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This holiday season brings the happy return of the production of Charles M. Schulz’s First Stage A NOL CHARLIE BROWN at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater. From the television special of Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson, with theatrical adaptation by Eric Schae ﬀ er, by special arrangement with Arthur whitelaw and Ruby Persson, and directed by the artistic director Jeff Frank, the piece features an iconic score performed by the musical director / pianist Paul Helm as well as 11 young performers in two different castings. As the beloved story says: It’s Christmas time. Everyone in town is giddy with the holiday cheer, but Charlie Brown has the Christmas blues. He is depressed by the marketing of the season. Will the staging of the Christmas play help him get into the spirit of the season? Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they discover the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a vacation outing that the whole family will cherish together! Sponsored by Associate bank, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren. Performance runtime is approximately 60 minutes, with no intermission. Suggested for families with young people aged 4 and over.
A NOL BY CHARLIE BROWN runs November 20 – December 26, 2021 at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets start at $ 24 and can be purchased in person at the Marcus Center box office at 929 N. Water Street, by phone at (414) 273-7206 or online at firststage.org.
“Charlie Brown is a study of persistence and positivity,” shared art director / director Jeff Frank. “No matter how many times Lucy retires this football, he has faith that one day he will kick this football through the studs. No matter how many losses his team have suffered on the baseball field, he remains hopeful that ‘A victory awaits. We can all relate to Charlie’s struggles. Life can be tough. We can get lost and discouraged. But this spectacle reminds us that we are at our best when we come together, when we take care for each other, when we take the time to really see each other. We all know it has been a difficult year and a half, and a time to reflect on what is meaningful in our lives. What better time to come back to one? old friend like A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, whose message is as relevant today as when it was written over 50 years ago? “
Jeff Frank (Artistic Director / Director / Student for Mr. Backes) is recognized as one of the best directors in the field with expertise in the development of new works for the theater for young audiences. He holds a BA in Theater from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an MA in Children’s Theater from the University of Utah. After serving as Director of Education and Academy of First Stage from 1996 to 2003 and Artistic Director of First Stage since February 2003, Jeff remains committed to the power of theater to transform lives and is still grateful to have taken up residence. at First Stage.
Paul Helm (Music Director / Pianist) is always grateful to be back at First Stage! Previous stage one credits include BIG RIVER, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, BIG FISH, SEUSSICAL, U: BUG: ME !, MY SON PINOCCHIO, ALEXANDER. . . VERY BAD DAY, JUNIE B. JONES. . . MONKEY BUSINESS, THE HAPPY ELF, A YEAR WITH THE FROG AND THE TOAD and THE GIFT FROM THE QUILTMAKER. Paul has performed, directed and directed music with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Hippodrome Theater, Florida Studio Theater, freeFall Theater Company, Sacramento Theater Company, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Fireside Dinner Theater, Hope Summer Repertory Theater and Bucknell University. Recent credits include MURDER FOR TWO, BRIGHT STAR, THE FANTASTICKS, SOUVENIR, CRAZY FOR YOU, THE COCOANUTS, SPRING AWAKENING, PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES, GUYS ON ICE and FOREVER PLAID. He has also been a vocalist for DISNEY ON CLASSIC, a three-month symphony concert tour of Japan with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. paulhelm.net
ADULT TO THROW
JT Backes (Snoopy) is more than delighted to return to Todd Wehr’s stage with First Stage (LOVABYE DRAGON, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, BIG FISH and RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER ™: THE MUSICAL). Other favorite roles: Bingo Little in BY JEEVES (Windfall Theater), Jon in TICK TICK BOOM (Lake Country Playhouse) and Dickon in THE SECRET GARDEN (Soulstice Theater). JT is the Academy Director for the First Stage Theater Academy and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.
Jeff Schaetzke (Lining for Mr. Helm/ Director of Artistic Operations) has a long history at First Stage as a director, teacher, musical director and actor, dating back to the role of Romeo in 1996. More recently, Jeff has directed ELF – THE MUSICAL and the music of MATILDA THE MUSICAL and LE BEST PAGEANT NOL BY Roald Dahl. THE MUSIC. Other favorites from the first leg include EDWARD TULANE’S MIRACULOUS JOURNEY, SPOOKLEY THE SQUARE PUMPKIN THE MUSICAL, LOVABYE DRAGON, RUDOLPH THE RED NOSE REINDEER ™: LA MUSICALE, ELLA ENCHANTED; BIG NATE: THE MUSICAL; BIG FISH (also having appeared as Edward Bloom); BIG, THE MUSICAL and many more. Jeff enjoys leading the young company’s trip to the American Players Theater; and he directed the production of the Company class of the Summer Academy of LEGALLY BLONDE, JR. in 2019. Longtime Milwaukee, Jeff has enjoyed working with many theaters in Milwaukee, including playing the PURPLE production of Father in Skylight Music Theater and conducting music for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Skylight Music Theater, The Carroll University, UWM and Marquette University. Other credits: THE DALY NEWS from the Milwaukee Chamber Theater, two seasons at the American Players Theater and a 22-year relationship at Dominican High School. Jeff was inducted into the 2014 Wisconsin Theater Directors Hall of Fame and won a 4-time Outstanding Music Award at the TOMMY / JERRY Awards at the Overture Center. He is proud to be a graduate of North Central College and the UW-Milwaukee Theater Professional Education Program.
The roles of young performer are in double distribution. The young performers of Sparky Cast include: Nolan Zellermayer(Milwaukee) as Charlie Brown; Thatcher Jacobs (Fox Point) as Schroeder; King Z. Pollard (Milwaukee) as Linus; Patrick kanter (Fox Point) as Shermy; Benjamin poindexter (Franklin) as Pig Pen; Alice rivera(Milwaukee) as Lucy; Lucy halpern (Whitefish Bay) as Violet; Maura Kuhnen-Grooms (Shorewood) as Sally; Taylor arnstein (Fox Point) like Freida; Lucie Harris (Fox Point) as Patty and Sharon chumlea(Cedarburg) as a skater.
The young performers of the Schulz cast include: Edouard Owczarski (Milwaukee) as Charlie Brown; Ben nowacek (Wauwatosa) as Schroeder; Guillaume Swoboda (Whitefish Bay) like Linus; Colin Weise (Wauwatosa) as Shermy; Layton Lal (Whitefish Bay) as Pig Pen; Ailie Snyder (Milwaukee) as Lucy; Abigial Montie (New Berlin) as Violet; Lauren DeGroot (Menomonee Falls) as Sally; Reese bell(Cedarburg) like Freida; Sydney McElroy (Milwaukee) like Patty and Lauren Edwards (Greenfield) as a skater.
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS artistic team includes: Jeff Frank (Artistic Director / Director);Chris Feiereisen (choreographer); Paul Helm, Member of the Actors’ Equity Association, (Music Director / Pianist); Martin mcclendon (Scenic designer); Jason Orlenko, USAA (Costume Designer); Noele Stollmack (Lighting designer); Melissa L. Wanke, Member of the Actors’ Equity Association, (Stage Manager) and Carrie Johns (Assistant manager).
Tickets start at $ 24 – Tickets can be purchased at firststage.org or through the Marcus Center box office, in person at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee or by phone (414) 273-7206 or toll free at (888) 612- 3500. The TDD number (for deaf and hard of hearing customers) is (414) 273-3080.
COVID Protocols: Stage one COVID security protocols can be viewed here: firststage.org/plan-your-visit/safety-security/ – performance
Special Events for A CHRISTMAS FROM CHARLIE BROWN
Pay what you choose Performance: Friday November 26, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.
Pay What You Choose tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis with a suggested minimum donation of $ 5 per person. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. on the day of the performance. Customers are encouraged to arrive early.
Performance interpreted in ASL: Sunday December 19, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.
This show will be performed in sign language for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Listening aids are also available at the Todd Wehr Theater.
Friendly sensory performance: Wednesday December 1, 2021 at 7 p.m.
A friendly sensory performance with accommodation for families with autistic children will take place on Wednesday, December 1 at 7 p.m. autism spectrum and other developmental differences, and more. Tickets for sensory performances are $ 10. Order by phone at (414) 267-2961, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to reserve tickets. To find out more, visit: firststage.org/plan-your-visit/sensory-friendly-performances/
About: A NOL BY CHARLIE BROWN
By Charles M. Schulz
Based on Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson’s TV special
Stage adaptation by Eric Schae ﬀ er
By special arrangement with Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson
Directed by Jeff Frank
Sponsored by Associated Bank, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren
Site: Todd Wehr Theater at Marcus Center, 929 N. Water Street, Milwaukee
Live shows: November 20 – December 26, 2021
The description: Get home for the holidays with First Stage and this treasured holiday classic. Everyone’s giddy with the joy of Christmas, but Charlie Brown has the Christmas blues. Will the staging of the Christmas play help him get into the spirit of the season? Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they discover the true meaning of Christmas. It is a holiday gift that the whole family will cherish. Performance runtime is approximately 60 minutes, with no intermission. Suggested for families with young people aged 4 and over.
- Saturday November 20 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Sunday November 21 at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Friday November 26 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. – PAY WHAT YOU CHOOSE PERFORMANCE AT 7:00 PM
- Saturday November 27 at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Sunday November 28 at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Wednesday December 1st at 7:00 p.m. – SENSORY PERFORMANCE
- Friday December 3 at 7 p.m.
- Saturday December 4 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Sunday December 5 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wednesday December 8 at 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday December 9 at 7 p.m.
- Friday December 10 at 7:00 p.m.
- Saturday December 11 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Sunday December 12 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wednesday December 15 at 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday December 16 at 7:00 p.m.
- Friday December 17th at 7:00 p.m.
- Saturday December 18 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- Sunday December 19 at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. – ASL PERFORMANCE AT 4:00 PM
- Wednesday December 22 at 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday December 23 at 7 p.m.
- Sunday December 26 at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
For more information, please visit firststage.org or call (414) 267-2961.