Thursday, March 22, 2018

MCT Board Member Profile: Emily Shircel

by Max Seigle

MCT board member Emily Shircel, with husband Leo
and twins Jacob and Lily.
1. WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I grew up in Grafton and went to Grafton High School. I later graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and lived in Minneapolis for a few years after graduation. After discovering an interest in law, I moved to Chicago for law school at Loyola University Chicago, School of Law. I practiced in Chicago for a few years and then moved to Milwaukee when a job opened up at Quarles & Brady. It was a return home for me as well as my husband, Leo, who is from Sheboygan. We currently live in Whitefish Bay with our 17-month-old twins, Jacob and Lily.

2. HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT MCT?

I first discovered MCT through a UPAF Smart Card promotion. A friend and I had front row seats to LEND ME A TENOR in 2014 and we thought it was hilarious. I loved the character Max, played by Rick Pendzich.

3. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN THE BOARD?

About three years ago, a colleague of mine at Quarles & Brady sent out a note to staff saying that she was leaving her seat on the MCT board. She asked if anyone was interested in replacing her and I jumped at the opportunity. I met with MCT staff to learn more about the company and was happy to hear they were looking for younger, energetic board members. I officially joined the board in 2014.

I’ve also been a huge fan of the arts going back to my childhood. I’ve always loved dance and musical theater, and even performed a little bit. Back in 2008, I played Millie Dillmount in the show THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, with Lakeshore Productions in Random Lake, WI. It was a memorable experience for many reasons, including meeting my husband who was also in the show.

After I started my legal career, I was always looking for ways to stay attached to the arts. Being a board member for MCT allows me to have that connection and enjoy the arts in a new and intriguing role.

4. FAVORITE PLAY OR PLAYS? 

I loved BOEING BOEING in 2015. I just thought it was delightful.

I was also a huge fan of GREAT EXPECTATIONS in 2017 and was able to see the show a few times. I saw it first with a “Girls Night Out” program with my colleagues from Quarles & Brady and we sat in the front row. I was able to see the show again with some friends and we sat further back in the Cabot Theatre. It was neat to see the production from different perspectives, take in more details and see how the actors had grown so well together.

5. FAVORITE ACTORS?  

Rick Pendzich: As mentioned earlier, I loved him in LEND ME A TENOR in 2014. I really enjoyed his physical side of acting and his comedic timing was spot on! I am looking forward to seeing him next season in SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY. I was able to get a preview of that performance at the MCT holiday party this past year, and Rick delivered a memorable sneak peek!
 
Josh Krause: I loved him as Pip in GREAT EXPECTATIONS in 2017 and later on that year as Jimmy in MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET. I actually started seeing Josh’s work when he was in college at Cardinal Stritch University and it has been wonderful to see how he has grown in his acting. I think he is one of the budding talents in Milwaukee and am excited to see that MCT is recognizing that and giving him some wonderful opportunities to showcase his talents. One of things I love about his acting is how much dimension he brings to his roles. 

Rana Roman: She brings so much energy and light to the stage. I love anything she’s a part of.

6. SPECIAL MOMENTS OR ACHIEVEMENTS THAT STAND OUT AT MCT?

I love being involved in a working board and with a passionate group of people.  It’s inspiring to see the energy from board members to pack the theatre on opening nights and how board members come together when MCT staff really needs their help. One example was the board’s contribution to bringing larger groups to see GREAT EXPECTATIONS and help fill seats in the Cabot Theatre.

As part of my role on the board, I sit on the Audience Development Committee and help generate ideas to draw more people to our shows. Before becoming a lawyer, I worked in the marketing department of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. I have been able to bring part of that professional experience to this committee role at MCT.

7. WHAT DO YOU DO PROFESSIONALLY? 

After college in Minnesota, I spent two years in the marketing department of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. During my time there, the orchestra was going through contract negotiations and I was fascinated by the legal process involved. I thought it could be interesting to “marry” law and the arts in a career and that’s what initially steered me on a path to law school.

I ultimately ended up pursuing corporate immigration law and spent two years practicing at a boutique firm in Chicago. In 2013, I came to Milwaukee to join a similar practice with Quarles & Brady. My job involves helping companies navigate the legal process when sponsoring employees for temporary and permanent work authorization. The employees range from computer engineers to sports professionals. I enjoy the variety of this work and the humanitarian element that comes with it. The experience has shown me that the legal profession doesn't always have to be adversarial, but can truly be a “win-win” in certain circumstances.

Working at Quarles & Brady has been a great experience. I love the work-life balance the company provides, along with the value placed on women in the workforce.

8. WHAT YOU DO FOR FUN? ANY HOBBIES?

With 17-month-old twins at home, my husband and I don’t have a lot of free time. But when we do, we love to check out the theatre scene in Milwaukee. I would say that’s the number one thing we enjoy doing together. We also like to travel and try new restaurants. We’re huge Harry Potter fans, too!

9. WHERE TO EAT BEFORE A SHOW?

We usually just grab drinks either before or after a show. We like the laidback, relaxed atmosphere at Camp Bar in the Third Ward. Their old-fashioneds are amazing!

We’ve also enjoyed the roof top bar at the new Journeyman Hotel in the Third Ward. There’s a very hip and trendy vibe and you can relax on the couches with the fires going.

10.  FAVORITE WISCONSIN SPOT THAT NEVER GETS OLD?

Since moving back to the Milwaukee area, my husband and I have enjoyed exploring the beautiful bike trails. The Oak Leaf Trail is one of our favorites with its connection to the lakefront. We like doing this as well because we can bring our kids along for the ride!

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

I recently joined the UPAF Next Generation Council. This group works to build the next generation of art enthusiasts and supporters in Milwaukee. We have a thriving arts scene today that adds so much to our community, and we want to ensure that it stays that way long into the future. At Quarles & Brady, I lead an associate level corporate campaign to spread awareness and funds for UPAF so it can support many local arts organizations, including MCT. 

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?

For me, MCT’s overall production value is truly impressive. I love knowing that when I see a show, the quality of the acting and the sets is going to be equally strong. When my husband and I bring guests to the shows, they enjoy it just as much as we do. We make an effort to bring our friends and family to each show we attend to expose MCT to as many people in our circle as possible. I also feel that our producing artistic director, Michael Wright, selects great stories that need to be told and stories with relevance to the world around us.

Want to follow Emily's example and join our board? Send managing director Kirsten Finn an email at kirsten@milwaukeechambertheatre.com to learn more!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review Roundup: THE BROTHERS SIZE

In just one weekend, MCT's production of THE BROTHERS SIZE, Tarell Alvin McCraney's blend of contemporary and mythic drama, has already won the hearts and minds of hundreds of audience members, as well as members of the local press! We've compiled a whole list of reviews here for you to check out before you arrive at the theatre - or after, if you want to relive the experience. To purchase tickets, call 414.291.7800 or visit our online box office.

Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The four men of MCT's production of THE BROTHERS SIZE:
Marques Causey (Elegba), Jahm├ęs Tony Finlayson
(the Egungun), Andrew Muwonge (Oshoosi)
and Travis A. Knight (Ogun). Photos by Paul Ruffolo.
"'Brothers Size' reveals divine sparks in three men"

"McCraney’s plays are filled with lyrical, transcendent arias; their delivery here is magical."

"Gobel’s actors — all doing excellent work — never let us forget the godlike men beneath the masks."

“(a) historic, landmark production”

"Muwonge’s Oshoosi can seem like a punk.  But Muwonge simultaneously suggests a sensitive and romantic dreamer, filled with a love reflecting his belief in a better world."

"Gobel has a poet’s sense of language, and she’s attracted to playwrights and productions that feature it.  We are incredibly lucky that this extraordinary artist makes her home in Milwaukee."

Gwen Rice, OnMilwaukee
"Chamber's 'Brothers Size' is a stunning accomplishment for all involved"

"Amazing performers take audiences on an epic journey. You've never seen a show like this before.”

"A fierce and smart performer in her own right, Gobel literally choreographs 'The Brothers Size' in a way that feels striking and magical, with a story that's both culturally specific and painfully universal.”

"As Ogun, Travis A. Knight is strong and formidable, both physically and emotionally."

Harry Cherkinian, Shepherd Express

"This taut, powerful production grips the audience from start to finish."

"as the suave, smooth Elegba, Marques Causey is fascinating to watch, a streetwise “serpent” in a gritty Garden of Eden."

"Knight conveys every detailed nuance, verbal and non verbal, of a man in great inner turmoil, trapped by his own responsibility and need to connect to his last remaining family member."

Dom Noth, UrbanMilwaukee   

"'The Brothers Size' upsets expectations"

"Lighting designer Jason Fassl pointedly blinds us at times with spotlights facing into the action like human observers.'

"Travis A. Knight is a true stage leader, quietly smart in how he reflects Ogun’s internal control, stronger than even he realizes and then stunningly angry when offended."

“’The Brothers Size’ is speaking volumes.”