Milwaukee Repertory Theater
Press Release

Milwaukee Repertory Theater Announces 65th Anniversary Season

Feature the largest season in a decade with five world, American and regional premiere productions including Ayad Akhtar's Play Junk.

By - Feb 12th, 2018 09:00 pm

February 13, 2018 [Milwaukee]Artistic Director Mark Clements and Managing Director Chad Bauman are thrilled to announce Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s  65th Anniversary Season which will be the largest season in over a decade featuring 15 productions across four venues with nearly 700 performances including expanded programming in the Stiemke Studio.

The 2018/19 Season features five World, American and Regional Premieres including:

    • Direct from Broadway Ayad Akhtar’s play Junk (Regional Premiere) featuring 23 actors – one of the largest plays ever produced by The Rep
    • Internationally acclaimed playwright Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know To Be True

(American Premiere) after a highly successful Australian and UK tour

    • Leading Voice in American Drama Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady (Regional Premiere) – second production after its World Premiere by Ma-Yi Theater Company
    • Joanna Murray-Smith’s (The Rep’s American Song) Songs for Nobodies (American Premiere) following its UK premiere
    • Randall Myler and Dan Wheetman’s Mark Twain’s River of Song (World Premiere)

“I’m so excited about the lineup we have planned for our special 65th Anniversary Season,” said Artistic Director Mark Clements. “I think the season as a whole perfectly illustrates what we are trying to accomplish as an organization in an ongoing conversation with our patrons and our community. I am especially pleased we are able to expand our programming in the Stiemke Studio, which is something I’ve been working toward for some time now. Our season is ambitious, bold and challenging – as it should be.”

For the 2018/19 Season just over 75% of the productions will be created by women and ethnically diverse voices, and more than 60% of the actors on stage will represent the ethnic diversity of the Milwaukee community.  Several productions in the season will transfer from The Rep to other theaters bringing the best of Milwaukee to cities all over the country. Additionally, the 65th Anniversary Season will begin with the unveiling of the $1.75 Million renovation of the Stackner Cabaret.

“Three years ago, we adopted a new mission to create positive change through world-class theater experiences that entertain, provoke and inspire a diverse population reflective of our city,” said Managing Director Chad Bauman.  “Our 65th Anniversary Season will not only demonstrate how we intend to live our mission, but will also show our commitment to bringing the best of the world to Milwaukee and the best of Milwaukee to the world.”

Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s 2018/19 Quadracci Powerhouse Season opens with the four-time Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights with the music and lyrics by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Rep Associate Artistic Director May Adrales (Animal Farm, The Who & The What) will direct this vibrant musical filled with salsa, merengue, soul, hip-hop and R & B music and the universal theme of chasing your dreams and finding your true home.  Next is Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon’s Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, a clever and charming sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice co-written by the most produced playwright in America in 2017 and directed by Chicagoland’s Kimberly Senior.  Then immediately following its acclaimed Broadway run, we present the Midwest Premiere of Junk by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Rep Board Member, Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced, The Who & The What). Under the direction of Mark Clements and featuring one of the largest casts ever on the Powerhouse stage, Junk is a riveting story that shows how money became the only thing that mattered. Following is the American Premiere of an innovative and beautifully touching new play, Things I Know To Be True by Andrew Bovell (The Secret River, When the Rain Stops Falling), directed by Mark Clements. Rounding out the Quadracci Powerhouse Season is August Wilson’s Two Trains Running directed by Timothy Douglas. The New York Times declared it “Mr. Wilson’s most adventurous and honest attempt to reveal the intimate heart of history.”

The Stiemke Studio Season opens with the gripping historical drama Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph (Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Lake Effect), directed by Rep Associate Artistic Director Brent Hazelton (McGuire, Liberace!). Up next is a new play inspired by the true story of America’s first female Chinese immigrant The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh (Masha No Home), directed by Rep Associate Artistic Director May Adrales. Then, for first time in a decade, the Stiemke Season will feature a third production as The Rep produces Every Brilliant Thing by Duncan Macmillan (Lungs, adaption 1984) directed by Terrence J. Nolen, Producing Artistic Director of Arden Theatre Company. This moving new play is a testament to the healing power of storytelling and a reminder that hope is never truly lost.

The Stackner Cabaret Season opens with the American Premiere of Songs for Nobodies by Joanna Murray-Smith (American Song, Bombshells). Fresh off sold-out tours in Australia and the UK, Laura Braza directs this one-woman tour-de-force about legendary divas Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday and Maria Callas. Up next is an energy-filled revue of the music of the 1930s and 40s, The All Night Strut! by Fran Charnas, directed by JC Clementz (Murder for Two, I Love A Piano). Following is the World Premiere of Mark Twain’s River of Song by Rep favorites Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman who wrote such hits as Low Down Dirty Blues and Back Home Again: On the Road with John Denver.  Featuring David Lutken (Woody Sez, John Denver) and directed by Randal Myler, the show will explore the music and culture of American’s first superhighway, the Mississippi River.  The Stackner Cabaret Season closes with the return of our 2013 hit Ring Of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. Written by Richard Maltby, Jr. Rep Associate Artist Dan Kazemi (Guys and Dolls, Murder for Two) directs this musical tribute to the Man in Black.

Milwaukee Rep’s holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol, will grace the Historic Pabst Theater stage for the 43rd year.

The Emerging Professional Residents (EPRs) will once again produce Rep Lab, a short play-festival that is the hottest ticket in town in April 2019.  In July 2018, the Professional Training Institute 2017/18 Company will present the World Premiere of Lost Girl by Kimberly Belflower, a coming-of-age exploration of first love and lasting loss that continues the story of J.M. Barrie’s beloved character Wendy, the girl who had to grow up.

Subscriptions are available for renewing and new Subscribers beginning Tuesday, February 13. Subscription prices for the 2018/19 Season range from $85 to $548. Packages available are the Ultimate 11-play package, which includes the entire season spanning all three of The Rep’s performance spaces; Quadracci Powerhouse/Stackner 9-play package; Quadracci Powerhouse/Stiemke Studio 7-play package; Quadracci Powerhouse 5-play package; Stackner Cabaret 4-Play package as well as a Create Your Own Season package and Flex Passes. Single Tickets will go on sale later in the summer. For additional information on Subscription offerings, please contact The Rep’s Ticket Office at 414-224-9490 or visit

2018/19 Season
Programming, cast, dates, and prices are subject to change.

Subscription Season Productions

American Premiere

Songs for Nobodies

By Joanna Murray-Smith

Directed by Laura Braza

September 7 – November 4, 2018

Stackner Cabaret

A John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program production

Fresh off sold-out tours in Australia and the UK comes the American premiere of Songs for Nobodies. Opening our newly renovated Stackner Cabaret, this one-woman tour-de-force show reminds us that everybody has a story – and a song – worth hearing. Share in the life-changing encounters between legendary divas and the everyday women whose lives they touched, interspersed with the songs that made Judy GarlandPatsy ClineEdith Piaf, Billie Holiday, and Maria Callas icons of our age. Featuring such favorites as “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Amazing Grace,” “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do,” and “Vissi d’arte,” Songs for Nobodies shows us the magical power of song.

The Plunkett Family Foundation present

The Sizzling Musical from Hamilton’s Creator

In the Heights

Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Directed by May Adrales

September 18 – October 28, 2018

Quadracci Powerhouse

A co-production with Seattle Repertory Theatre

Corporate Sponsor: BMO Harris Bank

Executive Producers: Gina & Eric Peter, Judy Hansen

Winner of the Pulitzer, Emmy, 2 Grammy, and 3 Tony Awards, Hamilton’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is a global superstar and his 4-time Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights is the perfect way to kick off our 65th Anniversary Season. The vibrant New York community of Washington Heights is a place where the air is filled with the sounds of salsa, merengue, soul, hip-hop and R & B. It’s also a neighborhood on the brink of change, full of hopes and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. In the Heights is a show sure to capture the heart of all ages with its universal theme of chasing your dreams and finding your true home.

Gripping Historical Drama

Guards at the Taj

By Rajiv Joseph

Directed by Brent Hazelton

September 26 – November 4, 2018

Stiemke Studio

Set in 1648 India this “ingenious piece of theater” (Washington Post), by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, explores the friendship of two imperial guards. At dawn a new edifice representing the soaring power of the empire will be unveiled, the glorious Taj Mahal. But for the two guards assigned to protect the palace, morning brings them an unspeakable task that will shake their faith in God, the empire and their lifelong friendship. This boldly funny and deeply moving play examines the true meaning of beauty and the cost of transcendence in a world that confuses the value of both.

An Energy Filled Musical Revue

The All Night Strut!

Conceived and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Fran Charnas

Musical Arrangements by Tom Fitt, Gil Lieb and Dick Schermesser

Additional Orchestrations by Corey Allen

Directed by JC Clementz

November 9, 2018- January 13, 2019

Stackner Cabaret

Featuring five triple threat actor/musician/dancers, The All Night Strut! takes you on a musical journey through hits from the 1930s and 1940s from some of the greats including Duke Ellington, Frank Loesser and the Gershwins. From the funky jive of Harlem, to the romance of the Stage Door Canteen, it’s filled with jazz, blues, bebop and American songbook standards such as “Minnie The Moocher,” “In The Mood”, “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing,” and “White Cliffs of Dover.” This international hit sings, soars, and struts with sublime, timeless music that tugs the heart, tickles the funny bone and will raise the rafters of the Stackner Cabaret

A Contemporary Hit Based On A Classic

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

By Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon

Directed by Kimberly Senior

November 13 – December 16, 2018

Quadracci Powerhouse

Corporate Sponsor: Rockwell Automation

Executive Producer: Julia & Bladen Burns

Associate Producers: Amy & Fred Croen

Spend the holiday season with your favorite Pride and Prejudice characters as they gather at Pemberley, the stately home of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. In this clever and charming sequel to Jane Austen’s masterwork written by the most produced playwright in America in 2017, the bookish and oft-forgotten middle child of the Bennet family finally has her day. An unexpected guest sparks Mary’s hopes for independence and the chance to be the heroine of her own story. Told with exceptional modern wit and dazzling period style, this romantic comedy will delight Austen aficionados and newcomers alike.

Christine Symchych and Jim McNulty present

The Midwest Premiere Direct from Broadway of


By Ayad Akhtar

Directed by Mark Clements

January 15 – February 17, 2019

Quadracci Powerhouse

Corporate Sponsor: Associated Bank

Executive Producers: Greg & Rhonda Oberland

Milwaukee’s own Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar returns to The Rep with his epic new play, Junk. Immediately following its acclaimed Broadway run at Lincoln Center and featuring one of the largest casts ever on the Quadracci Powerhouse stage, this riveting story is set in the financial world of the 1980s.  Inspired by the real junk bond kings of the day, it’s a battleground of titanic egos where magnates are pitted against workers, lawyers against journalists and everyone against themselves. With Junk, debt is an asset and we see from the inside how money became the only thing that mattered.

World Premiere Event

Mark Twain’s River of Song

By Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman

Directed by Randal Myler

January 18 – March 17, 2019

Stackner Cabaret

A John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program production

Executive Producers: Camille & David Kundert and Adlon Partnership

From the creators of The Rep’s hit productions Low Down Dirty Blues and Back Home Again: On The Road With John Denver comes this exploration of the music and culture of America’s first superhighway, the Mississippi River.  From the iron red water in Minnesota to the deep, dark Southern Delta, the river carries the stories and songs of the people. Come take a ride on the Mississippi—guided by the voices of the men and women who lived and worked on the river, tied together with the observations and insights of the Mississippi’s most famous traveler, Mark Twain. Performed by three world-class musicians, including David Lutken (Woody Sez, John Denver), River of Song is a journey through America’s Heartland and features traditional songs like “Dance Boatmen Dance,” “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” and “Deep River Blues.”

New Play by a Leading Voice in American Drama

The Chinese Lady

By Lloyd Suh

Directed by May Adrales

February 13 – March 24, 2019

Stiemke Studio

A John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program production

In 1834, Afong Moy was brought from Beijing to America and put on display as the “Chinese Lady.” Over the next several decades, she performed in a side show that both defined and challenged her own view of herself as she witnessed stunning transformation in the US. Inspired by the true story of America’s first female Chinese immigrant, playwright Lloyd Suh unearths hidden history and questions the way we look at ourselves and others.

American Premiere

Things I Know To Be True

By Andrew Bovell

Directed by Mark Clements

March 5 – 31, 2019

Quadracci Powerhouse

A co-production with Arizona Theatre Company

A John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program production

Associate Producers: Catherine & Buddy Robinson

Bob and Fran Price have loved each other for thirty years and have built a home and raised four strong children. Set over the course of one year, this innovative and beautifully touching new play provides a unique perspective on the struggles the four adult Price children face to establish their identities and deal with personal crises.  Written by critically acclaimed Australian playwright and screenwriter Andrew Bovell, Rep audiences will be the first in the country to experience this “warm play that will remind every audience member of their family” (The UK Telegraph).

Back By Popular Demand

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash

Created by Richard Maltby, Jr., Conceived by William Meade

Adapted from the Broadway Production by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Jason Edwards

Orchestrations by Steven Bishop and Jeff Lisenby

Additional arrangements by David Abbinanti

Directed by Dan Kazemi

March 22 – May 26, 2019

Stackner Cabaret

Corporate Sponsor: Reinhart Boerner  Van Deuren

From the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes this unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. Back by popular demand from our sold-out run in 2013, Ring of Fire features more than two dozen classic hits – including “I Walk The Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Ring of Fire” – performed by a multi-talented cast, painting a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a foot-stompin’, crowd pleasin’ salute to a uniquely American legend!

A Classic From An American Master Playwright

August Wilson’s

Two Trains Running

Directed by Timothy Douglas

April 16 – May 12, 2019

Quadracci Powerhouse

It’s 1969 and change is in the air. But for the owner of a run-down diner in a dying Pittsburgh neighborhood, the Civil Rights movement may just be an impractical dream. Torn between whether to gamble on an urban-renewal buyout or sell his building to a predatory businessman, he finds himself caught between idealism and brutal reality. From Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson comes this masterpiece about everyday lives in the shadow of great events, and of unsung citizens who are anything but ordinary, in the play The New York Times declared as “Mr. Wilson’s most adventurous and honest attempt to reveal the intimate heart of history.”

Off –Subscription Programming

World Premiere Event

Lost Girl

By Kimberly Belflower

Directed by Ryan Quinn

Performed by the 2017 /18 Professional Training Institute Company

July 19 – July 22, 2018

Stiemke Studio

We all know the story of Peter Pan, but what became of Wendy Darling in the years following her adventures? Long after returning from Neverland, Wendy decides that she must find Peter in order to reclaim her kiss and move on with her life.  A coming-of-age exploration of first love and lasting loss, Lost Girl continues the story of J.M. Barrie’s beloved character: the girl who had to grow up.

Wells Fargo presents

Milwaukee’s Favorite Holiday Tradition

A Christmas Carol

By Charles Dickens

Adapted by Mark Clements

Directed by Leda Hoffmann based on original direction by Mark Clements

November 27 – December 24, 2018 

Pabst Theater

Executive Producers Jay Franke & David Herro

The Rep’s hit new adaptation is a tale of love, hope and redemption with just the right blend of beautiful music, lively dancing, stunning sets and eye-popping special effects. It’s a dazzling Christmas feast with enough theatrical goodies to fill any sized stocking hung by the chimney with care. Join Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and Scrooge in this holiday classic the whole family will love.

Ninth Season

Rep Lab

April 4 – 8, 2019

Stiemke Studio

Milwaukee Rep’s limited engagement short-play festival is back for its ninth year. See it all—drama, comedy, and everything in between—in this one-of-a-kind theatergoing experience featuring the talents of Milwaukee Rep’s Emerging Professional Residents.

Every Brilliant Thing

By Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe

Directed by Terrence J. Nolen

April 12 – 28, 2019

Stiemke Studio

A young boy attempts to ease his mother’s depression by creating a list of all the best things in the world. Everything worth living for – “Ice Cream,” “Star Trek,” “Surprises,” “Rollercoasters.” As the list grows, he learns the deep significance it has on his own life over the course of three decades. Every Brilliant Thing shines a compassionate light in dark corners of the human condition and the lengths we go to for those we love.  It is a testament to the healing power of storytelling and a reminder that hope is never truly lost.  

The Stiemke Studio Season is presented by Ed Seaberg & Patrick Smith and Four-Four Foundation, Inc.

Productions in the Stackner Cabaret are part of the Camille & David Kundert Stackner Season

Additional funding for The Rep’s 2018/19 Season is provided by the United Performing Arts Fund

About Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Milwaukee Rep is the largest performing arts organization in Wisconsin in terms of audiences served and one of the largest professional theaters in the country. Each year, The Rep welcomes up to 275,000 people at nearly 700 performances of 15 productions ranging from compelling dramas, powerful classics, new plays and full-scale musicals in its three unique performance venues – the Quadracci Powerhouse, Stiemke Studio and Stackner Cabaret. Over the course of six decades, The Rep has gained a national reputation as an incubator of new work, an agent of community change and a forward-thinking provider of vital arts education programs. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mark Clements and Managing Director Chad Bauman, Milwaukee Repertory Theater ignites positive change in the cultural, social, and economic vitality of its community by creating world-class theater experiences that entertain, provoke, and inspire meaningful dialogue among an audience representative of Milwaukee’s rich diversity.

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