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Crafting The House Without A Christmas Tree: A Playwright’s Perspective

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.

 

 

Doug Jarecki

Playwright

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MAD Corner/Director’s Note: The House Without A Christmas Tree

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!

 

John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

Director: The House Without A Christmas Tree

Spotlight On The Board Of Directors: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

Welcome to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame! This production at Waukesha Civic Theatre is truly a must-see “TV” (Theatrical Venue) event. This is an amazing institution that showcases local talent in quality shows, and I am proud to be on the Board of Directors. Do not miss other sell-out performances this season! We have some great productions yet to come.

We have an amazing array of entertainment and involvement opportunities all year round: Mainstage, Random Acts, A.C.T., Friday Night Live, PIX Flix, our community partnerships such as ACAP, and Waukesha Reads, and a host of special events. You can be involved on and off stage! So whether you can pound a nail, sing a solo, teach kids, focus a light, or just have a passion for the arts, there are plenty of ways to get involved. I encourage you to speak to any board member about being part of this community.

In the original work, Victor Hugo expressed his passions for maintaining a reverence for the achievements of a society in transition. Today, live theater stands in stark contrast to the bite-sized hand held electronic entertainment that consumes so much of our modern era. And this live experience does not exist without performers and patrons who have a passion for the arts. Please come join us in that important community expression.

See you at the Theatre!

 

 

Brian Goeller

Vice President

Board of Directors

Spotlight On The Board Of Directors: Sex Please We’re Sixty

Greetings!  

It is my honor and pleasure to welcome you to Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 61st season! I want to personally THANK YOU on behalf of the entire WCT family including the Board of Directors, theatre staff, actors, actresses, technicians, ushers, A.C.T. students and families, and all of our wonderful volunteers. As a patron of the arts, you are an essential and important ingredient to every effort that is put on stage at WCT! 

Waukesha Civic Theatre offers a wide variety of performances and educational opportunities that enrich our community’s culture. With so many programs and activities geared for any age you are sure to find something that fits your particular interest. Become an ambassador for Waukesha Civic Theatre and help us spread the word throughout our community about the excellent entertainment and educational opportunities that WCT provides. Your continued support over the past 60 years means the world to us, and we know that “all the world’s a stage…”

 Enjoy this evening’s performance of Sex Please We’re Sixty and we look forward to seeing you many times throughout our 61st season!

 

 

Kelly Vance

WCT Board President 

 

WCT Partners With Waukesha Reads

Since its inception 60 years ago, the Waukesha Civic Theatre has sought ways to enrich, challenge, and entertain the Waukesha community. We have done this through our theatrical productions, education and outreach programs, and community partnerships. We have a vibrant production schedule, including 7 Mainstage productions each season and, this season, 29 Random Acts Of Entertainment! We have had an educational component to our programming from the beginning, offering summer camps, one-day workshops, after school classes, and outreach at several area schools. We have gone through many changes over the past six decades. We started out as a small group of thespians with a passion and a mission. 17 years ago, we moved into the old PIX theatre in the heart of downtown Waukesha. Look for our new marquees next time you drive down Main Street! This season, we are thrilled to partner with Waukesha Reads to promote community engagement with the NEA Big Read book, To Kill A Mockingbird.

We are also presenting To Kill A Mockingbird as our second Mainstage show in our 60th season. This American classic is directed by Rhonda Marie Schmidt and runs October 28-November 13, 2016. In addition to our 11 regular performances, we are offering 3 weekday matinees for school groups. We will offer talkbacks after the Sunday matinee performances and after each of the weekday matinees for schools. The talkbacks will feature cast members and community scholars, coordinated by Waukesha Reads. There are still seats available for school groups – call our box office for more information!

Here’s the schedule of performances:

Friday, October 28th at 7:30 pm

Saturday, October 29th at 7:30 pm (Pay What You Can)

Sunday, October 30th at 2:00 pm

Thursday, November 3rd at 9:30 am

Friday, November 4th at 7:30 pm

Saturday, November 5th at 3:30 pm

Saturday, November 5th at 7:30 pm

Sunday, November 6th at 2:00 pm

Wednesday, November 9th at 9:30 am

Thursday, November 10th at 8:30 am (SOLD OUT!)

Friday, November 11th at 7:30 pm

Saturday, November 12th at 2:00 pm (Pay What You Can)

Saturday, November 12th at 7:30 pm

Sunday, November 13th at 2:00 pm

We have several ways for you to save on live, quality entertainment here at Waukesha’s cultural cornerstone!

Join us as a subscriber to save 19-26%! You’ll also get a Subscriber Benefits Card, which you can use to get discounts or deals at 16 downtown Waukesha restaurants!

If you are going to buy 4 or more tickets to a Mainstage show, get a Fabulous Flex Pass. This includes 4 tickets, which you can use in any combination to a Mainstage show, and then any other ticket you buy for the rest of the season is at the subscriber rate of $21 per ticket.

If you are a student at any level, you can take advantage of our Student Rush rate. Student Rush tickets are available at the box office on the day of the performance and are a 50% savings!

We also have two Pay What You Can (PWYC) performances for each Mainstage production. On these dates, (which are always the first Saturday evening and third Saturday matinee of a production run) if you buy your tickets at the box office that day, you can name your own price! There’s no better deal in theatre!

We consider a group to be 10 or more patrons attending the same performance. If the group is school-related, Girl Scouts, or Boy Scouts, they qualify for our Educational Group Rate – a 63% savings!

Our ticket price structure for Mainstage shows is:

$27 Adult

$24 Student/Senior (60+)/Military

$21 Subscriber/Group (10+)

$13.50 Student Rush

$10 Educational Group (10+)

If you like what you see, bring your ticket stub back to see the show again at half price! Use it yourself, or pass it along to a friend who hasn’t seen the show. This is our Terrific Tickets deal and it’s a great way for friends and family to take advantage of the quality live theatre we have right here in the heart of downtown Waukesha.

Tickets are available at the box office Tuesday-Friday, from noon to 5 pm or 24/7 online! Call our box office at 262.547.0708 or visit us at www.waukeshacivictheatre.org for more information. We hope to see you soon at Waukesha’s cultural cornerstone – a hidden gem in the heart of downtown!

Thoughts From The Bench On Mockingbird

atticusThe last we saw of Atticus Finch, when the Oscar winning performance of Gregory Peck’s film followed the release of the novel, he was sitting in the corner of injured son Jem’s bedroom, the warm arms of his cardigan sweater wrapping and re-wrapping around the clinging figure of his daughter Scout, the three of them recovering from a painful experience of racism, hatred, and violence, and the often lonely cost of standing against it.

I have a feeling that many of us, both on the stage and in the audience, whether fans of the book or film or both, join Scout and her older self Jean Louise in waiting to see Atticus again.

The play strikes a chord for me as I had a very Atticus-like father, a dead ringer in both looks and mannerisms and as I grew into an adult and journalist, I had the opportunity to see lawyers and judges in action at the county courthouse in Virginia.  And just as I still get that experience today covering trials today in rural Wisconsin, I also have witnessed the conflicts of race and prejudice all too recently near us in Milwaukee and through the nation.

Like Scout at the start of the play we wait for Atticus to return from the courthouse.  Like Jean Louise at the end we look back through the window, and through the decades, wishing we could go back to him, to speak to him and finish the lessons. Lessons of putting ourselves in others shoes, and realizing that even as we rail against what isn’t right, we are not alone as others quietly do the uncomfortable business of protecting Mockingbirds be they a Tom Robinson or a Boo Radley.

I suspect those of us who were graced with a great father miss him; and those of us who didn’t miss and yearn for such an experience.

Fortunately Christopher Sergel’s play gives us that opportunity in an up-close and live setting not to be missed.  It’s been said that in some ways To Kill A Mockingbird is a love letter from novelist Harper Lee to her father.  Of the several Sergel versions of the play that exist, the one being performed at Waukesha Civic Theatre comes closest to depicting that moment, and lifetime of reaching out to Atticus.

It’s a safe bet you’ll feel him reaching back and holding you safe.

Written by Jim McClure, who plays Judge Taylor in To Kill A Mockingbird at the Waukesha Civic Theatre

The Hovick Family Timeline

c941eb8221c6da3b89e2583070d35b2aAugust 31, 1890 – Rose Evangeline Thompson was born

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 28, 1910 – Rose married Jack Olaf Hovick at age 19

d7d078f440e43af10dad73571fa4ecf0January 8, 1911 – Louise (Rose Louise Hovick) was born. Rose was 20 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4ecafd75d19d051293b0dd88e8c91929November 8, 1912 – June (Ellen June Hovick) was born (some sources say her name was Ellen Evangeline Hovick). Rose was 22 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

mqdefaultJanuary 28, 1954 – Rose died at age 63

 

 

 

 

 

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

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April 26, 1970 – Louise died at age 59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 28, 1998 – April Kent died

 

June-Havoc2March 28, 2010 – June died at age 97

Director’s Note & MAD Corner: Gypsy

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!

Cramer John 2006John Cramer

Director / Choreographer

Managing Artistic Director

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

Director