Skylight Music Theatre
Press Release

Skylight Music Theatre and Milwaukee Opera Theatre Unite Forces for The Tales of Hoffmann

A Newly Translated and Freshly Re-orchestrated Version of Offenbach’s Otherworldly Tales Directed by Jill Anna Ponasik. Performances March 16-29, 2018

By - Feb 12th, 2018 11:00 am

Milwaukee, Wis. (February 12, 2018) — Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Ray Jivoff today announced the cast, creative team and band for The Tales of Hoffmann, running March 16-29 in Skylight’s beautiful Cabot Theatre.

“We have joined forces with Milwaukee Opera Theatre for this imaginative and kinetic adaptation of Jacques Offenbach’s mesmerizing opera,” said Jivoff. “Although this is Offenbach’s best-known work, Skylight has never produced it in our nearly 60-year history. We are thrilled it will debut on our stage with an exciting new English translation and re-orchestration that perfectly captures ‘Skylight Style’ – bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works.”

Jill Anna Ponasik, Skylight’s Artistic Associate and Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Artistic Director will direct.

Skylight and Milwaukee Opera Theatre Re-Conceive ‘Tales’ from Three Hours to Two

“In typical Skylight style, we began by studying the original piece, and then gave it a little yank toward the present day,” said Ponasik. “Daniel J. Brylow, who wrote the new English translation/adaptation took a piece that was over three hours in length, and by concentrating intensely on the tales themselves, cooked it down to two hours long. Typically performed by at least 20 singers (with fifteen roles for men and five for women), Skylight’s production re-conceives the cast into an ensemble of 13 (with eight women and five men).”

Kerry Bieneman created the new orchestration, which distills an opera written for a full orchestra into one that uses two pianos, harp and percussion.

Musicians Become Part of Stage Action

“The band will be on stage so the musician’s technique becomes part of our stage action,” said Ponasik. “It also allows us to delight in the peculiar and otherworldly facets of the score.” Ponasik added that Michael “Ding” Lorenz will be featured on percussion, performing on many instruments in his eclectic collection. The gears and mechanics of the instruments are reflected in the kinetic look and feel of the production, which will feature scenic design by Lisa Anne Schlenker and lighting design by Jason Fassl.

Sung in English, the story centers on the poet Hoffmann as he embarks on multiple quests to find love, finish a song, and balance life and art. E.T.A. Hoffmann, the real-life inspiration for the title character, is the author of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker, is based.

Haunting Stories Around the Campfire

The Tales of Hoffmann features dazzling music and tour-de-force arias, including the famous “Doll Aria” sung by the mechanical doll Olympia. As the story opens, Hoffmann is besieged by writer’s block, haunted by his three ill-fated relationships.

“There is a Twilight Zone quality to these tales, a way in which they are simultaneously familiar and strange, that kindles in me the feeling of sitting around a campfire telling scary stories,” said Ponasik. “The real E.T.A. Hoffmann said that, ‘It is nearly always the most improbable things that really come to pass.’ That captures for us, the kind of intoxicating brew of music, movement, and mayhem The Tales of Hoffmann will bring to audiences.”

The Tales of Hoffmann is sponsored by Jan Serr & John Shannon with additional funding from the New Opera Fund established in memory of Mary Ann Gerlach.

The Tales of Hoffmann
March 16-29, 2018
Composed by Jacques Offenbach
Translation and Adaptation by Daniel J. Brylow
Original Libretto by Michel Carre and Jules Barbier
Orchestration by Kerry Bieneman
Directed by Jill Anna Ponasik

Cabarets Follow Select Hoffmann Performances

Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Jivoff also announced that cabarets at Skylight Music Theatre’s Bar & Bistro will take place immediately following performances of The Tales of Hoffmann on Sunday, March 18 and Sunday, March 25 at 4:45 p.m. “The Annie Orphans Cabaret” features young performers from both casts of Skylight Music Theatre’s hit show Annie (2017) singing a variety of songs.

Admission is $10 at the door for all cabarets. Cash and credit card accepted. Cabaret performances are in the Skylight Bar & Bistro, second floor of the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee. Cash bar available at all performances.

Skylight Music Theatre announced The Tales of Hoffmann creative team, cast and band:

Creative Team
Stage Director……………………………………………………………………………………….. Jill Anna Ponasik
Choreographer………………………………………………………………………………………. James Zager ***
Music Director/Conductor……………………………………………………………………….. Kerry Bieneman
Scenic Designer………………………………………………………………………………….Lisa Anne Schlenker
Lighting Designer………………………………………………………………………………………. Jason Fassl**
Costume Designer…………………………………………………………………………………… Sonya Berlovitz
Production Stage Manager…………………………………………………………………….. Daniel J. Hanson
*** The Choreographer is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
**The Lighting designer is represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829

Cast
Hoffmann, a poet……………………………………………………………………………………….John Kaneklides
Nicklausse, the muse of poetry……………………………………………………………………………Diane Lane
Curtain Speech Singer………………………………………………………………………………Jean Broekhuizen

THE TALE OF OLYMPIA
Olympia, a wind-up doll………………………………………………………………………………….Cecilia Davis
Coppélius, a maker of eyes…………………………………………………………………………Ariana Douglas
Spalanzani, an inventor………………………………………………………………………Nathan Wesselowski
Cochenille, Spalanzani’s servant………………………………………………………………….Brett Sweeney

THE TALE OF ANTONIA
Antonia, Crespel’s daughter………………………………………………………………….Susan Wiedmeyer
Dr. Miracle, a “physician”………………………………………………………………………………Cecilia Davis
Crespel, a violin maker………………………………………………………………………………..Eddie Lupella
Frantz, his servant……………………………………………………………………………………Brett Sweeney
A Ghost, the voice of Antonia’s mother……………………………………………………………………Carol Greif

THE TALE OF GIULIETTA
Giulietta, a courtesan…………………………………………………………………………………Ariana Douglas
Dapertutto, a sorcerer…………………………………………………………………………..Susan Wiedmeyer
Schlémil, Giulietta’s current lover…………………………………………………………………Doug Clemons
Pitichinaccio, a servant………………………………………………………………………………Brett Sweeney

Hoffmann cover……………………………………………………………………………………………..Tim Rebers

Ensemble…………………………………………………………….. Jean Broekhuizen, Melissa Cardamone,
Doug Clemons, Carol Greif, Eddie Lupella, Brett Sweeney, Nathan Wesselowski, Jackie Willis.

Band
Harp………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Rebecca Royce
Percussion……………………………………………………………………………………. Michael “Ding” Lorenz

Biographies

Jill Anna Ponasik (Stage Director) As Skylight’s Artistic Associate and as Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Artistic Director, Ponasik works to connect audiences and artists in unconventional ways. Recent and future projects include a concept reading of A Chorus Line, Svadba a six woman, a cappella opera, and the reading of a new Jason Powell musical, Doc Danger and the Danger Squad. Ponasik also teaches opera students at UW-Milwaukee. Among the groups she has worked with are First Stage Children’s Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Renaissance Theatreworks, In Tandem Theatre, Present Music, Danceworks Performance Company, Wild Space Dance Company, Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre, Sunset Playhouse, and The Alchemist Theatre. She holds degrees from The University of Minnesota and Rice University.

Kerry Bieneman (Music Director) is an active pianist and singer throughout southeastern Wisconsin. This production marks her debut at Skylight. Bieneman has served as a voice professor at Lawrence University, UW-Milwaukee and Carthage College. As a pianist she has worked on shows including Rusalka, Songs for a New World, Cosi Fan Tutte, The Last Five Years, La Traviata, Avenue Q and Hansel and Gretel. Bieneman has served as a private vocal coach and accompanist for Florentine Opera, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Opera for the Young, Bel Canto Chorus, Milwaukee Rep, Waukesha Choral Union, Northwestern University and UW-Milwaukee.

Daniel J. Brylow (Translator/Adaptor) has contributed to the field of contemporary opera and new music-theater as a stage director, performer, translator and arts administrator. He participated in several world premiere operas, including Judgment of Midas (Ince), Kocho (Fisher), Río De Sangre (Davis), Border Towns (Brooke), Time and Motion Study (Brooke), and a new English adaptation of Don Giovanni, which he co-wrote. His original chamber adaptation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle for Skylight Music Theatre condensed the gargantuan cycle to two hours. Last season, he wrote a new translation of The Magic Flute for Milwaukee Opera Theatre, where he is the Company Manager. Brylow is a graduate of Bennington College with a degree in Music and Drama, and the Wesley Balk Opera/Music-Theater Institute with an emphasis in Stage Direction.

Performance Information
Performances of The Tales of Hoffmann are March 16-29, 2018 in the Cabot Theatre, Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee.

Tickets & Box Office
Tickets are $30 – $75 (plus tax and fees) and can be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, or by calling (414) 291-7800. Box Office hours are Monday – Saturday, noon – 6 p.m. The Box Office window is also open two hours prior to each performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org.
Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more by calling (414) 299-4964 or emailing morganh@skylightmusictheatre.org

Special Events
Skylight Insights. In-depth discussions with directors and special guests take place one hour before every Wednesday and Sunday performance.

ASL Performance. The Tales of Hoffmann will be interpreted in American Sign Language on Friday, March 23, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets for this performance, call Skylight Music Theatre’s Box Office at (414) 291-7800 and mention the ASL performance for seating in the appropriate section.

For more information visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org, email info@skylightmusictheatre.org or call the Box Office at (414) 291-7800.

Skylight Bar & Bistro
The Skylight Bar & Bistro is located on the second floor of The Broadway Theatre Center. It is open two hours before each performance in the Cabot Theatre and features gourmet dining and fine wine by Indulge Wine Room. Reservations for full table service are recommended and can be made in advance at www.skylightmusictheatre.org/bistro or email Skylight@getindulge.com or by calling (414) 291-3773. Counter service is available without reservations.

Parking Vouchers on Sale
New! Purchase discounted parking vouchers from the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office for use in the Historic Third Ward parking garage at 212 N. Milwaukee Street (one block east and one block north). Vouchers can be purchased for $5 during normal box office hours. Vouchers are valid between 5 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. for evening performances only. Voucher sales stop 30 minutes before showtime and are not available during intermission. No refunds.

About Skylight Music Theatre
Skylight Music Theatre’s mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight presents productions “Skylight Style” – bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage but with the audience as well. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.

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