Why you should join SkylightENSEMBLE
Audience Development Manager Emily Vitrano speaks to TCD about Skylight Music Theatre's young professional organization, with fun, collaborative events that support the local theater community. First up: a Bollywood Bash After Party this Saturday night, celebrating the success of "Fidelio"
In speaking with Milwaukee’s vast arts organizations, it’s clear that their shared goal is simple, yet ambitious: to bring awareness to the arts scene, and keep it alive through Milwaukee’s youth demographic.
After all, who will be supporting these theaters and organizations in 20 years? Who will keep Milwaukee’s vibrant arts scene thriving, as a critical cog in its cultural mechanism?
Many young people aren’t exposed to art in all its forms, beginning in elementary school and compounding from there. Without those programs, and without any auxiliary exposure from parents or peers, the emphasis on its importance becomes lost.
To their credit, Skylight Music Theatre is attempting to close the gap a bit. SkylightENSEMBLE, the brainchild of Skylight’s marketing team and led by audience development manager Emily Vitrano, seeks to attract the burgeoning young professional community in Milwaukee. With a committee of “YP”s at the helm, Skylight will host varied social events throughout the 2013-14 season.
“We want to offer this age group something they couldn’t get anywhere else,” said Vitrano. “If they’re interested in theater, or if they just want to do something different on a Friday night, we want to provide that.”
With the success of young organizations like NEWaukee, ART Milwaukee, Sosh, WGIRLS Milwaukee, MiKE, YNPN Milwaukee and others, it makes sense that Skylight is excited to be a part of the conversation.
“We want these events to be collaborative,” said Vitrano. “Milwaukee is doing a lot of exciting things, for everybody. But how can you get excited about something you’ve never experienced?”
Purchasing a $50 annual membership to SkylightENSEMBLE (available to those 21 to 45 years old, and Third Coast readers get it for only $30 using code: TCD13) gets you impressive discounts to theaters all over town, including Skylight shows for only $20 (tickets are normally around $60, and you’ll get the best seats in the house). You can see the full list of membership benefits online, but perhaps the best reason to join is for free entry to SkylightENSEMBLE’s events.
“You know, maybe I can’t afford a $250 gala ticket, but I still want to get dressed up and support a cause that I like,” said Vitrano.
The first event of the season is the Bollywood Bash After Party, following the Bollywood Bash gala at the Pfister Hotel from 9:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Oct. 12 and celebrating the success of Fidelio and the Skylight’s new artistic director, Viswa Subbaraman. The party will feature a DJ/dancing, henna tattoos, fabulous Indian desserts, and a Big Bay Brewing Co. tasting of a craft beer created specially for the event.
“This isn’t just about Skylight,” said Vitrano. “We’re really trying to involve the community, to bring in local companies like Big Bay to join the conversation. Milwaukee is a great city with so many unique things to do, and young people especially need to know it.”
In addition to the Bollywood Bash After Party, SkylightENSEMBLE will collaborate with ART Milwaukee in March for the premiere of Hydrogen Jukebox, a Philip Glass opera that puts Alan Ginsberg’s poems to music in an avant garde manner. In conjunction, SkylightENSEMBLE’s event will screen the movie Howl (starring James Franco as Alan Ginsberg) and host poetry performances in the old movie theater in Grand Avenue Mall.
In April, a 2014-15 season launch party will take place (details forthcoming), and the season will wrap with Hair and SkylightENSEMBLE’s first package offering, with a pre-show reception.
“Until Hair, these parties don’t even require that you see a show at Skylight,” said Vitrano. “We just want you to try something different on your Friday night, to meet some new people and think, ‘yeah, I’m interested in seeing a production in Milwaukee.’ You won’t know until you try it—and then hopefully you won’t be able to stop going.
“It’s the feeling of being a part of something that will never happen again, a unique production experienced with the rest of the audience. It’s the same with concerts, or the ballet, or any one-of-a-kind performance. And you’re supporting local artists! I can’t stress how great it is that these people build something from the ground up, they live and work here.
“Just give us a shot. Try something different, come out of your shell.”
SkylightENSEMBLE’s Bollywood Bash After Party takes place 9:30 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Pfister Hotel. Indian attire is very much encouraged! Find more information about SkylightENSEMBLE and its membership benefits at the Skylight Music Theatre website. You can also follow SkylightENSEMBLE on Facebook.