Milwaukee Repertory Theater
Press Release

The Presidents are coming!

Milwaukee Repertory Theater presents the World Premiere of FIVE PRESIDENTS by the Emmy-Award winning writer Rick Cleveland.

By - Feb 23rd, 2015 11:18 am

February 23, 2015 – [Milwaukee] – Milwaukee Repertory Theater proudly presents the World Premiere of Five Presidents written by Emmy Award-winning writer Rick Cleveland (House of Cards, The West Wing, Six Feet Under, and Mad Men). The cast for Five Presidents includes Broadway and television veterans Mark Jacoby, Martin L’Herault, Steve Sheridan, Jeff Steitzer, and Brit Whittle, along with Rep Associate Artist Reese Madigan. Directed by Artistic Director Mark Clements, the production is set to begin performances at the Quadracci Powerhouse on March 10, 2015. Opening night is Friday, March 13, 2015 and runs through April 5, 2015. Five Presidents is a co-production with Arizona Theatre Company.

Originally commissioned by Milwaukee Repertory Theater as part of its new play development program, Five Presidents is a funny and incisive drama about the meeting of America’s most exclusive club – the ex-presidents. Obliged to gather together on the day of Richard Nixon’s funeral, four “exes” and one “current” vent frustrations, revisit old grievances, and reveal the toll that it takes on any person foolish enough to seek the highest office in the land.

The Presidents who gathered together for Nixon’s funeral were Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Sr., and Bill Clinton, who had only been in office for about a year,” says Artistic Director Mark Clements. “The play explores the presidency, how these men evolved over the years, and what extraordinary friendships develop between men who were often arch-enemies in office. Once they held the office of the presidency – even though they were on disparate sides of the political fence – they often became great allies. Five Presidents is interesting inasmuch as it isn’t driven by a sequence of events; it’s more an observation on the this very unique club called the presidency.”

Clements added, “Rick Cleveland is an exciting voice in theater, TV, and film. Arizona audiences really responded to his new play – I think our Milwaukee audiences will find it both extremely entertaining and insightful at the same time.”

The Executive Producers for Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of Five Presidents are Carol and Rob Manegold. The Quadracci Powerhouse Season is sponsored by H. Richard Quadracci Ewens and Emilio Cabrera in memory of Harry and Betty Quadracci.

Five Presidents was commissioned by The Rep as part of its new play development program. This work would not be possible without the support of the following people who have contributed to the new play development program:

James E. And Mary K. Braza                          Wayne and Kristine Lueders
Mark Clements and Kelley Faulkner                        Carol and Rob Manegold
George and Susan Esslinger                          Anthony and Donna Meyer
Kathleen Gray                                                            Pfizer Foundation Matching Gifts Program
Judy Hansen                                                   Gordana and Milan Racic
Peter and Linda Hotz                                                Kathleen Seidel
John and Connie Kordsmeier                       Karin and Teddy Werner

Five Presidents Tickets

Tickets for Five Presidents begin at $20.00. Single Tickets for all of Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s 2014/15 productions are now on sale and can be purchased online 24/7 at, through The Rep’s Ticket Office by calling 414-224-9490, or in person at 108 E. Wells Street. Group tickets are also available for purchase by calling Group Sales Coordinator Morgan Halverson at 414-290-5340.

To learn more about The Rep or its productions, please visit


Mark Jacoby (George H.W. Bush) has appeared on Broadway in numerous roles including: Walter Hobbs in Elf, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, Padre Perez in Man of La Mancha, Father in Ragtime, Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat (Tony, Outer Critics, and Joseph Jefferson Award nominations), Baron von Gaigern in Grand Hotel and Vittorio Vidal in Sweet Charity (Theatre World Award). Also in New York: Critical Darling (The New Group), Sitting Pretty (The Hypothetical Theatre), and Enter the Guardsman (The Vineyard Theatre, Drama Desk nomination). Regionally, Jacoby has appeared in The Play’s the Thing (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Life x 3 (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), Sleuth (Maltz-Jupiter Theatre), Fiddler on the Roof (Walnut Street Theatre, Barrymore Award), and Nine (Joseph Jefferson Award). On television, he has appeared on all three Law & Orders and in this season’s Members Only. 

Martin L’Herault (Jimmy Carter) has appeared in New York as Jimmy Bulkeley in Bonus Army and with New York Comedy Repertory Ensemble (Founding Member). Regional credits include: Jacob Smith in Sleep in Safety: The Death of Octavia Hatcher (Jenny Wiley Theatre); Lee in True West and George in Of Mice and Men (The Gard Theater); Bob Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird (Children’s Theater of Madison); Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Dobama West); and Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice (Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival). TV credits include Judge Chillingworth on A Crime to Remember and the Father on I’d Kill for You.

Reese Madigan (Special Agent Michael Kirby), a Milwaukee Rep Associate Artist, returns to The Rep after appearing as Thomas in Venus in Fur last season. Other credits include: Michael Cassio in Othello; Paul Hornung in Lombardi; Biff Loman in Death of a Salesman; and Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps; Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Edmund in King Lear; and Segismundo in Sueňo. Broadway credits include: Holiday (Circle in the Square Theatre); and Abe Lincoln in Illinois (Lincoln Center Theater). Off-Broadway: Richard III, Richard II and Henry IV parts 1 & 2 (The Public Theater); Night and Her Stars (Manhattan Theatre Club); Adult Entertainment (Variety Arts Theatre); The Appearance of Impropriety (Judith Anderson Theatre); and A Life in the Theater (Bay Street Theater). Regional credits include Virgina Stage Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Centerstage, Arena Stage, Door Shakespeare, Next Act Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, and Indiana Repertory Theatre, among others. TV and film credits include Elementary, Black Box, Prison Break, and American Shaolin.

Steve Sheridan (Ronald Reagan) is an alumnus of Chicago’s famed theater, The Second City, where he wrote and performed in a number of hit shows. His stage work in Los Angeles garnered him awards from LA Weekly and Drama-Logue for both acting and playwriting. Film credits include Nothing in Common and Vice Versa. His television work includes appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Drew Carey Show, and Malcolm in the Middle.

Jeff Steitzer (Gerald R. Ford) will be making his acting debut for Milwaukee Rep, where he previously directed Inherit the Wind (1990/91 Season). Steitzer has appeared on Broadway in Inherit the Wind (with Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy), and Mary Poppins. He has appeared at Arizona Theatre Company, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, ACT, 5th Avenue Theatre, The Old Globe, GEVA Theatre Center, Yale Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, and Mint Theater Company. Steitzer has worked in film (Delivered, The Beans of Egypt, Maine, and The Beaver); TV (The Fugitive, 30 Rock, and Law & Order); recorded numerous audiobooks (Audiofile Earphones Award for Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt), and on many games, most notably as the Voice of God Multi-player Announcer for all the Halo games.

Brit Whittle (Bill Clinton) has previously appeared in New York in Wonderful World (The Attic Theater Company at Theatre Row); JB (78th Street Theatre Lab); and the world premieres of The Mnemonist of Dutchess County (The Attic Theater Company at Theatre Row), Lifeline (Abingdon Theatre Company), and Lyric is Waiting (kef productions). Regional credits include: North of the Boulevard and One Night (Contemporary American Theater Festival); June Moon, Dulcy and Theophilus North (Dorset Theatre Festival); Art and God of Carnage (Gulfshore  Playhouse); Grapes of Wrath and The Laramie Project (Alliance Theatre); Cobb (Riverside Theatre), Laughing Stock, Enchanted April, and To Kill a Mocking-bird (Asolo Repertory Theatre); Vincent in Brixton and Glass Menagerie (Banyan Theater Company). TV credits include Younger, The Blacklist, Believe, The Carrie Diaries, Law & Order: SVU, Blue Bloods, Mercy, 30 Rock, All My Children, One Life to Live, Guiding Light, and As the World Turns. Film credits include The Adjustment Bureau, Say Yes Quickly, Odessa, December Thaw, and House of Lords. 

(Please note: John Bolger was originally announced to play the role of Gerald Ford but had to leave the show due to a family emergency. Kenneth Kimmins was also originally announced to play the role of Jimmy Carter but had to leave the show due to an injury.)


Mark Clements (Director/Artistic Director) began his tenure as The Rep’s Artistic Director with the 2010/11 Season. An award-winning international director whose work has appeared in over 100 major theaters throughout Europe and the U.S., recent directing projects at The Rep include: The Color Purple, The History of Invulnerability, End of the Rainbow, Ragtime, Clybourne Park, Assassins, Othello, Next to Normal, Death of a Salesman, Bombshells, and Cabaret. Other credits include: Oliver!, Born Yesterday, Great Expectations, Les Misérables, and Of Mice and Men for Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia; The Milliner (Off-Broadway, World Premiere), CSC, New York; My Fair Lady, Copenhagen; The Browning Version at Derby Playhouse and Blunt Speaking at Chichester Festival Theatre UK/Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York; Speaking in Tongues at Roundabout Theatre Company; Speaking in Tongues at Hampstead Theatre, London and Creator/Director of Soul Train, West End, among others. Clements was an Associate Artistic Director for Moving Theatre Company and Associate Director for New End Theatre and New Players Theatre, both in London, Royal Theatre in Northampton, and Torch Theatre in Wales and as Artistic Director of Derby Playhouse in the UK from 1992 to 2002. He serves on the National Advisory Board for the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program at Ten Chimneys.

Todd Edward Ivins (Scenic Designer), a Rep Associate Artist, has designed scenery at The Rep for The Color Purple, The History of InvulnerabilityRagtimeClybourne ParkAssassins, Next to Normal, as well as both scenery and costumes for Cabaret and Othello. Some theatrical favorites include: Mirror Mirror (Milwaukee Ballet); Illusionists 1903 (Brisbane QPAC, Australia); Les Misérables, Godspell and Of Mice and Men (Walnut Street Theatre); Into the Woods (5th Avenue Theatre); Bright Lights, Big City (Prince Music Theater); Rent (Engeman Theater); and The Happy Time (Signature Theatre). Off-Broadway favorites: The Milliner, The Whaleship Essex, Fathers and Sons, Our God’s Brother, The Jeweler’s Shop, Linnea, House of Desires, Salvage Shop, The Last Starfighter: the Musical, A Majority of One, Squatters, and Deathclaw 7. Ivins designs scenery, projections, and costumes. His work spans dance, opera, plays, musicals, corporate events and newsrooms, ranging from intimate events to arenas.

Mary Folino (Costume Designer) was recently the Costume Director at The Rep. She is originally from Philadelphia where she spent many years as the Assistant Costume Shop Manager for the Walnut Street Theatre and now she has returned there as their new Costume Director. She designed the costumes for last season’s Ain’t Misbehavin’, and numerous productions in the Philadelphia area. Favorite designs include: Hair (Prince Music Theater); The Mousetrap (Walnut Street Theatre); Around the World in 80 Days (Walnut Street Theatre); and Romeo and Juliet (Lantern Theater Company).

Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer) returns to The Rep after designing Clybourne Park (2013/14 Season.) Off-Broadway credits: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Lortel and Hewes Design nominations); The Screwtape Letters (Off-Broadway and National Tour); Romulus; and The Hour Glass. Regional: Goodman Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Marriott Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Lookingglass Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, The Old Globe, Geffen Playhouse, Fulton Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Indiana Repertory Theatre, American Theatre Company, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Northlight Theatre, First Stage, Timeline Theatre Company. Klug is a Jeff and After Dark Award recipient.

Brian Jerome Peterson (Composition/Sound Designer) is celebrating his 29th Season at Arizona Theatre Company, where he has designed 77 productions, including Wait Until Dark, Around the World in 80 Days, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Sunshine Boys, Jane Austen’s Emma, The Great Gatsby, God of Carnage, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Lost in Yonkers, Ain’t Misbehavin’, George is Dead, Somebody/Nobody, Enchanted April, Touch the Names, and The Mystery of Irma Vep (for which he won an ariZoni Award), and the world premieres of Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of The Suicide Club, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, Inventing van Gogh, Rocket Man, Minor Demons and The Holy Terror. His designs have been heard in many theaters including Geva Theatre Center, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Northlight Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and San Jose Repertory Theatre.

Lauren Wilde (Makeup Designer) has been Prosthetics Designer for Shrek (First Stage); and Wig and Makeup Designer for Die Fledermaus, The Ring Cycle and Hansel and Gretel (Opera Louisiane). Recent feature film work includes Strange Nature (2014), Sympathy Said the Shark (2014), Scout (2013), Susie’s Hope (2013), and Bloody Homecoming (2012). Wilde has also been a makeup and wig artist for College Humor Originals in Los Angeles and is the creator of “Wilde Animals,” realistic animal head sculptures to raise awareness and education for endangered animals.

Jill Walmsley Zager (Dialect Coach) was the dialect coach for recent Rep productions of Good People, The Amish Project, A Christmas Carol, Harvey, after all the terrible things I do, The Color Purple, and The Doyle & Debbie Show. Other Milwaukee Rep credits include: The History of Invulnerability, The Whipping Man, End of the Rainbow, Noises Off, Ragtime, A Raisin In the Sun, Clybourne Park, Sense and Sensibility, A Christmas Carol, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Mountaintop, Assassins, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lombardi, Yellowman, Ten Chimneys, The 39 Steps, My Name Is Asher Lev, Laurel and Hardy, and Cabaret. Regionally, she has worked at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Drury Lane Water Tower, Apple Tree Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre and Conference Center, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Zager earned her Master’s Degrees at Central School of Speech & Drama (London) and Northwestern University. She is married to James Zager, the Head of the Theatre Program at Carroll University.

Hannah Greene (Assistant Director) is a proud graduate of Northwestern University and Denver native, and is a member of Milwaukee Rep’s Artistic Intern Ensemble this season. Favorite directing projects include Swan Song (a Midnight Project at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), an original adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 4.48 Psychosis, The Seagull, and A Bright Room Called Day. Assisting credits include Howard Shalwitz’s Stupid F***ing Bird (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company), Heidi Stillman’s The North China Lover and David Catlin’s The Little Prince (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Marcia Milgrom Dodge’s The King and I (Jupiter Maltz Theatre, SDCF Observership Program) and Amanda Dehnert’s Into the Woods (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, FAIR Program). She has also worked with The Hypocrites, Buzz22 Chicago, Theatre Zarko, and Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep.

Glenn Bruner (Production Stage Manager) is in his 18th season as Production Stage Manager at Arizona Theatre Company where he has stage managed over 60 productions, including Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Venus in Fur, Other Desert Cities, The Mountaintop, The Importance of Being Earnest, Clybourne Park, The Sunshine Boys, Next to Normal, The Great Gatsby, The Mystery of Irma Vep, The Kite Runner, Hair, Enchanted April, and the world premieres of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of The Suicide Club and Ten Chimneys, and Steven Dietz’s Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, Rocket Man, Inventing van Gogh, and Over the Moon. Bruner has worked at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Alley Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, The Pasadena Playhouse, Centerstage, Studio Arena Theatre, and Maine’s Portland Stage Company. He has also been the voice for many radio and television commercials and worked for Texas Public Radio in his hometown of San Antonio. Bruner was the 2012 recipient of the Lucy Jordan Recognition Award, presented annually by the Western Region of Actors’ Equity Association. He has been a member of AEA since 1981.

Richelle Harrington Calin (Stage Manager) has been with Milwaukee Rep since 2004. Milwaukee Rep credits include: Bach at Leipzig, The Clean House, Intimate Apparel, Gem of the Ocean, A Christmas Carol, They Voysey Inheritance, Life Could Be a Dream, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Night is a Child, I Am My Own Wife, Greater Tuna, Pride and Prejudice, Shear Madness, The Lady with All the Answers, Yankee Tavern, Route 66, Cabaret, Bombshells, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Yellowman, Othello, The Mountaintop, How the World Began, after all the terrible things I do and The Beautiful Music All Around Us.

Rebecca Lindsey (Assistant Stage Manager) returns to The Rep after recently stage managing Good People and assistant stage managing this year’s production of A Christmas Carol. Since completing her stage management internship at Milwaukee Rep in 2006, favorite shows have included A Christmas Carol, last year’s production of An Iliad, and Next to Normal (2011/12 Season). Lindsey spends her time away from Milwaukee as a Stage Manager and Core Tech company member at American Players Theatre, where she has enjoyed eight seasons. Recent favorite stage management credits there include The Doctor’s Dilemma, The Year of Magical Thinking, The Two Gentleman of Verona, and, elsewhere, The Wiz with Arkansas Repertory Theatre and three seasons touring with the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Kimberly Carolus (Stage Management Apprentice) has worked on A Christmas Carol and the world premiere of after all the terrible things I do this season at The Rep. Last season, Carolus worked on The History of InvulnerabilityAn IliadA Christmas CarolForever PlaidRagtime, and I Left My Heart. She has also worked at Riverside Theatre in the Park (Iowa City, IA), the Orlando Repertory Theatre, and Walt Disney World and holds her BFA in Stage Management from the University of Central Florida.

Marguerite Frey is the Stage Management Intern for this production.


Rick Cleveland (Playwright) is an Emmy-winning writer/producer whose television credits include The West Wing, Six Feet Under, Mad Men, Nurse Jackie, and House of Cards. Cleveland’s stage play Jerry and Tom was adapted into a feature film and was an official selection at both the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals, and he co-wrote the screenplay for the motion picture adaptation of John Grisham’s Runaway Jury, which starred John Cusack, Rachel Weisz, Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman. Cleveland performed his one-man show My Buddy Bill at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, and won the Best Solo Performance Award at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen in 2006. He also performed the piece at the 92nd Street Y in New York City for a one-hour Comedy Central special in 2007. As a playwright, Cleveland has earned playwriting grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Kennedy Center’s Fund for New American Plays. He was invited to the National Playwrights’ Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center twice, in 1991 and 1993, and is a Founding Member of American Blues Theatre, Chicago’s second oldest ensemble-based theatre company, as well as a Founding Member of the Ojai Playwrights Conference. He received his MFA from the University of Iowa’s Playwrights’ Workshop in 1995. Several of his plays have been published by Samuel French and Dramatists Play Service, and have been produced around the country, as well as in the U.K., Germany, Scotland, Moscow, Mexico City, and Istanbul. Cleveland has been a freelance commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered as well as a contributor to, and as a freelance journalist his writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and Outside Magazine.

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