Thousands more people will get to experience free Shakespeare in the Park

February 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm (2013 Shakespeare in the Park, As You Like It, Optimist Theatre Updates) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Now in our fourth year, Optimist Theatre’s Free Shakespeare in the Park is taking on a new challenge, new play, new partners, and a new location12th 52

July of 2013, Optimist Theatre is pleased to present William Shakespeare’s comedy AS YOU LIKE IT.

Plunge in with Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court to find love and adventure in the Forest of Arden. Featuring iconic Shakespearean character Touchstone, the court jester, played by Milwaukee’s Todd Denning, AS YOU LIKE IT includes one of the Bard’s most famous and oft-quoted speeches, “All the world’s a stage.” Associate Artistic Director and Shakespeare in the Park Producer, Tom Reed, recently seen in the title role in Optimist’s 2012 MACBETH, will direct.

How and Why:BMOHB_T2_E
BMO Harris Matching Grant Challenge – BMO Harris has offered a $20,000 challenge grant to fund Optimist Theatre’s 2013 season. If we can raise the matching funds by March 1st, then BMO Harris will match it dollar for dollar. The resulting $40,000 means Optimist Theatre can produce free Shakespeare in the Park.

Since BMO Harris Bank bought the historic M&I Bank Corporation in 2011, they’ve made impressive inroads in community connections by funding a variety of projects. This includes sponsoring local sports teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and the BMO Harris Bradley Arena.

Although audience attendance is free, there are many production costs to offer a professional show. Optimist Theatre focuses the largest portion of our annual budget on hiring cast and crew from Southeastern Wisconsin, primarily from the greater Milwaukee area. The bulk of our budget goes to pay local artists and craftspeople which they in turn pay into the local economy.

Kickstarter – We’ve already raised $8,400.  During the month of February 2013, an ambitious $11,600 Kickstarter campaign will help meet the BMO Harris challenge grant. All donations are tax deductible.

Kickstarter is a crowdsourced fundraising platform focused specifically on creative projects. It has become a popular fundraising source for small organizations and several successful campaigns by Milwaukee-based initiatives have been run in the last year; Youngblood Theatre’s CARTOON, BeinTween’s Matireal Trail, and the Blue Hawaii Spectacular variety show, to name a few.

To support Shakespeare in the Park and help meet this challenge, click HERE for the Kickstarter link.  You will, in turn, be helping thousands more people experience live theatre – many for the very first time.


A new home – The Selig-Joseph-Folz Amphitheatre in Kadish Park.

12-10=12After 3 successful seasons in the Alumni Courtyard on the campus at Alverno College, Shakespeare in the Park is moving to the recently constructed Selig-Joseph Folz Amphitheatre in Kadish Park located at 308 E Lloyd St in Milwaukee. According to veteran lighting designer Jason Fassl, the new amphitheater, “is magic.”

Kadish Park, named for Alice Bertschy Kadish, a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher, is at the crossroads of four diverse Milwaukee neighborhoods; Riverwest, the Eastside, and Brewer’s Hill, with a sliver of Harambee nearby. It is managed by the COA Youth & Family Centers (Children’s Outing Association), and the new amphitheater is the vision of its Executive Director, Tom Schneider. The COA is one of Milwaukee’s most venerable community organizations.

The amphitheatre features built in retaining wall seating which will expand on audience capacity. In 2012, seating reservations for free Shakespeare in the Park booked solid within 36 hours. This seating configuration will increase availability and ease.  Translation:  No More Reservations Required!  Come and enjoy this lovely public park, picnic, and stake out a space to see the play when the ‘house’ opens.

The amphitheatre makes its premiere on July 9th, 2013 with a grand ceremony and music performance of the Skyline Music Series.  Optimist Theatre will be the inaugural theatre company to perform at  the new venue.  Performances of AS YOU LIKE IT begin on July 12th.

Kadish Park is easily accessible by Milwaukee County Transit System and the Oak Leaf Bike Trail. Free street parking is also available around the park and in the COA lot.


AS YOU LIKE IT Performance Dates:

July 11 Preview for Media

July 12 Opening Night

July 13, 14

July 18, 19, 20, 21

Possible additional dates:  July 25, 26, 28


About free ShakSITP logo color with frameespeare in the Park Milwaukee – Now in its 4th year, Optimist Theatre brings the grand tradition of free Shakespeare in the Park to Milwaukee. Beginning in 2010 with THE TEMPEST, starring theatre legend James Pickering as Prospero, in 2011, Optimist presented TWELFTH NIGHT, directed by Laura Gordon and starring Todd Denning, and in 2012 MACBETH, starring Marti Gobel and Tom Reed.

For More Information:  Visit the Optimist Theatre website at for details about the 2013 season and to find out more about the Kickstarter campaign.


Susan Scot Fry

Managing Director


* Todd Denning is a member of Actors Equity Association.


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“Something Wicked This Way Comes” – You’re Invited

January 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm (2012 Shakespeare in the Park) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Are you ready for some “double, double toil and trouble”?  Well, “screw your courage to the sticking place” and get your tickets now for Optimist Theatre’s …

“Something Wicked This Way Comes”

 Saturday, February 4, 2012, Optimist Theatre hosts our third annual winter fundraising party.  This year we celebrate the 2012 summer production of free Shakespeare in the Park …


By William Shakespeare

Macbeth will feature Mr. Tom Reed* as Macbeth, Ms. Marti Gobel* as Lady Macbeth, Mr. James Pickering* as Duncan and, with your help, is slated for June and July of 2012.  Whether there are 2 or 3 weekends of performances will be determined in large part by how well this fundraiser goes.

The Details:

Something Wicked This Way Comes will be held…

Saturday, February 4, 2012
7:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Alverno College
The Teaching, Learning and Technology Center
3900 S. 43rd Street
Milwaukee, WI

Tickets are only $35.00 each.  To purchase tickets
Please CLICK HERE to visit the Optimist Theatre webpage and
select the Add to Cart button.

$20 per ticket is tax deductible.

Unable to join the fun that night, but you want free Shakespeare in the Park to happen? Please consider a 100% tax deductible donation also via the Optimist Theatre support webpage.

Something Wicked This Way Comes will be a delightful evening of fiendish-fun including…

  • Tarot readings by “Tarot Politico” columnist for The Huffington Post.
  • Your Fairy Godmother Deosil  discovering your color aura or reading your palm
  • Numerology readings with Fairy Godmother Widdershins
  • The generous riches of The Milk of Human Kindness Silent Auction.  One of the best silent auctions in Milwaukee has something for everyone and for every budget.  Bid on great items such as airline tickets to anywhere and a signed, first edition of Christopher Buehlman’s blockbuster, award-winning novel “Those Across The River”
  • Sweet and savory snacks and a no-host bar
  • Your chance to cast your vote for the 2012 Shakespeare in the Park seating reservation system you would most like to use

Stage Entertainment featuring…

  • Comedy by Optimist Theatre favorite, Mr. Phil Johnson, juggler, ropewalker, foolish mortal.  Phil’s sublime, physical and musical comedy is a huge hit with Optimists every year and we’re extremely excited to bring him to Milwaukee again.
  • Music by Milwaukee’s own Mr. John Sieger of Tune du Jour.  “One of our local treasures” –  “The man oozes soul, and his talent is not in question.” –
  • Alverno Colleges’ Chamber Choir and Flute Ensemble.  Featured around town at venues including MAM After Dark, both groups were favorites of the pre-performance picnic crowd during 2011’s production of Twelfth Night.

Thank you for again making the dream of free Shakespeare in the Park a reality.  We couldn’t do it without you.

See you there!

* Member of Actors Equity Association

Inquiries?  Please call or email Susan Fry, Managing Director at 262-498-5777 or

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No Fear Shakespeare

January 14, 2010 at 9:32 am (Brave New World Updates, The Tempest Updates) (, , , , , , , )

There’s this lovely website called “No Fear Shakespeare”.  I started reading their side-by-side (Shakespeare’s text and a modern translation) text for The Tempest and found it to be non-simplistically, brain-candy enjoyable.

I say Hey!  Take the Fear out of Shakespeare!  Free Shakespeare for Everyone!  And if this helps, I also say AMEN!

Check out The Tempest at

What a Brave New World.


Susan Scot Fry

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Brave New World

December 31, 2009 at 12:15 pm (The Tempest Updates) (, , , , , , , , , , )

This summer Milwaukee will experience, for the first time, free of charge to the audience …


Created by Milwaukee’s Optimist Theatre and performed outdoors on the campus of Alverno College, our premier production will be The Tempest, starring Scrooge himself, James Pickering as Prospero.

Mr. Pickering is actively supporting this production and would like to invite you to support it as well.


We invite you to enjoy an evening of entertainment with us at a fundraiser to benefit free Shakespeare in the Park that we’re calling …


“How beauteous mankind is.  O brave new world, that hath such people in’t.”

The Tempest  Act V Scene i

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Reception at 7:00 pm / Show begins at 8:00 pm

Alverno College

The (beautiful) Teaching, Learning and Technology Center

3400 S. 43rd Street – Milwaukee, WI  53234

Event admission is $35 per person

To purchase your admission please visit our website.

We’d appreciate your confirmation by January 22, 2010

Purchase admission or make a donation by December 31 and receive your 2009 tax deduction.

Thank you for helping bring free Shakespeare in the Park to the great city of Milwaukee.

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