First Stage
Press Release

First Stage expands programming for students with autism

One and two-week summer programs begin August 18 Sensory Friendly performances announced for 2014-15 season

By - Aug 11th, 2014 03:56 pm

Milwaukee, WI – First Stage’s award-winning Next Steps program, classes serving students with autism, will return for its third consecutive year at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center located at 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee.  One and two-week summer sessions begin Monday, August 18, with a second one-week session available beginning August 25.  Classes are open to students entering grades 3-12 in the 2014-15 academic year.  Guided by the Academy’s philosophy of teaching life skills through stage skills, students experience the joy of drama, music and movement each day with a team of specially-trained teaching artists and special education professionals.  The program also features small class sizes with a student to teacher ratio of approximately 2:1.

The First Stage Next Steps program is made possible in part by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The foundation supported the launch of Next Steps in 2012 and has partnered with First Stage to advance and expand the program each year since.

“Next Steps offers children with autism a fun and inspiring educational experience that is tailored to their unique needs,” said Jeannie Fenceroy, Senior Program Officer for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “It really demonstrates how the arts can help all students develop and strengthen lifelong learning and social skills, which is why the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has been such an enthusiastic supporter of the program.”

First Stage Sensory Friendly performances for the 2014-15 season have also been announced.  Performances of Stiles & Drewe’s THE THREE LITTLE PIGS and GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS have been adapted to serve children with autism and their families.  These special accommodations include a limited number of attendees, lower volume and a host of family resources and support before, during and after the performance.  “We’re delighted that children with autism and their families can enjoy these interactive performances,” said Jennifer Adams, Next Steps program director.

Performance dates are Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. for THE THREE LITTLE PIGS and Saturday, February 14, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. for GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS.  Performances take place at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center located at 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee.  For resource materials including a Performance Social Story and pre-performance visits to the space, contact Jennifer Adams at or (414) 267-2975.  Tickets are $14 per person and are available exclusively through the First Stage box office at (414) 267-2961.

Enrollment for Next Steps is still open for the summer session.  More information can be found at or by contacting Program Director Jennifer Adams at (414) 267-2975 or at


About First Stage
Since 1987, First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain; unparalleled Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills; and dynamic Theater in Education programs that promote active learning in our schools and community.  In 2012, First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).

About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is a family of more than 1,200 individual charitable funds, each created by donors to serve the local charitable causes of their choice. Grants from these funds serve people throughout Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties and beyond. Started in 1915, the Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the world.

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