skylight opera theatre artistic director bill theisen will begin the 2010 season across town at the milwaukee repertory theatre as one half of "laurel and hardy," the opening show at the rep's stackner cabaret. rep regular gerry neugent will play stan laurel.
theisen, who has appeared in over 15 shows at the skylight (and directed 15 more) has performed for virtually every other theatre company in town including the milwaukee chamber theatre, first stage milwaukee, next act theatre, the florentine opera, theater x and others. this will be the first time the veteran milwaukee performer has appeared at the milwaukee rep.
is the rep's new artistic director mark clements the reason for the change? "he truly wants to hire more local performers," said theisen. "my being in laurel and hardy is proof of that."
clements caused a bit of a stir in the milwaukee theatre community when he announced the rep would open their 2010 main stage season with "cabaret," marking the first time the company has included a full-fledged musical in their schedule. theisen's outlook is decidedly upbeat: "i think the rep doing a musical is good for everyone," he said. "rep audiences – who might not attend musical theatre and enjoy 'cabaret' – may try coming to the skylight for the first time."
though he is fairly new to town, clements has already forged a good relationship with theisen and others. "i have had a few meetings with mark and like him very much. i think he is just what both the rep and milwaukee need."
is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the two companies?
"with mark and i working together, the possibility of much collaboration between the skylight and the rep seems very likely, which is fantastic for the milwaukee arts community."
the american premiere of tom mcgrath's "laurel and hardy" runs september 24 through november 14 at the rep's stackner cabaret.