Grease is the word, and it means a great deal to me. Released in 1978, the movie made it to the still-relatively-young Home Box Office (HBO) in 1979, and at that time, HBO was available in the Milwaukee market on its own, as much of the market had yet to gain a cable television option. I know this because I was in my formative years at this time, and my family – for a short time that included this period – had HBO. The fledgling network was very different then: it was only broadcasting in the evening, and its library was small. Grease was on all the time, and I watched it a lot. Maybe it’s a guilty pleasure, but it’s still one of my all-time favorites. But why shouldn’t it be?
It was the number one movie of 1978, and it was set in the late 1950s – a time in US history often romanticized on film, in part because of the birth of rock & roll in 1955. Plus, it’s filled with now classic songs like Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted to You, You’re the One That I Want, and the title track, Grease. Each of those songs charted on Billboard magazine’s Top 40, with each of latter two hitting number one in the U.S., but Summer Nights is the only one of the four that was also part of the original Grease musical.
The musical – which debuted in Chicago in 1971 – hit Broadway in 1972 with an original cast that included Barry Bostwick as Danny Zuko and Adrienne Barbeau as Betty Rizzo. Notable replacements for Danny include Patrick Swayze, Richard Gere, and Jeff Conaway, who played Kenickie in the movie. John Travolta was also a replacement during that original Broadway run, but he played Doody. That original Broadway run lasted eight years, which – believe it or not – was good enough to be the longest-running musical ever at the time it closed. Since then, fifteen newer musicals have had longer runs. With the passage of time, records fall, but perspective is also gained. Consider the relationship between the year the musical debuted – 1971 – and the year of the Rydell High graduating class – 1959. If a similar musical were to debut in 2019 romanticizing that creator’s high school years, it’d be reminiscing about 2007! Crazy, isn’t it?
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.
Managing Artistic Director
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!
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!
Lights, 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.
Board of Directors
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
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 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!
Managing Artistic Director