First Stage
Press Release

First Stage Breaks Fundraising Record at Annual Wine Tasting & Dinner Event


By - Dec 12th, 2022 10:53 am

Milwaukee, WI – December 122022 – On Saturday, November 5, 2022, First Stage hosted its 13th Annual Wine Tasting & Dinner at The Wisconsin Club – Country Club, the first time the event has been held at the venue. 119 guests were treated to a sumptuous wine tasting and menu imagined by Chef Brandon Reid of the Wisconsin Club – Country Club and Chef David Magnasco of The Chef’s Table. The theme was Carnevale di Venezia/Venetian Masquerade; guests were encouraged to wear Venetian masks as they took part in the evening’s festivities.

The event began with an exclusive wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction and raffle, followed by a five-course dinner paired with selected wines. Event Co-Chair Tim Lantz led the event’s live auction and Artistic Director Jeff Frank exceeded the goal of raising $18,000 during the appeal.  

In total, the event raised more than $122,000 to support First Stage’s mission of transforming lives through theater. These funds will benefit First Stage’s professional theater productions, Theater Academy programming and Theater in Education programs. The event has raised more than $928,920 over its 13-year history.

Managing Director Betsy Corry shared the importance of this event and the crucial role it plays in fulfilling First Stage’s mission: “Our Wine Tasting & Dinner is First Stage’s singular adults-only event where business leaders and parents alike enjoy a unique and intimate evening to support our mission. The proceeds from this annual event allows First Stage to provide accessible ticket prices for our professional theater productions, underwrite our arts integration programming in City of Milwaukee schools and provide need-based scholarships so tuition never stands in the way of a young person attending our Theater Academy.”

The Premier Sponsors for the event were BMO Wealth Management and Johnson Controls. Corporate Table sponsors included: Bella Via Dance Studio, LLC and Physicians Realty Trust. Course Sponsors: Amy and Bob Arzbaecher. Wine Tasting Sponsors: Hunzinger Construction Company, Melissa and Patrick Horne, Milwaukee Bucks, Mikkelson Builders and Well Family Chiropractic. Additional Support: Beechwood Sales and Service, Capitol-Husting Company, Inc. Wine & Liquor Co. and The Chef’s Table.

The 2022 Co-Chairs for the event were Megan and Tim Lantz. The Committee included: Bob Arzbaecher, Sally Cartwright, Secily Clason, Dan Grenda, David Magnasco, Melissa Nelsen, Corrie Prunuske and Gail Teigeiro.

The event also included performances by First Stage’s Young Company Students, Angel Rivera and Leo Madson, (who will both be appearing in First Stage’s upcoming production of THE HOBBIT in early February 2023) and Bella Via Dance Studio, LLC (choreography by Alyssa Albers). 

Event photos and photo credits can be found here: 

Mark your calendars! Next year’s Wine Tasting & Dinner will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2023. 

To learn more about First Stage and its current and upcoming productions, please visit: or call (414) 267-2961.  

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