This is a bittersweet moment. Candy Cane Tales And Holiday Carols will be my last show at WCT as Managing Artistic Director.
I care deeply about the Waukesha Civic Theatre, and have put my blood, sweat, and tears into my work here for more than 15 years! It has been my honor and my privilege to be part of this amazing organization and to work hand in hand with the people that are the theatre’s life source.
Thank you for the support you have given me, the WCT staff, board of directors, volunteers, and the entire WCT Community.
It’s no secret that I love the holiday season. Starting with Halloween, continuing with Thanksgiving, thriving through Christmas, and culminating in New Year’s Eve, these three months are truly “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.” I love the lights, the themed decorations, the family gatherings, the parties, and of course, the music and the stories.
The Cramers are more than a little crazy when it comes to celebrating the holidays. First, we decorate like we’ve been possessed by Buddy the Elf. We have seven 30 gallon bins full of decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s that we lovingly haul out of storage and display every year. But it is Christmas that really gets our attention. We have more than twenty 30 gallon bins full of holiday delights. A Santa collection, an elf collection, a village, garlands, wreaths, lights and more take over our home in a festive explosion of color. We have Christmas trees in our family room and all three bedrooms. Some years we add a fifth, or even sixth tree just because. I did say we were a little crazy, didn’t I?
This love of the holidays is where Candy Cane Tales And Holiday Carols came from. The show started out in 2005 as a musical revue performed at the Waukesha State Bank holiday party by me and my wife Kelli, and accompanied by Abby Lorenz. I put the show together featuring our favorite music and stories, with a little bit of history thrown in, and entertained the WSB employees for an hour.
Then I started thinking about how it might translate to a full production. Good holiday shows are hard to find. There are a handful of traditional classics like A Christmas Carol, Miracle On 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, but every theatre produces them, so the holiday entertainment market is saturated with these old standbys. I wanted to create something that could be WCT’s unique holiday tradition so I took that WSB show and expanded it to a full two hour show, with opportunities for community members of all ages to participate. We produced it for the first time in 2009 with a cast of 65 actors ages 6 to 80, and a new tradition was begun. We followed that production with six more versions of the show through 2015. Each year the show changed a little bit, replacing some of the songs and stories with other fantastic songs and stories.
We took a break from the show for two seasons, but are now bringing it back with a brand new story line. This year’s adaptation is near and dear to my heart, with the Bickford family and friends based on my own life and circle of family and friends. I’ve loved working on this show again, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!
Not only that, the holiday season at WCT is full of amazing entertainment options, including An Evening Of Holiday Tales With John McGivern, I Got Yule, Babe, our PIX Flix feature film The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Comicality.
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 … wonderful gifts of theatre to share with anyone, or to treat yourself! Happy Holidays!
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.”
Co-Director / Choreographer
“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” – Zuzu Bailey
It’s A Wonderful Life has become synonymous with the holiday season in America, but when the movie premiered in 1946, it was met with a lukewarm reception. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when there was some confusion over rights and the film entered the public domain. TV stations began to air the film regularly, because they didn’t have to pay for it. By the time the rights paperwork was corrected, it had found its place as a holiday tradition.
The message of the film resonates as much among the Greatest Generation, immediately post-WWII, as it does today: Your life matters. Your contribution is important. You can, and do, make a difference. Nestled among the brilliant acting of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, that’s what really endears the film to viewers and why so many of us keep coming back, year after year.
The December PIX Flix film has become a holiday tradition for us here at WCT, too. Even though the title differs year to year, it’s a way for our community to come together, enjoy each other, and experience quality entertainment in a historic theatre. For only $5 a ticket, on a Monday night, there’s no better way to get family and friends together for an evening.
It’s A Wonderful Life is one of John Cramer’s very favorite films and both he and I hope to see you here at the PIX on Monday, December 18th, at 6:30 pm.
The reasons for wanting to adapt The House Without A Christmas Tree were numerous. Great story, complex characters, a father and daughter reconnecting….I could go on and on. The trick was in HOW to adapt it. Can you take what is there and expand it to a full play without losing the essence of the story? Well, I think you can and I think we did.
John and Kelli Cramer were a big part of this. They are the ones who introduced me to this story. It was one of their favorite holiday stories, and their affection for it was infectious. I read the book, I watched the TV movie, and I was hooked. I just loved it. But I did have some concerns.
First, there was not a lot of attention given to any character outside of Grandma, Dad, and Addie. The characters that were there simply did not have much to do. In order to become a Mainstage production, it needed some of these peripheral characters to become more prominent. The students in Addie’s class, for starters. I wanted to see a little more of the classroom world, and what kinds of characters there were, and seeing Addie in that world helps give us a fuller picture of her.
Luckily, we have an outstanding group of young and talented students in our A.C.T. (Academy at Civic Theatre) program. I had no doubt we had more than enough young talent to fill this classroom with some fun characters. And in the end, these students help shape our perception of Addie, and really do help to tell her story. And these are relationships and students we all experienced in our grade school years–the first crush, the destructive kid, the kid who always bragged about something, the know-it-all. There is something each of us can connect to in this colorful group of kids.
There was also not a lot for the teacher, Miss Thompson, to do. I wanted to find a way to see her grow throughout the play. A big key was adding the characters of the principal and his assistant. This provided the chance to tell a sweet, sometimes clumsy love story between the Eugene and Peggy, with Mrs. Kulwicki giving running commentary throughout.
The final major adjustment I made was that I wanted to lighten things up. The actual storyline between Addie and her father gets quite intense at times. I think the other characters in the play help to offset that drama and keep the story more balanced. I also think the culmination of all of these stories helps to make it a much bigger, more satisfying payoff at the end. There needed to be more hope, more optimism at the end, or else the struggle to get there doesn’t seem worth it. It would be like watching It’s A Wonderful Life, and having George Bailey be “sort of happy” to be alive at the end (spoiler alert-George Bailey lives and he’s THRILLED about it).
At the end of the day, I am a sucker for a sweet and heartfelt holiday show. And that’s what I think we have here. I think audience members will find themselves belly laughing in one scene, and getting choked up in the next scene. This show is nostalgic without being dated. The kind of show where parents can watch with their kids and not worry about questionable content. All of us involved in the show are very proud of that, and we sincerely hope you enjoy it.
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
If You Loved Les Miserables …
You MUST See The Hunchback Of Notre Dame!
History is being made at WCT! A premier, presented by almost 70 creative members of our community (including a live, 14 piece orchestra), a set that has to be seen to be believed, costumes, lighting, sound, and props that rival anything we have presented … a show YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS!
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, the second Mainstage show of the season, opens this Friday, October 27, and runs through November 12. A Milwaukee area premier, this musical drama from the creators of Godspell, Pippin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, and Wicked, is based on Victor Hugo’s famous novel and the beloved classic Disney film. This production is darker than the Disney film and not recommended for younger children. Parental discretion is advised, and we recommend only ages 12 and up attend.
The show features a production staff of 17 led by one of WCT’s favorite directors, Mark E. Schuster, a cast of 20, a cathedral choir of 17, and a live orchestra of 14. That’s right … nearly 70 incredibly talented people from our community are bringing this amazing story to life on our stage! We have FIVE Pay What You Can performances during the run. October 28 at 7:30 pm, November 5 at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, November 9 at 7:30 pm, and November 11 at 2:00 pm. Click here for more information or to order tickets.
With the holiday season right around the corner, consider giving the gift of theatre to your friends, family, co-workers … or yourself! Gift certificates are a great idea, or you could give a Festive Flex Four For $64, for sale October 26-December 31, with a 40% Savings off our adult ticket price.
Our fourth and fifth PIX Flix films of the season are Back To The Future on Monday, October 30, and The Princess Bride on Monday, November 13, both films at 6:30 pm. Join Marty McFly and Doc Brown in this blast from the past … er … future … er … you know what I mean. Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, and more! And it is the 30th anniversary of The Princess Bride, which has become a verified classic, and one of the most quotable films of all time. Starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Andre The Giant, Chris Sarandan, Christopher Guest, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, and more.
All PIX Flix tickets are $5.00, or groups of ten or more for $4.00 each. And of course we have concessions available, including soda, water, beer, wine, cookies, beef sticks, and … wait for it … POPCORN! Click here to buy tickets.
We are partnering with Waukesha Reads and presenting Mike Earp, retired U.S. Marshal, descendant of Wyatt Earp and author, as he speaks about the U.S. Marshal Service -including stories from his own career and what it was like to be a marshal during the time period of True Grit. Join us on November 2 with a social hour and book signing from 6:00 to 7:00 PM, and the presentation at 7:30 PM. Tickets are FREE!
Auditions for The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged) will be held on Monday and Tuesday, November 6 and 7, 7:00 pm both nights.
Share Your Heart! Heart of Canal Street is Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s signature community program. Half of each $3 or $7 Canal Street Bingo game purchased goes to the Heart of Canal Street fund, which totaled more than $1.1 million last year and provided funding to children’s charities in southeastern Wisconsin. Waukesha Civic Theatre is in the running to be a 2017 charity. Help give the gift of a promising future by playing now through December 14. Visit paysbig.com/heart.
Our first of three distinctly different Wisconsin Philharmonic Chamber Concerts will be presented on November 14 at 7:30 pm. The Cadance Chamber Players present a collection of music through time for flute and strings. This diverse program features Mozart’s Flute Quartet No. 1 in D Major and Aaron Copland’s Two Threnodies for flute and string trio, as well as Pres-ent for flute and cello by contemporary composer Efrain Amaya. The concert will also include music of Figorello, Dohnányi, and Villa-Lobos. The Cadance Chamber Players are an affiliate of Cadance Collective, a Milwaukee-based music and dance collaborative ensemble creating original performance pieces for the stage. Click here for more information or to buy tickets. If you are interested in the Tremendous Trio package call the box office to see all three concerts and SAVE 19%.
Waukesha Civic Theatre is looking for volunteers to participate in the Waukesha Christmas Parade on Sunday, November 19. If you are interested please click on this link to sign up: 2017 Waukesha Christmas Parade. If you have any questions please contact Phillip Alonge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration is open for our A.C.T. Winter and Spring Sessions, including Star For A Day, a one day camp on November 22.
Get up, get out, and #ShopSmall on November 25 during Small Business Saturday. Celebrate #SmallBizSat with us!
This year, on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, we are part of a call to action that will change the calendar and help make history. We are celebrating a day dedicated to giving ‐ when charities, families, businesses, community centers, students, retailers, and more will all come together for #GivingTuesday – a movement to celebrate giving and encourage more, better, and smarter giving during the Holiday Season that we are proud to be part of. As a non-profit organization, Waukesha Civic Theatre relies on community contributions to raise approximately 35% of our operating budget. There are many ways that you can support the Waukesha Civic Theatre. We would like to encourage our patrons, friends, and fans to kick off the giving season on #GivingTuesday by making a donation to Waukesha’s Cultural Cornerstone, the Waukesha Civic Theatre.
Our current featured artist in the Waukesha State Bank Art Gallery is Patricia Gilman Graham.
Are you interested in helping WCT make decisions about everything we do? Join A Committee and get involved. We have lots of great committees to choose from: Education and Outreach, Finance and Facility, Fund Development, Fundraising Events (Gala), Governance, and Marketing.
Our Play Advisory Committee and Board Of Directors have completed the selection process for our 62nd Season and we are thrilled to announce that we will be producing these shows in our 2018-2019 Season, starting in September 2018:
The Musical Comedy Murders Of 1940
Billy Elliot The Musical
Candy Cane Tales And Holiday Carols
Thoroughly Modern Millie
But Why Bump Off Barnaby?
And of course we are already four months into our 61st Season, with Season Tickets and individual tickets on sale now, so please join us for some great entertainment!
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
The House Without A Christmas Tree
The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged)
Clue: The Musical
Wait Until Dark
Father Knows Best
We also have our season ticket package for our Wisconsin Philharmonic Chamber Series (the Tremendous Trio).
Individual tickets for our Random Acts Of Entertainment, Education And Outreach shows, and Fundraising Events are on sale now!
Wisconsin Philharmonic Chamber Concerts
Joel Kopischke’s I Got Yule, Babe
The Four Guyz In Dinner Jackets
A.C.T. Combat Boot Camp
Singin’ In The Rain JR.
My Funny Valentine
Spring City’s Wild Card Saloon
A.C.T June Summer Showcase
Our PIX Flix Film series is also on sale now, including our new group rate!
Back To The Future
The Princess Bride
It’s A Wonderful Life
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
The African Queen
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
And the artists that will be featured in the Waukesha State Bank Art Gallery in our lobby will be:
Patricia Gilman Graham
Christian Education Leadership Academy
Waukesha South High School
Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Nicolas Murray, and Edward Weston
The League Of Milwaukee Artists
And don’t forget about all the ways to save on quality, live entertainment. WCT’s Ticket Promotions can’t be beat!
Super Six Subscription Package – Save 26%
Fabulous Flex Pass – Save 22%
Festive Flex Four For $64 – Save 40%
Perfect PIX 3 – Save 19%
Tremendous Trio Package – Save 19%
Subscriber Rate – Save 22 to 31%
Group Rate (Ten Or More Tickets) – Save 22 to 31%
Educational Group Rate (Ten Or More Tickets) – Save 31 to 63%
Student / Senior (60+) / Military Rate – Save 11%
Student Rush – Save 50%
Terrific Tickets – Save 50%
Pay What You Can – Name Your Own Price!
All subscribers also receive the Subscriber Benefits Card with discounts at 18 downtown Waukesha restaurants. And your ticket stub can save you money too!
Thank you to all of the generous donors that have supported us so far this season. If you would like to donate, you can choose from any number of ways you could help us not only maintain, but thrive, as Waukesha’s Cultural Cornerstone.
Please Consider Giving …
* A gift to our Operating Fund
* A matching gift through local sponsoring business employers
* A gift that will last a lifetime through your Will or Estate Planning
* A gift by donation to CARS
* A gift by shopping through Amazon Smile
* A gift by purchasing something on our Amazon Wish List
* Choose WCT as your Thrivent Choice charitable organization
* Become a Sponsor of outstanding performances and educational programs
Join WCT’s Text Club to receive exclusive offers and updates! Text WCT to 51660.
On a personal note, my son Jude will be appearing as Deputy Governor Danforth in The Crucible at WSHS, with performances on November 10-11.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you at the theatre!
Managing Artistic Director