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PIX Flix Spotlight on the Board: The Greatest Showman

There’s a particular joy in watching an original musical that was written for the silver screen. The Greatest Showman is a dazzling cinematic experience that doesn’t disappoint. Don’t miss your chance to see this larger than life musical on the PIX screen.

The Greatest Showman is inspired by the life of PT Barnum, portrayed by Hugh Jackman with an effervescent energy that drives the film. This Father of Show Biz charismatically and tirelessly works to create the greatest show on earth. True to the spirit of Barnum himself, The Greatest Showman glosses over the grittier details of Barnum’s real-life story and instead paints the tale of an American dreamer, full of hope and imagination, who pulls himself up by the bootstraps to “dream with his eyes wide open.”

Barnum assembles an ensemble of misfits who live in society’s shadows and offers them that which their lives woefully lack: respect, acceptance, love. Where the rest of the world sees “freaks,” Barnum sees human beings who are “extraordinary, unique, [and] beautiful.” Who among us hasn’t felt out of place, bullied, or shunned for our imperfections? As Barnum and The Greatest Showman create a safe space for these misfits — and for us — where uniqueness is celebrated instead of mocked, we are reminded that our differences are a marvelous gift.

Despite Barnum’s abundant optimism and relentless drive, The Greatest Showman is not void of strife. Touching love stories examine classism, racism, adultery, and the very deep wounds that can result from gossip and bullying. Through tragedy, Barnum learns how to refocus on the most important things in life, the core beneath the intoxicating razzle dazzle. Fame, money, and applause are fleeting. Living a life full of love? That is truly the greatest show.

A star-studded cast (Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya) is equally matched with stunning costumes and set, striking cinematography, and innovative choreography. This feel-good film opens with a literal bang, and the high-paced energy captures your attention and heart for the full hour and forty-five minutes.

As a musical, it has both songs and straight dialogue. The score is integral to the heart of the film, intertwining musical theater elements into dialogue scenes, such as characters nailing fliers to walls becoming part of the score’s percussion. The nine original songs by Oscar and Tony award-winning Pasek and Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, Smash) will leave you wanting to hear them over and over again.

The unique format of an original movie musical allows for creative choreography to be woven into both songs and dialogue. Particularly impressive moments include a bird’s-eye view shot that catches a trapeze artist’s singing while she soars, and a barroom business deal incorporating handiwork with shot glasses into the dancing.

Like Barnum’s circus, The Greatest Showman is “a celebration of humanity.” It is one of those rare gems that is tailored for everyone, especially those who have ever felt like they don’t quite fit in. Perfect for a date night, family night, or even a lonely misfit in search of inspiration and hope.

Parents will enjoy talking with their children about myriad themes, such as bullying; ethical showmanship; and how to find hope and the strength to persevere when all seems lost.

Don’t miss your opportunity to run off and join the circus for a couple hours while you’re swept away into this fanciful world of spectacle, hope, and love.

 

 

Scott Fudali

Board of Directors

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MAD Corner: Thoroughly Modern Millie

WCT is thrilled to bring Thoroughly Modern Millie to the heart of Waukesha, brought to life by incredible production staff and a robust and talented cast and crew. Millie premiered on Broadway in 2002, receiving multiple Tony Awards and Drama Desk Awards, and ran for two years and over nine hundred performances, and since has been produced around the world.
Set in the 1920’s, Millie brings to the stage flashes of color in bold, swishy costumes, toe-tapping song and dance numbers, and much like the other shows of this genre, takes a tongue-in-cheek nudge at the political incorrectness of its time. This is not to say that we unabashedly jumped into the cultural references of this show, which can go over the line. WCT worked diligently to cast actors of Chinese descent in the roles of Bun Foo and Ching Ho, and when we were not able to fill these roles authentically, we worked with a culture and dialect coach through our diversity council to proceed in the most sensitive and respectfully authentic way possible. That said, we would like our community and audience to know that we are continuing to work toward a more balanced and diverse representation on our PIX stage.
I would like to thank everyone that supports Waukesha Civic Theatre! We wouldn’t be here without you. The volunteers are the heart of this theatre, contributing on stage and off, serving on the board of directors, ushering for our many events, providing maintenance and office support, and working on multiple production elements. You, our patrons, come to WCT to enjoy quality live entertainment which is only possible because of our incredible volunteers and staff.
How does our community theatre thrive? Through patrons like you, who return show after show to support our theatre community, and through our donors and community sponsorships. Our donors help keep us financially sound and looking to the future through gifts to the Annual Operating Fund, the Endowment Fund, and by including us in planned estate giving.
The generosity of the Waukesha community is mind-blowing and life-giving, and we at WCT truly appreciate the time, talent, and financial resources that each of you give to keep our theatre thriving.
The best way to support WCT is to spread the word about Waukesha’s top choice for live entertainment. Find us on social media, like and share, and help us spread the word. These are exciting times and we are thrilled that you are here with us.
We hope you are entertained, enriched, and challenged and that you come back for more!

Rhonda Marie Schmidt
Managing Artistic Director (Lady MAD)

Director’s Note: Thoroughly Modern Millie

Thank you for choosing to spend your time in 1922 New York City with us. We know that there are many things you could be doing, and the fact that you are here means more to each of us than you could even imagine. I would like to take a few minutes of your time to express my thoughts about Thoroughly Modern Millie, which hopefully will enhance your experience.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Music Director Yeng Parman-Thao; your musical prowess is certainly on display here. To Choreographer Jessica Fastabend: your creativity is as big as all outdoors. From Set Designer Marisa Abbott to Props Designer Johanna Kaye to Light Designer Mike Van Dreser. My dear friend, David A. Robins, who labors tirelessly with our sound design, shortly after the untimely passing of his father. Our Master Carpenter, Scott D. Prox, has never seen anything on paper that he could not build. Our Production Stage Manager, David Kaye, who kept everything organized and on track through all the rehearsals and through a very trying technical rehearsal process. Joshua Parman-Thao, who assembled and conducts our orchestra, an orchestra that boasts of some of the finest musicians to ever sit in an orchestra pit – most masters degree prepared in their instrument. Also, very special thanks to my friend and confidant, Jill Anna Ponasik, who lent her support and talent as vocal coach.

The list goes on and on, but it must be stated here for all to see. You will be amazed by the costumes designed by Nikki Maritch and assisted by Sharon Sohner, and our wigs by Eric Welch. These two areas which are often overlooked but absolutely are essential to this show.

This creative staff is without doubt one of the finest I have ever had the honor to work alongside. From concept to fruition of opening night, we had a vision for the production and we could not be more proud. This cast has never flinched and drove forward daily, striving to deliver the vision of the creative team. The words do not exist to praise them enough.

The original Broadway production won six Tony Awards and five Drama Desk Awards, including the win for Best Musical at both ceremonies. It is the vehicle that propelled Sutton Foster to stardom, as she stepped into the role of Millie after being the understudy for the workshop and preview performances!

All the way back in December, 2018, with auditions, we set upon our mission of providing the Waukesha Civic Theatre audiences an evening in the theatre that is enjoyable and special. We assembled our cast and made a very conscious decision to use the incredibly talented Keith R. Smith, in drag, as our Mrs. Meers. We were lucky to have two impressive actresses to play Ching Ho and Bun Foo, Delaney Schlake-Kruse and Anna Lapean absolutely amazed everyone with the amount of work they put in to learning and perfecting the Cantonese and Mandarin dialects. The entire cast worked through the awful winter and trudged through the snow and ice and the polar vortex to attend rehearsals and in the process they became the caring, loving family that they are. I believe we have assembled one of the most talented casts to ever trod the boards of the Civic stage. They are backed up 100% without question or pause by the production team – a team that I believe is unlike any team of creatives to work in the Milwaukee theatre community.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is a valuable show because it teaches us how a strong work ethic and desire to do what is right will always overcome evil and ill will. It entertains us with its exceptional musical score and helps us find a sincere level of cultural sensitivity.

Having said that, in our effort to achieve cultural sensitivity, we have done many things in regard to the roles of Ching Ho and Bun Foo. We reached out to the community to try to create interest in the audition process to cast these roles authentically. We did extensive research on dialect, costumes, make up, hairstyles and culture. We worked with a dialect and culture coach.

Our dialect coach was Waukesha Civic Theatre’s own Peter Kao. Peter has been involved with three other productions of Millie, and in fact had auditioned for this one but was unable to be in the cast due to some conflicts. Peter was a huge help in mounting this production.

The Thoroughly Modern Millie family is very proud of the show we have produced and are so excited to share it with you now. So come with us to New York City in 1922 and let’s have some fun.

I urge you to visit the lobby display featuring the work of the creative staff of Millie. The set drawings and costume plot as well as the lighting plot are all featured. See how the herculean task of putting a huge Broadway musical together is accomplished.

Thanks for coming and please enjoy the performance!

 

James Padovano

Director

PIX Flix Spotlight On The Board: West Side Story

Come join us on Monday, July 31st at 6:30 pm for the classic movie-musical, West Side Story! Set against a backdrop of two warring teenage gangs on the streets of New York City in the 1950s, this musical re-telling of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet opened on Broadway on September 26, 1957. Racial tensions against a growing immigrant population from Puerto Rico fuel the feud between the Sharks, a gang of Puerto Rican immigrants, and the Jets, a gang of Americans. Caught in the crossfire are the star-crossed lovers: Tony and Maria. While at a school dance, Tony and Maria meet, falling in love at first sight. However, their love is ill-fated as Tony is a former Jet and Maria is the sister of the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo.

The story unfolds as told through the dialogue by author Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Together, the team created some of the most beautiful and recognizable songs in Broadway history, including, “Something’s Coming,” “Maria”, “Tonight,” “America,” and “I Feel Pretty.”

That season, the musical was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Musical. Jerome Robbins won the Tony Award for his iconic choreography.

A film adaptation of the musical was released in 1961, starring Natalie Wood as Maria and Rita Moreno as Anita. West Side Story went on to win 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Musical Score. Jerome Robbins received a special Academy Award for his choreography.

To this day, West Side Story remains a favorite in the theatre community. What better way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of West Side Story than to see the film at the Waukesha Civic Theatre on Monday, July 31st at 6:30 pm? Tickets are only $5!

 

Peter Kao

Board Director