First Stage
Press Release

Single Tickets for First Stage’s 2019/20 SEASON Go on Sale Monday, August 5th!

Celebrate Girl Power at First Stage this season

By - Jul 31st, 2019 12:06 pm

Milwaukee, WI – July 31, 2019 –Single tickets for First Stage’s exciting 33rd season will go on sale Monday, August 5that 9:00 a.m. Patrons may go online at or call the Box Office at (414) 267-2961to purchase single tickets. First Stage, considered one of the nation’s leading theaters for young people and families, also has the nation’s largest high-impact theater training program for young people. First Stage alumni are frequently featured in First Stage productions as both performers and directors as well as contribute to the theater’s mission to touch hearts, engage minds and transform lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten and entertain.

First Stage’s 2019/20 Family Series at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater kicks off with the beautiful, bilingual world premiere play ON THE WINGS OF A MARIPOSA. Audiences will then have the opportunity to experience a huge dose of holiday cheer with the film/Broadway hit ELF – The Musical. Next up at the Todd Wehr Theater will be Madeleine L’Engle’s award-winning sci-fi/fantasy adventure A WRINKLE IN TIME. Following that comes an epic musical battle royale in THE LEGEND OF ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS. The Family Series concludes with heart and inspiration in playwright/actor James DeVita’s world premiere play ALEX AND THE AMAZING LEMONADE STAND. The 2019/20 season will feature two First Steps Series productions: ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE’S “WE ARE IN A PLAY!” and THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES BY EZRA JACK KEATS. The Foundry Stage Series production this season will be folk rock musical GRETEL!, and the award-winning Young Company will present two Performance Projects –THE WINTER’S TALE and YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU. (For full play descriptions and run dates, please see below.) First Stage’s upcoming season will offer some of the best family experiences in Milwaukee as well as uplifting and thought-provoking theater for Milwaukee patrons who enjoy supporting great live theater.

When Artistic Director Jeff Frank reflected on the productions he selected for First Stage’s 33rd season he commented, “In assembling our 2019/20 season, we quickly realized we have a number of productions that feature incredible young women as protagonists. From young Pilar seeking a way to stay connected to her Abuelita in ON THE WINGS OF A MARIPOSA, to Meg Murray battling the forces of evil in A WRINKLE IN TIME, to Gretel setting off into the forest to seek the answers she needs from Baba Yaga in the folk musical GRETEL!, to the Latina pop star fighting force that is Scissors from THE LEGEND OF ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS – and finally to the young Alexandra Scott whose compelling and powerful true story inspired so many other young people around the world – all of these amazing young women embark on journeys that lead them to discover their true power and the strength they have to chart their own paths. Join us this season and celebrate Girl Power!”


FAMILY SERIES at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater 

Innovative theater experiences for young people and families, teens, grandparents and theater lovers of all ages. Performances are held at the Todd Wehr Theater in the Marcus Performing Arts Center, 929 North Water Street in downtown Milwaukee.

By Alvaro Saar Rios
An adaptation of Ghost Wings by Barbara Joosse
Original Music and Lyrics by Dinorah Marquez

Directed by Karen Estrada

October 18 – November 10, 2019

Ten-year-old Pilar breathes deeply of her grandmother’s rebozo to relive memories of her beloved abuelita – making corn tortillas, dueling the monsters under the bed and journeying to the forest known as El Círculo Mágico. Slowly, the scent begins to fade – and with it, Pilar’s memories. Amidst the monarch butterflies’ annual migration and Día de los Muertos celebrations, soar with Pilar on her journey in this bilingual world premiere play, discovering that “when you love someone, they never really leave you.”

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 5 – 17+.

In collaboration with Latino Arts, Inc. and the United Community Center.

Supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

ELF – The Musical
Book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin
Music by Matthew Sklar
Lyrics by Chad Baguelin
Based on the New Line Cinema film by David Berenbaum
Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). 

All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

Directed by Jeff Schaetzke
November 23 – December 31, 2019

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Buddy the Elf has spent his entire life at the North Pole. When he discovers that he is not really an elf, he sets off for New York City to find his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his real father is on the naughty list and his half-brother does not even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the magic of Christmas. Based on the beloved 2003 holiday film, this Broadway holiday musical is sure to have everyone embracing their inner elf.

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 8 – 18+.
Sponsored by: Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, S.C. and Associated Bank

By Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by John Glore
A Wrinkle in Time is produced by special arrangement with Crosswicks, Ltd. and Stage Partners.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle © 1962 Crosswicks, Ltd. All rights Reserved.

Directed by Jeff Frank
January 24 – February 23, 2020

It was a dark and stormy night. When a mysterious stranger arrives at Meg Murry’s home, she embarks on a wild, empowering journey of self-discovery. Joining forces with Mrs. Whatsit, Charles Wallace, Calvin O’Keefe and more, they travel through space and time to battle the forces of evil so she can rescue her father, save humanity and find herself. Propel your imagination with this fantastical adventure of a lifetime.

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 8 – 17+.
Sponsored by: Actuant Corporation

By Drew Daywalt
Illustrated by Adam Rex
Book and Lyrics by John Maclay, Music and Lyrics Eric Nordin

World premiere co-commission with Oregon Children’s Theatre

Directed by Kelly Doherty
March 6 – April 5, 2020

You’ve played the game. Now read the legend of the three great warriors who started it all . . . 

Long ago there lived three fierce warriors. From the Kingdom of Backyard came Rock, from the Empire of Mom’s Home Office came Paper and from a messy village in the Junk Drawer Realm came Scissors. They were the strongest, smartest and fastest in all the land. Though they searched far and wide for worthy opponents, no one could beat them . . . until they met each other and a musical battle royale began to see who would come out on top!

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 4 – 10+.

Sponsored by: The Molitor Foundation

Based on the true story of Alexandra Flynn Scott
By James DeVita

Directed by Molly Rhode

April 24 – May 17, 2020

Meet Alex Scott. She has a story to tell – about her life and her legacy, her humor and her heart. The story of a young girl fiercely determined to make a difference despite the challenges she faces. Alex’s true story reminds us all that a single person can change the world – one act, or even one cup, at a time.

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 7– 14+.

Sponsored by: Northwestern Mutual Foundation

Forging the future of theater through emerging plays, artists and engaging experiences beyond the stage.

First Stage’s Foundry Stage Series of new play readings and professionally produced productions with associated workshops, extended talkbacks and more – promises to spark conversations and deepen the shared theater experience. The Foundry Stage Series is held at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, 325 W. Walnut Street, providing an intimate performance venue and workshop space, with free street and surface lot parking.

Family Theater Workshops for GRETEL! will take place in conjunction with the Saturday matinee performances, from 2:30 – 3:15 p.m. at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. Participation in these workshops is free with tickets to the Saturday 1 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. performances.

A New Musical by Jason Tremblay with Suzan Zeder
Music by Jenn Hartmann Luck
Lyrics by Jenn Hartmann Luck, Jason Tremblay and Suzan Zeder
Cello Arrangements by Nora Karakousoglou

Directed by Jeff Frank

February 21 – March 22, 2020

Her mother is gone. Her father is absent. Her stepmother and stepsister berate her and waste all of their food. But with a gift from her mother and hope in her heart, Gretel heads into the wilderness to find Baba Yaga – and discovers more than she could have ever imagined. With live folk rock music and a style that embraces the storytelling nature of theater – this musical for the entire family is not to be missed.

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 8 – 15+.

These performances introduce children ages 3 to 7 to theater in an engaging, interactive and lively environment. The First Steps Series is sponsored by PNC.

Based on the Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems
Published by Hyperion Books for Children
Book and lyrics by Mo Willems
Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma

Directed by Matt Daniels

September 21 – November 3, 2019

When Elephant Gerald and Piggie the Pig get together, anything is possible. These two pals and their devotion to each other through ups and downs will remind you of how good it feels to put friends first. Bring your “bestus” friends and share in all of the pachydermal peril and swiney suspense as Mo Willems’ cherished characters make the leap from page to stage in this rollicking musical adventure.

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 3– 7+.

Sponsored by: PNC

Adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
Based on the books by Ezra Jack Keats
Produced by special arrangement with Plays for Young Audiences
January 11 – February 9, 2020

Oh, the magic of a snowy day! Peter is ready to explore the winter wonderland outside – throwing snowballs, making snow angels and the crunch, crunch, crunch of the fresh snow. This imaginative ode to childhood brings to life the heartwarming stories by Ezra Jack Keats. Adventure with Peter as he grows up and explores the wide and wonderful world around him.

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 3– 7+.

Sponsored by: PNC



Young Company Performance Projects are actor-driven presentations using elemental production values. By stripping down to a nearly bare stage, the connection of actor to audience is enhanced, and the words of the play come alive in exciting ways, allowing the First Stage award-winning students to showcase their graduate level skills with full-length material, from Shakespeare to American classics to pieces commissioned specially for them. Supported in part by United Performing Arts Fund.

By William Shakespeare

December 6 – 15, 2019

“It is required you do awake your faith.”

False assumptions. Lost children. Truths revealed. Redemption found. Wonders appearing. First Stage’s award-winning Young Company brings us this genre-defying tragicomedy from the Bard.

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 13+.

Sponsored by: United Performing Arts Fund

By George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart

Directed by Matt Daniels
May 8 – 17, 2020

At first the Sycamores seem mad, but it is not long before we realize that if they are mad, the rest of the world is madder. Hilarity and mayhem ensues when the freethinking Sycamore’s daughter brings her fiancé and his conservative, Wall Street family to dinner on the wrong night. Roar with laughter with the Young Company and their production of this Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy.

Suggestedfor families with young people ages 13+.

Sponsored by: United Performing Arts Fund


For production photos for ELF – The Musical, A WRINKLE IN TIME and 2019/20 show graphics, please use this link: 

Subscriptions to First Stage are also still available. Flexible Family Packages are priced to make it easier for the entire family to experience the best theater for families all season long. When patrons choose 5 or more playsnext season, they will save up to 50% off single ticket prices, with the best seats offering the biggest discounts. Choose 3 or 4 plays, and patrons will still receive great savings and all the benefits, including free ticket exchanges, an optional flexible payment planTheater Academy discountsand more! Find details on the First Stage 2019/20 season, Family Package benefits and how to order, here:

About First Stage

First Stage is one of the nation’s leading theaters for young people and families. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten and entertain. Its Theater Academy, the nation’s largest high-impact theater training program for young people, fosters life skills through stage skills and serves nearly 2,000 students each year. As Wisconsin’s leader in arts-integrated education in schools, First Stage’s dynamic Theater in Education programs promote literacy, character building and experiential learning throughout the curriculum, serving over 20,000 students each year. First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2012), and was the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’sEureka Award, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education and the arts for its Next Steps program for students on the autism spectrum (2013, 2015). First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Milwaukee Arts Partners and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).

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