Blog Archives

WCT Welcomes New Managing Artistic Director: Rhonda Marie Schmidt

In WCT’s history, there have been six managing directors over the past 62 years. We are excited to announce our seventh: Rhonda Marie Schmidt.

Rhonda has been managing theatre departments in an educational setting for nine years after studying at UW-Milwaukee and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She has had practical experience as a performer and director in New York and has been present in exploring many avenues in Wisconsin Theatre, including directing, teaching, performing, producing, and designing at Divine Savior Holy Angels, University Lake School, Waukesha Civic Theatre, Sunset Playhouse, The Milwaukee REP, and Skylight Music Theatre.

Rhonda has a love for Waukesha Civic Theatre and the City of Waukesha, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and their beloved pets. She believes that Community Theatre is about building a team of individuals who show-up for one another – to create, to build, to plan, to dream, to clean, and to work – combining the efforts of paid and unpaid artists to create something beautiful. Rhonda looks forward to building a team that will look to the future and longevity of the Waukesha Civic Theatre.

The staff and Board Of Directors at the Waukesha Civic Theatre are excited for Rhonda to join us as we continue to enrich, challenge, and entertain both participants and audience members through our quality, live theatre performances and educational opportunities. 

PIX Flix Spotlight On The Board: Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing – A 31 Year Old Favorite

So if you’re looking for a movie to make you feel good, has toe tapping catchy music, sexy dancing, great acting and an awesome story line filled with a little spice and good girl falls for bad boy – Dirty Dancing is the film to see! Released in 1987, Dirty Dancing is one of the best dance/teen love movies ever made. It’s also the movie that catapulted the career of Swayze. Just three years later he went on to make the movie Ghost with Demi Moore (another awesome love story, but let’s stay focused!) Dirty Dancing is literally one of those movies you can watch again and again, and never get tired of it.

It’s been said that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey had terrible chemistry off camera – but you’d never know that watching them on the big screen. The movie takes off when Baby Houseman and her family go on vacation to a resort in New York. After Baby meets the camp’s dance instructor, Johnny, and signs up for dance lessons…well, let’s just say sparks begin to fly. Some of the scenes between Johnny and Baby draw you in and leave a feeling of happy, sad, excitement – and might even make you think you could dance. There have been many movies made with music and dancing since 1987 – but none quite like Dirty Dancing. It’s in a category all by itself.

So bring a friend, relative or significant other to the Waukesha Civic Theatre to watch this nostalgic feel-good feature film. Future movies include The African Queen, Apollo 13, Rear Window, and the final PIX film feature – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In addition, there are many Mainstage performances to choose from.

Come see Dirty Dancing on Monday, February 5th at 6:30 pm and have ‘the time of your life’! See you at the PIX!

Anthony Ventress

Board Director


Waukesha Has True Grit!

October is almost here and, to me, that means just one thing— it’s time for Waukesha Reads! This year, Waukesha will be reading the great Western novel True Grit. Charles Portis wrote True Grit in 1968, forever giving readers the independent and sassy Mattie Ross and the one-eyed, surly U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn. If you have not already been introduced to this remarkable novel, then you are in for a treat!

It is the goal of Waukesha Reads to unite the community through great books. This program offers citizens the opportunity to read, discuss and explore the themes of a single book with other readers in the community. Through this program, some people will discover the joys of reading for the first time, while others will be reminded of the pleasures of a great book. Everyone will benefit from sharing the literary experience with their fellow community members.

Why read? Growing evidence illustrates that regular reading boosts the likelihood of academic and economic success, awakening a person’s social and civic responsibility. Reading for pleasure is associated with positive personal and social behaviors, both of which impact our community for the better. Simply put, books change people, they change lives and they make us better neighbors. This is why the Waukesha Reads partners feel passionately about reading and its promotion in the community. Reading is the gateway to lifelong learning, personal opportunities and success.

Waukesha Reads would not happen without the support of the community and our local partners. It is this cooperative nature that has made our program such a success over the past eleven years. Partners such as educational institutions, art centers, nonprofit organizations and other area businesses have all jumped at the chance to be a part of Waukesha Reads because they understand the value of promoting literacy in our community. By working together, we reach out to Waukesha’s diverse population, in a variety of traditional and nontraditional ways, to help encourage all citizens to participate. It is our goal that the Waukesha Reads program will bring people together, inspire reading, promote discussion and ultimately strengthen our community.

I hope that you will pick up a FREE copy of True Grit this year, and that you will make it a priority to participate in this citywide event. Whether this is your first Waukesha Reads, or your eleventh, you will undoubtedly find a program or a discussion that catches your eye. Perhaps it will be our (FREE!) keynote speaker, Mike Earp, at Waukesha Civic Theatre on November 2? Waukesha Public Library, and our Waukesha Reads partners, would love to see you there! Books and full event calendars are available at Waukesha Public Library. The calendar is also available online. Happy reading!


Kori Hall

Head of Program Development & Community Engagement

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!

How Long Will It Shine If You Say You’re Mine?

Today, Tomorrow, and Forever.

Patsy Cline was one of the most celebrated and influential American singers of the twentieth century. A pioneer in the country music industry, she helped pave the way for female performers across musical genres.  She was much more than just a singer, gaining the respect and trust of musicians everywhere. From “I Go Out Walking” to “I Fall to Pieces” to “Leavin’ On Your Mind,” Cline’s music and reputation have lived on long beyond her tragically short life.

Kelli Cramer starred as Patsy in Patsy Cline Live! Today, Tomorrow, and Forever. The show, produced by Alleycat Enterprises, Inc. also included a live five piece band featuring Ruben Piirainen, Clay Schaub, Paul Silbergleit, Terry Smirl, and Garry Williams.

Kelli Cramer as Patsy Cline

This was Kelli’s sixth show performing as Patsy Cline. Previously, she appeared in Always … Patsy Cline at the Wagon Wheel Theatre, Archangel Productions, and the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and in Patsy Cline Live! Today, Tomorrow, and Forever at WCT and at the Oconomowoc Performing Arts Center. Many people who have seen Kelli perform have called her the best Patsy they’ve ever seen.

This show, designed as a “slice of life,” was developed by Kelli Cramer and her husband, John. Patsy Cline would tour from town to town and play with local musicians, and the Cramers strive to create a production that feels not like a tribute show, but like a real Patsy Cline concert. Most of the songs are classic Patsy Cline, both beloved classics and some of Kelli’s favorites, with a few seasonal songs thrown in as well.

I Want To Be A Star … For A Day

DSC_0500 (1987x3000)That’s right ladies, gentlemen, and children of all ages (and especially children between the ages of 6 and 19) … Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Star For A Day program is back! Mark your calendars, young theatre enthusiasts: this special set of one-day-only classes is coming up on Thursday, October 30th!

Just what is Star For A Day? We’re glad you asked! It’s a program through WCT’s Academy at Civic Theatre for students between the ages of 6 and 19. On Thursday, October 30th, students from many school districts (including the School District of Waukesha) will be off school. What are those students going to do for the whole day? Why, come to the theatre, of course!

Star For A Day offers classes for students ages 6-8, 9-12, and 13-19 starting at 9:00 a.m. and culminating in a free performance that evening at 5:00 p.m.

Each group has a chance at three different classes: choreography class Dance Fever, interactive improvisation in Incredible Improv, and singing with movement in Musical Madness. The jam packed day also has an hour of group rehearsal before the evening’s performance.

6-8 Years
Dance Fever 9:00-10:50am
Musical Madness 11:15-1:05pm
Incredible Improv 1:30-3:20pm

9-12 Years
Musical Madness 9:00-10:50am
Incredible Improv 11:15-1:05pm
Dance Fever 1:30-3:20pm

13-19 Years
Incredible Improv 9:00-10:50am
Dance Fever 11:15-1:05pm
Musical Madness 1:30-3:20pm

All Students
Group Rehearsal 3:45-4:45
Performance 5:00

All classes take place at the Waukesha Civic Theatre. Students may sign up for one class for $25, or two classes for $50, getting the third class free! Interested families can print and fill out this form and return it to the Civic with payment during our box office hours, 12-5 Tuesday through Friday.

Still not sold? You can get more information by contacting our Education and Outreach director Doug Jarecki at (262) 547-4911 ext. 21 or at We also have information available on our website.

And don’t forget to mark January 23rd, 2015 and May 22, 2015 on your calendars for our next great Star For A Day opportunities!WCT_ACT_June Session-23 (1987x3000)

In The MAD Corner…

Cramer John 2006I can’t believe I am starting my twelfth 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 season by presenting The Sound Of Music. I love, love, love, love, love this show. I was blessed to play Kurt when I was in the eighth grade and it is truly one of my favorite theatrical memories out of the hundreds of shows I have been a part of. I am thrilled that I am now directing the show. It is truly a classic Broadway musical and quite possibly the most well-known and most love Rodgers an Hammerstein show. Based on the amazing and inspirational true story of Maria Rainer, Georg Von Trapp, and their incredible children, and including one of the best musical scores ever written, it truly is a masterpiece. I can’t thank the cast, crew, and staff enough for all of their hard work, patience, creativity, and humor. We have had a marvelous time putting this incredible show together, and I hope each and every one of you enjoy it as much as we have.

 We have 70+ entertainment options throughout the year, with great benefits to our subscribers (up to 40% 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 have lots more music and stories for the Waukesha community to discover. Our 58th Season is full of exciting entertainment options. 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

Sound Of Music Director / Choreographer

Managing Artistic Director


A View From The Bridge

Just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away.

Arthur Miller is widely regarded as one of the best American playwrights of the twentieth century.  In his complicated family drama, A View From The Bridge, he demonstrates why.

The story follows Eddie Carbone, an Italian-American longshoreman in the 1950s, whose simple and relatively happy life changes dramatically with the arrival of his wife’s cousins from Italy.  Eddie, his wife Beatrice, and their orphaned niece Catharine agree to shelter Marco and Rodolpho while they work in America.  Rodolpho and Catharine share an instant attraction, sending Eddie into a self-destructive spiral with tragic consequences for everyone involved.

Miller was inspired to write the play after researching the New York docks and dockworkers while writing a screenplay to be directed by his friend Elia Kazan.  However, before the film could be made, both Miller and Kazan were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Commission to name communists working in the entertainment community.  Kazan agreed, while Miller refused, leading to a serious falling out between the two.  Kazan would go on to direct On The Waterfront, the Academy Award winning film starring Marlon Brando as a dockworker who fights against the mob-controlled union. Miller’s A View from the Bridge deals with similar themes and settings, but offers a different look.

Miller’s tragic tale weaves in themes of family and abandonment, passion and betrayal, masculinity and respect.  The play addresses several mature issues, and is not recommended for audiences younger than high school.

The Waukesha Civic Theatre’s production of A View From The Bridge opened Friday, June 6th and runs through Sunday, June 22nd.  For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit or call the WCT box office, open 12-5 Tuesday through Friday, as well as during Farmer’s Markets and Friday Night Live.  You can also purchase tickets online at the following website:

Waukesha Civic Theatre Announces Our Historic 58th Mainstage Season

Our 58th season will begin July 1, 2014. Mainstage shows include:

  • The Sound Of Music (September 12 to 28, 2014)
  • Lend Me A Tenor (October 24 to November 9, 2014)
  • Candy Cane Tales And Holiday Carols (December 5 to 21, 2014)
  • Funny Money (February 6 to 22, 2015)
  • The Diary Of Anne Frank (March 13 to 29, 2015)
  • Les Misérables (May 1 to 17, 2015)
  • Father Of The Bride (June 5 to 21, 2015)

All Mainstage shows perform for three weekends. Here is the performance schedule:

Day Time
First   Friday (Evening) 7:30   pm
First   Saturday (Evening) 7:30 pm
First   Sunday (Matinee) 2:00 pm
Second   Friday (Evening) 7:30 pm
Second   Saturday (Matinee) 3:30   pm
Second   Saturday (Evening) 7:30   pm
Second   Sunday (Matinee) 2:00 pm
Third   Friday (Evening) 7:30 pm
Third   Saturday (Matinee) 2:00 pm
Third   Saturday (Evening) 7:30 pm
Third   Sunday (Matinee) 2:00 pm

Season tickets for our 2014-2015 season will go on sale May 1, 2014. Individual tickets will go on sale July 1, 2014.  We offer several season ticket packages, all of which make you a subscriber. The benefits of being a subscriber include reduced ticket prices (a 26%-40% savings!), the ability to exchange tickets (to different performances of the same show) at no charge, and a Subscriber Benefits Card, entitling you to discounts or deals at many downtown Waukesha restaurants. Here are our subscription packages:

Sensational Seven $105.00 ($15 per ticket) 35% savings!
Super Six $96.00 ($16 per ticket) 30% savings!
Fabulous Flex $68.00 ($17 per ticket) 26% savings!
Perfect PIX 3 $54.00 ($18 per ticket) 22% savings!

All individual tickets may be purchased by mail, phone, e-mail, fax, online, or in person using cash, check, or credit card (credit card only for phone, fax, e-mail, and online sales). Subscription packages may be purchased by mail, phone, e-mail, fax, or in person using cash, check, or credit card (credit card only for phone, fax, and e-mail sales). We accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express.

Bells Are Ringing For A Perfect Wedding!

Perfect Wedding_SQ_CLRJust in time for Valentine’s Day, WCT opened its production of Perfect Wedding by Robin Hawdon last weekend.  This romantic comedy has audiences howling with laughter as a very frazzled groom-to-be wakes up to a very pretty (and very naked) stranger on the morning of his wedding.  Chaos ensues when he enlists his best man to ‘claim’ the naked stranger as his girlfriend so the bride-to-be doesn’t find out the truth.  The best man mistakes the chambermaid for the naked stranger, leading to even more confusion and comedy.  Things only get worse for the groom (and better for the audience!) when the bride’s mother and the best man’s real girlfriend show up.

The Green Bay Gazette‘s review of a production of Perfect Wedding calls the script “funny without being deep, titilating without being dirty …  warp-speed back-and-forth dialogue as characters skitter and scamper through this maze of a sit-com …”  The WCT production, under the direction of Kelly Krause, runs through February 23rd.

Perfect Wedding features performances by Ian Curtis (Bill), Maureen Chobanoff (Daphne), Allison Chicorel (Judy), Tanya Tranberg (Julie), Katlin Drew (Rachel), and James Boylan (Tom).  Tickets are $23 for adults and $20 for students and seniors.  Book tickets for your Valentines weekend (or the weekend after!) today.

Check out the review in the WaukeshaNOW  here:

For more information or to buy tickets, please check out Perfect Wedding at WCT’s website:

WCT’s box office is open Tuesday through Friday, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and two hours prior to every show.  Please call (262) 547-0708 with questions or to buy tickets.