July of 2018 marks the beginning of Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 62nd season. WCT is proud to be part of an elite group: according to the American Association of Community Theatres, of the roughly 7,000 community theatres in the United States, only about 100 can claim 60 years of continuous operation. Since the theatre opened in 1957, WCT has produced or presented more than 650 shows, over 14,000 people have volunteered, 450,000 audience members have been entertained, and more than 15,000 students have been served.
We are thrilled to announce our 62nd Mainstage Season:
Comedy | September 14 – 30, 2018 Snowed in at their wealthy patron’s Westchester estate, a creative team reunites to launch a new show – stalked by the “Stage Door Slasher,” who haunted their last Broadway flop. (NOT a musical. YES a comedy!)
Directed By Carol Dolphin
Set during the miners’ strike of 1984-85, this musical follows Billy as he trades in boxing gloves for ballet shoes and develops the courage to be uniquely himself. This show contains strong language – discretion advised.
Directed By Mark E. Schuster
Holiday Variety Show | November 30 – December 16, 2018 Celebrate with a cast of all ages acting, singing, and dancing through classic seasonal songs and stories. This WCT family tradition is a must-see part of the holiday season.
Directed By John Cramer & Kelly Goeller
Comedy | February 8 – 24, 2019 Adapted by Steve Martin; this comedy is set in Germany, 1910. As events unfold, Theo worries about scandal and repercussions at his job as a government clerk. Louise allows herself to revel in newfound fame, reveling in the possibilities. They explore scandal, fame, and gender roles through intricate wordplay.
Directed By Phil Stepanski
Directed By James Padovano
Drama | May 3 – 19, 2019 Jonas lives in a utopia with no pain, no fear – and no choice. Jonas is assigned to be the Receiver of his community’s memories and learns that life does not have to be so black and white. Based on the Newberry Award winning novel by Lois Lowry.
Directed By Katie Lynne Krueger
Comedy | June 7 – 23, 2019 Barnaby Folcey is murdered at a family gathering where he had the motive to murder everyone, but no one had reason to want him dead. Everything seems to go wrong in this absurd comedy – there are secret passages, poison in the sherry, and the police take forever to arrive, so the eclectic group tries to unmask the murderer themselves.
Directed By David Kaye
Subscription Packages Go On Sale May 1, 2018 | Individual Mainstage Tickets Go On Sale July 1, 2018
See you at the Theatre!
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!
What is your favorite play?
Julie Rowley (Maria): Favorite Musical that I’ve been in: Sweet Charity, Favorite Play that I’ve been in: Man Who Came to Dinner, Favorite Play I’ve been to: Six Degrees of Separation.
Joan End (Julia): Les Miserables. Have seen it at least 7 times. Love the story and the music. Not crazy about the movie. Favorite play I saw this year to date- Master Class at the Chamber Theatre. Angela Iannone portrayed Maria Callas. Outstanding!
Tanya Tranberg (Diana): The Glass Menagerie
Scott Fudali (Bellhop): My favorite play is actually Lend Me A Tenor. This makes the 4th time I have been involved in a production of it. My favorite type of shows to work on are typically mysteries/who done it and farces. I believe if I’m going to be involved in a production I want to have as much fun doing it as I can.
Phil Stepanski (Max): Little Shop of Horrors
Brian D. Zelinski (Director): Whatever one I happen to be working on at that time. Truly can’t say I have a favorite, if someone put a gun to my head and I had to answer I guess I would then say Twelve Angry Men. But only if it was a big gun and I saw that it was indeed loaded.
What is your favorite food?
Phil Stepanski (Max): Barbecued Ribs.
Scott Fudali (Bellhop): Just about anything Italian is good with me.
Julie Rowley (Maria): Italian of course! Pumpkin Ravioli with a lobster cream sauce – YUM! I love all types of foods from Ethiopian to Thai to Italian to Mexican to Hungarian to German to Norwegian.
Brian D. Zelinski (Director): Whatever food I happen to be….no, no, no, sorry. “Prime Rib” which I am not allowed to eat much anymore according to my doctor. I don’t care for my doctor much these days !
Joan End (Julia): Anything chocolate!
Tanya Tranberg (Diana): Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
What is your favorite color?
Joan End (Julia): Yellow
Scott Fudali (Bellhop): Maroon
Brian D. Zelinski (Director): Black with Red and white trim.
Phil Stepanski (Max): Green
Tanya Tranberg (Diana): Purple
Julie Rowley (Maria): Royal Blue with Red a hot second.
What other WCT productions have you been involved with?
Allison Chicorel (Maggie): My first time performing at WCT was during High School Musical in 2007. Since then I’ve been seen on the WCT stage in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Bye Bye Birdie, 42nd Street, The Tavern, An Inspector Calls, Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Perfect Wedding. I’ve also appeared in the WCT Valentine’s Day Show in 2013 and 2014, as well as two 1950s themed variety shows, that were written by Lend Me A Tenor cast mate, Tony Davis, and performed at WCT.
Scott Fudali (Bellhop): At WCT, I have only been in Don’t Dress for Dinner. Backstage activities at WCT have included numerous lighting designs and sound designs for a number of shows since my first lighting design for Music Man back in 2006.
Phil Stepanski (Max): Smoke on the Mountain – Stanley, The Tavern – Willum, Miss Saigon – Chris, Noises Off – Garry
Joan End (Julia): Cemetery Club– Lucille (very favorite role of mine to date.) directed by Brian Zelinski, Tiny Miracle with a Fiberoptic Unicorn– Grandma Skolowski directed by Brian Zelinski
What is your favorite joke, scene, or moment from Lend Me A Tenor?
Scott Fudali (Bellhop): There are so many hysterical moments in this show, but my two favorites are the door slammings between Max/Maggie/Bellhop as the Bellhop is trying to put the luggage away in Act I and Maggie is hiding in the closet and later in Act I when Julia walks in and asks Saunders how she looks. He looks at her, pauses and answers “Like the Chrysler Building.”
Julie Rowley (Maria): The comfort of the relationship between Tito and Maria. It appears at first glance to be irreconcilable, but they love and depend on each other and need each other. My favorite scene is when they have fought and Tito approached Maria on the bed and shares a tender moment, which is immediately overtaken by Maria’s jealousy, at which time she throws a fit. It’s so irrational and yet so relatable. I think at times I wish I was as boisterous as Maria to just get it all out there on the table and be able to know this person will be there for you after you let yourself go.
Tanya Tranberg (Diana): I love Tito and Mario’s relationship.
Phil Stepanski (Max): There are so many great moments. My favorites to act in are when Max gets a singing lesson from Tito. And of course the curtain call. I think the Tito and Maria scenes are fantastic as well.
Allison Chicorel (Maggie): I have a lot of favorite lines that come to mind but listing any of them would ruin it for anyone who might read this and then see the show! But I really love the scenes with Max (played by Phil Stepanski) and Saunders (played by ) Their one-on-one scenes have had me cracking up since day one of rehearsals. They both fit the personalities and characteristics of their characters SO perfectly. They play off each other really well and it makes for hilarious entertainment during their scenes.
Joan End (Julia): I love watching Maria and Tito fight!
Why should everyone come to see this production of Lend Me A Tenor?
Tanya Tranberg (Diana): We have a high energy, talented cast. It will be a good laugh.
Julie Rowley (Maria): To escape into the world of farce with mistaken identities, unrequited love, madness and a happy ending. More of what we need today J. Perhaps you’ll leave the theatre with more than a laugh or two under your belt as well. Very funny show and very talented cast.
Phil Stepanski (Max): The cast is superb. The script is hilarious. When you put those two things together the end result is a fantastic evening at the theater full of non-stop laughs.
Joan End (Julia): This show is a delightful farce that will entertain and fill the audience with a laughter! Just fun!
Allison Chicorel (Maggie): Because it’s a farce! It’s so light-hearted and goofy!
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!