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!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

MCT BOARD MEMBER PROFILE: JULIE ANDING

by Max Seigle

MEET THE MCT BOARD! We're excited to introduce you to our Board of Directors! This is a great way to learn more about the
people who make up the MCT family.


MCT Board President Julie Anding
WHERE ARE YOU FROM? HOW LONG HAVE BEEN IN MILWAUKEE?

I grew up in Arena, Wisconsin, near Spring Green. Being close to the American Players Theatre, I go back all the time and see shows in the summer. I have lived in the Milwaukee area for 18 years and my home is in the Historic Third Ward

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE AT THE MILWAUKEE CHAMBER THEATRE?

My partner directed a play for MCT in 2012 called BUS STOP. It was in the big theatre, the Cabot, it’s such a great space. The play was a collaboration with UW-Parkside, and students and staff joined Milwaukee actors to put on the show. I like those kinds of university partnerships and have enjoyed seeing MCT do more of them over the years. Also, we moved into the Third Ward and it became our neighborhood theatre and that encouraged us to get more involved in going to the MCT shows.

FAVORITE PLAY?

Last season’s THE TRAIN DRIVER and THE GOOD FATHER. I thought both were really spectacular. I tend to like plays that deal with more meaty subjects, have more of an intellectual bent and hit on prevalent conversations going on across the country. 

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO JOIN THE MCT BOARD?

I wanted to be a part of an organization that was supporting the arts and helping make Milwaukee more vibrant. If we didn’t have live music, if we didn’t have live theater, life would be pretty dry and boring. And with so much emphasis on technology these days, there is something about seeing a live performance of music or theatre that’s very different from seeing it on your computer or on your TV.

My daughter and five nieces have also been very involved in theater, both in school and at First Stage. It has been a really important part of their development and they’ve grown immensely with those experiences. There is more than just sports to help with building stronger kids, so it’s really important for me to find ways to support the arts. 

YOU RECENTLY BECAME PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD. WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO TAKE ON THAT KIND OF LEADERSHIP ROLE?

I tend to be naturally drawn to leadership roles and I think we are at a really unique time right now. We have a really strong board with great, talented people. We are well-positioned to take MCT to the next level and I just want to help be a part of that.

WHAT DO YOU DO PROFESSIONALLY?

I have worked at Harley-Davidson for 18 years. I currently serve as the Senior Director of Talent and Learning in the Human Resources Department. I help the company attract and retain strong talent.

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?

I love motorcycles. I learned to ride one as a kid but didn’t buy one until I started working at Harley-Davidson. I think riding a motorcycle is one of the only things that I’m aware of where you can shut the rest of the world out. You can’t get distracted with technology. It’s kind of a “Zen” experience just being really focused on riding  the bike and watching the beautiful scenery around you. It is very freeing to have the wind in your face and just to be out there on a ride. Locally, I love to ride out by Holy Hill and by the Kettle Moraine area. One of my best rides I did was from Milwaukee to Kingston, Ontario, more than two thousand miles, it was absolutely fantastic. It was part of a special motorcycle rally for Harley-Davidson. We did the trip in two days there and two days back. We touched all five Great Lakes, which  was a personal goal we had on that trip.

If you don’t find me on my motorcycle, I’ll be at my family’s property just outside Spring Green. It’s a quiet, peaceful place along the Wisconsin River. It’s been in my family for four generations. I am also an avid reader and love to travel.

FAVORITE PLACE IN MILWAUKEE TO EAT BEFORE AN MCT SHOW?

In my neighborhood, I would say Bavette is a favorite as is Onesto and Kasana. If you are a carnivore, you will be happy at Bavette. At Onesto, it’s just good comfort food and Kasana has awesome tapas. All are  easy and close to MCT.

FAVORITE MILWAUKEE SPOT THAT NEVER GETS OLD?

THE LAKEFRONT! We don’t even know how lucky we are with that lakefront we have.

FAVORITE SUMMER FESTIVAL IN MILWAUKEE?

IRISH FEST. I have a bit of Irish in my heritage and I love to go and listen to Celtic music.

ANY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT YOU ARE A PART OF?

I serve on the board of WRTP/BIG STEP. They focus on workforce development in the manufacturing and construction fields. I like how they develop  people and give them a chance at a family-sustaining job.

BACK TO MCT: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT MCT WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE COMPANY?

I think of MCT as kind of this hidden gem in the Third Ward that is doing unique shows. It’s the combination of leveraging local talent and not choosing the “same-old, same-old” kind of plays every season. Our Producing Artistic Director, C. Michael Wright, really tries to select first-time shows that you won’t see anywhere else. And right now, the company is trying to bring more diversity into the talent and in the productions they are choosing and I think that’s really important. 

Thanks Julie! Stay tuned for more Board Member Profiles!

Getting to Know Peter Reeves



Peter Reeves is playing the role of Sterling in our production of “Slowgirl”. Read on to learn a little bit about him and his character.  

Tell us a bit about your character, Sterling.
Sterling is a damaged soul. Thoughtful, introspective and very much alone in his jungle retreat, Sterling believes he is making a 'radical change' in his life; in reality, he is escaping. When his niece Becky arrives, it is an invasion. It's as if a wild animal has entered his space. It forces Sterling to face particular truths: Did he give up on his former life? Can he find peace? Sterling is a challenge to play (as all characters are) in that he often speaks in non sequiturs and fragments. He has lost some of his ability to communicate.

Peter Reeves in "Slowgirl"
Is this a relatable play for you as far as Sterling & Becky’s relationship goes? (Are you an uncle yourself?)
I am indeed an uncle several times over. As far as the Becky/Sterling relationship goes, it is a very different than anything I've ever experienced with my family. They haven't seen each other in nine years. That's a long separation. What happens during the week they spend together is incredibly intense and probably shapes each of their lives for a long time. So yes, I can relate in terms of the type of things that families share, both the beautiful and the ugly. But what these two wonderful characters go through is unique and a little foreign to me.

What is your favorite scene / moment in the show?
There are so many! I love meeting Becky again-right at the top of the play. She is such a tidal wave of energy and naughtiness. It's fun to watch, to be around, to play off of. Sara is a delight!

This is your last show before moving to Pennsylvania, does that put more pressure or less pressure on your performance? Any other thoughts to share about moving? Do you hope to continue acting in Pennsylvania?
No. Acting is always pressure filled! I am always nervous no matter what show it is. I am looking forward to our move east. Kathy (my wife) and I love Lancaster. We've bought this 1880's row house with three floors. It's outrageous, impractical and so much fun. I cannot wait. I will miss Milwaukee and most of all Pius XI High School, where I have found a home and a family. I hope to act some but I really want to work less and be with family more. Does that make me lazy?

Have you ever walked a labyrinth? (If not, would you consider it? If yes, would you recommend it?)
I have walked a labyrinth at Pius XI in the chapel and also one in China! The Chinese labyrinth was carved from these bushes and located in Beijing. I would suggest everyone try it at least once. As Sterling says, "See how it hits you."

Be sure to see Peter’s final Milwaukee performance in “Slowgirl” playing now through March 20th

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

SLOWGIRL: One Week Until Preview!

By Alexander Coddington

This past Sunday, we had our designer run.  For those who might not know, a designer run is the first time that all of the show’s designers come for the first time to watch the actors perform the play in the rehearsal hall.  At around the halfway point in the rehearsal process (the end of week two), the designers, who’ve been working hard from home and production builds, come to see what the actors are doing onstage.  The lighting designer can get a better sense of where the actors are moving onstage to focus his lighting instruments and the scenic designer can suss out what parts of the set might need to be more fortified to support the actors and make them feel safe.  We're getting excited for folks to finally see this moving play a week from today at our Pay-What-You-Can Preview performance on Wednesday Feb. 24!

Props designer Melissa Centgraf has been hard at work on something we all love: FOOD!!  In the play, Sterling makes Becky a special dish called Chicken Los Angeles for her last meal in Costa Rica, and Melissa has tracked down a special ingredient for us.  A thin, light brown sauce, Lizano is a common condiment in Costa Rica, and found on restaurant tables as often as ketchup is “in the States.”  We put some Lizano on noodles, and thought it was pretty tasty!  The ingredients include water, sugar, salt, vegetables (onions, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers), spices, pepper, mustard, and turmeric.  In the United States, Lizano can be purchased online and at specialty food stores.  Give it a try!

As soon as Renaissance Theaterworks’ beautiful production of AGNES OF GOD closed in the Studio Theatre on Sunday, our crew and designers started loading in the set for SLOWGIRL.  We’ll continue exploring the play in the rehearsal hall until Friday when the set will be fully constructed, painted, and decorated.  And then we’ll head downstairs for tech rehearsals!  You’ll hear from me again then…


But in the meantime, here’s a fun piece of trivia!  In the production of SLOWGIRL co-produced by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse, Sterling was played by William Peterson, who you’ll recognize from his many years on CSI!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In Rehearsals for SLOWGIRL!

By Alexander Coddington

We’ve just begun work on our second week of rehearsal for SLOWGIRL.  As Michael Wright’s assistant director (and friendly neighborhood MCT Audience Development Coordinator), I will be providing eager Chamber-holics, as some of our biggest fans like to call themselves, at home with a glimpse into the magic that goes on inside Rehearsal Hall 5B.

Our first week kicked off with a meet-and-greet reception where many of you had the opportunity to mingle with the artists involved with the show.  (First rehearsal meet-and-greets are just one of the many perks of being a member of the MCT Friends – contact me for more information about joining the Friends at alex@milwaukeechambertheatre.com!!)

Scenic Designer Keith Pitts' model of Sterling's Costa Rican hut
We got to hear some insights into Michael Wright’s directorial vision for the play, which follows a girl and her uncle through an emotionally tumultuous week in the Costa Rican jungle, look at beautiful preliminary design renderings by costume designer Kimberly O’Callaghan (COLLECTED STORIES, CRIMES OF THE HEART) and an intricate miniature model of the set made by scenic designer Keith Pitts (‘ART’, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS), and heard actors Peter Reeves and Sara Zientek read Greg Pierce’s play aloud.

Peter returns to MCT after appearing in THE SWEETEST SWING IN BASEBALL in 2010 and A WALK IN THE WOODS in 2007. He is currently the Communications Director for Pius XI Catholic High School in Milwaukee. However, after SLOWGIRL closes he will be moving to Pennsylvania – so this may be his last appearance on stage in Milwaukee. He has appeared in numerous films and commercials and has performed with Next Act Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, First Stage, American Inside Theatre and Next Generation Theatre.

Sara made her MCT debut in MAURITIUS in 2011. She was part of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater Emerging Professional Residency. She has also worked with First Stage, InTandem Theatre, Splinter Group, Umbrella Group and Optimist Theatre.  She has been a teacher for First Stage, Waukesha Civic Theatre and Next Act Theatre, and was also a part of an educational tour of ROMEO AND JULIET with Utah Shakespeare Festival. She received her BA in acting from UW-Milwaukee.

Peter Reeves and Sara Zientek rehearse a scene from SLOWGIRL

So far, it’s been smooth sailing down to Costa Rica, but that doesn’t mean we’re not hard at work!  It’s an emotionally challenging and structurally interesting play that has been a thrill to experience in the rehearsal room.  Salud!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Into the Labyrinth



by Marcella Kearns, MCT Education and Literary Manager

Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France
In the 1990s, the labyrinth, an ancient spiritual symbol with roots around the globe, enjoyed a resurgence and renaissance in disparate communities of retreat, healing, and faith. Now, with Greg Pierce’s SLOWGIRL, MCT brings its own labyrinth to the Milwaukee stage. Both literally and figuratively, Pierce etches a labyrinthine journey into the heart of his piece. For your enjoyment, here’s a primer on this evocative symbol.

Significantly for the play, labyrinths and mazes aren’t the same beast. This separation is critical, though the two are so often equated the difference is usually lost. Mazes are “multicursal,” with many paths, and tend to puzzle or trap those who enter. Sometimes, it’s a mortal affair, like the most famous maze of western lore—the Minotaur’s maze in Crete, into which King Minos sent tributes of young Athenians for the monster to devour. The challenge of most mazes isn’t so mortally risky a quest, though recent young adult book and film franchises are capitalizing on that conceit. Still, the maze, by definition, presents the potential for failure given its twists.

A labyrinth, on the other hand, has only one path. Ari Berk paraphrases Hermann Kern’s complex definition so:
               
…a true labyrinth is a structure or design whose path can assume numerous forms, but cannot intersect itself. There are no choices for the traveler. You must enter and exit in the same place. Also, your path will fold back on itself, changing direction frequently, and will fill the entire space within its boundaries. It will move you temptingly past the center and then away again before leading you, eventually, to the center. (16)
Labyrinth in East Hardwick, Vermont

The design of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France fits this definition beautifully. A rosette with six sides forms its heart, around which multiple curves radiate in four directions and loop back on themselves. One entrance, like the stem of a flower, doubles as its exit. Built into the floor of the cathedral in the early 1200s, the labyrinth served as a pilgrimage-in-place for Christians who couldn’t make the trek to the Holy Land. Today, copies of the Chartres design and simpler models, which have bloomed as painted canvas, stone in grass, inlaid stone inside and outdoors, and even finger-tracing sculpture, can be found in multiple locations across the United States. Several of Milwaukee’s faith communities boast their own portable or inlaid design.

Walking a well-constructed labyrinth is a simple but potentially powerful form of meditation, if not for indefinable spiritual benefit, at the very least for mathematical satisfaction. A guide published by St. Mary Catholic Faith Community in Hales Corners suggests that a pilgrim walking the labyrinth considers three phases in her walk: purgation (letting go cares and concerns), illumination (being open to receive what is there at the center), and union (bringing a refreshed spirit back to the world). The single path allows opportunity for contemplation at this level or simple enjoyment of order, of beauty.

Minotaur's maze
It’s this design which Greg Pierce conjures as a central symbol—and, arguably, plot structure—in SLOWGIRL. The character Sterling, played by Peter Reeves, has exiled himself from the United States and taken up residence in Costa Rica. He has built himself a labyrinth, a place of contemplation, order, and retreat. His teenage niece Becky (Sara Zientek) encounters the labyrinth without the same reverence, but possibly with the same level of need. The estranged family members, two pilgrims untangling the most difficult events of their own lives, couldn’t be more different, but the labyrinth calls them both.

What will happen? No spoilers, but optimism recalls the sweet secret of a labyrinth. As contemporary spiritual practitioners maintain, one who chooses to enter the labyrinth can’t get lost. There are no wrong turns. There are no dead ends. The fundamental choice is the choice to enter. As long as he enters, and keeps walking, he will reach the center of the labyrinth and its secret heart. Then, as long as he keeps on walking, he will come out again.

A comforting thought.


References
Anonymous. “The Labyrinth at St. Mary Catholic Faith Community.” Pamphlet.

Berk, Ari. “The Dance of the Labyrinth is twisting, turning, and timeless.” Realms of Fantasy October 2004: 16-24, 88-89.

Curry, Helen. The Way of the Labyrinth: A Powerful Meditation for Everyday Life. New York: Penguin Compass, 2000.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1942.

Heinen, Tom. “For many, a walk through a labyrinth evokes a circuitous spiritual journey.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 13 April 1998: 1A, 8A.