Monday, August 22, 2016

Review Roundup: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE

compiled by Matthew Reddin

Still haven't made it to our summer show, VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE? Good thing there's still one week of shows left for the hilarious comedy at the Cabot Theatre!

Tickets are still available at the MCT box office, but if you need a push, here's what several of Milwaukee's theatre critics had to say about the production:


Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Chamber's 'Vanya and Sonia' whips human loneliness into a frappe"
"Takeaways: 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike'"

"As is also true here of (C.Michael) Wright and (Jenny) Wanasek, (Carrie) Hitchcock rescues her character from all-out caricature, overcoming the script’s weaker moments to channel the combination of insecurity and longing afflicting characters true to both Chekhov and 21st-century life, in which we feel more alone than ever, despite all the ways we’re ostensibly connected."

"(In) the best moment in the play, as we watch Sonia take a phone call from a man she met at a party ... Wanasek suggests a woman desperate to claw free of the protection in which she’s long swaddled herself, even as she clings to it like a security blanket."

"Wright is poignant in conveying the underlying angst of an aging man, longing for a vanished sense of community and shared experience in a world where those connections we make frequently sacrifice depth for breadth."

Dave Begel, OnMilwaukee
"Misery with laughs on the menu as Chamber Theatre opens season"

"Under the feathery touch of director Marcella Kearns, this Christopher Durang play takes isolation, desolation and disappointment, and stands them on their ear, filling the Cabot Theatre with chuckles, laughters and outright roars of fun."

"(Kearns) has a clear understanding that these roles are big roles, needing big performances. Even as shy and reticent as Vanya is, it still takes an actor with Wright's skills to make it seem as funny as it can be without overdoing it.

Peggy Sue Dunigan, Broadway World
MCT channels a crazy Chekhov in Durang's 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike'

"Associate Artistic Director Marcella Kearns directs the production succinctly and with comic success. By adding her own intuition about timing into the play. Kearns often opens up opportunities for more humor to happen on stage."

"MCT's hilarious Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike awakens the possibilities in the audience, wherever and whenever they are in life as well."


Anne Seigel, TotalTheatre
Review: 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike'

"Well-known Milwaukee actress Carrie Hitchcock is more than up to the challenge of playing Masha. Her every gesture and syllable reeks with the dramatic flair so important to this character."

"Although the play ends on a note that seems to restore family relationships (at least for a while), Durang doesn’t pretend that everyone will get what they want out of life. Real life often fails to end that way, and this reality is more satisfying than a sugar-coated finale."

Russ Bickerstaff, Shepherd Express
Vanya and Sonia meet Masha and Spike

"The script whimsically plays heavy family drama like a light sitcom—it’s Anton Chekhov by way of Neil Simon."

Monday, August 8, 2016

Nostalgia: Both Curse and Comfort

by Marcella Kearns

Ray Bradbury (top), John
Hodgman (center) and
Vanya (C. Michael Wright, bottom)
each have their own
takes on the benefits and
disadvantages of nostalgia.
“I learned to let my senses and my Past tell me all that was somehow true.” In an introduction to semi-autobiographical novel DANDELION WINE, Ray Bradbury rhapsodizes about the creative soil of memory. His fictionalized portrait of Waukegan, Illinois in the 1920s centers on young boys encountering firsthand the delights of capturing a summer’s spirit in their grandfather’s wine and a summer’s events in their reflection and writing. Even the darkest moments—and there are dark moments—remind his characters to capture and fully embrace the richness of simply living and the sweetness of remembering the past.

In VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, playwright Christopher Durang too dips into nostalgia. Siblings Vanya and Sonia look back on the past and find comfort, along, perhaps, with a trace of wistfulness or longing for what once was. That past wasn’t perfect, but its recollection has the effect of soothing them in need. Though their sister Masha declares “I can’t remember dates or decades. I just live!”, listen for what follows—even she finds herself recalling what was and what might have been.

No harm, right?

Exactly, according to Southampton professors Constantine Sedikides and Tim Wildschut, who have revolutionized thinking about this potent force and experience.

Nostalgia has been typically characterized as a useless or potentially dangerous impulse, a sense of “living in the past” without regard for present needs. Certainly, for all humans who perceive our lives unfolding along a linear timeline, idealizing the past without taking into consideration the changing circumstances of the present in order to build a healthy collective future is irrational. Writer and comedian John Hodgman often and eloquently warns of this very risky aspect of nostalgia. In an interview with Josh Jackson, he says,

Everyone who enjoyed a stable and relatively happy childhood will look back on their childhood and think that it’s the best. That’s the parlor trick of nostalgia, and it’s why nostalgia is the worst. It is a toxic impulse that leads to nothing good, honestly. The idea that things were better once and are terrible now and getting worse every minute is what fuels the worst, in my opinion, movements in contemporary culture…

Sedikides and Wildschut’s study over the course of the last decade asks us to re-frame our thinking, however. They attest that instead of vilifying nostalgia, we can and should actively employ its effects to counteract depression, anxiety, or pain. As they’ve discovered so far, nostalgia is a universal human experience and powerful for healing across cultures. This kind of thinking about the past, Sedikides explains, “is always related to intimacy maintenance: I want to remind myself of the people who are no longer here and what they meant for me. It serves to remind you of what intimacy you have achieved and therefore what you are most capable of… Nostalgia stands out as adaptive.” Indeed, historical-based research and current studies indicate that the mind, through nostalgia, actually temporarily alters the body’s perception of the condition of a room.

With this framework in hand, they have been developing nostalgia-based therapies for depression and are even beginning to explore the potential for its active use in easing the effects of Alzheimer’s. The key seems to be mindfulness of nostalgia as a tool—a calming agent, fuel for resilience in difficult periods. By connecting to the past and what we loved, we flood ourselves with warmth. Ever hear a song that “takes you back”? Smell a smell that recalls holiday meals, a loved one’s perfume, a campfire? Memory, along with that sweet tinge of longing for what’s past, buoys us.

The conclusion may seem simple, but its application is tricky. Sedikides speaks of nostalgia as the “perfect internal politician, connecting the past with the present, pointing optimistically to the future.” The trick is not to try to re-create any perceived notion of the past, but to draw on that, in Sedikides’ words, “inexhaustible bank account” to move forward. Durang’s characters certainly find an anchor in memory, but their nostalgia also serves as a platform from which to speak. Nostalgia, that anchor in the past, becomes a general reminder that warmth, love, and true connection with others in the present is possible.


References

Adams, Tim. “Look Back in Joy: The Power of Nostalgia.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 9 Nov. 2014. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.

Jackson, Josh. “The Real John Hodgman: We’re Not Making This Up!” Paste. Paste Magazine, 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.

Ward, Baldwin H., ed. Nostalgia: Our Heritage in Pictures and Words. Petaluma, CA: News Front/Year, Inc., 1975.


To continue the conversation on the topic: Charles (Chuck) Bryant and Josh Clark of STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW fame explore nostalgia (and John Hodgman’s perspective!) in an episode of their podcast. Check it out at http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts/nostalgia-is-not-the-most-toxic-impulse/

Thursday, August 4, 2016

So who are Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike anyway?

by Matthew Reddin, MCT marketing director

We're only a week away from opening night for VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, but there's one question left to answer: Who are these people?

Answering that honestly? There be spoilers. But we can hint at more than enough about the six characters who'll appear on the Cabot Theatre stage using the words of the best authority on the subject: Christopher Durang, the playwright who wrote the play in the first place.

In his Author's Note in the published script of VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, Durang writes that the names of his first three titular characters are lifted from Chekhov, with a "very modern" name to jar the listener into laughter. But he also adds that "the play is not based on Chekhov, nor is it a parody of Chekhov. ... It's as if I took characters and themes from Chekhov and put them in a blender."

In a sense, then, these abridged character descriptions, all in Durang's words, could be likened to a tasty sextet of summer smoothies. Drink up -- we'll see you at the theater.


VANYA (C. Michael Wright)

He has mostly lived in the house he grew up in. I feel that he went to college but then came home expecting to stay only a while. But he stayed the rest of his life, partly to take care of his parents as they suffered a long period of illness and then died.

SONIA (Jenny Wanasek) 

She was adopted. She was 8 when she joined the family. Vanya was probably 10 or 11, Masha was probably 13 or even 14. When their parents decided to adopt Sonia, they undoubtedly told their two older children to be kind and welcoming. And I think Vanya did like Sonia pretty quickly, and they were closer in age. Masha was already in her own world.

MASHA (Carrie Hitchcock)

Masha is a successful actress and movie star who has a glamorous life, and is a millionaire from her successful Sexy Killer movies. There are many prototypes of the self-involved, glamorous actress: Madam Arkadina in Chekhov's The Seagull, Judith Bliss in Noel Coward's Hay Fever, and Bette Davis as Margo Channing in the classic film All About Eve.

SPIKE (JJ Phillips)

Spike is Masha’s “beloved,” as she says. But basically they have been together for three months, and their age difference is really rather big. Spike genuinely likes and finds Masha attractive, but as a young man he has a non-stop eye for lots of women, including young women.

CASSANDRA (Rรกna Roman)

I have always loved the Greek tragedy character of Cassandra, who sees the terrible future ahead and warns people, but the god Apollo has cursed her so that no one believes what she prophesies. Cassandra has pretty much no connection to Chekhov, but my impulse was to give Vanya and Sonia a cleaning woman who had the name Cassandra and could indeed see the future, at least somewhat.


NINA (Elodie Senetra)

Nina is indeed somewhat like Nina in The Seagull. In Chekhov, she is an aspiring actress, and she is agog at meeting Madam Arkadina. But my Nina is also American, and she has rather classy tastes. She is very young and full of hope.

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, directed by Marcella Kearns, runs August 11 to 28 at the Broadway Theatre Center's Cabot Theatre, 158 N. Broadway. For tickets and additional information, call 414.291.7800 or visit milwaukeechambertheatre.com.

Friday, July 15, 2016

MCT Board Member Profile: Erin Burke

by Max Seigle

1. WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN MILWAUKEE?
I’m originally from Madison. I spent my college years in Milwaukee at UWM and lived in Austin, Texas for a while. I moved back to Milwaukee in 2013 after Baird recruited me for a job here. I love being back in Wisconsin because I’m close to family and friends again, and it’s amazing to see how Milwaukee has grown since my college days. 

2. HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT MCT AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO JOIN THE BOARD?
I learned about MCT through UPAF (United Performing Arts Fund). I joined the organization’s Next Generation Council and a staff member referred me to MCT’s producing artistic director, Michael Wright, and managing director, Kirsten Mulvey. When I met them, it was just a really good fit right away and they made the decision to join the board an easy one.

Erin Burke.
I also became involved because theatre has always been a big part of my life. I studied classical theatre and production stage management at UWM and spent college summers working behind the scenes in theatre companies in the Madison area. It’s important for me, as well, to serve the arts community. I genuinely believe giving my time and financial support is a privilege.

3. FAVORITE PLAY OR PLAYS?
MASTER CLASS (2014-2015) was definitely a favorite. As board members, we get a chance to sit on an “Adopt a Show” committee and work to fill the seats during a show’s run. MASTER CLASS was the first show I did that for and we nearly sold out opening night. I remember the standing ovation; you could feel the energy in the crowd! I just have beautiful feelings about that night.

I am now looking forward to GREAT EXPECTATIONS in the upcoming season. I think that is going to be an amazing production because everybody has an attachment to that play, and I think it will be a great way to close out the season.

4. FAVORITE ACTOR(S)?
Angela Iannone, who played Maria Callas in MASTER CLASS, was incredible.

I love James Pickering. He was in LOVE STORIES last season and I just think he’s a local gem.

I am also a big fan of Doug Clemons and Adam Estes. They were in a show last December called THE STORY OF MY LIFE that was a partnership between MCT and the Milwaukee Opera Theatre. Clemons and Estes are probably two of Milwaukee’s strongest vocalists, and to see them in the same show together was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

5. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR PROUDEST MOMENTS BEING A PART OF MCT?
I really enjoy sitting at the board meeting and looking around the table. It’s an incredible group of people, everyone from community leaders to business professionals that have helped build Milwaukee. We have a growing group of young professionals, too.

I’m very proud of the way the board embraces a new person that joins and really tries to play to their strengths. We help them find their place and I think that’s what makes them stay with us.

6. WHAT DO YOU DO PROFESSIONALLY?
I am a retirement specialist and financial advisor at Baird. I have been in that role since moving to Milwaukee three years ago. I have an office in Waukesha and spend a few days of the week serving clients in Madison. I love the work because it allows me to blend my financial background with my ability to connect to people well. It’s really important to me that I’m there to guide my clients through this kind of critical life planning. I’m also passionate about closing the gap in financial education for women, and this role allows me to do that.

7. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN? ANY HOBBIES?
My husband and I are big “foodies.” We even plan vacations based on restaurants we want to try.
We also love to travel. We like to do those get in the car and see the country kind of trips. One of my favorites was five years ago when we drove to Yellowstone Park. When we arrived, it was dusk, you could see the fog rolling in and there were two bison at the main gate. It was just breathtaking. I didn’t even know something like that existed in the United States.

One other big love of mine is promoting dog rescue, especially senior dogs. My husband and I have rescued two of them. We have a Corkie-Chihuahua mix named Winston, and a Pug-Chihuahua mix named Elsie. We take them everywhere with us. If I could bring them to work, I would!

8. FAVORITE PLACE TO GRAB DINNER BEFORE A MCT SHOW?
Onesto in the Third Ward. I love their mushroom gnocchi. I also love Merriment Social in Walker’s Point. They have great tapas and a gastropub menu as well.

9. FAVORITE WISCONSIN SPOT THAT NEVER GETS OLD?
My husband, George, and I love to go to Door County in the fall. It’s just a really incredible place to disconnect. There is so much to see there experiencing Wisconsin at its best. And it’s a fun drive to go there and pass through the Green Bay area, it’s very pretty.

10. FAVORITE SUMMER FESTIVAL IN MILWAUKEE?
Festa Italiana. I like the food, music and people there. I feel like it’s a smaller version of Summerfest and not quite as crowded. It’s really family-friendly, too, and I really enjoy that part of it.

11. ANY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT YOU’RE A PART OF THAT YOU ENJOY AND WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT?
I sit on the Next Generation Council with UPAF. It is made up of leaders from various Milwaukee companies, large and small. We focus on promoting and engaging the next generation of philanthropists for the Milwaukee arts scene. We want to keep it thriving for years to come. This group is really the next generation of leaders in the city and I just feel privileged to be a part of it.

I am also the board president of the Capital City Theatre in Madison. It’s a new musical theatre company, now in its third year. They have an amazing group of talented, hardworking individuals. The group most recently featured Gypsy and the show was a huge success.

12. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE IN THE AREA WHO AREN’T FAMILIAR WITH MCT TO KNOW ABOUT IT?
I think the biggest thing you need to know is that MCT is a gem of classical theater and new works. It’s really a beautiful, intimate experience, and once you go see one show, you’re going to be hooked!


This upcoming season is the perfect time to check us out. There will be a little bit of everything. Artistic director Michael (Wright) has really created an amazing 2016-2017 season.

Friday, May 27, 2016

MCT BOARD MEMBER PROFILE: Rachel Borens

by Max Seigle
 
1. WHERE ARE YOU FROM? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN MILWAUKEE?

I’m originally from the Wausau area in Central Wisconsin. I moved to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University and fell in love with the area. I went on to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison but moved back to Milwaukee in 2008 and have been here ever since. I continue to enjoy all of the things about Milwaukee that I fell in love with while at Marquette; great restaurants and theatre, festivals, events and many opportunities for outdoor activities.

Rachel Borens

2. HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THE MILWAUKEE CHAMBER THEATRE?


Fellow board member Mickey Ripp, father of a good friend of mine, invited me to the final show of the 2014-2015 MCT season. We saw JEEVES TAKES A BOW as part of a group coming from the Wisconsin Club. We had dinner first and then took a shuttle over to the theatre. It was such a fun show and a great experience to go with the group. I remember the show was in the Cabot Theatre. I thought the venue was really spectacular because you wouldn’t expect what it looks like from the outside. It has a little bit of an “old world feel” to it. We sat up in the dress circle balcony and had a unique view of the performance. I’ve even kept my subscription seats in the same spot. This past season, I hosted my own group outings to BOEING BOEING and FALLEN ANGELS. I invited friends to meet at the Milwaukee Athletic Club for drinks and appetizers and then go see the show together. It has been really nice to share the kind of experience I had with Mickey Ripp. I try to take care of the logistics for people, make it an event, and let them enjoy the night. My guests have really enjoyed this, and they are already excited for next season’s theme of “Misfits.”


3. FAVORITE PLAY OR PLAYS?


My first play as a board member was BOEING BOEING. It was such fun show with great characters, bright colors, and a real “crowd-pleaser.” The whole group of friends that I brought for an after-work event on a Thursday evening thoroughly enjoyed it.


4. FAVORITE ACTOR/ACTORS?


I liked the real-life married couple Tami Workentin and James Pickering in LOVE STORIES this past season I thought that it was such a neat premise that they were acting together and injected their own life into the performance. I also liked the two women in FALLEN ANGELS. All the dialogue back-and-forth between them was terrific.


5. YOU ARE A NEW BOARD MEMBER AT MCT. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN THE BOARD?


I’ve enjoyed all different kinds of performances and theatre in Milwaukee since moving back here. When I was invited to join the board, I thought it would be a great chance to get involved in the city’s artistic culture from the inside and contribute more personally to the arts in Milwaukee. My hope is to help keep the theatre scene vibrant here and bring new people to MCT who might not otherwise come. Personally, this is the first board that I’ve sat on. I’m enjoying the interaction with a diverse group of people and getting the chance to meet the actors on occasion. This is something outside of my work and existing circles, kind of a “branching out” experience for me and getting to know more of Milwaukee. As a new board member, I am also enjoying the chance to read the plays before the performances. Often, what comes to mind while you’re reading is so different from how the story comes to life onstage.


6. WHAT DO YOU DO PROFESSIONALLY?


I’m a pharmacist for Aurora Healthcare. I have been working for Aurora since 2008. I’m based at a retail pharmacy that is part of a clinic in Glendale and have managed the location for the past five years. I enjoy the interaction with patients and the relationships I form with them. I’ll typically see patients once a month when they come to pick up their prescriptions, much more frequently than they see their doctors. It’s a nice opportunity to make a difference on a pretty regular basis. I have actually worked in pharmacies since high school. I always liked math and science, and knew that this was a track I wanted to stay with for my career. I have a Pharm.D degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


7. WHAT YOU DO FOR FUN? ANY HOBBIES?


I love being out and about in Milwaukee and trying new restaurants. I enjoy running and biking in the summer along the Oak Leaf Trail. I also love to travel. I try to go on an international trip every year. Argentina has been on my list for a while now, and I am planning to go to this fall. I have enjoyed trips to Barcelona, France, Mexico and Italy in recent years. This past May, I was able to travel to Italy with my parents, brother and sister-in-law and my boyfriend. I had been there before but it was a great experience to travel as a family, and take my parents who have always wanted to go to Italy. Rome is one of my favorite cities. I just love the old next to the new, history everywhere you look, always a gelato stand in striking distance and amazing food. It’s beautiful and walkable, and lovely to do the stroll in the evening past all the iconic fountains and monuments. I also enjoy visiting friends and family in the United States, including a cousin in Seattle. Pike Place Market, with the amazing seafood, is a favorite spot


8. FAVORITE WISCONSIN SPOT THAT NEVER GETS OLD?


Door County has always been a special place for my family. We grew up going there every weekend in the summer and had a permanent spot at a campground. We had our bikes, our campground had a pool, tennis court and we explored all around. The Eagle Trail at Peninsula State Park was one of our favorite hiking spots, wrapping right along the limestone bluffs around the edge of the peninsula. During holidays in the summer, our extended family often joined us. Now, I try to go at least once a year, and sometimes in the off season in the winter when it’s a little less crowded. It’s a nice getaway experience and still a favorite place to go. My aunt and uncle just finished building a home there and are going to retire in Door County, so we’ll be able to continue the tradition of going up there as a big family group.


9. FAVORITE SUMMER FESTIVAL IN MILWAUKEE?


Polish Fest. I’m a closet polka dancer. We grew up polka dancing in my family. Although I’m not Polish, I’m 100 percent German, we would have polka bands at my aunt and uncle’s weddings when I was growing up. We liked it and everybody had fun dancing. There are not too many polka weddings anymore, so it is fun having the chance to dance at Polish Fest. Polka is faced-paced and lively with a lot of hopping and spinning. Watching other talented dancers is almost as much fun as dancing yourself. I remember at a recent Polish Fest, there was a band with mother, father and six or seven kids performing together. Everyone was playing an instrument, they were really good and all having a good time performing. The dancing and music, with good food and beer, makes a good time for all.


10. FAVORITE PLACE TO HAVE DINNER BEFORE AN MCT SHOW?


I enjoy Hinterland on Erie Street. They have the option of doing the full restaurant or having a smaller bite in the lounge. They are friendly when you walk in and always coming up with something new on the menu. They also have a great bed and breakfast, the Whistling Swan in Door County, which I highly recommend.


11. ANY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT YOU’RE A PART OF THAT YOU ENJOY AND WHAT WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT?


I am a member at Saints Peter and Paul Parish on the East Side. We do some great things for the community, like our collaboration with the Riverwest Food Pantry. We collect donations weekly and offer fresh produce grown at our community garden in the summer and fall. I am also a member of the Evening Mass Choir. We sing at the 7 p.m. mass on Sundays. I enjoyed singing in the Liturgical Choir while I was at Marquette University, and am now enjoying the musical outlet of our casual, small group choir on Sunday evenings at Saints Peter and Paul.


12. BACK TO MCT: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE IN THE AREA TO KNOW ABOUT THIS THEATRE COMPANY WHO MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH IT?


I think a lot of people have seen shows at some of the bigger theatres in the city, like the Marcus Center, and may not know about us. I feel our smaller size makes MCT more accessible and offers more interaction with the audience, especially with the Studio Theatre. It’s a more intimate experience there. There is also a broad range of shows each season featuring local actors. I like that we have a theme that ties all of the shows together.


Monday, May 9, 2016

MCT BOARD MEMBER PROFILE: Keith Anderson

by Max Seigle

1. WHERE ARE YOU FROM? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN MILWAUKEE?
I was born and raised in Milwaukee on the Northwest side. I’ve been here all my life other than my college years spent at the University of Illinois in Champaign. I came back in 1966, landed a job here and spent my professional career working in architecture. My wife and I currently live in Whitefish Bay.

Board Member Keith Anderson
2. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE AT THE MILWAUKEE CHAMBER THEATRE?
My first connection to MCT was actually through my job in the 1980’s. I was working with Clair Richardson. He was the founder of Skylight and a prominent member of the Milwaukee theatre community at the time. I helped him redesign a theatre space across from Cathedral Square where MCT was also performing shows in its early days, and that’s how I first became acquainted with the company. I have been an MCT subscriber ever since.

3. FAVORITE PLAY OR PLAYS?
I loved THE TRAIN DRIVER last season. I also loved LEND ME A TENOR. As a board member, I really enjoy when Michael Wright, our Artistic Director, brings in models of the show sets; that appeals to my mindset as an architect. I remember when he came in with the set for LEND ME A TENOR and his line was, “This is not shtick but is has six doors.” I loved that line! Anyone who knows comedy knows there are usually a lot of doors involved, people coming and going.

4. FAVORITE ACTOR?
I love James Ridge. He’s a marvelous actor. I remember seeing him playing a librarian in a one-man show. It was called UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL back in 2013. I’m also a fan of Jim Pickering, who was in LOVE STORIES this past fall. He is one of those actors in play after play after play, and I don’t remember a clinker. He’s just a good actor.

5. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN THE BOARD?

The first reason was George Mosher. He’s a former MCT board member and someone I worked with professionally. When I met George, we hit it off immediately and not too long afterwards, he asked me to join the board. I then had the chance to meet with MCT’s Artistic Director Michael Wright and Managing Director Kirsten Mulvey. When we met in a sort of interview process for the board, that just fanned the fire. I knew I really wanted to be involved in this theatre. I so appreciate Michael’s vision of promoting “quality literature” in theatre; it appeals to me. I think one of the advantages we’ve had at MCT is that we really do good plays all the time.

I also joined as a way to give back to my hometown. Many people feel very fortunate in where they are in life and what they’ve accomplished and I am one of those people. I never thought that I’d run an architecture firm for 25 years. For me internally, that makes it imperative to look at the community of which I’m a part and see what I can do to give back. It can be something that you truly enjoy at a gut level and MCT has been that for me. I’ve been on the board since 2008.

6. YOU ARE A FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE MCT BOARD. ANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS YOU’RE ESPECIALLY PROUD OF UNDER YOUR LEADERSHIP?
The thing that I’m most proud of is that we were able to maintain a high quality of literary plays, while also enhancing the budget. Theatre can be a tough business, especially when people don’t have as much discretionary income. But I do think we’re in a decent financial place and it’s getting better.

7. WHAT DO YOU DO PROFESSIONALLY?
I spent my career as an architect and ran a firm in Milwaukee for 25 years called Engberg Anderson Architects. I retired in 2013.

8. WHAT YOU DO FOR FUN? ANY HOBBIES?
When I was young, I was into all kinds of sports, like golf and basketball. I still play a lot of golf but no more basketball. At one time, I was known as the city’s leading authority on croquet because I founded the Milwaukee Croquet Club in the mid-90s. I still play today. Since I retired, I love spending time outdoors doing almost anything you can possibly think of, biking, cross-country skiing in the winter, taking hikes, anywhere you can get out in nature. My wife and I have also started to travel more in retirement. We’ve been to the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. I’ve been to Churchill Manitoba on Tundra Buggies to observe the polar bear fall migration. This spring we went on a Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona around the boot of Italy and back up to Venice. This fall, we’re planning a bicycle tour overseas in Slovenia, Austria and Italy.

One of my favorite places in the world is Alaska. I just think it’s exquisitely beautiful. I drove out there 37 years ago with my eight-year-old son and spent a month camping in the back country. I remember coming across a black bear cub and then the mother appeared and started running after us. Luckily, our van wasn’t too far away. I don’t think the slide door of a Volkswagen Camper Van has ever been opened and closed so quickly!


9. FAVORITE WISCONSIN SPOT THAT NEVER GETS OLD?
Anything along the water. I used to spend time in my single days at places like Harrington Beach and Lyons Den Park near Grafton. I’m fortunate enough to own a lake cottage on Upper Lake Nashotah near Oconomowoc. On weekends in the summer, we just send a message out to our friends to join us for a float boat tour and cook out. We call it “Open Sunday” at the lake.

10. FAVORITE SUMMER FESTIVAL IN MILWAUKEE?

Summerfest. My son and his family, who live in Portland, Oregon, are coming this summer to visit that week and see the festival.

11. ANY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT YOU’RE A PART OF THAT YOU ENJOY AND  WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT?
I am President of the Board at “Impact” in Milwaukee. They run the “211 program.” People can call that number when they are “down and out” and don’t know where to turn. The counselors recommend places to go and appropriate services. They work with everyone from the homeless to a family worried about their child’s addiction problem. The testimonials that we get back are enough to tear your heart out.

12. BACK TO MCT: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE IN THE AREA TO KNOW ABOUT THIS THEATRE COMPANY WHO MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH IT?

Come and see us, because I believe if you do, you will come again. You will almost assuredly enjoy yourself and realize on the way home that it was worth your time to come and see a Chamber Theatre performance. It’s entertainment, for sure; sometimes it’s humorous and just for some fun and sometimes it’s a more serious production. I know from personal experience that people my wife and I have invited to a show have returned on a regular basis, even some folks who were hesitant at first. I think that’s a big part of our success, inviting friends and colleagues who eventually get hooked!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Meet the Cast of FALLEN ANGELS




















KAY ALLMAND
(Julia Sterroll)
Kay is grateful and thrilled to be back at MCT after appearing in JEEVES TAKES A BOW last season. Recent Wisconsin credits include Truvy in STEEL MAGNOLIAS, Laura in THE GLASS MENAGERIE and the female track in THE 39 STEPS at Third Avenue Playhouse in Door County. She also spent three seasons with Door Shakespeare 2009-2011. She has also worked extensively in Houston, most recently in PANTO SNOW QUEEN: UNFROZEN at Stages Repertory Theatre, ALMOST, MAINE with Unity Theatre and as Annette in GOD OF CARNAGE with Stark Naked Theatre. Next up is ISAAC’S EYE at Third Avenue Playhouse and A LOVELY SUNDAY FOR CREVE COUER here at MCT! Kay has a BFA from Midwestern State University and an MFA from the University of South Carolina and was an acting intern at Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Love is the answer.

MATT KOESTER
(Maurice Duclos)
Matt returns to MCT after playing Gussie Fink-Nottle in JEEVES IN BLOOM. He has previously worked with Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Youngblood Theatre and The Alchemist Theatre among others. When Matt isn't acting, he is working full time as a second grade teacher at Cross Trainers Academy. He would like to thank God for his abundant grace and many blessings!

BETH MULKERRON
(Jane Banbury)
Beth is thrilled to be back with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre where you may have caught her as Sandra in A THOUSAND CLOWNS. Stage highlights include the Off-Broadway musical, REDHOOK and performing in concert with Davis Gaines. Regional highlights include A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Belle, Katherine) at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, THE WINTER'S TALE (Hermione/Autolycus) at Optimist Theatre, BIG (Susan) at First Stage, THE SIZZLIN' 60's at The Fireside, PACKER FANS FROM OUTER SPACE (Peggy) at The Marcus Center, and SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (Dot) Windfall Theatre. Television and voiceover credits include Miller, GE, the Wisconsin Lottery and NBC’s Ed. Beth has also appeared in independent films and has enjoyed recording extensively for Hal Leonard. She studied musical theatre at Cincinnati’s CCM and received her BFA from FSU.

RICK PENDZICH
(Fred Sterroll)
A graduate of UW-Whitewater, Rick has performed in six Milwaukee Chamber Theatre mainstage shows: Max in LEND ME A TENOR, Eustace in JEEVES INTERVENES, Floyd in THE FOURTH WALL, Stanley in BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, Sandy Tyrell in HAY FEVER, and (most recently) joined fellow Whitewater Mafiosos  in THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) [REVISED.] Other favorite roles include Centipede in JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH at First Stage, Goss in BUG at Splinter Group, The Gentleman Caller in THE GLASS MENAGERIE at In Tandem Theatre and Mark Cohen in RENT at Skylight Music Theatre.  “Enjoy the show!”

MOLLY RHODE
(Saunders)

Molly first appeared as Saunders in FALLEN ANGELS in 2001 at Next Act Theatre under Michael Wright's direction. It was her professional debut in Milwaukee, and she is honored to revisit this delightful piece again with good friends. Molly's prior work at MCT includes acting in A THOUSAND WORDS and TRYING and directing MAIN-TRAVELLED ROADS. Molly has been an Actors’ Equity member since 2003 and has worked on stages all over Milwaukee, as well as in Madison, Spring Green, and Door County. She serves as the associate artistic director of Northern Sky Theater in Peninsula State Park, and is proud to make her entire artistic living in Wisconsin. Upcoming projects include directing the world premiere of DOCTOR! DOCTOR! at Northern Sky this summer, acting in UNSILENT NIGHT at Next Act in the autumn, and two works here at MCT next season. She'll be playing Helena in A LOVELY SUNDAY FOR CREVE COEUR and directing GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Thank you to Michael Wright for fiercely supporting new talent in Milwaukee. You've been both a rock and a beacon for so many in our community.

CHASE STOEGER
(Willy Banbury)
Chase couldn’t be more excited to be back on the Cabot Stage with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre! Last season he played Binky in JEEVES TAKES A BOW and himself in THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) [REVISED]. He also just finished the world premiere of JUST A LITTLE CRITTER MUSICAL at First Stage. This coming summer he will celebrate his tenth season under the stars in Door County with Northern Sky Theater! In his spare time he takes direction and casting choices from his daughter Silvia, and might have a little time to crochet her another hat to wear. Check out his headwear at realmencrochet.com!