Rehearsal for SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD doesn’t begin for almost two weeks yet, but the show is already beginning to take shape. We asked director Tim Backes a few questions about what we can expect out of the production.
Tickets for SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD are available now, so get yours with plenty of time to spare!
Q: What about Songs for a New World made it an attractive show for you to direct?
Several things. I’ve loved the music (and pretty much all things JRB) for a long time, of course. But the show is a lot more than just great music and writing.
The kinds of musicals I enjoy the most are ones that have really relatable characters and stories. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun to go out and see a big over-the-top production every now and then, but on a personal level I tend to like more intimate shows that focus more on the characters and their struggles and growth.
Songs for a New World has a lot of that. We get a bunch of different self-contained vignettes and stories about these different characters and the “new worlds” that they’re embarking into, literally and metaphorically. And while the four actors are technically playing different characters in every song, we nonetheless see some pretty clear character development and growth throughout their songs.
A lot of these stories are extremely relatable because they’re situations many of us have found ourselves in before, or could potentially find ourselves in. So I think finding a way to tell these stories in a way that really connects with the audience is what I’m looking forward to most about this show.
Q: What kinds of unique challenges does the show present?
The hardest thing about this show is that pretty much nothing is given to you with regard to stage directions, setting or… anything, really. It’s almost entirely left up to the director’s discretion about how each scene will be interpreted.
This means it takes a lot of studying of the lyrics, and a lot of conversations with other designers and the actors to make sure everyone is on the same page with a single, clearly defined vision for the show.
I’ve already met with all the designers individually, and I’m beginning to meet with the four actors about the arcs of their characters. With Woman 1 and Man 2, for example, their arcs are really interconnected. They’re both about the different stages of a relationship. Woman 1 goes from being wide-eyed and naïve to experiencing rejection and abandonment, a pregnancy scare and ultimately the decision of whether or not to reconcile with a former lover.
The lyrics indicate Man 2 is jaded when it comes to love, and has likely had bad experiences in the past, which lead him to be unwilling to embrace a good thing when it finally comes his way. So he runs, and ultimately matures to the point where he might finally be capable of accepting love and being in a healthy relationship.
So the big challenges here are a) getting all of this across in a relatively small amount of stage time in each song and b) doing it in a way where the audience can clearly follow the progression of the relationship and the characters’ stories while understanding we’re looking at entirely separate characters whose stories more or less follow the same familiar arcs.
Basically, it can be a pretty abstract show, and I want to make it much more accessible and genuine through things like staging and costuming, which will help us get the most out of these songs and stories.
Q: Why did you decide to put the show in Redeemer Lutheran Church?
I rehearse at Redeemer every Tuesday evening with Chant Claire Chamber Choir, so I know the building well and also know Pastor Lisa Bates-Froiland, who has been wonderful to work with in getting this set up.
The people there are passionate about the arts. They’ve been hugely welcoming to Chant Claire, and when we had some rehearsals there for Next to Normal this past summer they were gracious hosts as well. So I knew from that standpoint, organizing the show would work just fine.
But the building and sanctuary itself are also appealing for the show. We were looking at nontraditional theater spaces for the show, because the flexibility it gives allows you to set it pretty much anywhere. I especially was focusing on architecturally interesting places in Milwaukee, or older places with some history behind them.
I knew a bit about Redeemer’s background already. The church was founded by immigrants, and the building itself was built in the early 1900s. The ceiling was designed in a way that it looks like the bottom of a wooden ship—Pastor Lisa likes to say in her sermons that it is a reminder that we are “all in the same boat” together.
This works really well for our show. You get the literal boat aspect, designed by people who traveled to the New World themselves, which we also see in the show in “On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship.” But Pastor Lisa’s “all in the same boat” comment is really appropriate for this show as well. One of the big takeaways from this show, for me at least, is that even when our lives are upturned and we have to make terrifying decisions that will bring us into a “new world,” we aren’t alone—these are experiences shared by people every single day, all of the world, across time.
Redeemer also describes itself as being “at the crossroads of Marquette University and a striving neighborhood,” and a church that serves “people of all walks of life.” We see the contrasts between classes and races explored a lot in this show, and these are contrasts the people at Redeemer see every day, due to where it’s located.
So from both a thematic and logistical standpoint, plus the actual beauty of the space, it really just fit.
Q: What do you hope audiences get out of the show?
I know for sure that people are going to walk out of the building being blown away by the voices in this cast. But what I’m really hoping is that everyone walks out feeling a particular connection with one character or song, because that’s really why we chose this show. When it’s done well, it can inspire a lot of introspection.
Tickets for SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD are available today. GET YOURS NOW!
We are so thrilled to announce the cast of our upcoming production of Jason Robert Brown’s SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD:
Woman 1: Jamie Mercado
Woman 2: Laura McDonald
Man 1: Indalecio de Jesus Valentin
Man 2: Patrick Jones
It was a casting process made difficult by the tremendous amount of talent that came out to audition for this small amount of roles. We are so appreciative for those of you who took the time to come out to audition over the last several days, and who sent in videos for consideration. We truly, truly hope you’ll all come back and audition for future productions.
Save the date for April 19-22 and 26-28 (7:30 p.m. each night) for SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 631 N. 19th Street!
Director: Tim Backes
Stage Manager: Allison Kasprovich
Asst. Director: Adam Qutaishat
Music Director: Tom Reifenberg
Asst. Music Director/Rehearsal Accompanist: Alison Bekolay
Choreographer: Stephanie Staszak
Technical Director: Jim Padovano
Costume Designer: Molly Mason
Production Manager: Beth Lewinski
We are thrilled with the success we have had with our 2017 season theme, “Let’s Talk.” Now, we are looking ahead to what’s to come in 2018. The following message appears in the program for Constellations. We hope that you will come out and support this fantastic play–that support will allow us to continue to make art in 2018!
2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year for All In Productions. After the critical success of our 2017 shows Circle Mirror Transformation and Next to Normal and the immense artistry of our current show, Constellations, we are looking to try new things and make bold new artistic decisions. Given this is a season of self-discovery for us in these exciting new ventures, we thought it was fitting to choose shows that aligned with that theme as well.
Therefore, our 2018 theme is “Discoveries.” We have selected three shows (two musicals and a play) that feature characters who find themselves on the cusp of making important decisions that will affect their lives as they know them, and lead them to make important discoveries about themselves and the world around them.
Self-discovery is a crucial part of creating one’s own unique identity. All of us can think back to our teenage years, for example, and remember the first band that we “discovered” for ourselves, or the first interests we developed on our own that were separate from those handed down to us from our parents. We can remember first real-world experiences of all types, good and bad, that played a role in developing the people we have become today.
All In Productions constantly strives for relatability and genuine storytelling in its productions, and there are few things more relatable and genuine than a moment of self-discovery. Moments of self-discovery are moments of vulnerability, and seeing characters experiencing these moments for themselves can call to mind the moments that have shaped us. These connections between audience and character make for more genuine theatrical experiences.
So to that end, we are thrilled to be making discoveries of our own this season. We will be exploring nontraditional theater venues, attempting brand new types of shows, and hopefully continue to work with new, passionate people from throughout Milwaukee’s artistic community in the process.
We cannot wait to share this season with you. Thank you for your continued support.
The All In Productions Board of Directors
We had a moment to catch up with the two stars of Constellations, David Sapiro and Libby Amato, and ask them a few questions about the show. Below are their responses.
Be sure to get your tickets to Constellations today — just four days left until opening night!
Has working on this show changed the way you look at the decisions you make in your own life?
DS: I don’t think the play has really changed how I look at the events/decisions of my life; rather, it speaks to my already-existing fascination with “what if?” I’ve always been curious about “alternate realities” if you will: “What if this had happened instead?” kind of questions, and I think that’s the beauty of this play! Everyone has those moments that they look back on and wonder, “What if?”, and Constellations allows audiences to live vicariously through multiple “what ifs” in the relationship arc of these two people.
LA: The show explores the idea of multiple universes, in which every possible outcome might exist. Most of us ask ourselves “what if…” all the time. But working on this show certainly makes me more aware of the small decisions I make every day. But at the same time, the show also questions whether we have any free will at all. Maybe the outcome is inevitable, no matter what path we take.
What was the greatest challenge of playing in multiple universes?
DS: The transitions between the universes have been more of a challenge than actually playing in multiple universes. We obviously want the audience to know that we’ve shifted to something new and different, but we don’t want it to be in a way that jars them out of the moment. We’ve worked really hard at using movement and body language to make the transitions smooth and seamless while still being very clear that we have indeed transitioned.
LA: On a practical level, it’s a challenge to remember which universe comes next, and what slightly variation makes each universe unique. On an emotional level, it’s heartbreaking to jump from a joyous universe, to a tragic one. Sometimes we just want to stop and say “Nope, we choose this one. Happy ending. Done.” But life doesn’t work that way. And neither do multiple universes.
What is your favorite thing about your character?
DS: I love how guileless Roland is. He doesn’t talk in circles or have a hidden agenda. He just says what’s on his mind and that’s that.
LA: [Marianne] is just so damn smart. So much smarter than I will ever be. She’s exhilarated by science, and it also provides her comfort. It’s her world. No matter the universe, that commitment follows her.
What do you want the audience to walk away from this show with?
DS: An acting teacher once told me, “The best shows are not the ones where the audience goes home talking about the show; the best shows are the ones where the audience goes home talking about themselves.” I hope our production has that precise effect; that people would go home talking and thinking about the events and decisions of their own lives, how things might have been different, and how they can be more thoughtful in the decisions they make going forward.
LA: I’d just like them to think a little bit about the possibilities of life. If every outcome IS possible – which one will they choose? And hopefully they’ll want to go home and hug someone they love. Because at the end of the day, this is a love story.
What is your favorite thing about working with your scene partner?
DS: Libby is such a joy to work with because she is present in every moment; I cannot give a higher compliment to a fellow actor. For the audience to truly buy in to a performance, the actors have to be alive on stage; that is, they have to be living in the moment, really listening to each other, and reacting genuinely. Working with someone who is alive in the moment feeds you with energy, which in turn feeds the audience. Libby is always alive in the moment, which makes rehearsals incredibly fun and fulfilling.
LA: This is a difficult script. It’s scary. So, I’m very grateful to be working alongside David. He’s committed, hard working and brings endless ideas to the rehearsal process. He’s just brilliant. But my favorite thing about working with David is how fully present he is in every moment onstage. Wonderful.
How have you enjoyed working with All In Productions?
DS: I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Mitch [Weindorf] and Brittany [Boeche] (director and assistant director, respectively) have been tremendous to work with day-to-day; they are wonderfully thoughtful and creative, and they foster a collaborative atmosphere that makes rehearsals immensely rewarding. The behind-the-scenes crew has been fabulous, too, supporting us in every way possible.
LA: I’m pretty stoked to work with All In Productions. I’ve been impressed with the shows they’ve produced right from the start, and I’m certainly glad they decided to take a chance on this one. It’s a supportive and hard working team – all around, a lovely group of people.
Remember grab your tickets for Constellations! The show runs January 12-20.
We are pleased to announce the newest member of the All In Productions executive board, Beth Lewinski.
Beth was voted in as the newest member of the board this month, and brings outstanding communication and organizational strengths to our team.
Beth replaces Amber Smith, who we are pleased to say will remain on the AIP team as a board member at large.
We are very excited for the passion, enthusiasm and work ethic Beth brings to the AIP team.
We have additional announcements coming up about AIP’s organizational structure and upcoming shows coming your way in the new year. Until then, have a wonderful holiday season, and don’t forget to get your tickets for Constellations!
We are thrilled to announce our next production: Nick Payne’s Constellations. It will be the play’s regional premiere.
“Can one word alter the course of your life? Through a dizzying fugue of vignettes, audiences watch as Marianne and Roland’s relationship unfolds across time and space, with each variation sending their relationship on an entirely new trajectory. Science and romance collide in this unusual love story that’s delighted audiences in New York and London.”
Constellations will be directed by Mitch Weindorf, who previously worked with AIP as the director of Circle Mirror Transformation, as the set designer for Next to Normal and as Burrs in The Wild Party.
Taking on the two challenging roles in Constellations are a pair of talented and respected actors who have graced a number of stages in Milwaukee. Libby Amato will play the role of Marianne, and David Sapiro will play the role of Roland.
The play will be performed at the Tenth Street Theatre (In Tandem’s performing space), 628 N. 10th St., Milwaukee. Show dates are January 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19 and 20, all at 7:30 p.m. except the Sunday, January 14 show, which will be a 2:00 p.m. matinee.
Tickets will be available for purchase soon at www.allin-mke.com.
Our next event… Against Type! – Roles I’ll Never Play But Could
This Memorial Day weekend, All In Productions returns once again to the Comedy Sportz Garage for even evening of fun performances and great prizes. Last year’s fundraiser event Manhood was a great success, and this year we are bringing back a local theater classic, as made famous by Uprooted Theater. So on May 26th and 27th, come on out and join us for Against Type! Roles I’ll Never Play But Could.
The concept of “Against Type” is simple — you’ll see performances in roles for which the actor is clearly not suited for some demographic reason, but is able to perform artistically. The evening will feature three scenes from popular playwrights re-cast “against type,” as well as performances of musical numbers performed by unlikely actors.
The event is being directed and conceived by Dennis Johnson, who regularly held “Against Type” events with Uprooted Theatre during its existence. We are thrilled to have him joining us for this event and lending his talents to our company.
In addition to these memorable performances, we are thrilled to once again offer a silent auction that promises to have plenty of great items. Last year’s selection was a hit, and this year is going to be even bigger and better.
Tickets for the event are $20 each, or you can reserve a full table of 8 for $120 (full tables also get a complementary bottle of champagne). However, if you know for sure you want to come and are interested in saving a bit of cash, we are offering discounted tickets and tables if you come to Circle Mirror Transformation and make your purchase there.
We can’t wait to bring you this fun, unique event in May!
We are thrilled to announce the cast of Circle Mirror Transformation, coming this April to the Alchemist Theater in Bay View!
Here’s the cast list:
MARTY: Jennifer Grundy
JAMES: Joe Krapf
THERESA: Abby Stein
SCHULTZ: Matthew Scales
LAUREN: Sarah Caveney
We are very excited to work with this team, which is entirely new to All In Productions! We were also excited to have an excellent turnout of talented actors. Casting for such a small show is always difficult when it comes to turning people away, but we are grateful to be able to have such a high level of talent consistently show up for our auditions.
Tickets for Circle Mirror Transformation are now on sale, so get yours today! The show runs April 6-15 at Alchemist Theater.
We are thrilled to announce that our next show will be the play CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION by Annie Baker!
When we were talking about shows we wanted to do this year, we knew we wanted to focus more on humanity and interpersonal relationships and the things that bring us together in a time in which there is so much discord. Circle Mirror Transformation is a wonderful, genuine, well-written story of a group of seemingly average yet fascinating people. It gives us a great character study of how people interact and perceive each other, and how they fall in love in even mundane circumstances, such as a community acting course.
The director of the play is Mitch Weindorf, who has worked with is previously in our MANHOOD fundraiser and as Burrs in THE WILD PARTY. There will be eight total shows, from April 6 to 15.
While we do not officially have audition times nailed down yet, they will be happening within the next couple of weeks, with rehearsals to begin immediately after. Stay tuned for an official audition notice shortly. Here are the roles being cast for the show:
MARTY (55, Female), The co-executive director of the community center and the teacher of the community acting course featured in the play.
JAMES (60, Male): An Army brat, James traveled extensively as a child but ended up at UC Santa Barbara. Marty’s husband.
TERESA (35, Female): Teresa is a new resident of Shirley, Vermont, having moved into her condo five months
SCHULTZ (48, Male): Recently divorced, Schultz is shy, genial, and unused to being alone.
LAUREN (16, Female): Shy, self-conscious, and uncomfortable in her body
Announcing our February Fundraiser: Let’s Love
In another important bit of news, we are holding a fundraiser this February, which we are calling Let’s Love.
This season, we are focusing on sharing stories of ordinary people who relate to each other in different ways. We are exploring friendships, love, relationships, families and inner crises. This is why we named our season theme Let’s Talk. We want to get talking about the things that bring us together and ways we can better relate to each other, rather than the things that divides us.
On February 1, we are kicking off our Let’s Love campaign on GoFundMe. February is, of course, the month of Valentine’s Day, so what better way to spread the love than to be a part of our mission to bring people together through theater? Our goal is to raise $5,000 in the month of February. 500 donations of just $10 would allow us to hit our goal, so any support you can provide, whether it’s financial or by spreading the word, would be greatly appreciated. This $5,000 would not only cover the rest of our performance rental space for Circle Mirror Transformation, but will also allow us to purchase the rights for our summer musical, so as soon as we hit our goal we’ll be able to announce our next show!
So this month, as we prepare for our next show and the discussions of how we perceive each other and form relationships that are certain to come out, Let’s Love as well, and give these stories the ability to be shared with our community.
We’ll post a link to the GoFundMe when it’s live on February 1st!