In Arts & Entertainment

Milwaukee's own Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar returns to The Rep with "Junk." (PHOTO: milwaukeerep.com)

Rep announces 2018-19 season

Earlier tonight, Artistic Director Mark Clements and Managing Director Chad Bauman announced Milwaukee Repertory Theater's 65th Anniversary Season. It will be the largest season in over a decade featuring 15 productions at four venues with nearly 700 performances including expanded programming in the Stiemke Studio.

The 2018-19 season features five world, American and regional premieres including Ayad Akhtar's play "Junk," Andrew Bovell's "Things I Know To Be True," Lloyd Suh's "The Chinese Lady," Joanna Murray-Smith's "Songs for Nobodies" and Randall Myler and Dan Wheetman's "Mark Twain's River of Song."

"I'm so excited about the lineup we have planned for our special 65th Anniversary Season," says Clements. "I think the season as a whole perfectly illustrates what we are trying to accomplish as an organization in an ongoing conversation with our patrons and our community. I am especially pleased we are able to expand our programming in the Stiemke Studio, which is something I've been working toward for some time now. Our season is ambitious, bold and challenging - as it should be."

For the 2018-19 season just over 75 percent of the productions will be created by women and ethnically diverse voices, and more than 60 percent of the actors on stage will represent the ethnic diversity of the Milwaukee community.

The 65th Anniversary Season will begin with the unveiling of the $1.75 million renovation of the Stackner Cabaret.

"Three years ago, we adopted a new mission to create positive change through world-class theater experiences that entertain, provoke and inspire a diverse population reflective of our city," says Bauman. "Our 65th Anniversary Season will not only demonstrate how we intend to live our mission, but will also show our commitment to bringing the best of the world to Milwaukee and the best of Milwaukee to the world."

Here is the Rep's 2018-19 season (programming, cast, dates and prices are subject to change):

An American Premiere



Songs for Nobodies
By Joanna Murray-Smith
Directed by Laura Braza
Sept. 7-Nov. 4
Stackner Cabaret
A John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program production

Fresh off sold-out tours in Australia and the UK comes the American premiere of Songs for Nobodies. Opening in the newly renovated Stackner Cabaret, this one-woman tour-de-force show reminds us that everybody has a story – and a song – worth hearing. Share in the life-changing encounters between legendary divas and the everyday women whose lives they touched, interspersed with the songs that made Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday and Maria Callas icons of our age. Featuring such favorites as "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Amazing Grace," "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien," "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do" and "Vissi d'arte," Songs for Nobodies shows us the magical power of song.

From the creator of "Hamilton"

In the Heights
Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Directed by May Adrales
Sept. 18-Oct. 28
Quadracci Powerhouse
A co-production with Seattle Repertory Theatre
Corporate Sponsor: BMO Harris Bank
Executive Producers: Gina & Eric Peter, Judy Hansen

Winner of the Pulitzer, Emmy, two Grammy and three Tony Awards, Hamilton's creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is a global superstar and his four-time Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights is the perfect way to kick off the 65th Anniversary Season. The vibrant New York community of Washington Heights is a place where the air is filled with the sounds of salsa, merengue, soul, hip-hop and R&B. It's also a neighborhood on the brink of change, full of hopes and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. In the Heights is a show sure to capture the heart of all ages with its universal theme of chasing your dreams and finding your true home.

Gripping Historical Drama

Guards at the Taj
By Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Brent Hazelton
Sept, 26-Nov. 4
Stiemke Studio

Set in 1648 India this "ingenious piece of theater" (Washington Post), by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, explores the friendship of two imperial guards. At dawn a new edifice representing the soaring power of the empire will be unveiled, the glorious Taj Mahal. But for the two guards assigned to protect the palace, morning brings them an unspeakable task that will shake their faith in God, the empire and their lifelong friendship. This boldly funny and deeply moving play examines the true meaning of beauty and the cost of transcendence in a world that confuses the value of both.

An Energy-filled Musical Revue

The All Night Strut!
Conceived and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Fran Charnas
Musical Arrangements by Tom Fitt, Gil Lieb and Dick Schermesser
Additional Orchestrations by Corey Allen
Directed by JC Clementz
Nov. 9-Jan. 13
Stackner Cabaret

Featuring five triple-threat actor/musician/dancers, The All Night Strut! takes you on a musical journey through hits from the 1930s and 1940s from some of the greats including Duke Ellington, Frank Loesser and the Gershwins. From the funky jive of Harlem, to the romance of the Stage Door Canteen, it's filled with jazz, blues, bebop and American songbook standards such as "Minnie The Moocher," "In The Mood," "Fascinatin' Rhythm," "I'll Be Seeing You," "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing" and "White Cliffs of Dover." This international hit sings, soars and struts with sublime, timeless music that tugs the heart, tickles the funny bone and will raise the rafters of the Stackner Cabaret.

A Contemporary Hit Based On A Classic

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
By Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon
Directed by Kimberly Senior
Nov. 13-Dec. 16
Quadracci Powerhouse
Corporate Sponsor: Rockwell Automation
Executive Producer: Julia & Bladen Burns
Associate Producers: Amy & Fred Croen

Spend the holiday season with your favorite Pride and Prejudice characters as they gather at Pemberley, the stately home of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. In this clever and charming sequel to Jane Austen's masterwork written by the most produced playwright in America in 2017, the bookish and oft-forgotten middle child of the Bennet family finally has her day. An unexpected guest sparks Mary's hopes for independence and the chance to be the heroine of her own story. Told with exceptional modern wit and dazzling period style, this romantic comedy will delight Austen aficionados and newcomers alike.

Midwest Premiere Direct from Broadway

Junk
By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Mark Clements
Jan. 15-Feb. 17, 2019
Quadracci Powerhouse
Corporate Sponsor: Associated Bank
Executive Producers: Greg & Rhonda Oberland

Milwaukee's own Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar returns to The Rep with his epic new play, Junk. Immediately following its acclaimed Broadway run at Lincoln Center and featuring one of the largest casts ever on the Quadracci Powerhouse stage, this riveting story is set in the financial world of the 1980s. Inspired by the real junk bond kings of the day, it's a battleground of titanic egos where magnates are pitted against workers, lawyers against journalists and everyone against themselves. With Junk, debt is an asset and we see from the inside how money became the only thing that mattered.

World Premiere Event

Mark Twain's River of Song
By Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman
Directed by Randal Myler
Jan. 18-March 17, 2019
Stackner Cabaret
A John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program production
Executive Producers: Camille & David Kundert and Adlon Partnership

From the creators of The Rep's hit productions Low Down Dirty Blues and Back Home Again: On The Road With John Denver comes this exploration of the music and culture of America's first superhighway, the Mississippi River. From the iron red water in Minnesota to the deep, dark Southern Delta, the river carries the stories and songs of the people. Come take a ride on the Mississippi, guided by the voices of the men and women who lived and worked on the river, tied together with the observations and insights of the Mississippi's most famous traveler, Mark Twain. Performed by three world-class musicians, including David Lutken (Woody Sez, John Denver), River of Song is a journey through America's Heartland and features traditional songs like "Dance Boatmen Dance," "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" and "Deep River Blues."

New Play by a Leading Voice in American Drama

The Chinese Lady
By Lloyd Suh
Directed by May Adrales
Feb. 13-March 24, 2019
Stiemke Studio
A John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program production

In 1834, Afong Moy was brought from Beijing to America and put on display as the "Chinese Lady." Over the next several decades, she performed in a side show that both defined and challenged her own view of herself as she witnessed stunning transformation in the US. Inspired by the true story of America's first female Chinese immigrant, playwright Lloyd Suh unearths hidden history and questions the way we look at ourselves and others.

American Premiere

Things I Know To Be True
By Andrew Bovell
Directed by Mark Clements
March 5-31, 2019
Quadracci Powerhouse
A co-production with Arizona Theatre Company
A John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program production
Associate Producers: Catherine & Buddy Robinson

Bob and Fran Price have loved each other for 30 years and have built a home and raised four strong children. Set over the course of one year, this innovative and beautifully touching new play provides a unique perspective on the struggles the four adult Price children face to establish their identities and deal with personal crises. Written by critically acclaimed Australian playwright and screenwriter Andrew Bovell, Rep audiences will be the first in the country to experience this "warm play that will remind every audience member of their family" (The UK Telegraph).

Back By Popular Demand

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash
Directed by Dan Kazemi
March 22-May 26, 2019
Stackner Cabaret
Corporate Sponsor: Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren

From the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes this unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. Back by popular demand from our sold-out run in 2013, Ring of Fire features more than two dozen classic hits, including "I Walk The Line," "A Boy Named Sue," "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Ring of Fire" performed by a multi-talented cast, painting a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a foot-stompin', crowd pleasin' salute to a uniquely American legend!

A Classic From An American Master Playwright

August Wilson's Two Trains Running
Directed by Timothy Douglas
April 16-May 12, 2019
Quadracci Powerhouse

It's 1969 and change is in the air. But for the owner of a run-down diner in a dying Pittsburgh neighborhood, the Civil Rights movement may just be an impractical dream. Torn between whether to gamble on an urban-renewal buyout or sell his building to a predatory businessman, he finds himself caught between idealism and brutal reality. From Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson comes this masterpiece about everyday lives in the shadow of great events, and of unsung citizens who are anything but ordinary, in the play The New York Times declared as "Mr. Wilson's most adventurous and honest attempt to reveal the intimate heart of history."

Off –Subscription Programming

World Premiere Event

Lost Girl
By Kimberly Belflower
Directed by Ryan Quinn
Performed by the 2017 /18 Professional Training Institute Company
July 19-July 22
Stiemke Studio

We all know the story of Peter Pan, but what became of Wendy Darling in the years following her adventures? Long after returning from Neverland, Wendy decides that she must find Peter in order to reclaim her kiss and move on with her life. A coming-of-age exploration of first love and lasting loss, Lost Girl continues the story of J.M. Barrie's beloved character: the girl who had to grow up.

Milwaukee's Favorite Holiday Tradition

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Mark Clements
Directed by Leda Hoffmann based on original direction by Mark Clements
Nov. 27-Dec. 24
The Pabst Theater
Executive Producers Jay Franke & David Herro

The Rep's hit new adaptation is a tale of love, hope and redemption with just the right blend of beautiful music, lively dancing, stunning sets and eye-popping special effects. It's a dazzling Christmas feast with enough theatrical goodies to fill any sized stocking hung by the chimney with care. Join Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and Scrooge in this holiday classic the whole family will love.

Ninth Season
Rep Lab
April 4-8, 2019
Stiemke Studio

Milwaukee Rep's limited engagement short-play festival is back for its 9th year. See it all – drama, comedy, and everything in between – in this one-of-a-kind theatergoing experience featuring the talents of Milwaukee Rep's Emerging Professional Residents.

Every Brilliant Thing
By Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe
Directed by Terrence J. Nolen
April 12-28, 2019
Stiemke Studio

A young boy attempts to ease his mother's depression by creating a list of all the best things in the world: "Ice Cream," "Star Trek," "Surprises" and "Rollercoasters." As the list grows, he learns the deep significance it has on his own life over the course of three decades. Every Brilliant Thing shines a compassionate light in dark corners of the human condition and the lengths we go to for those we love. It is a testament to the healing power of storytelling and a reminder that hope is never truly lost.

The Stiemke Studio Season is presented by Ed Seaberg & Patrick Smith and Four-Four Foundation, Inc. Productions in the Stackner Cabaret are part of the Camille & David Kundert Stackner Season. Additional funding for The Rep's 2018-19 Season is provided by the United Performing Arts Fund


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