Blog Archives

Why Theatre Arts Education?

Academy at Civic Theatre (A.C.T.) works with students to develop and strengthen listening, communication, and creative problem-solving skills. These are core stage skills for any performer, but they are so much more. That’s a nice thing to say, but what do we mean by that?

These core skills are vital to just about anything students will pursue in life. Learning to listen, to truly be engaged and focused on where you are, is invaluable. There are more and more distractions in the world that splinter our focus, and theatre education is a fun and effective way to train ourselves to block those distractions out when necessary.

The communication skills we work on also carry well beyond the stage. Simple but vital skills like eye contact and articulation are at the heart of our A.C.T. programs. There’s a big difference talking to a young person who stares at their feet the whole time as opposed to looking you in the eye when they speak. Eye contact speaks to a confidence level that we work to develop. And with electronic devices doing more and more of the talking for us, exercising these communication muscles becomes more and more important.

And what do we mean by “creative problem-solving” skills? When we work with our students at A.C.T., we make sure they know that acting is not about being perfect. Mistakes happen in almost every single live performance they will ever see. They will probably not notice 95% of those mistakes because actors are trained to not focus on them, but rather to keep moving forward with the story. While we always work with students on ways to minimize mistakes, the more important work we do with them is training them on how to deal with a mistake when it does happen. When something goes wrong, do you shut down and give up, or do you stay calm and allow your brain to figure out how to make it right? We provide a safe and supportive environment for kids to learn how to positively navigate the mistakes that will inevitably pop up.

Theatre Arts education helps equip students with the tools they will need in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue. We are not focused on developing the next generation of actors and singers and dancers. Rather, we are focused on helping develop the next generation of well-rounded, civic-minded young people who are prepared to overcome whatever obstacles lie ahead for them. We just get to do it in a really, really fun way!

Jarecki Doug 2008 Cropped


~Doug Jarecki
Education & Outreach Administrator

The Anatomy Of A Film Series

By Katherine Simon

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 2015-2016 season saw some exciting new additions to the calendar, including the PIX Flix Movie Series, our very own season-long film series that’s bringing the Silver Screen back to the PIX. Over the course of the season, we bring you 12 different movies, each with their own unique connection to the live productions and events taking place here at the PIX.

As this was WCT’s first time doing something like this, I quickly realized the first thing I would need were some guidelines. For this and the coming season, I have operated under four relatively loose restrictions:

  • To include as many people as possible in this exciting new endeavor, the movies would not be rated anything higher than PG.
  • The films would somehow compliment the live offerings of the theatre at the time of the screening.
  • Whenever possible, the movies would not exceed two hours in length (there are a few, rare exceptions, of course).
  • The series itself would be a mix of movies from across decades and genres.

Some choices were easy, like the very first movie of the season. I knew our first should be a first, and, as Toy Story was turning 20, it seemed only logical, to my mind, to choose the first feature length, computer animated film as our first offering.

During the parts of the calendar when we don’t have a show running, we always offer Academy at Civic Theatre sessions. As such, I wanted to program movies for the whole family. Finding Nemo helped round out the summer, and Happy Feet accompanies the frigid January temperatures.

For the bulk of the calendar, though, I tried to choose movies that would augment the shows being produced at the time. Some are obvious choices, like the pairing of Leading Ladies and Some Like It Hot in March, or Cinderella’s Fella and Enchanted in April. Some are less so and rely on thematic ties, like September’s pairing of An American In Paris and A Little Night Music, which shared the interplay of social and economic classes in a European setting. Or the varied perspectives on love brought to the stage and screen by Almost, Maine and Breakfast At Tiffany’s in February. Some not only matched the mainstage shows, but also the time of year, like Hocus Pocus (October) and Elf (December).

Most of the films also match their respective live theatre pairings in genre. The Turn Of The Screw and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane chilled us in November. May will find us tapping our toes to musicals loosely based on real people and events with The Harvey Girls and Annie Get Your Gun. In June, we’ll finish the season laughing at the British farce of The Pink Panther Strikes Again and Fawlty Towers.

Covering genres ranging from thriller to musical to comedy and 61 years of film history, the PIX Flix Movie Series seeks to enhance your Waukesha Civic Theatre experience by bringing movies back to the PIX. Movies are screened one Monday a month at 6:30 pm and tickets are only $5. See you at the Theatre!

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)

Spotlight On The Board Of Directors

Ebert Gary 2010The 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.

Gary Ebert

President, Board of Directors

Gratitude Committee, We Are Grateful For YOU!

As you may know, we added a new committee around the middle of our 57th season. The Waukesha Civic Theatre Gratitude Committee is determined to make sure our many volunteers, patrons, donors, and staff know just how much we here at WCT appreciate all the hard work that too often goes un-lauded, though never unnoticed. Char Paulbicke and Debi Mumford are co-chairing this committee. IF this sounds like something you’d like to be involved in, please contact Katie Danner at for more information.

One of the things the committee does to celebrate our outstanding volunteers is the Civic Super Star Award. If you want to nominate someone as a Civic Super Star, please fill out a card and deposit it in one of the Super Star Suggestion boxes located in the lobby, green room, and upstairs rehearsal hall. Here are all the Civic Super Stars announced so far:

Becky Miller: Becky is one of our Bartenders.  She had the most successful bar in WCT’s history during, “I Got Yule, Babe!”  She did an amazing job keeping up with the thirsty patrons and helped make the night a smashing success!  Thank you, Becky!

Sean Downs: Sean is one of our Bartenders, Box Office/House Managers, and all around great guy!  Thanks to Sean we have booster seats for our family friendly venues, and a time clock in the concessions area to make sure our shows run as efficiently as possible.  He has contributed so much to WCT.  Thank you, Sean!

Barbara Johnson and Sandy Zingler:  Barbara and Sandy have organized the Learning in Retirement, (LIR) theatre/dinner gatherings.  They have organized groups to attend WCT productions followed by dinners at restaurants, their homes, and at church often including informative programs.  They encourage and welcome new people to enjoy the theatre.  On top of all of that wonderful work, Barbara and Sandy have also ushered for WCT for several years and are often called last minute to lend a helping hand.  Thank you, Barbara and Sandy!  You two are amazing!

Emmie Wendorf:  Emmie is a senior at Waukesha North High School and one of our fantastic ushers.  During one of our Comedy Tonight performances Emmie stepped up to the plate and helped sell raffle tickets for The Great Gatsby Speakeasy.  She stepped outside her comfort zone, offered information, raffle tickets, and a beautifully contagious smile.  You are a star, Emmie!

Lee Piekarski: Lee is definitely one of the Civic’s brightest Super Stars!  When she isn’t helping out at her church or performing with The Civic Senior Players, she is sewing costumes, washing costumes, arranging the costume room, repairing costumes . . .

Thank you for all the hard work that you do, Lee!

Margaret Kennedy: Margaret ushers, is one of our bartenders, house manages, covers the box office, and is one of the first to step up and help out.  Weather she is covering shifts for others, grabbing lunch for co-workers, or maintaining her positive attitude during stressful times, Margaret is a silent source of strength and support!  She was also our first DOUBLE nominee! You are amazing, Margaret!

Emilie Grunfelder:  Emilie stepped up to cover for Katie Danner in the box office over the summer while Katie is taking care of the new Danner, Talia.  Emilie is willing and able to take on any task assigned.  She is a bright light in the office!  Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Emilie!

Another thing this committee does, to recognize our volunteers who have been with us the longest, is the Lifetime Achievement Award. Dexter Meise has been a volunteer at The Civic for over 50 years!  He has ushered, done set work, and has been a priceless asset to WCT.  He was presented his award on Friday, March 15th.  Congratulations, Dexter!

The Gratitude Committee also makes sure that important milestones like birthdays, anniversaries, and births aren’t overlooked. They do this in the monthly newsletter, available in our lobby and here on this blog. That’s also where our award winners are announced. Be sure to check it out the next time you’re at the theatre! Here’s an example of an announcement:

Katie Danner, our Box Office Supervisor, has a beautiful new addition to her family.  Talia Amani!  She joins her father, Jon, and her brother Byron in the Danner clan!  Katie would like to extend a special thank you to John Cramer for covering for her during her Maternity leave. A very special thank you also goes out to Mary Dembinski & Anthony Ventress for taking over management of Friday Night Live and  Farmers’ Markets.  Congratulations Danner Clan!

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Elle & Chris, just goofin’ around

Picnic 2

Some of the Gratitude Committee members, enjoying a beautiful day!

Picnic 3

Volunteers, soaking up the love!


Finally, the committee puts on events for our WCT Family. The most recent event was the Dog End Days Of Summer Volunteer Appreciation Picnic, this past Sunday, August 24th. We owe this committee a deep debt of gratitude! Special thanks to Jenny Erato, for sharing these photos with us on Facebook!

Meet The…Education & Outreach Administrator!

Floyd, COO

Floyd the Flamingo, local celebrity and COO (Chief Office Ornithologist) of WCT recently sat down with WCT’s Education & Outreach Administrator, Doug Jarecki. 

Floyd: Hello everyone. I’m here with Doug Jarecki, the Education and Outreach Administrator at the Waukesha Civic Theatre. How are you today, Doug?

Doug: Are you kidding me?!? You’re a talking flamingo! This is amazing. I have so many questions for you.

Floyd: And I have questions for you, so let’s just alternate. First you ask a question, then I ask a question.

Doug: Can we do that?

Floyd: Yes, and since that was your first question, I guess it’s my turn. What is a typical day for the WCT Education and Outreach Administrator?

Doug: Well, the days really aren’t that typical, and I love that. My job covers a lot of different ground. One day I might be teaching an acting class with the ACAP PlayMakers, then conducting a meeting with the Civic Senior Players, then teaching some afterschool classes for our Academy at Civic Theatre. The next day I might be speaking to students at a local school’s fine arts day, writing scripts for a class, then driving up to Hartford to conduct one of our outreach programs. Every day is full of new challenges.

Floyd: In other words, you find everything challenging.

Doug: Yes….wait, what do you mean by that?

Floyd: Nothing. But since you just asked another question, I guess it’s my turn again.

Doug: Oh come on, that’s totally unfair! I deserve another chance.

Floyd: Alright, I’ll give you another chance.

Doug: Really?

Floyd: And you just wasted your question again.

Doug: Ugghhh, come on! One more chance!

Floyd: Ok Doug, one more chance. But make it a good question.

Doug: Oh it is. It’s a great question. I’ve waited my whole life to ask it. Are you ready? Oops….wait, I didn’t mean to….NOOOOOOO!!!!!

Floyd: Thank you, Doug, that really was a great question. My turn: What do you do when you’re not at WCT?

Doug: Just recently I wrote a children’s show that’s running at a local theatre. And I still do a lot of acting around Milwaukee, both on stage and in commercials. In fact, I am currently in a series of Fleet Farm commercials. Maybe you’ve seen them.

Floyd: You play the dumb guy in those commercials, right?

Doug: Yes, I do. So you’ve seen them?

Floyd: No, you just give off a vibe. To wrap things up, I would like you to tell us one last thing about yourself in ten words or less.

Doug: Ten words?!?! Seriously? That is going to be really, really…

Floyd: And that will do it for us here. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to learn more about Doug Jarecki, WCT’s Education and Outreach Administrator. See you at the theatre!

Meet The…Marketing Intern!

Floyd, COOFloyd the Flamingo, local celebrity and COO (Chief Office Ornithologist) of WCT recently sat down with the new Marketing Intern, Collin Sznaider. 

Floyd: How did you get involved here at WCT?

Collin: I got involved here at the Waukesha Civic Theatre in early September. I met with the box office supervisor in late August regarding the position of marketing intern and decided it was a good fit. So here I am!

Floyd: Are you originally from the Waukesha area?

Collin: Yes, I was born in Brookfield and have lived here in Waukesha for a majority of my life. I however, attended elementary school through high school in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee where my mother lives. I’m currently a senior at Carroll University located right here in Waukesha and am getting closer to completing my degree in Business with an emphasis in Promotional Marketing.

Floyd: What made you want to stay for college?

Collin: There were two options at the time of deciding where to go to college: 1. Move away or 2. Stay local. I chose the second option, but not only because it was close to home; but to also continue the tradition of my family attending Carroll University. My mother, aunt, and brother have all graduated from Carroll University, and I hope to be the next.

Floyd: What are you goals for your marketing internship here?

Collin: My goals for the marketing internship here is to gain valuable experience for when I graduate and to also have fun. I have a great interest to work in the entertainment business someday and it was one of my goals to get an internship in the entertainment business. I was offered other internships, but the Waukesha Civic Theatre seemed like the best choice for me based on location and opportunity.

Floyd: If you could be any bird, what kind would you be? Why?

Collin: I would be an eagle, because they perch atop tall trees and look to strike for a fish at the best opportunity. Although I’m not striking for fish, I have the mentality to look over things and strike at the best opportunity, like an eagle does.

Floyd: What’s one thing you think people should know about you?

Collin: I hope to one day become a professional actor/voice-over artist. I’m currently in the process of becoming agency represented and hope to get opportunities in voice-overs and commercial acting in this area soon. It’s not a choice that everyone agrees with, but sometimes you have to listen to your gut and go for it, even when the odds are stacked against you.

Spinning Gender in WCT’s You Can’t Take It With You

Waukesha Civic Theatre is taking a “gender spin” in its revival of the Kaufman and Hart’s comedy You Can’t Take It With You. It’s still 1938 but the eccentric Sycamore clan will be headed by a matriarch called “Nana”. New Berlin-based veteran actress Antoinette Stikl will step into the shoes of the typically male role when the play opens on October 18.

“This beloved, Pultizer-prize-winning comedy has been a revival favorite for theatres of all kinds since its premiere almost 77 years ago,” says first-time WCT director, John Kibler. In his research for the play, which premiered in December 1936, the idea of casting a woman in the patriach’s role took shape because all the historical information supported the idea so well.

“Often during the Depression, women stepped into men’s traditional role of family breadwinner out of necessity,” says Kibler, “given that many men refused clerical and secretarial jobs that were typically identified with women.” The rapid growth of the New Deal in the early 1930’s lead to the first female cabinet secretary in American history (Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor) and expanded working opportunities for all working women (not to mention the two million unemployed in 1933) dealing with the economic and social challenges of the Great Depression.

“The affirmation of individuality that lies at the heart of this play,” says Kibler, “creates the perfect environment for Nana Vanderhoff to share the Sycamore family’s belief in charm, wisdom, eccentricity, innocence, selflessness and good will to a 21st century audience.” Eager to forget the bad news at home and the worse news abroad, people flocked to You Can’t Take It With You when it opened in 1936 for a much needed laugh. Nana Vanderhoff will provide that same experience for a 21st century audience eager for exactly the same thing.

Come check it out between October 26th and November 3rd! For more information, including pricing and show times, please feel free to contact our Box Office at 262.547.0708 or or visit our website: