Just after I finished college, my aunt and uncle paid for a trip to New York as a present. They had arrived earlier than I did, and when I landed, they told me they had bought show tickets for that evening but didn’t tell me what show. I had a list of a half dozen shows I REALLY wanted to see, and so I was very excited when I met up with them. They informed me that they had gotten tickets to see The Drowsy Chaperone, and I had a hard time concealing my disappointment. (I must have mentioned the show to them at some point.) I had been interested in the show, but it was maybe 7th on my list of 6 shows I wanted to see on that trip. But it was too late, and it was a gift. So we went to the show, and it was an utter delight from start to finish. Great characters, catchy songs, tongue in cheek humor. It was a total joy. A truly PLEASANT SURPRISE and one of the highlights of that trip.
Fast forward this past fall. I get an email from John Cramer asking if I’d be interested in directing the production at Civic. I was under the assumption that a director was already in place, so it was a very PLEASANT SURPRISE to have been given this opportunity.
This cast has been a joy to work with. The Civic has been very welcoming to me and I have enjoyed this experience immensely. When I direct, I tend to be on my feet a lot, playing around right along with the actors. I am fairly certain they’ve had as much fun as I have putting this show together, and today’s performance is proof of that. If you have never seen the show before, I hope you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was when I first experienced it.
Over the years, many people have asked me how my odd sense of humor came to be. Of course, some of the credit/blame falls on my parents, but so much of it came from another source. On so many weekends, my sister and I would get our parents to take us to Blockbuster Video to rent VHS tapes of the Marx Brothers. Oh, the Marx Brothers… they only made sense when absolutely necessary, but you still could find layers in their humor. From the wit and verbal jabs of Groucho to the wisecracking foolishness of Chico and the sweet pantomime of Harpo, these brothers helped form my humor from a very early age.
In December of 2014, I went to the Alchemist Theatre to see a brand new, five-person show by my old friend Jason Powell. I hadn’t read anything in advance about this Elfish Reasons show, so I didn’t know what the show was about. Almost immediately, a performer came on stage dressed as a Christmas elf Groucho Marx! Then we got to see Jason himself as Chico! And look – Harpo too! I feel as if I owe an apology to anyone else that was in the theatre that night. I have never been a subtle laugher, and I worry I may have ruptured an eardrum or two with my uncontrollable guffaws.
This year, Christmas came early and I was tasked with bringing the new expanded version of this wonderful musical to the stage at Waukesha Civic Theatre. This has been a monumental task (as I’ve directed only one musical, and never a show with more than 14 people) but also a monumental joy. Working with this cast and this crew to bring purely silly holiday frivolity to the stage is a privilege I may never be able to match.
This is a sweet show. It is about caring and joy and love beyond the jokes and jibes. It is also about sitting back in a theatre and laughing with a whole room full of people. There are no great lessons from a ghost of Christmas future, but this show offers a chance to laugh and smile with those around you and those you love. For me, that is the true meaning of Christmas.
Thank you for coming, enjoy the show, and hail, hail Fredonia!
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 hidden gem by local playwright/composer Jason Powell: For Purely Elfish Reasons, a holiday show with great characters and a story line that gives a respectful (and hilarious) nod to the Marx Brothers.
Our Spotlight On The Future Campaign is coming to a close. This major gift campaign has 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 47% 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 (join us for our December movie, How The Grinch Stole Christmas), a new sound board for the Mainstage, new sound and lighting equipment for the Studio Theatre and Rehearsal Hall, and our new LED marquees and window displays. We still need your help. If you haven’t given to the Spotlight On The Future campaign yet, please consider a year end gift! If you already have given, thank you, and please consider an additional gift to help us reach our goal.
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! Happy Holidays!
Managing Artistic Director
The Waukesha Civic Theatre is a hidden gem right here in historic downtown! I’d like to welcome you to For Purely Elfish Reasons, the third Mainstage show of our historic 60th season. We are thrilled to present this new gem, by local playwright Jason Powell! Opportunities like this are one of the things that make WCT’s quality, live entertainment not just another night at the theatre. With such a wonderful, professional venue for our local talent, I’m honored to be a member of the Board. Yet, surprisingly, there are still some people who don’t know of this entertainment gem centered right here on Main Street! Please spread the word about our very own cultural cornerstone!
Between the Mainstage, Random Acts, A.C.T., Friday Night Live, Special Events, and our community partnerships with ACAP, the STEM Academy, Waukesha Reads, and others, we have a plethora of different entertainment options running year-round! Our special events – such as Festival Of Fools in April – provide entertaining and fun ways to support the theatre. We also have outreach programs like anti-bullying workshops, the Civic Broadway Singers, the Civic Senior Players, and many more! Our theatre arts education program offers classes at WCT and extends beyond our doors to teach kids in local schools. Likewise, we partner with Carroll University and UW-Waukesha for students of all majors to intern in our office or with our classes.
That’s right, we’re not just for actors! Whether you can pound a hammer, program a computer, alphabetize a file cabinet, or perform an aria, there are plenty of ways to get involved almost every day of every week. So spread the word!
You are also invited to join the celebration of Waukesha Civic Theatre’s proud achievement of providing challenging, enriching, and entertaining opportunities for 60 HISTORIC SEASONS. Having reached this elite DIAMOND status, we ask you to help us look to the future with your support. Without the generous support from our guests, we could not continue to provide these great services to the Waukesha County community and beyond. Please consider a donation today. Thank you!
I look forward to seeing you, and let me know what you think!
Board Of Directors
For Purely Elfish Reasons has a kind of strange pedigree, as I keep on adapting it for different audiences and venues. It was originally written for an audience of very little children, commissioned by a company that then dissolved before they could produce it. I rewrote the show, adding brand new songs, years later for a six-person ensemble in Bay View’s Alchemist Theatre. (And those six people included the director, stage manager and accompanist, all of whom also played characters in the show and two of whom were me.) This third iteration was customized once again to fit the specifications of a big holiday show at Waukesha Civic Theatre, with a much larger list of characters and twice as many new original songs. I’m very grateful to WCT for allowing this now full-length original musical to continue its slow-but-steady evolutionary path.
Through all of the show’s permutations, the premise has remained consistent. I love the holidays and I love the Marx Brothers. Of course I love other things too, but the comedy of Groucho, Harpo and Chico has something else in common with Christmastime in my brain: They are things that I enjoyed a lot when I was a child AND which I still enjoy today. The holidays to me are all about family – both young and old. So when I found myself in the position of writing a Christmas comedy, it made sense to me to look to the comedians whose humor appealed to me as a young child and still appeals to me as an adult.
When I watch old Marx Brothers movies, I’m in awe of how timeless the material seems. Granted, some of the topical references sail right past my head, I’ll admit that. But their sense of timing, their playful use of language, the absurdity, the physical comedy … those things haven’t aged. It all feels very fresh to me…it’s “classic,” in the best sense of the word.
The idea of recasting the Marx personae as Christmas elves seemed a natural fit, to my mind. I learned after I wrote the show that one of the last projects that Chico, Groucho and Harpo worked on together was a sitcom pilot in which they all portrayed heavenly angels (complete with halos that looked like giant bagels, which Harpo ends up snacking on just a few minutes into the story). So I guess my impulse to cast them as characters from a Christmas song wasn’t too out of the box. It’s just that instead of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” I went with something more out of “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
And from that impulse came For Purely Elfish Reasons, a show in which every single character is an elf who either works in Santa’s workshop or used to…including the Marx stand-ins Jules, Dolly and Lonnie (you can look up the brothers’ real names if you’re curious about those source of those handles). That was the other thing that appealed to me about the premise…I’ve seen shows that featured Christmas elves among the cast before, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one in which EVERY single character had pointy ears. Maybe it’s the Leonard Nimoy fan in me.
In combining the Marx Bros. with the North Pole, my “Christmas wish” is that Elfish has something for everybody. Certainly if you’re a fan of movies like Duck Soup and Night at the Opera, you’ll find some nods and winks, and some redux versions of a few classic sequences to make you smile. But ideally, I very much hope the show also taps into something timeless and classic, so that even if you’re completely unfamiliar with those old films, you’ll still find yourself tickled by the same things that bring a grin to my own lips…Not just the gags and punchlines and slapstick, but also that ineffable holiday spirit, that uniquely Christmas-y warmth that always gives me “comfort and joy” at this time of year.
Please enjoy the show!
There’s no business like show business
Like no business I know
Everything about it is appealing
Everything the traffic will allow
Nowhere can you get that happy feeling
When you are stealing that extra bow
Welcome to the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Production of Annie Get Your Gun and our historic 59th season. Irving Berlin couldn’t have said it any better. Community theatre can take us to a place like no other. Since joining WCT first as a performer and now also as a Board Director, I relish in the opportunity to share this wonderful theatre and its efforts with you. The commitment of our staff, board, performers, volunteers, and crews to put on quality productions is beyond compare. I am honored to be a part of it. But we wouldn’t be able to do what we do if we didn’t have you, the patrons, sitting in these seats and supporting us. For your attendance, and your support, I am truly grateful.
Since its debut in 1946, Annie Get Your Gun has masterfully maintained its popularity. With hits like “You Can’t Get a Man With A Gun” and “Anything You Can Do,” you are sure to leave the show smiling and humming a tune. And if you are so inclined, please help spread the word and encourage others to attend! We rely on your word of mouth and your help—you are our best marketing tool! Take advantage of the many opportunities available to you to support our theatre, including donations, and volunteering! Enjoy this amazing production!
1831 – Sitting Bull is born (estimate) Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake, in Jumping Badger, Dakota Territory.
1846 – William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) is born in Le Claire, Iowa Territory, 2/26/1846.
1847 – Francis E. Butler is born in County Longford, Ireland, 1/30/1847.
1860 – Gordon William Lillie (Pawnee Bill) is born in Bloomington, IL 2/14/1860.
1860 – Phoebe Ann Mosey (Annie Oakley) is born near Woodland, Ohio, 8/13/1860, the sixth of nine children.
1865 – Annie’s father dies.
1870 – Frank marries Henrietta Saunders.
1875 – Annie and Frank meet. She is 15 and he is 28.
1876 – Annie (age 16) and Frank (age 29) are married on August 23rd. Sitting Bull defeats Custer at Little Big Horn (age 45). Frank divorces Henrietta (though the divorce may not have been final until after Annie and Frank were married).
1883 – Buffalo Bill creates his Wild West Show (age 37). Pawnee Bill works for him (age 23).
1884 – Annie (age 24) and Sitting Bull (age 53) meet, and he “ceremonially” adopts her. He gives her the nicknames “Little Sure Shot” and “Watanya Cecilia.”
1885 – Annie, Frank, and Sitting Bull join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. (Annie is 25, Frank is 38, Sitting Bull is 54, and Buffalo Bill is 39). Sitting Bull leaves the show after four months.
1887 – Buffalo Bill begins touring Europe (eight different tours between 1887 and 1906). Annie and Frank leave the show.
1888 – Pawnee Bill (age 28) creates his Wild West Show.
1889 – Annie and Frank rejoin Buffalo Bill’s show.
1890 – Sitting Bull dies (age 59).
1901 – Annie (age 41) and Frank (age 54) leave Buffalo Bill’s show.
1908 – Buffalo Bill (age 62) and Pawnee Bill (age 48) combine their shows.
1917 – Buffalo Bill dies (age 71), 1/10/1917.
1926 – Annie dies (age 66), and Frank dies 18 days later (age 79), 11/3 and 11/21/1926.
1942 – Pawnee Bill dies (age 82) 2/3/1942.
Come see this amazing and inspirational story come to life on the WCT stage! Based on the true story of Annie Oakley, Frank Butler, Colonel William F. Cody, Sitting Bull, and Major Gordon W. Lillie, and featuring one of the best musical scores ever written by one of the greatest American composers, it truly is a masterpiece. Call our box office (262-547-0708) or get your tickets here: http://waukeshacivictheatre.org/59thSeason/AnnieGetYourGun.html
The 2014-2015 season marks Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 58th year providing great cultural entertainment and educational programming designed to enrich the life and soul of our community. This season alone, WCT will be offering more than 70 different artistic offerings held throughout the year!
Kicking off this exciting season is The Sound Of Music, a classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. This beloved performance tells the triumphant love story of widower Georg Von Trapp and governess Maria at the dawn of World War II. Get ready to enjoy such memorable songs as “Edelweiss” and “My Favorite Things.”
Our historic 58th season wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of our patrons, donors, and sponsors. Your support of WCT is greatly appreciated!
To help us continue the vital role we play in the community, WCT recently kicked off a major gifts campaign called “Spotlight on the Future.” Our goal is to raise $750,000 to help us upgrade portions of our facility to make the theatre experience the best it can be for years to come. For more details, check out the information found in Footlights, the lobby, or your mailbox very soon. Your contribution will be put to great use on capital improvements where everyone can enjoy the benefits.
President, Board of Directors