In Arts & Entertainment Commentary

James Valcq (left) and Robert Boles are running the Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay. Photo: Barb Tabak

In Arts & Entertainment Commentary

Amy J. Ludwigsen is the new managing director of Door Shakespeare.

Two Door County performing arts groups operate with new management this summer

(page 2)


Door Shakespeare is the reason Valcq and Boles are now running the Third Avenue Playhouse. Milwaukee native Valcq began performing professionally as a boy soprano with the Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Opera Company, and he acted in summer stock.

After earning a master's degree from New York University's musical theater program, Valcq turned his career toward composing, conducting and music directing for theater. Collaborating with the late Fred Alley of American Folklore Theatre, his stage musical adaptation of the film "The Spitfire Grill" won the Richard Rodgers Production Award presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The show has had more than 400 productions across four continents.

On Broadway, Valcq was a pit musician and associate conductor for the revival of "Chicago" for eight years, and he also played for "Scarlet Pimpernel" and revivals of "Cabaret" and "Flower Drum Song." But a few years ago he got the itch to act again, and Valcq began spending summers onstage with Door Shakespeare, working for his old friend Suzanne Graff.

Valcq and Boles, who met in a Skylight Music Theatre production in 1984, bought a summer home in Door County, and they began exploring the possibility of starting their own theater company. Boles' resume includes performing in "Footloose" on Broadway, working at a long list of regional theaters, appearing in the various versions of "Law and Order" on television, and acting in a number of films, including "The First Wives Club" and "The Royal Tennebaums."

He was most recently the founder and director of the theater program at the University of New Haven.

The Third Avenue Playhouse is owned and operated by a non-profit organization, and when a management vacancy occurred last year, Valcq and Boles stepped in as, respectively, managing director and artistic director. TAP had been mostly a presenting house, meaning it did not produce shows on its own, and the duo has changed that.

"The Subject Was Roses," the debut production of the new theater company, is currently running through July 15. Following that, "Souvenir," featuring Valcq and former Skylight singer-actress Claire Morkin, will be mounted July 19 to August. 12. Morkin has moved to Door County to be involved with TAP.

"Shirley Valentine" will be offered Aug. 16 to Sept. 16, and the season will end with "Almost, Maine" Sept. 20 to Oct. 14.

TAP has two performance spaces, with capacities of 250 and 84 persons. The theater productions are being presented in the smaller venue.

"We are doing small cast plays," Valcq said during an interview. "We have no plans to do 'Hamlet' or original regionally-themed musicals," he added, referring to the specialties of Door Shakespeare and American Folklore Theatre.

"We aren't competing with the large outdoor venues in the county. We want to offer something different, unique."

TAP is also presenting a wide selection of summer workshops for kids and teens, ranging from a clown class on Saturday to stage combat with AFT's Dan Klarer July 14, and improvisation with AFT's Doug Mancheski July 28 and Aug. 4.

Valcq and Boles are continuing TAP's tradition of presenting a variety of musical performers in the larger theater. Milwaukee's Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets (Saturday, Sunday and Aug. 25-26), Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band (July 21) and Milwaukee jazz singer Ellen Winters' tribute to Rosemary Clooney (Aug. 11-12) are among the shows on the schedule. Swedberg played George Costanza's fiancee on "Seinfeld," and she is also a big time ukelele musician.

Winter plans for TAP include a midwest playwrights festival next March. Dramatists will be invited to develop their new works, aided by directors and actors.

"We are going to do as diverse programing as possible here," Boles said.

<< Back

Page 2 of 2 (view all on one page)


Talkbacks

Dick_Bacon | July 9, 2012 at 9:54 a.m. (report)

The story was about PROFESSIONAL theater at TAP.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

rjkujawski | July 6, 2012 at 11:53 p.m. (report)

Regarding the phrase, "[TAP] did not produce shows on its own", I would just like to mention that TAP did indeed produce at least four shows a year on its own community group called TAPWorks; my husband and I were the main directors there since 2006 and often acted onstage there. Some of the shows we were responsible for were "Stepping Out', "It Had To Be You", "Barefoot in the Park", "The Odd Couple", "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" (twice) and "On Golden Pond" (also twice). We also ran TAP's summer theatre kids camp for 6 weeks each summer from 2007 through 2011 - 5 days a week, 4 hours a day, culminating in a book show that ran a 3-4 performance weekend each summer. However, since we were not paid to do any of this, we are not considered professionals, but the shows were rehearsed, directed, and produced just the same. TAPWorks used other directors as well, and they put on Tuesdays with Morrie, It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Our Town, The Gin Game and The Good Doctor, among others. Thanks for allowing me to set the record straight. Renee Kujawski, Sturgeon Bay, WI.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
2 comments about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.

Facebook Comments

Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.