Blog Archives

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


MAD Corner: Sex Please We’re Sixty

Sixty-One Amazing Years. Wow! Since its very modest beginnings in 1957, WCT has produced more than 400 shows and continues its long-standing tradition as Waukesha’s first choice for quality live entertainment … truly “A Sight To See!” According to the American Association of Community Theatres, there are over 7,000 community theatres in the nation, and only 100 of them are on record of having survived for 60 years or more, so WCT is in a very elite group of theatres.

I can’t believe I am starting my fifteenth season with the Waukesha Civic Theatre. My, how time flies when you’re having fun! It has been a pleasure and an honor to work in this beautiful facility for this incredible organization and with this amazing community, and I look forward to many more seasons of high quality live entertainment.

We are kicking off our 61st season with a whole bunch of silliness. Farces are fun. It’s that simple. They’re fun to watch, they’re fun to be in, and they’re fun to direct. And Michael and Susan Parker’s Sex Please We’re Sixty continues their tradition of clever, silly, and fun farces. Sit back, relax, let us tickle your funny bone for a couple of hours and … have fun!


John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

MAD Corner: Fawlty Towers

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.

Cramer John 2006John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

Spotlight On The Board Of Directors: Fawlty Towers

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!

Mallmann Jim 2012Jim Mallmann

Board Director

Director’s Notes: Fawlty Towers

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!


Scott David 2004David Scott


Spotlight On The Board Of Directors: Leading Ladies

Ventress Anthony 2014Lights, camera, action! Well, maybe no ‘camera’, but when the lights dim at the Waukesha Civic Theatre, there’s certainly a lot of action! We are currently in our 59th season and we are proud of what we have to offer our patrons and the local community. This season has been phenomenal with classics like A Little Night Music and The Turn of the Screw. In addition to a variety of performances, we offer a host of programs and activities for all ages and interests. You can choose your level of involvement.

*New education and outreach programs including Pee Wee Players.

*New Broadway Bound classes for 6-19 year olds.

*Theatrical classes offered at WCT.

*Volunteer support at Waukesha Farmers Market along with several other opportunities like show ushering, maintenance support, set development, and more.

We welcome your involvement and patronage at the Waukesha Civic Theatre. Thanks for your continued support.

Anthony Ventress

Board of Directors

Director’s Notes: Leading Ladies

Martin Dustin 2012Men dressing up as women has long been used as a comedic device in theatre and film – perhaps most famously in Billy Wilder’s brilliant film Some Like It Hot.

Leading Ladies is highly reverential of William Shakespeare and, in particular, his play Twelfth Night – which perhaps you saw staged at WCT in 2010. As such, Leading Ladies and Twelfth Night employ many of the same comedic elements such as disguises, mistaken identity, juxtaposition, wordplay, repetition, and eavesdropping.

Contained within the best comedies is heart. While the play examines male and female roles mostly from a comedic sense, it’s Meg and her awareness of her own personal standing in the world and her desire to ascend to different heights that delivers the heart. I’d like to think that if Shakespeare were writing in the modern age, Leading Ladies is exactly the kind of farce that he would write.

Enjoy the show!

Dustin J. Martin


MAD Corner: Leading Ladies

Cramer John 2006Farces are fun. It’s that simple. They’re fun to watch, they’re fun to be in, and they’re fun to direct. And Ken Ludwig’s Leading Ladies is one of the best farces that has ever been written. With the delightful addition of a touch of Shakespeare and all the classic elements of farce, including men who shouldn’t be wearing dresses wearing dresses, we’ve brought together what I hope is a wonderful night of entertainment for you. Sit back, relax, let us tickle your funny bone for a couple of hours and … have fun!

Last fall, we announced Spotlight On The Future, a major gift campaign 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. So far we have raised 45% of our goal and have already put these donations to good use. A new HVAC unit, our new lighting catwalk, our new retractable movie screen and projector, a new sound board for the Mainstage, and new sound and lighting equipment for the Studio Theatre and Rehearsal Hall. We still need your help. If you haven’t given to the Spotlight On The Future campaign yet, please consider a gift! If you already have given, thank you, and please consider an additional gift to help us reach our goal.

The generosity of the Waukesha community astounds me, and I truly appreciate all the time, talent, and treasure that you give to WCT. Keep watching, keep participating with, and keep supporting this cultural cornerstone!

John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

Getting To Know … The Cast and Crew of Lend Me A Tenor!

LendMeATenor_SQ_CLRThe Waukesha Civic Theatre’s production of Lend Me A Tenor is fast approaching, and the cast and crew want to give you (yes, you!) the opportunity to learn a little more about them.


What is your favorite play? 

Julie Rowley (Maria): Favorite Musical that I’ve been in:  Sweet Charity, Favorite Play that I’ve been in:  Man Who Came to Dinner, Favorite Play I’ve been to: Six Degrees of Separation.

Joan End (Julia): Les Miserables. Have seen it at least 7 times. Love the story and the music. Not crazy about the movie. Favorite play I saw this year to date- Master Class at the Chamber Theatre. Angela Iannone portrayed Maria Callas. Outstanding!

Tanya Tranberg (Diana): The Glass Menagerie

Scott Fudali (Bellhop): My favorite play is actually Lend Me A Tenor. This makes the 4th time I have been involved in a production of it. My favorite type of shows to work on are typically mysteries/who done it and farces. I believe if I’m going to be involved in a production I want to have as much fun doing it as I can.

Phil Stepanski  (Max): Little Shop of Horrors

Brian D. Zelinski (Director): Whatever one I happen to be working on at that time. Truly can’t say I have a favorite, if someone put a gun to my head and I had to answer I guess I would then say Twelve Angry Men. But only if it was a big gun and I saw that it was indeed loaded.


What is your favorite food?

Phil Stepanski (Max): Barbecued Ribs.

Scott Fudali (Bellhop): Just about anything Italian is good with me.

Julie Rowley (Maria):  Italian of course!  Pumpkin Ravioli with a lobster cream sauce – YUM!  I love all types of foods from Ethiopian to Thai to Italian to Mexican to Hungarian to German to Norwegian.

Brian D. Zelinski (Director): Whatever food I happen to be….no, no, no, sorry. “Prime Rib” which I am not allowed to eat much anymore according to my doctor. I don’t care for my doctor much these days !

Joan End (Julia): Anything chocolate!

Tanya Tranberg (Diana): Lobster Macaroni and Cheese


What is your favorite color?

Joan End (Julia): Yellow

Scott Fudali (Bellhop): Maroon

Brian D. Zelinski (Director): Black with Red and white trim.

Phil Stepanski (Max): Green

Tanya Tranberg (Diana): Purple

Julie Rowley (Maria): Royal Blue with Red a hot second.


What other WCT productions have you been involved with?

Allison Chicorel (Maggie): My first time performing at WCT was during High School Musical in 2007. Since then I’ve been seen on the WCT stage in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Bye Bye Birdie, 42nd Street, The Tavern, An Inspector Calls, Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Perfect Wedding. I’ve also appeared in the WCT Valentine’s Day Show in 2013 and 2014, as well as two 1950s themed variety shows, that were written by Lend Me A Tenor cast mate, Tony Davis, and performed at WCT.

Brian D. Zelinski (Director): Over the River and Through the Woods, The Foreigner, The Cemetery Club, Over the Tavern, A Tiny Miracle with a Fiberoptic Unicorn, Life with Father, Lost in Yonkers, Miracle on 34th Street, and Rumors. This is my 10th show here I believe.
Julie Rowley (Maria): This is my first! I’m excited to be back on stage after a too long of a break.
Tanya Tranberg (Diana): Perfect Wedding

Scott Fudali (Bellhop): At WCT, I have only been in Don’t Dress for Dinner. Backstage activities at WCT have included numerous lighting designs and sound designs for a number of shows since my first lighting design for Music Man back in 2006.

Phil Stepanski (Max): Smoke on the Mountain – Stanley, The Tavern – Willum, Miss Saigon – Chris, Noises Off – Garry

Joan End (Julia): Cemetery Club– Lucille (very favorite role of mine to date.) directed by Brian Zelinski, Tiny Miracle with a Fiberoptic Unicorn– Grandma Skolowski directed by Brian Zelinski

What is your favorite joke, scene, or moment from Lend Me A Tenor?

Scott Fudali (Bellhop): There are so many hysterical moments in this show, but my two favorites are the door slammings between Max/Maggie/Bellhop as the Bellhop is trying to put the luggage away in Act I and Maggie is hiding in the closet and later in Act I when Julia walks in and asks Saunders how she looks. He looks at her, pauses and answers “Like the Chrysler Building.”

Julie Rowley (Maria): The comfort of the relationship between Tito and Maria. It appears at first glance to be irreconcilable, but they love and depend on each other and need each other. My favorite scene is when they have fought and Tito approached Maria on the bed and shares a tender moment, which is immediately overtaken by Maria’s jealousy, at which time she throws a fit. It’s so irrational and yet so relatable. I think at times I wish I was as boisterous as Maria to just get it all out there on the table and be able to know this person will be there for you after you let yourself go.

Brian D. Zelinski (Director):   Saunders telling the Bellhop to shutup when he enters the room singing.

Tanya Tranberg (Diana):  I love Tito and Mario’s relationship.

Phil Stepanski (Max): There are so many great moments. My favorites to act in are when Max gets a singing lesson from Tito. And of course the curtain call. I think the Tito and Maria scenes are fantastic as well.

Allison Chicorel (Maggie): I have a lot of favorite lines that come to mind but listing any of them would ruin it for anyone who might read this and then see the show! But I really love the scenes with Max (played by Phil Stepanski) and Saunders (played by ) Their one-on-one scenes have had me cracking up since day one of rehearsals. They both fit the personalities and characteristics of their characters SO perfectly. They play off each other really well and it makes for hilarious entertainment during their scenes.

Joan End (Julia): I love watching Maria and Tito fight!


Why should everyone come to see this production of Lend Me A Tenor?

Scott Fudali (Bellhop): The public should come see Lend Me A Tenor because it is the perfect recipe for a farce, is fast paced, and is still as funny today as when it first opened on Broadway in 1989.

Tanya Tranberg (Diana): We have a high energy, talented cast. It will be a good laugh.

Julie Rowley (Maria):  To escape into the world of farce with mistaken identities, unrequited love, madness and a happy ending.  More of what we need today J.  Perhaps you’ll leave the theatre with more than a laugh or two under your belt as well.  Very funny show and very talented cast.

Phil Stepanski (Max): The cast is superb. The script is hilarious. When you put those two things together the end result is a fantastic evening at the theater full of non-stop laughs.

Joan End (Julia): This show is a delightful farce that will entertain and fill the audience with a laughter! Just fun!

Allison Chicorel (Maggie):  Because it’s a farce!  It’s so light-hearted and goofy!

Brian D. Zelinski (Director):   It is one of the funniest scripts I have ever worked with and this is a tremendously talented cast.  Excuse me, but if you come you will laugh your heads off and I challenge you to be able to tell me where and when you watched a funnier theatre production.  I guess there might be something that has been produced out there that is as funny, I just have not seen it yet!!
Lend Me A Tenor opens Friday, Oct. 24th at 7:30 p.m. and runs through Sunday, November 9th at 2:00 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, please check out our website or call the box office at (262) 547-0708. See you at the theatre!

You know what they say about a bad dress rehearsal…

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:

See you at the Theatre!