Blog Archives

MAD Corner: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

WCT is both proud and delighted to present the area premier of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame! Inspired by and using some of the music from the Disney cartoon, this incredible new musical brings Victor Hugo’s amazing story of Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Pheobus, and Frollo to life on stage, working with some of the darker themes of Hugo’s novel.  Guided by Mark E. Schuster, one of WCT’s premier directors, and featuring a lush and beautiful score played by a full orchestra and sung by 40 powerful voices, I am confident that our production will astound everyone who sees it.

I would like to thank everyone that supports WCT!  We wouldn’t be here without you. All of our volunteers help us out in any number of ways by acting, ushering, serving on the board of directors, providing maintenance or office support, or working on sets, costumes, props. Our patrons come to WCT see quality live entertainment, the fruits of our volunteers’ labor. Our donors help keep us financially sound by their gifts to the Annual Operating Fund, the Endowment Fund, or by including us in their planned giving.

The generosity of the Waukesha community astounds me, and I truly appreciate all the time, talent, and money that you give to WCT.

One way, and arguably the best way, to support WCT is to spread the word about Waukesha’s best kept secret.  It always amazes me when I meet someone in Waukesha who has no idea what a fantastic organization we have right here in the heart of the community.  Tell people about what we do and all we offer.

Enrich. Challenge. Entertain. That says it all, so keep watching, keep participating with, and keep supporting this cultural cornerstone. We couldn’t do it without you.

 

 

John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

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Cramer’s Corner: A Regional Premier!

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 ushercoordinator@waukeshacivictheatre.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
The Underpants 

   The Giver
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.
A.C.T. Live!
My Funny Valentine
Darn Yankees
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
Dirty Dancing
The African Queen
Apollo 13
Rear Window
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
Jack Pachuta
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!

 

John Cramer
Managing Artistic Director

Director’s Note: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

Thank you for joining us.

I’ve been a lover of the theatre for more than three quarters of my almost 50 years here on Earth. At a young age, I was enthralled by the storytelling and the magic that happened on stage. I was also raised Catholic, and I think that a big part of my love for the theatre came from my time spent in church – the music, the pageantry, the storytelling, the grand design of the space and even the smells took me to another world. Theatre does the same thing. This show is an amazing combination of the two for me!

The classic story by Victor Hugo and this version made popular by the Disney animated motion picture asks us to consider the idea – What makes a monster and what makes a man? It raises many questions – is the lonely, deformed hunchback the monster or is it the pious, God-loving Archdeacon? Which one is truly ugly on the inside? Does the outside matter? Can we see beyond physical deformity to the person beneath the surface?

Ultimately, we are all human.

Frollo makes it clear early on that he despises all Gypsies. His hatred for them seems to drive his every move. Does any group of people deserve to be hated simply because of who they are or where they come from? Can a race justifiably be universally condemned? Doesn’t everyone deserve to be treated equally and fairly? Esmeralda challenges Frollo’s thoughts and awakens something in the Archdeacon that he’s never faced before. Opening ourselves up to one person could literally change our lives. This show will hopefully make us all think about “what side” we’d rather be on – the judge or the judged, the lover or the loved, the monster or the man. If theatre can entertain us AND make us think, then I think it is most effective.

I hope you enjoy the fruits of the labor of a truly incredible group of people. I am so very lucky to have the chance to work with these amazing performers, musicians and design team. They are all top notch and I thank them for sharing in this vision. I do what I do to work with folks like you!

May you be filled with more of Heaven’s Light and less Hellfire. Celebrate the good in your life. Accept and encourage. Take a chance. Stand up for what you believe. Love.

Enjoy the show!

 

Mark E. Schuster

Director

Cramer’s Corner: Spring Is In The Air!

As the days get longer and the temperature gets warmer, the smile that’s already on your face can just keep growing when you join us for our April offerings! 

Our next ACAP PlayMakers show, Snow White And The Magnificent Seven, opens tomorrow and has seven performances through Sunday afternoon.

Our next PIX Flix movie of the season will be
E.T. – The Extraterrestrial on April 10 at 6:30 pm.  The cast of the movie includes Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, and more.  All tickets are $5.00, and we have concessions available, including soda, water, beer, wine, cookies, beef sticks, and … wait for it … POPCORN!    

If you would like to help us select the movies we present in our PIX Flix movie series next season, click
here to complete our survey.

Our next A.C.T. production is
Broadway Bound on Saturday, April 15, at 10:00 am.  

We open our next Mainstage show, 
The Drowsy Chaperone, April 28 and continues through May 14.  The show has three Pay What You Can performances on April 29 at 7:30 pm, May 7 at 7:30 pm, and May 13 at 2:00 pm.

Our current featured artist in the Waukesha State Bank Art Gallery in our lobby through April 9 is a group of students from Waukesha South High School.  They were challenged to create art inspired by 33 Variations in only 33 days, and it is amazing!  Our next artist will be Tom Buchs.

If you are looking for a theatre experience outside of Wisconsin, consider joining us for our
NYC Theatre Adventure October 12-15, 2017, or for our trip to Chicago to see Hamilton January 3, 2018.  Contact John Cramer by email or phone (262-547-4911 ext. 13) if you would like more information about either trip.

Our 60th Season is on sale now.  Subscription packages for the Mainstage shows, and individual tickets for everything can be purchased now.  Please join us for the second half of our current great season of entertainment!

Registration is open for our
A.C.T. spring and summer sessions, including our summer ACT production The Lion King JR.  

Just in case you missed it last month, our 61st season will include:

Sex Please We’re Sixty 

(directed by Peter Kao)
        The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
            (an area premier directed by Mark E. Schuster!)
                The House Without A Christmas Tree
(an original adaptation by our own Doug Jarecki directed by moi)
                        The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged)
(directed by Dustin J. Martin)
                                Clue: The Musical
(directed by Ken Williams)
                                        Wait Until Dark
(directed by Kelly Goeller)
                                                Father Knows Best
(directed by Rhonda Schmidt)

Season Tickets will go on sale in May 2017.


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 gift to our 
Spotlight On The Future Capital Campaign
* 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


Happy Easter!  I’ll see you at the Theatre!

John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

jcramer@waukeshacivictheatre.org

262-547-4911 ext. 13

Cramer’s Corner: We Are Marching Along With Another Great Month Of Entertainment!

Everyone marches to the beat of a different drummer but, lucky for you, we have something for everyone at WCT during the month of March.

We open our next Mainstage show, 33 Variations, next week.  This innovative and inspiring show focuses on a modern music scholar facing the end of her life as she studies the mysteries of Beethoven and the 33 variations of a simple melody he composed while facing the end of his.  The show runs March 10-26 with two Pay What You Can performances on March 11 at 7:30 pm and March 25 at 2:00 pm.  We will also have two talk backs with ALS specialists joining the cast and crew immediately after the performances on March 12 at 2:00 pm and March 19 at 2:00 pm.  And we will be selling raffle tickets for several amazing items including the always popular Discount Liquor Basket.

 

We have two auditions coming up this month.  Barefoot In The Park auditions will be held on Monday, March 13, and Tuesday, March 14, starting at 6:30 pm both nights. Kelly Goeller is directing. And Miscast auditions will be held on March 27 starting at 6:30 pm.  Meghan Hopper is directing.

 

Our next PIX Flix movie of the season will be Mr. Holland’s Opus on March 20 at 6:30 pm.  The cast of the movie includes Richard Dreyfuss, Glenne Headley, Jay Thomas, Olympia Dukakis, William H. Macy, Alicia Witt, and more.  All tickets are $5.00, and we have concessions available, including soda, water, beer, wine, cookies, beef sticks, and … wait for it … POPCORN!

 

Our spring fundraiser gala, Festival Of Fools, will be held at Westmoor Country Club on Saturday, April 1st.  We are thrilled to announce that our King And Queen of the festival will be Joel and Rebecca Kleefisch, and our emcee will be Vince Vitrano.  This will be an event you don’t want to miss, so get your tickets NOW!

 

 

Our current featured artist in the Waukesha State Bank Art Gallery in our lobby is a group of students from Waukesha South High School.  They were challenged to create art inspired by 33 Variations in only 33 days, and it is amazing!

 

Our 60th Season is on sale now.  Subscription packages for the Mainstage shows, and individual tickets for everything can be purchased now.  Please join us for the second half of our current great season of entertainment!

 

Registration is open for our A.C.T. spring and summer sessions, including our summer ACT production Disney’s The Lion King JR.

 

Just in case you missed it last month, our 61st season will include:

Sex Please We’re Sixty (directed by Peter Kao)

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (an area premier directed by Mark E. Schuster!)

The House Without A Christmas Tree (an original adaptation by our own Doug Jarecki directed by moi)

The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged) (directed by Dustin J. Martin)

Clue: The Musical (directed by Ken Williams)

Wait Until Dark (directed by Kelly Goeller)

Father Knows Best (directed by Rhonda Schmidt)

Amazing, right?  Season Tickets will go on sale in May 2017.

 

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 gift to our Spotlight On The Future Capital Campaign

* 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

On a personal note – my daughter, Elena Cramer, will be playing Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point March 3-5 and 9-11.  My son, Jude Cramer, will be playing Gomez Addams in The Addams Family at Waukesha South High School March 9-11.
I’ll see you at the theatre!

Cramer John 2006John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

jcramer@waukeshacivictheatre.org

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

Les Miserables — Frequently Asked Questions

LesMiserables_SQ_CLRThe penultimate show of WCT’s 58th season is the celebrated and beloved musical Les Misérables from the novel by Victor Hugo. Adapted for the stage in 1985 and turned into a major motion film in 2012, Les Mis is one of the most well-known musicals of the last thirty years. WCT’s production opens May 1st, and tickets are going fast! Les Mis is a decades-spanning, history-entwining show with many plots and even more characters. Below, we’ve put together a few Frequently Asked Questions. We’ll be sharing some details of the plot, but no big spoilers. (You’ll have to come see the show for those!)

What is Les Misérables about?

Les Misérables (or Les Mis for short) follows the story of the convict Jean Valjean. It begins in 1815 as Valjean leaves prison after serving a nineteen-year sentence for stealing bread. Finding work or shelter proves difficult for the parolee, who must present his yellow ticket-of-leave everywhere he goes. His circumstances–and his life–change forever when he meets a kind priest. The story checks in on Valjean’s life twice more, first in 1823 after Valjean has found success, and again in 1832 during an uprising in Paris. Beyond this one man’s story, the play also deals with themes like compassion, forgiveness, justice and injustice, and class.

Is Les Misérables based on a book?

Yes! The novel Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo, was first published in France in 1862 and is generally considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. It was translated into English and other languages immediately, and though it was not a critical success, it was commercially very popular and remains widely available to this day. At nearly 1,500 pages, it’s also one of the longest novels ever written.

When was it adapted into a musical?

The musical’s official website boasts that Les Mis is the longest running musical in the world. The earliest version of the play premiered in France in 1980, but it didn’t find critical and commercial success until five years later, when it was adapted and translated into English for its West End premiere. A year and a half later, it made its way to Broadway, where it was nominated for twelve Tony Awards. It went on to win eight, including Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Musical. If you would like to read more, the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia has an interesting article about the history of the musical here.

How do you say Enjolras?

Though he is the leader of the Friends of the ABC revolutionaries and sings lead in one of the musical’s most famous songs, “Do You Hear The People Sing?”, Enjolras’ name is never spoken aloud in Les Mis. This has led to some debate about just how his name is pronounced. Follow this link for a video featuring the correct pronunciation.

If this play takes place in France, why do they have British accents?

One of the recurring themes in Les Mis is class conflict. From poor convicts to wealthy business owners to politically-minded students to Paris street urchins, much of nineteenth-century France’s social strata is represented in the play. One of the tricks writers use to establish a character’s place in a social hierarchy is his or her accent. Most English-speaking audiences wouldn’t be able to recognize different French dialects, but we can distinguish different British dialects by class. We know, for example, that if we hear a character speaking with a Cockney accent, he is likely a poor, lower-class individual, while another character with a crisp accent and large vocabulary is probably wealthy and well-educated. These cues help the audience to know something about a character even when she has only spoken a few words.

Is Les Misérables about the French Revolution?

Nope! In fact, the French Revolution ended more than a decade before Les Misérables even begins. The uprising in the play’s second act is the June Rebellion, a relatively minor revolt that Victor Hugo witnessed as a young writer in Paris. If you’d like to learn more, there is an interesting article here. It was written around the time the 2012 film was released, and it does contain a few spoilers.

Who are the Friends of the ABC and why are they called that?

The Friends of the ABC are a fictional group of revolutionary students, including Marius Pontmercy. They play a significant role in the musical’s third section, agitating for social reform and eventually raising arms in the June Rebellion. Their headquarters is the ABC Café, where they drink and plan and talk of revolution. In French, ABC is a pun. Its French pronunciation (ah-bay-say) is similar to the word abaissés, meaning abased or lowly.

What songs will I know?

Les Misérables features a number of well-known songs, including “I Dreamed A Dream” (recently made popular again by singer Susan Boyle), “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” “On My Own,” and “Do You Hear The People Sing?” along with many others. The music was written by Claude-Michel Schönberg with lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel (translated to English by Herbert Kretzmer.)

How can I learn more?

There are plenty of resources out there for people interested in learning more about Les Misérables. The official website has some interesting facts and figures. Before the national tour came to Birmingham, Alabama, this blog put together 25 interesting things to know about the show. There is a video here with more Frequently Asked Questions which incorporates music from several adaptations of Les Mis. It’s worth a watch if you have few minutes! If you have more than a few minutes, you could always read the book (or the SparkNotes if you’re in a hurry.) Our recommendation, of course, is to get your tickets now for WCT’s production!

I can’t wait! How do I get tickets?

As always, you can purchase tickets through our website, or you can call our box office (262) 547-0708 during our regular hours, 12-5 Tuesday through Friday. We are also open during Waukesha Farmer’s Markets and two hours before any show. Tickets are going fast, so don’t delay!

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: http://waukeshacivictheatre.org/57thSeason/NoisesOff.html

See you at the Theatre!