First Stage
Press Release


Directed by John Maclay

By - Dec 7th, 2017 01:27 pm

Milwaukee, WIDecember 7, 2017 – Begin the New Year with an extraordinary story called THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE. Based on the celebrated book by Newberry Award-winning author Kate DiCamillo and making its First Stage debut, the play tells the tale of a toy China rabbit named Edward Tulane. Edward has been loved since the beginning of his life, but when he is thrown overboard on a cruise ship, he begins a remarkable journey of discovery across Depression-era America. Through years of adventure danger and loss, he discovers for himself what it means to really love.

THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE runs January 12 – February 11, 2018 at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. 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 Suggested for families with young people ages 7 – 16.

“The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane is perhaps my favorite script we’ve ever produced at First Stage and I am just thrilled to be directing it,” commented Director John Maclay. “Incredible new music and heightened theatricality will underscore Edward’s spectacular adventure – as we see America unfold through the eyes of this most charming and endearing porcelain rabbit.”


John Maclay (Director) first taught Classical Scene Study for First Stage Theater Academy in the summer of 2000 and has since served as teacher, fight choreographer, dialect coach, Director of the Academy, Associate Artistic Director, actor, director, Director of the Young Company, playwright and now in his new role: Director of Artistic Development. As a playwright, John is an active adaptor of literature for the stage and his works have been professionally produced throughout the country from Orlando to Portland. His plays and musicals include ANATOLE (with Lee Becker and James Valcq), NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER (with Jeff Frank), GERONIMO STILTON: MOUSE IN SPACE, JUST A LITTLE CRITTER MUSICAL (with Brett Ryback), ROBIN HOOD (with Joe Foust) and GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM (with Danny Abosch) which will have eight different professional productions across the nation this season. He has also acted in many First Stage productions in roles ranging from Mike Mulligan to the Sheriff of Nottingham and has directed over 20 productions across the organization. John is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, and a member of the Dramatist Guild.

Matt Daniels (The Musician) is a frequent collaborator at First Stage, as an actor (A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER™: THE MUSICAL, THE SNOW, ELLA ENCHANTED, SHREK THE MUSICAL, A MIDNIGHT CRY and A WRINKLE IN TIME, among many others), director and movement director (Roald Dahl’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, ANIMAL FARM, TXT U L8R, OUR TOWN, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER™: THE MUSICAL and NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER among others) and Director of the Young Company and teacher for the Theater Academy. Matt’s other acting credits include appearances at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, In Tandem Theatre and the late Milwaukee Shakespeare, as well as Forward Theater, Kentucky Repertory Theatre, Lake Geneva Theater Company, several regional Shakespeare Festivals and on many independent stages in New York. In addition to First Stage his directing work has been seen at MCT’s New Play Development series, Sunset Playhouse, goats & monkeys and in New York with his company Tyrannosaurus rep. An avid ukulelist, he is working on his first album, Welcome to Clowntown. Matt is a graduate of the Juilliard School Drama Division.

Brian Keys (The Man) is an actor, singer and multi-instrument musician born and raised in the Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. He is very excited to be working at First Stage. Brian was most recently seen as Wilbur Wright in the world premiere musical Kitty Hawk at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida and was selected as a 2017 Second City: NBC Universal Bob Curry Fellow. Theatre credits include: Pirates of Penzance & The Mikado (Olney Theatre Center), All The Way (Asolo Rep Theatre), The City of Conversation (Northlight Theatre), Hobo King (Congo Square Theatre), American Idiot (The Hypocrites Theatre), Royal Society of Antarctica (The Gift Theatre), Ruined (Eclipse Theatre), Seven Guitars (Court Theatre) and A Soldier’s Play (Raven Theatre). Television credits include: Chicago Fire (NBC Universal), Chicago Justice (NBC Universal), A.P.B. (FOX Television Studios) and Project Afterlife (Discovery Networks). Brian can be seen next in The Buddy Holly Story at American Blues Theatre (Chicago, Illinois).

The adult actor cast of THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE includes: Matt Daniels (Member of Actors’ Equity Association) as The Musician and Brian Keys (Member of Actors’ Equity Association) as The Man. Also included in the adult cast are: First Stage alum Karen Estrada as The Woman; Kat Wodtke as The Traveler; Brandon Haut as the understudy to Matt Daniels; Corrie Riedl as the understudy to Karen Estrada and Kat Wodtke; and Ibraheem Farmer as the understudy to Brian Keys.

Young performer roles are double cast. Young performers in the Andromeda Cast include: Kamani Graham (as Boy) from Milwaukee and Marianna Malinkine (as Girl) from Shorewood.

Young performers in the Cassiopeia Cast include: Bradley Nowacek (as Boy) from Whitefish Bay and Bryn Dresselhuys (as Girl) from Wauwatosa.

The Artistic Staff for THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE includes: Jeff Schaetzke (Music Director); Brandon Kirkham (Scenic Designer); Nick Belley (Lighting Designer); Darryl Harris (Costume Designer); Joe Cerqua (Composer/Sound Designer); Marissa Ashlyn, Member of Actors’ Equity Association (Stage Manager) and Ashley Pavlak (Assistant Stage Manager).

Tickets start at $15 – 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.

Group Sales – Groups of 10 or more receive 15% off main floor, regular single ticket prices on most First Stage performances at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater. Call (414) 267-2964 or email for more information.

First Stage Family Packages – any combination of tickets for three or more plays in our 2017-18 season – are on sale now. Family package prices are available at up to 30% off the cost of regular single ticket prices. Benefits include unlimited ticket exchanges, free family workshops, backstage tours and more.


Opening Night Reception: Friday, January 12, 2018

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 THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE while enjoying refreshments, courtesy of First Stage.

Pay What You Choose performance: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

Pay What You Choose tickets are available on a first come, first served basis with a minimum suggested donation of $5 per person. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. on the day of the performance. Patrons are encouraged to arrive early.

ASL Interpreted Performance: Sunday, February 11 at 3:30 p.m.

This performance will be sign language interpreted for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Assistive listening devices are also available at the Todd Wehr Theater.

Sensory Friendly Performance: Saturday, January 20 at 3:30 p.m.

A Sensory Friendly Performance with accommodations for families with children on the autism spectrum will take place on Saturday, January 20 at 1 p.m. Sensory accommodations include lower sound, house lights up, a quiet area staffed by an educator experienced with the care of students with autism and other developmental disabilities, and more. Contact the First Stage Box Office at (414) 267-2961 to reserve your tickets.



Location:  The Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, 929 N. Water Street, Milwaukee

Dates: January 12 – February 11, 2018

Description: With his handmade silk suits, wide array of hats and tiny gold pocket watch, Edward Tulane is the most exceptional toy in Abilene’s room. He is adored and he is happy. But when mean boys throw Edward overboard on a cruise ship, he begins a remarkable journey of discovery across Depression-era America. Based on Newberry-winner Kate DiCamillo’s celebrated book and brought to life through imaginative storytelling and folk music, don’t miss this breathtaking story of finding friendship, finding yourself and eventually finding your way home. Suggested for families with young people ages 7 – 16+.


  • Friday, January 12 at 7:00 p.m. – OPENING NIGHT
  • Saturday, January 13 at 3:30 & 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 14 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, January 16 at 7:00 p.m. – PAY WHAT YOU CHOOSE PERFORMANCE
  • Saturday, January 20 at 3:30 & 7:00 p.m. – SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE at 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 21 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 27 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 28 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 3 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, February 4 at 1:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 10 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, February 11 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.

Ticket and information: Tickets start at $15. Call (414) 273-7206 or online at

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 over 2,100 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’s Eureka Award, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education, and the arts for its Next Steps program for students with autism (2013, 2015). First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).

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