Tuesday, September 26, 2017

MCT Board Member Profile: Patrick Fennelly

by Max Seigle
1.    WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I grew up in Greenfield and went to Marquette University High School. From there, I went to Marquette University where I majored in theatre and English. I decided to stay in Milwaukee afterwards because I’ve always liked it here. The city has just about everything you need. It’s a very eclectic community and has a vibrant arts scene. I’ve just always felt a strong connection here and am proud to call myself Milwaukee “through and through.”

My wife and I previously lived in Pewaukee but we just moved to the city in June. We bought a house on the Upper East Side and are excited about the quality of life and the proximity to downtown. Instead of 40 minutes to get to a show at MCT, it will only take us 10 minutes! We also felt like it was time to come back and be part of all of the great things that are happening in the city right now.  


2. HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT MCT?

My first job out of college was at the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. I spent three years there as a Public Relations and Marketing Manager. It was a really good fit with my theater and English major and my desire to have a behind-the-scenes role for a theater company.

One of the major highlights of the job was working with MCT’s original artistic director, Montgomery Davis. He was like another grandpa to me. After Davis retired, the search began for a new artistic director and that’s when we came across Michael Wright. Michael was such a natural fit for the role and everything just felt right with him coming on board. I think it’s a testament to MCT that it has only had two artistic directors in its history — it has created a great continuity. Michael wasn’t out to set a new direction when he joined us. He was out to preserve a company vision that was already strong. 


3. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN THE BOARD?

After working for MCT right out of college, I felt I had made a connection here that I couldn’t let go. Once you’ve embraced this place, you’re part of the MCT family! 

So I approached Michael and Kirsten about reconnecting through a seat on the board. At the time, I thought I could offer a commitment at that level and add value to the company. I also wanted to give back because MCT took a chance on me with my former job here and gave me some valuable work experience. I was interested in joining an arts board as well, so it was a no-brainer to do something with a place I already had special ties to. I have been on the board for five years now.

4. FAVORITE PLAY?

I tend to like plays that make my wife laugh the most. We really liked BOEING BOEING. I thought A LOVELY SUNDAY FOR CREVE COEUR had one of the best ensemble casts we’ve had in a long time.
It’s hard to pick a favorite play because we’ve had so few clunkers that we’ve produced. I think the fact that I can’t pick one is the best thing about the Chamber Theatre and a real testament to this company. 

5. FAVORITE ACTOR? 

My wife and I really enjoy Chris Klopatek’s work. We sponsored LOBBY HERO last year because he was in that production (he played Jeff, the apartment building security guard).

This year, we sponsored DEATHTRAP because we are also big fans of Di’Monte Henning. He was also in LOBBY HERO (he played William, the apartment building security manager). 

6. MEMORABLE MOMENTS AT MCT?

I have actually enjoyed more of the challenging times for MCT and being there to help the staff navigate and overcome them. I served as treasurer for the beginning of my term on the board and helped out during some tough financial periods. I felt like I was there when they really needed a perspective like mine.

7. WHAT DO YOU DO PROFESSIONALLY?

After working at MCT, I made a career move into finance. I just marked my ten-year anniversary as a certified financial planner with Morgan Stanley. I work in the company’s Brookfield office, and help individuals, couples and families manage their finances in preparation for retirement. I find this job to be very rewarding given the trust that clients put in me to help build their “nest egg.” I’ve come to understand just how hard people work to achieve this security and don’t take this responsibility lightly.

8. WHAT YOU DO FOR FUN? ANY HOBBIES?

My wife and I love to travel. We try to go to Napa Valley every other year. It is one our favorite places and kind of like our “Adult Disney Land.” We also enjoy cooking and entertaining.

I like to run as well and am excited to be able to run along the lakefront now that we've moved back to Milwaukee.

9. WHERE TO EAT BEFORE A SHOW?

Bavette in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. The restaurant has a phenomenal chef and the menu is always fresh with new dishes. It’s also right around the corner from MCT, so you can’t go wrong with it! 

10.  FAVORITE WISCONSIN SPOT THAT NEVER GETS OLD?

Fish Creek in Door County. My wife and I have a condo there and travel there all year around. It is a fantastic place to go and unplug and relax. We go hiking and there are great restaurants. You can be as active as you want, and sometimes we are and sometimes we’re not.  

11. FAVORITE SUMMER FESTIVAL?

Irish Fest. We’re Irish! My parents are also very involved in the festival and we have a great group of friends we volunteer with there every year. It’s tough, we serve beer!

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

I am member of the Milwaukee Rotary Club. It’s a wonderful organization with quality programming, and I love all the people you get to meet through this group.

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

First of all, people don’t realize MCT is the largest non-musical-based theater company in town after “The Rep.”

We’re a professional Equity playhouse with local talent on stage and behind the scenes. We are there to nurture the artists and help them produce some of the best theater in this city. While biased, I don’t think anyone touches the quality of our productions, and we do it in a really cool space. I’ve never hesitated to invite a client or friend or family member to an MCT play because I know that I can be proud of what’s going to be put on that stage. I don’t have to worry about that.

There is also a strong sense of family that is instilled in the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. As I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to let go of this place once you’ve made the connection. You can also be involved in so many ways here. We do lots of “extracurricular” programs, like the Young Playwrights Festival every year and the Talkbacks with the director and artists following the shows. You’re not going to find a dynamic like this with a larger theatre company.  

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