AIP Welcomes New Artistic Director: Erica Case

All In Productions has appointed a new Artistic Director, Erica Case. Case is replacing Robby McGhee, a founding member of AIP.

Erica Case is a Milwaukee native with over 10 years of local theater experience. She was an owner and founder of The Alchemist Theatre & Lounge, and is currently serving on the Board of Schmitz n’ Giggles.

“I am inspired by what AIP has done and look forward to continuing that legacy with a future of collaborative, humanizing and inclusive artistic work. Transformation begins with hearing each other’s stories and I believe that AIP can support a wide range of emerging voices. I am excited to move forward with programming that not only engages and entertains, but also allows everyone to see themselves in our work,” Erica Case said on her new role.

“Erica brings an amazing blend of artistry, leadership, and experience to the team,” Executive Director and Co-Founder Alex Scheurell said. “Her work with the Alchemist produced some of the most compelling theatre in Milwaukee and we’re thrilled to have her be bringing that vision and her dedication to collaboration to AIP. We’re excited about the team we have in place, and cannot wait to see what the future holds.”

A new Artistic Director is yet another marker of growth for AIP, which is now in its fifth season. AIP added a Marketing Director this fall (Joy Pouros) and a development staff position (Niki Cairns). In addition to staff growth, AIP is collaborating with Milwaukee Opera Theatre on the regional premiere of Dave Mallory’s Preludes this season.

Changes to the AIP Board

There have been a lot of changes going on with All In Productions over the past few months. As we prepare for our 19/20 season, we wanted to update you as to the departures and additions to our Board of Directors.

Beth Lewinski has stepped down from the Board and her role as President. We want to thank Beth for everything she has done for us, from leading the board to serving as emcee for numerous AIP functions and acting on WAIP to assistant directing Putnam.

Niko King will serve as AIP’s Acting President in the interim.

We have some exciting additions to announce as well! Read more about new board members Jillian Smith and Liz Whitford Helin below:

Jillian Smith, Board Member

Jillian Smith is a Milwaukee native, with a theatrical career spanning more than four decades.  She trained with Marjorie Walker and the Theatre School Ltd. at UWM, and later at Harvard with David Wheeler, where Jillian earned her BA in Anthropology magna cum laude in 1994.  Over the next decade, despite living in Boston, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Dallas, and traveling globally as an executive leadership development consultant, Jillian returned to Milwaukee regularly to perform with fellow Greendale High School alumni in fundraiser productions.  Jillian has worked with a number of local companies, including the Milwaukee Rep, Melody Top, Theatrical Tendencies, Waukesha Civic Theater, and Sunset Playhouse.  Her primary creative home for almost 15 years was Soulstice Theatre, where Jillian performed in dozens of shows (favorite roles include Sarah Norman in CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD and Germaine in PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE), and directed numerous productions (including TICK, TICK… BOOM! and THE SECRET GARDEN).  Jillian also supported Soulstice offstage as a volunteer, board member, Board Chair, and finally as Artistic Director from 2013 through the company’s sunset in 2017.  She now works at Husch Blackwell, and lives on the south side with her two theatre-loving daughters, Sydney (15) and Zoe (13).

Liz Whitford Helin, Board Member

Liz Whitford Helin is excited to join the All In Productions’ Board! Theater has been a passion for Liz her entire life though she started performing in local theaters in 2008. Since then, she has had a multitude of roles at theater companies all over Milwaukee. Some of which include: the Alchemist Theatre, Milwaukee Entertainment Group, Schmitz ‘n Giggles, Fools For Tragedy, West Allis Players, and the Underground Collaborative. Liz has also had speaking roles in several Milwaukee based films including Life of the Party (2017), Broken Orbit (2012), and The Spade County Massacre (2011).

Currently, Liz is a Communication Coordinator for Kohl’s Corporate. Kohl’s has already been an amazing community partner, contributing volunteer hours and grant funds for AIP this year! Early in her career, Liz was a Philanthropy Associate for a medical non-profit where she planned major fundraising events. In her past, Liz also volunteered extensively as a vintage pin-up for a great non-profit that raised money for the USO and Veterans’ hospitals. She is thrilled to start this artistic and philanthropic journey with All In Productions as she has been a fan of theirs for years!

AIP Elects New Board President and New Board Members

As part of its restructuring, All In Productions is proud to announce that Beth Lewinski is the newly elected Board President, serving a one year term. Niko King has been elected as Vice-President, also to serve a one year term. Elected to two year terms are new board members Nancy Backes, Steve Pfisterer, and Wes Shaver.

“This is a great, passionate, and knowledgeable group that will be serving as our board, and we know they will help lead us forward as we move into our fifth season and beyond.” said Alex Scheurell, AIP co-founder, Executive Director, and former Board President.

Beth Lewinski, President

Beth Lewinski is a performer, director, playwright and instructor.  A Milwaukee native with a degree in Film, Television and Theatre from the University of Notre Dame, she has worked with/for the Alchemist Theatre, ComedySportz Milwaukee, Radio WHT, Sketch 22, Schmitz and Giggles, V-Core productions, MoJo Dojo, Milwaukee Metro Voices and others.  She is co-host of the podcast “Who’s Doing What Now” and featured on All In Productions “WAIP” (formerly “PodCast and Crew.”)  She regularly performs with and is Associate Producer of Dinner Detective Milwaukee. She is thrilled to be serving as Board President for All In Productions.

Niko King, Vice President

Niko King is excited to be taking on an expanded role with AIP. She has worked with a multitude of theatre companies in the area and odds are you’ve seen her onstage or even in one of MIlwaukee’s many local indie features.

Nancy Backes, Board Member

Nancy Backes is thrilled and honored to take a seat on All In Productions’ board. She has been a fan of AIP since its beginning, and she served as dramaturg on past productions, including Next to Normal, The Wild Party, and Ordinary Days. Other local dramaturgy includes Flyin’ West (Bronzeville Arts Ensemble) and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Soulstice Theatre).

A retired Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English at Cardinal Stritch University, her first scholarly publications involved theatrical subjects, particularly playwrights Tina Howe and Wendy Wasserstein. One of her recent essays analyzes how Elaine Stritch successfully performed a destabilized old age. Still active in academic life, Backes will assume the presidency of the Age Studies forum of the Modern Language Association in 2019, and she will present a paper at the annual MLA convention. She welcomes her advocacy role for AIP, a theatre that enables cast, crew, and audience to seek and embrace fresh perspectives.

Steve Pfisterer, Board Member

Steve has been heavily involved in the Milwaukee Theatre community for over 20 years, both on stage and behind the scenes. He spent 8 years working on the creative board of Soulstice Theatre and is the VP of his kids PTA. He looks forward to working with all the amazing people at All In to keep producing amazing productions for the Milwaukee audiences to enjoy for years to come.

 

Wesley Shaver, Board Member

Wesley Shaver is thrilled to join the All In Production’s Board of Directors! Wes is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but moved to Milwaukee in 2003 where he earned his undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts from Milwaukee’s own Cardinal Stritch University. After completing that degree, he pursued a Master’s Degree in Sport Management with a focus in end-game entertainment, food and beverage operations and hospitality management. Over the past decade, Wes has worked with Milwaukee based hospitality groups such as SURG Restaurant Group and Wild Planet Hospitality Group focusing on brand & concept development; as well as entertainment and programming.

In 2012, Wes developed ground breaking undergraduate and master’s level entertainment and hospitality business programs for Concordia University’s School of Business and served as the lead faculty member for four academic years. In 2017, Wes formed Revolve Experience Management and operates Milwaukee based food and beverage operations at Black Sheep and The Schwabenhoff. Mr. Shaver also serves as President of Milwaukee Pride, the parent organization for the internationally known, Milwaukee LGBTQ+ festival, “Pridefest,” which serves 45,000 attendees annually.

After a hiatus from participating in the performing arts, Wes is excited to join the energetic and spirited group of young artists at All In Productions who are not only contributing to

Milwaukee’s performing arts culture, but helping shape it. Wes is looking forward to helping the company’s leadership and board of directors on strategic planning, program implementation and development efforts to drive fundraising and sponsorships. Mr. Shaver is passionate about advancing the performing, fine, and visual art communities in Milwaukee and is thrilled to be taking an active role with All In Productions.

What to Expect Out of AIP’s SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD

 

Tim Backes, director

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.

Inside the Redeemer Lutheran Church sanctuary, looking from the front of the church back to its Wisconsin St. entrance.

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!

Announcing the Cast of AIP’s Songs for a New World

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!

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Production team:

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

Announcing our 2018 Season Theme

Libby Amato and David Sapiro in “Constellations”
Photo: Mark Frohna

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!

BUY YOUR CONSTELLATIONS TICKETS


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.

Sincerely,

The All In Productions Board of Directors

Thoughts from David Sapiro and Libby Amato on CONSTELLATIONS

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.

Announcing the Newest Member of the AIP Board

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!

 

Our next production: CONSTELLATIONS by Nick Payne

Libby Amato, playing Marianne

David Sapiro, playing Roland

Mitch Weindorf, Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.