In Arts & Entertainment

Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar returns to The Rep for a third production next season. (PHOTO:

Rep announces new season and contract extensions for Clements, Bauman

A couple of really old chestnuts, a couple of new things and contract extensions for the leadership of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater were among the announcements in a ceremony at the Patty and Jay Beaker Complex on Monday night.

Artistic Director Mark Clements and Managing Director Chad Bauman each signed extensions. Clements, who started in 2010, is now under contract through 2021; Bauman, who was hired in 2013, will keep his post until 2023.

"We are thrilled to continue Milwaukee Rep's stellar leadership team with Mark and Chad," said Ed Seaberg, the dedicated and adventurous president of The Rep's Board of Trustees. "Mark's vision and ability to produce world-class works that entertain in ways that Milwaukee never could have imagined is a gift and testament to the community's hunger for new works. With Chad's strategic planning abilities, he supports and enhances the quality of work on stage by presenting a level of growth that is sustainable and dynamic.

"We are grateful to them both as they have elevated Milwaukee Rep and will continue to do so over the course of their tenure."

The Rep will stage 13 productions next year in the Quadracci Powerhouse, the Stiemke Studio and the Stackner Cabaret.

Clements will direct "Guys and Dolls," the six-and-a-half decade-old musical that has been produced everywhere from Broadway to grade schools. It's one of the most popular plays for schools to do, although it may take a back seat to "Our Town," the Thornton Wilder play that will be directed by Associate Artistic Director Brent Hazelton.

Both plays are expected to deliver fresh takes under the able hands of the directors and the high standards set by The Rep.

Ayad Akhtar will return for his third play in three seasons with Islam as the centerpiece of his works. This time the Pulitzer Prize winner will stage "The Who & The What," a story of the pains of growing up in America.

Here is information from The Rep on its entire new season:

A "Pitch Perfect" Tribute

A Fantasia On the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins
By Stephen Temperley
Directed by Laura Braza
Sept. 8-Nov. 5
Stackner Cabaret

Eccentric Manhattan socialite Florence Foster Jenkins once declared, "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing." And, oh, did she sing – often and loudly, but rarely on key. Her recitals brought her a legion of die-hard fans, and she capped her improbable career with a Carnegie Hall concert that famously sold out in two hours. Time Out calls Souvenir "a memorable illustration of the purely theatrical magic that can turn the tiniest ear to gold." Her story was recently told in an Oscar-nominated film starring Meryl Streep. Souvenir is a charming and hilarious musical comedy that reminds us that you can achieve anything when you set your mind to it.

Tony Award-winning Musical

Guys and Dolls
A Musical Fable of Broadway, based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser | Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Directed by Mark Clements
Sept. 19-Oct. 29
Quadracci Powerhouse

After sold-out productions of Ragtime and Dreamgirls, Mark Clements reunites with Olivier Award-winning choreographer Stephen Mear for a dazzling new production of the Tony Award-winning Guys and Dolls. This celebrated musical comedy follows two small-time gamblers as they pursue love and luck, from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, Cuba. It's no surprise that it tops Entertainment Weekly's list of "Greatest Musicals of All Time," as this granddaddy of American musicals has it all – show-stopping numbers, a timeless story, and some of the best show tunes ever, including "Luck Be a Lady," "A Bushel and a Peck," and "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat." It's a sure bet you'll leave the theater with a smile on your face.

A Brilliant New Play

The Who & The What
By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by May Adrales
Sept. 27-Nov. 5
Stiemke Studio

From Milwaukee native Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of "Disgraced" and "The Invisible Hand," comes a thrillingly fierce and funny new play about identity, religion, and the contradictions that make us who we are. Growing up Muslim with her close-knit family in Atlanta, Zarina is writing about women and Islam when she meets Eli, a young convert who bridges the gap between her modern life and traditional heritage. When her conservative father and sister discover her controversial manuscript, they all must confront the beliefs that define them. Called "a play not be missed" by the Chicago Tribune, The Who & The What is a passionate and searing look at a family divided by faith, bonded by love, and searching for truth in contemporary America.

A Musical Comedy to Die For

Murder for Two
Book and Music by Joe Kinosian
Book and Lyrics by Kellen Blair
Nov. 10-Jan. 14, 2018
Stackner Cabaret

Co-written by Milwaukee High School of the Arts graduate Joe Kinosian, Murder for Two is the perfect blend of music, mayhem, and murder that has played to sold-out audiences all over the country! In this hilarious 90-minute show, 2 performers play 13 roles – not to mention the piano – in a witty and winking homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries. Called "ingenious" by The New York Times, this fast-paced whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with killer laughs.

Midwest Premiere

Holmes and Watson
By Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by Joseph Hanreddy
Nov. 14-Dec. 17
Quadracci Powerhouse

Dr. Watson is called upon to disprove the many frauds, fakes, and charlatans who have popped up all over the world claiming to be Sherlock Holmes following his "death" at Reichenbach Falls. Watson travels to a remote mental asylum where three men have recently been admitted, each claiming to be the late detective and matching his physical description. Watson must confront the men and figure out which one is the real Holmes. This thrilling new drama, by the celebrated writer of the movies Mr. Holmesand Stage Beauty, is next up in our series of popular mysteries like The Mousetrap and The 39 Steps.

A Christmas Carol

By Charles Dickens
Adapted and Directed by Mark Clements
Featuring Jonathan Wainwright as Scrooge
Nov. 28-Dec. 24
The Pabst Theater

The Rep's hit new adaptation, which broke box office records last December, 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.

'Some animals are more equal than others'

George Orwell's Animal Farm
Adapted by Ian Wooldridge
Directed by May Adrales
Jan. 9-Feb. 11, 2018
Quadracci Powerhouse
A co-production with Baltimore Center Stage

Among the most famous political novels of all time, Animal Farm is a timeless and devastating allegory of idealism betrayed by the desire for personal power. When the animals of Manor Farm drive out their abusive farmer, they take over running the farm for themselves. Their experiment in collective leadership succeeds—until the pigs step into the vacuum of power created by the farmer's expulsion, and betray the ideals of freedom and equality for all animals. This vibrant and moving production will breathe fresh life into a literary classic as resonant today as when it was first published.

The Song is the Story

Black Pearl Sings!
By Frank Higgins
Jan. 19-March 18, 2018
Stackner Cabaret

Music unites strangers and bridges racial divisions in this powerful story based on real life events. It's 1933, and an ambitious song collector for the Library of Congress visits a Texas prison where she meets Pearl, an African-American woman with a soulful voice and steely spirit. Featuring more than a dozen beautiful a cappella renditions of spirituals and American folk songs, Black Pearl Sings! explores what it means to be a woman in a man's world, being black in a white world, and fighting for one's soul in a world where anyone can be a commodity. BroadwayWorld describes the play as "…a vivid reminder that the things that connect us are often stronger than the things which divide us."

World Premiere Event

One House Over
By Catherine Trieschmann
Directed by Mark Clements
Feb. 27-March 25, 2018
Quadracci Powerhouse

When Rafael and Camila Hernandez move in downstairs to help Joanne with her elderly father, Joanne breathes a little easier. She needs their help, and they need jobs. But she can't anticipate the complications that arise when "the help" starts to feel like family... and act like it. A brilliant new comedy by one of today's hottest playwrights, it's an empathetic but searing examination of boundaries, power, privilege, and fear in a single backyard.

A New Play Ripped From The Headlines

Until the Flood
Written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Neel Keller
March 13-April 22, 2018
Stiemke Studio

From Pulitzer Prize finalist and celebrated performer Dael Orlandersmith (Yellowman), comes an extraordinary theatrical event that explores the reactions of the St. Louis region to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. After conducting hundreds of interviews, Orlandersmith crafted a stunning play featuring eight real-life characters, all with unique and interesting perspectives. These stories reflect a range of human experiences – the drive to forward one's prospects with education, the innate need to protect our loved ones from the harsh realities of the world, and the urge to seek answers to life's biggest questions. The result is a theatrical mosaic of diverse voices that explores how a community heals and grows together.

World Premiere Event

Mark Twain's River of Song
By Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman
Directed by Randal Myler
March 23-May 20, 2018
Stackner Cabaret

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."

A Great American Classic

Our Town
By Thornton Wilder
Directed by Brent Hazelton
April 10-May 13, 2018
Quadracci Powerhouse

Wisconsin native Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is one of the greatest American plays ever written. With poetic beauty and simplicity, Our Town illuminates the powerful bonds that hold communities together through everyday life and moments of crisis, as it follows the lives of the Gibbs, Webbs and their friends and neighbors. With humor, wit, and exceptionally powerful storytelling, Wilder delivers universal truths about what it means to be human and encourages us to live life to its fullest.

Eighth Season

Rep Lab
Feb. 15-19, 2018
Stiemke Studio

Join us for a night of laughter and tears at this year's Rep Lab! Directed and performed by The Rep's Emerging Professional Residents, this critically-acclaimed short-play festival offers something for everyone. See it all –drama, comedy, and everything in between – in this one-of-a-kind theater going experience.


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