First Stage
Press Release

First Stage presents “Nancy Drew and Her Biggest Case Ever!”

First Stage presents its 50th world premiere play

By - Apr 7th, 2014 04:14 pm

Milwaukee, WI – History’s greatest teen detective makes her First Stage debut in NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER at the Todd Wehr Theater, 929 N. Water Street, downtown Milwaukee, from May 2 – June 1, 2014.  This world premiere adventure co-written by First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank and Associate Artistic Director John Maclay is inspired by the classic Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene.  NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER marks First Stage’s 50th world premiere production.  Tickets can be purchased in person at the Marcus Center box office at 929 N. Water Street, by phone at (414) 273-7206 or online at

“When Nancy Drew first appeared in 1930 she was well ahead of her time,” said Jeff Frank.  “While traditional female characters may have been waiting around to be rescued, Nancy Drew was busy rescuing those in need of help.  Confident and assertive, driven to do the right thing in any situation, she remains a role model for young women of today,” continued Frank.

This production promises to keep the entire family on the edge of their seats with a ski chase, a capsized canoe, mistaken identity, hidden passages and secrets yet to be revealed.  Live sound effects and an original score by Willy Porter will add to the suspense created on stage.  “We’re using our theatrical wiles and pulling out all the stops to bring the world of Nancy Drew to life,” said Frank.

Jeff Frank (Director) has been First Stage’s artistic director since February 2003.  Previously he had served as education director/associate artistic director.  Jeff is a native Wisconsinite who earned a B.F.A. in theater from UW–Whitewater and went on to the University of Utah, earning an M.F.A. in child drama.  Over the past 17 seasons Jeff has directed nearly 50 First Stage productions.  Among his favorites are:  BIG, THE MUSICAL, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, PETER PAN AND WENDY, U: BUG: ME, THE NEVERENDING STORY, SLEEPING BEAUTY, TOM SAWYER, SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, LILLY’S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE, A LITTLE HOUSE CHRISTMAS, THE HOBBIT, A MIDNIGHT CRY, PERSEUS BAYOU, A CHRISTMAS STORY and THE GIVER.  Jeff is a member of the Board of Directors for Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA), a national association for theatre for children and young people.

The adult actor cast of NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER includes Niffer Clarke (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Hannah/Ensemble; Matt Daniels (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Bellows/Ensemble; Joe Foust (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Stumpy Dowd/Ensemble; James Fletcher (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Carson/Ensemble; Mark Puchinsky as Policeman/Ensemble; and John Glowacki as Captain/Ensemble; Jeff Frank as male understudy; and Brenna Kempf as female understudy.

Young performer roles are double cast.  Young performers in the Wirt Cast are Abbi Minessale (as Bess) from Brookfield; Madison Penzkover (as Nancy) and Madisyn Fairchild (Ensemble) from Mukwonago; Katherine Pollnow (as Laura) from Kewaskum; Elizabeth Robbins (as George) from Madison; Ella Tierney (as Trixie) and Abby Barbeau (Ensemble) from Wauwatosa; A.J. Magoon (as Ned/Ensemble) from Menomonee Falls; Afrika Hamilton (Ensemble), Maia Thompson (Ensemble); Taylor Tomich (Ensemble) from Pewaukee; Natalie DeRoche (Ensemble) from Whitefish Bay; Bailey Timmer (Ensemble) from Mequon; Teddy Esten (Ensemble) from Cedarburg; and Noah Petraske (Ensemble) from Waukesha.

Young performers in the Benson Cast are Laura Mesrobian (as Bess) and Zoey Knox (Ensemble) from Whitefish Bay; Amanda Desimowich (as Nancy) from Fredonia; Alicia Hough (as Laura) from New Berlin; Taylor Vraney (as George) and Eliza Hake (as Trixie) from Menomonee Falls; Alex Hatcher (as Ned/Ensemble) from Ripon; Natalie Alteri (Ensemble) and Lauren Arzbaecher (Ensemble) from Brookfield; Deja Evans (Ensemble) from Milwaukee; Evelyn Mullooly (Ensemble) and Sarah Laszewski (Ensemble) from Wauwatosa; Anna Nelson (Ensemble) and Smith Huber (Ensemble) from Sheboygan; and Thomas Fleischmann (Ensemble) from West Bend.

The Artistic Staff for NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER includes: Martin McClendon (Scenic Designer); Kimberly O’Callaghan (Costume Designer); Noele Stollmack (Lighting Designer); John Tanner (Sound Designer); Anne Simon (Rehearsal Stage Manager) Melissa L. Wanke (Calling Stage Manager); and Nicole Wiegert (Assistant Stage Manager).

Tickets for NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER start at $14.  Tickets may be purchased at or through the Marcus Center box office, in person at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee or by phone (414) 273-7206 or toll free at (888) 612-3500.  The number for TDD (for deaf and hard of hearing patrons) is (414) 273-3080.

Performance dates:  NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER opens Friday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m.  Other performances are held: Saturday, May 3 at 1:00, 3:30 & 7:00 p.m.; Sunday, May 4 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 10 at 1:00, 3:30 & 7:00 p.m.; Sunday, May 11 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 17 at 1:00, 3:30 & 7:00 p.m.; Sunday, May 18 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 31 at 1:00 & 3:30; and Sunday, June 1 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.


Opening Night Reception
Friday, May 2
Following the opening night performance, First Stage invites all patrons to attend the Opening Night Reception at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located one mile from the Marcus Center at 325 W. Walnut Street.  Patrons can mix and mingle with the cast and crew of NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER while enjoying refreshments, courtesy of First Stage.

Nancy Drew Mystery Weekend
Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11

12 – 12:45 p.m. (prior to the 1:00 p.m. performance)
Grandparents, parents and families are invited to join us for a scavenger hunt and hands on activities as part of your NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER experience.  This event is included with tickets to the show and takes place in the upper lobby of the Todd Wehr Theater.  RSVP by phone at (414) 267-2964 by Thursday, May 8.  Tickets may be purchased by phone upon RSVP.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

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