Second Friday (Evening) 7:30 p.m.
Second Saturday (Matinee) 3:30 p.m.
Second Saturday (Evening) 7:30 p.m.
Second Sunday (Matinee) 2:00 p.m.
Third Friday (Evening) 7:30 p.m.
Third Saturday (Matinee) 2:00 p.m.
Third Saturday (Evening) 7:30 p.m.
Third Sunday (Matinee) 2:00 p.m.

Season Tickets for our 2015-2016 season will go on sale May 1, 2015. Individual tickets will go on sale on July 1, 2015. We offer several season ticket packages. Becoming a subscriber of the Waukesha Civic Theatre includes several benefits, including reduced ticket prices for the original package, a Subscriber Benefits Card which entitles you to discounts and deals at local restaurants, the ability to exchange tickets at no charge, and discounts on any additional tickets. Check out our subscription packages below.

The Package The Savings!
Sensational Seven $105.00 ($15 a ticket) 35% savings
Super Six $96 ($16 per ticket) 30% savings
Fabulous Flex $68 ($17 per ticket) 26% savings
Perfect PIX 3 $54 ($18 per ticket) 22% savings

All individual tickets and subscription packages may be purchased by mail, phone, email, fax online, or in person. We accept cash, check, and credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express). See you at the Theatre!

A View From The Bridge

Just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away.

Arthur Miller is widely regarded as one of the best American playwrights of the twentieth century.  In his complicated family drama, A View From The Bridge, he demonstrates why.

The story follows Eddie Carbone, an Italian-American longshoreman in the 1950s, whose simple and relatively happy life changes dramatically with the arrival of his wife’s cousins from Italy.  Eddie, his wife Beatrice, and their orphaned niece Catharine agree to shelter Marco and Rodolpho while they work in America.  Rodolpho and Catharine share an instant attraction, sending Eddie into a self-destructive spiral with tragic consequences for everyone involved.

Miller was inspired to write the play after researching the New York docks and dockworkers while writing a screenplay to be directed by his friend Elia Kazan.  However, before the film could be made, both Miller and Kazan were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Commission to name communists working in the entertainment community.  Kazan agreed, while Miller refused, leading to a serious falling out between the two.  Kazan would go on to direct On The Waterfront, the Academy Award winning film starring Marlon Brando as a dockworker who fights against the mob-controlled union. Miller’s A View from the Bridge deals with similar themes and settings, but offers a different look.

Miller’s tragic tale weaves in themes of family and abandonment, passion and betrayal, masculinity and respect.  The play addresses several mature issues, and is not recommended for audiences younger than high school.

The Waukesha Civic Theatre’s production of A View From The Bridge opened Friday, June 6th and runs through Sunday, June 22nd.  For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit or call the WCT box office, open 12-5 Tuesday through Friday, as well as during Farmer’s Markets and Friday Night Live.  You can also purchase tickets online at the following website: http://waukeshacivictheatre.org/57thSeason/AViewFromTheBridge.html