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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Announcing the cast and crew for The Tempest

March 30, 2010 at 11:51 am (Optimist Theatre Updates, The Tempest Updates) (, , , , )

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on …”

The dream is Free Shakespeare in the Park.  And this summer, for the first time ever in the Festival City of Milwaukee, the dream will come true.  Outdoors in the courtyard of Alverno College, Optimist Theatre will produce The Tempest, Shakespeare’s masterpiece of magic, humor, forgiveness, and redemption. The production will be completely free to the audience, but of the highest creative caliber – simple, fierce, and imaginative.  Directed by Ron Scot Fry, Optimist Theatre’s Artistic Director, the cast includes…

Photo by John Neinhuis

James Pickering*. . . Prospero

Angela Iannone* . . . Ariel

Tom Reed* . . . Caliban

Jocelyn Fitz-Gibbon . . .  Miranda

Andrew Voss . . . Ferdinand

Jacque Troy . . . Antonio

Neil Haven . . . Sebastian

T. Stacy Hicks . . . King Alonso

Flora Coker . . . Gonzalo

Ken Williams . . . Stephano / Mariners

David Flores . . . Trinculo / Mariners

Master . . . Andrew Parchman

Boatswain . . . Tommy Stevens

The company ensemble aka “The Tribe” . . .  Amie Losi, Allie Babich, Na Tasha Carr, Grace DeWolff, Cassondra Gresl, Trevor Olds, Tamsyn Reed, Eric Schabla, Tommy Stevens, Andrew Parchman, and Sara Zientek.

Managing Director . . . Susan Scot Fry

Dramaturg and Assistant Director . . . ML Cogar

Lighting Design . . . Jason Fassl

Stage Manager . . . Melissa Wanke*

Production Manager . . . Alan Piotrowicz

Tribe Costumer . . . Mel Benson

Costume Coordinator . . . Alex Tacoma

Original music composed by T.J. Hull and played by The Full Fathom Four, which include Hull, Amanda Caretta-Hull, Emily Rhode-Terrien, and Jeff Sturgeon

Puppet Design and Construction . . . Milwaukee Mask and Puppet Theatre, Artistic Director Max Samson

Managing Director Assistant Intern . . . Na Tasha Carr

Stage Management Intern . . . Kate Krakow

Podcast Filmographer . . . Christina Mata

Displays Artist . . . Estephanie Mendoza

The Tempest will run June 18 – 20 and 24 – 27.  “Milwaukee has incredible talent, and Shakespeare in the Park is a great opportunity to showcase that talent,” said Fry.  “We have the privilege of premiering this project with a brilliant ensemble of actors, musicians, and visual artists.  I’m looking forward to a rich, collaborative creative process.”

Optimist Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit theatre company.  Shakespeare in the Park is made possible by Alverno College, a Creative Communities Grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board and individual donor contributions.  For more information on Optimist Theatre, free Shakespeare in the Park or The Tempest, contact Susan Scot Fry, Managing Director at or 262-498-5777 or visit the Optimist Theatre website at


Susan Fry

2010 N. 1st Street

Milwaukee, WI  53212


*  Member of Actor’s Equity.

updated 5-19-10

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