Milwaukee Repertory Theater
Press Release

Back by Popular Demand! A Funny and Touching tribute to the Flamboyant, Beloved Entertainer, Liberace!

November 7, 2014 – January 11, 2015

By - Oct 27th, 2014 10:46 am

October 27, 2014 – [Milwaukee] – Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Stackner Cabaret once again welcomes the glittering costumes and chandeliers of Liberace!. Brilliant local musician and performer Jack Forbes Wilson will reprise his triumphant portrayal of Liberace, the man who defined four decades of music and pop culture, after an acclaimed world premiere production which ran during The Rep’s 2010/11 Season. This loving tribute to Liberace is written and directed by Rep Associate Artistic Director Brent Hazelton, with original music direction and composition by Jack Forbes Wilson.Liberace! runs in The Rep’s Stackner Cabaret from November 7, 2014 – January 11, 2015 and opens Sunday, November 9.

Called “remarkable,”by Express Milwaukee and “dizzying” by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Liberace! gives audiences the unique opportunity to take a look at one of Milwaukee’s most remarkable and talented native sons. The show explores how a classically-trained pianist evolved into the larger-than-life persona lovingly known as “Mr. Showmanship.” Audiences will discover the private man hidden behind all of the glitz and glamour. Born less than 10 miles from where Milwaukee Rep now stands, Liberace lived a life of flamboyance, flash, and lavish costumes. In this funny and touching tribute, the virtuoso musician gets one last chance to glitter and shine as he tickles the ivories through his favorite songs, including “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “Chopsticks,” and “The Boogie Woogie.”

“When I learned of Liberace’s Milwaukee roots, I knew I wanted to find a way to celebrate this extraordinary, one-of-a-kind entertainer,” says Artistic Director Mark Clements. “It was definitely an interesting story. ‘Mr. Showmanship’ managed to weave a way of staying in Mainstream America at a time when gay performers felt they needed to hide their sexuality in order to achieve success. There’s a lot of drama there, and it seemed perfect fodder for us.” Clementsadded that, “being a sold-out show when it first premiered here, the natural thing was to bring Liberace! back.”

Added Associate Artistic Director/Playwright/Director Brent Hazelton, “It’s with great excitement that we’re heading into this second staging of Liberace! in our Stackner Cabaret. We’re looking forward to telling this hilarious and moving story of a trend-setting icon that Milwaukee can be proud to call its own. The show is also just filled with terrific music and showcases Jack Forbes Wilson’s amazing musicianship. Audiences are in for a real treat again!”

Wladziu “Walter” Valentino Liberace was born in West Allis, Wisconsin. He attended West Milwaukee High School and received a scholarship to attend the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where he honed his virtuoso musicianship. He was a soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony at age 13 and performed with the Chicago Symphony before his 20th birthday.By combining these musical gifts with the legendary flair that he displayed in live performances and on countless television shows and films, Liberace became the highest-paid entertainer in the world. His spectacular Las Vegas act propelled “Mr. Showmanship” to worldwide love and acclaim.

Liberace acquired an astonishing array of prestigious awards throughout his career: Emmy Awards, six gold albums and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Despite his fame, Liberace never forgot his roots. He loved Usinger’s sausage and hosted all-night parties at Mader’s German Restaurant. In the midst of stardom, he graced Milwaukee with many performances. He played the Pabst Theater more than a dozen times, appeared at Milwaukee’s legendary Summerfest (1982), and performed for capacity crowds at the Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall. His final hometown appearance, only months before his death, sold out the Riverside Theater.

This production of Liberace! is created in cooperation with The Liberace Foundation, an organization seeking to help talented students pursue careers in the performing and creative arts through scholarship assistance and artistic exposure. Celebrating over 30 years of funding the arts, The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts has awarded more than 2,700 students with scholarships. For more information on the work of the foundation and their efforts to preserve the legacy of Liberace, please visit www.liberace.org.

The Executive Producers for Liberace! areWayne and Kristine Lueders. The Associate Producer is Adlon Partnership.The Media Sponsor for this production is Wisconsin Gazette. The Stackner Cabaret season is sponsored by Sally Manegold.

TICKETS

Tickets for Liberace! begin at $40.00. Single Tickets for all of Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s 2014/15 productions are now on sale and can be purchased by going online 24/7 at www.MilwaukeeRep.com, through The Rep’s Ticket Office by calling 414-224-9490, or in person at 108 E. Wells Street. Group tickets are also available for purchase by calling Group Sales Manager Joy Surber at 414-290-5340.

To learn more about The Rep or its productions, please visit www.MilwaukeeRep.com.

THE CAST

Jack Forbes Wilson (Liberace) has appeared in many shows at The Rep’s Stackner Cabaret including: Song Man Dance Man (2011/12), Just for a Song (1997/98), Sing ‘Em A Story, Tell ‘Em A Song (1995/96), Unsung Cole (1993/94), Consumer Affairs (1993/94) and Rodgers and . . . (1992/93). He was seen recently at Next Act Theatre’s Groucho: A Life in Revue. Other credits include It’s a Wonderful Life and Gould Strong in Grey Gardens at Off the Wall Theatre. Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Wilson loves living in Milwaukee, where he teaches piano lessons.

CREATIVE TEAM

Brent Hazelton (Playwright/Director), a Whitewater, Wisconsin native, is a former Rep Acting Intern (1999/2000) and is The Rep’s Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Project Development.  The 2014/15 Season is Hazelton’s 16th overall at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, 14th as a member of the Artistic Staff, and fourth as Associate Artistic Director. He came to Milwaukee after graduating from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, with a Bachelor of Special Studies Degree (Acting, Directing, and Textual Analysis). Administratively at Milwaukee Rep, Hazelton oversees the New Project Development Program, spearheads the season planning process, collaborates on internal strategic planning and initiative development, and works with the rest of the Artistic Staff to program and support Milwaukee Rep productions. From 2003 to 2010, Brent also served as Milwaukee Rep’s Artistic Internship Program Director, and strengthened and expanded the program into one of the premier internships for emerging professional artists in Regional Theater. Artistically at Milwaukee Rep, Hazelton wrote and directed the 2010/11 Stackner Cabaret hit, Liberace! (published and licensed through Steele Spring Theatrical Licensing), conceived the premiere installment of Rep Lab, and directed Song Man Dance Man (Stackner Cabaret, 2011/12), How the World Began (Stiemke Studio, 2012/13), and The Whipping Man (Stiemke Studio, 2013/14). He has also directed short plays for Rep Lab, staged readings for The Rep/Ten Chimneys Foundation and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, created full productions locally for Chamber Theatre’s Young Playwright’s Festival, Spiral Theatre, and Windfall Ensemble, and directed the Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s production of Ellis Island: The Dream of America. In his previous career as an actor, Hazelton appeared regionally with Riverside Theater in Iowa City, the Dorset Summer Theater Festival in Dorset, Vermont, and Griffincroft Productions (with Milwaukee Rep Associate Artist Lee E.  Ernst), and has performed in Milwaukee with Milwaukee Rep, Renaissance Theaterworks, In Tandem Theater, Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theater, Bunny Gumbo, and Sunset Playhouse, as well as appearing in numerous industrial films and television and radio commercials through Jennifer’s Talent. Hazelton is also a former member of the adjunct faculties of Carthage College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and has taught developmental workshops at colleges, conservatories, and universities across the country.

Scott Davis (Scenic Designer)previously designed The Whipping Man and Venus in Fur last season at The Rep and How the World Began during the 2012/13 Season. Other credits include productions with: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Drury Lane Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, American Theater Company, Griffin Theatre, Rep Stage, Dallas Theater Center and Northwestern University. International credits include productions with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Unicorn Theatre (London), The Neuss (Germany), Market Theatre (Johannesburg), and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Michelle Lilly is the Assistant Scenic Designer for this production.

Alexander B. Tecoma (Costume Designer)has been a Draper in The Rep’s Costume Shop for the past 16 seasons. Past designs for The Rep include: The Color Purple, Ragtime,AssassinsAlways . . . Patsy ClineNext to NormalNobody Lonesome for Me, Liberace!,Route 66, and The Lady with All the Answers, among many others. Other design credits include: BarrymoreMemory House,Syncopation,A Phoenix Too Frequent and Skin Tight, (Renaissance Theaterworks),The Tempest (Optimist Theatre), and Harley Davidson’s 100th Anniversary Tour. Other professional credits: Great Lakes Theater Festival, American Players Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and The Santa Fe Opera. Alex received his MFA in Costume Design from University of Illinois.

Aimee Hanyzewski (Lighting Designer)is back at The Rep after having designed the Stackner Cabaret productions of From My Hometown, Fire on the Bayou, and Grafton City Blues. In the Stiemke Studio, she designed Venus in Fur and The Year of Magical Thinking. She also worked on The Rep’s A Christmas Carol for six years as the Associate Lighting Designer. Currently, Aimee is a freelance lighting designer in the Madison and Chicago area.

John Tanner (Sound Designer) a Rep Associate Artist, is a composer, sound designer and one of the Principals of Tanner-Monagle Inc., a video and audio production and post-production house in Milwaukee, WI. His experience covers a broad range of work in scoring, arranging and music composition for television, documentaries, radio, industrial video, and theater. His music has won numerous awards, including Golden Reel Awards; Telly Awards; national, regional and local American Advertising Federation Awards, Silver Microphone Awards and Radio Amateurs of Canada Awards for retail advertising. Tanner garnered Gold and Platinum sales certifications for his album engineering work. His projects include scores for NBC, ABC, Lionsgate, and PBS. He has written original scores and designed sound for theatrical productions at Milwaukee Rep, Yale Repertory Theatre, American Players Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, First Stage, and many others.

Hannah Greene (Assistant Director) is a graduate of Northwestern University and a Denver native. Select directing projects include Swan Song (Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Midnight Projects), an original adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz4.48 PsychosisThe Seagull, and A Bright Room Called Day. Assisting credits include Howard Shalwitz’s Stupid F***ing Bird (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company), Heidi Stillman’s The North China Lover and David Catlin’s The Little Prince (Lookingglass Theatre Company), among others. Greene has also worked with The Hypocrites, Buzz22 Chicago, Theatre Zarko, and Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep.

Sarah Deming-Henes (Stage Manager)returns to The Rep after stage managing Noises Off! last season and Sense and Sensibility during the 2012/13 Season. Other Rep credits include Song Man Dance Man and To Kill a Mockingbird. She has also worked at American Players Theatre and First Stage Children’s Theater.

Audra Kuchling is the Stage Management Intern for this production.

Milwaukee Repertory Theater is a nationally-recognized company that presents compelling dramas, powerful classics, award-winning contemporary works, full-scale musicals, housed in its three unique performance venues – the Quadracci Powerhouse, Stiemke Studio and Stackner Cabaret. The Rep also produces an annual production of A Christmas Carol at the beautiful and historic Pabst Theater. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mark Clements and Managing Director Chad Bauman, The Rep is committed to creating plays that are meaningful and relevant to the society we live in – plays that are challenging, visceral and engage the community through the issues they explore, demonstrating how a theater deeply rooted in its locality can also enjoy a richly influential and resonant national voice.

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