Blog Archives

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

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:

See you at the Theatre!