In many ways, I am The Man In The Chair. As a child and young girl, I spent hours in our living room, ears glued to the speakers, listening to my mom and dad’s LPs, imaging the likes of Julie Andrews, Ethel Merman, and Mary Martin as they gallivanted across the streets of London in My Fair Lady, rode the vaudeville circuit in Gypsy, and sang and danced on sugar sands in South Pacific! I could see them so clearly in my mind’s eye that it was as if they were right there with me in the room, performing just for me, thrilling me and making me laugh and cry, dance and sing! How can you NOT love a classic musical?!?!?
Welcome to The Drowsy Chaperone, where we all get to be The Man In The Chair! As a WCT board director and performer, I am constantly amazed and thrilled by the variety of theatre options the WCT brings to our community every season. From cutting edge drama like 33 Variations to the innumerable learning opportunities through ACAP, STEM Academy, and A.C.T. to family friendly classic movies with PIX Flix and more, WCT is truly a gem. But I confess, deep down in my heart, my absolute favorites are the WCT musicals. No one does them better than WCT!
Our historic 60th season ends next month with Neil Simon’s Barefoot In The Park, as we look forward to our 61st season and your continued support. Without the generous support of our guests, we could not continue to provide these great services to the Waukesha community. Please consider a donation today to support our mission to provide quality live theatre performances and educational opportunities that will enrich, challenge, and entertain both participants and audience members for years to come.
Enjoy the Show!
Jane G. Klett
Board of Directors
We weren’t much when we started.
The first play we put on was The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman. The year was 1957 and the performance space was Waukesha High School (known later as Waukesha Central Middle School and currently as Les Paul Middle School).
David Hundhausen writes: “On opening night, one of the actresses … did not make her entrance because she was afraid to go onstage. Cast members … had to literally push her onstage as her lines were crucial to the audience’s understanding of the play.”
Look at us now. Under John Cramer’s leadership our beautiful theatre is open all year, with dozens of performances of all kinds. Our educational programs are second to none. And the performers, volunteers, and staff maintain the same spirit that infused our founders.
In the very first program, Harold Brierton, our first board president, said, “The future of our organization depends on you!”
His words are just as true today. We need your financial support to maintain and grow programming that will enrich, challenge, and entertain this community for decades to come.
Welcome to the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 60th season. The future of our organization depends on you!
WCT Board President
May 28, 1910 – Rose married Jack Olaf Hovick at age 19
August 20, 1915 – Rose and Jack divorced, and June began performing in vaudeville at age 2 ½
May 26, 1916 – Rose married Judson Brennerman at age 25
December 1928 – June eloped with Bobby Reed (Weldon Hyde), a dancer in their vaudeville act, at age 16. Rose was 38. Louise was 17. June and Bobby both left the show. They later divorced.
January 1930 – Louise became Gypsy Rose Lee. She was 19 years old. Rose was 39 years old.
April 2, 1932 – June gave birth to April Hyde.
1935 – June married Donald S. Gibbs. They later divorced.
August 25, 1937 – Louise married Arnold “Bob” Mizzy. They later divorced.
1942 – Louise married William Alexander Kirkland. They divorced in 1944.
December 11, 1944 – Louise gave birth to Otto Preminger’s son, Erik Lee.
January 25, 1948 – June married William Spier. They remained married until William’s death in 1973.
1948 – Louise married Julio de Deigo. They later divorced.
1950s – April Hyde became an actress with the stage name April Kent.
1957 – Louise wrote and published her memoirs, titled Gypsy: A Memoir
1959 – The musical Gypsy: An American Fable premiered on Broadway with Ethel Merman as Rose
1962 – Gypsy was made into a movie with Rosalind Russel as Rose
April 26, 1970 – Louise died at age 59
December 28, 1998 – April Kent died
Sixty Sparkling 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 “Hidden Gem!” 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. In this extraordinary year, we offer you a multi-faceted line-up to celebrate the last 60 years of quality live entertainment at WCT.
I can’t believe I am starting my fourteenth 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.
I am thrilled that WCT is kicking off this Mainstage season by presenting Gypsy. This is one of my all-time favorite musicals. The Styne/Sondheim score is truly amazing. The characters are all full of life, love, humor, and pain … and they are based on real people! I am very excited to bring it to the WCT stage. We have a live, six piece orchestra conducted by Jim Van Deusen; Mark E. Schuster is our scenic designer and associate director; Anne Van Deusen is our music director; Sharon Sohner is our lead costume designer, and of course the incomparable Kelli Cramer taking her turn as Rose. What an incredible gathering of talent!
The 1959 Broadway musical is loosely based on the lives of Rose Hovick and her daughters Louise and June, who both reached stardom later in life. Louise became Gypsy Rose Lee and June became June Havoc. The original stage production starred Ethel Merman as Rose.
Speculated by many (including NY Times critic Ben Brantley) to be the greatest of all American musicals, Gypsy tells the story of the dreams and efforts of one hungry, powerhouse of a woman to get her two daughters into show business. Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoir of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, entitled Gypsy: A Memoir. The memoir and the musical focus on the story of Gypsy Rose Lee’s mother, Rose, and earned Rose a place in the theatrical and literary canon as the quintessential, archetypal “Stage Mother.” The musical features songs that have become standards of the musical theatre canon, including “Some People,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Together Wherever We Go,” “Rose’s Turn,” and the show-stopping, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Gypsy is famous for helping launch lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s career, and features a book by Arthur Laurents that is widely considered to be one of the classic examples of a traditional “book musical.” At the heart of the musical is the gregarious Rose, whose journey made critic Frank Rich call Gypsy “Broadway’s own brassy, unlikely answer to King Lear.” Next week, we’ll post a fun “Hovick Family Timeline” and a few photos of Rose, Louise, and June for your enjoyment.
In addition to our incredible 60th season Mainstage shows, we have more than 80 entertainment options throughout the year, including our Random Acts Of Entertainment, our Education And Outreach productions, our new PIX Flix Movie Series, and more. We offer great benefits to our subscribers (up to 39% off!), including our partnership with 16 downtown Waukesha restaurants offering great discounts to all WCT subscribers. You could literally save as much as you spend if you join us as a subscriber. We also have a year-round theatre arts education program with offerings for students of all ages, including adults.
We are close to wrapping up our Spotlight On The Future 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 49% 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!
Director / Choreographer
Managing Artistic Director