February 10, 2014 at 11:27 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Are you planning on joining Optimist Theatre for our 2014 winter fundraiser party, UNSPHERE THE START?  Excellent!  Some details that will make it easier to plan your evening:

First off, your ticket purchase will not only help us meet the BMO Harris challenge grant, but $20 per ticket is tax deductible.  Optimist Theatre’s tax ID number is 39-1769252.  If you need a direct receipt, please contact ssfry@optimisttheatre.org after the event and we’ll be happy to get one to you.

Tickets are $35.00 per person.  I’m sorry, but we cannot sell tables at the door because they are pre-set before the event begins.

We will accept cash, check or credit at the door.


On the evening of Wednesday, February 12, 2013, the party begins at 7:00 pm.


UNSPHERE THE STARS will be a fabulously fun fundraiser variety starring a number of brilliant music talent and Optimist Theatre comedic favorite, Mr. Phil Johnson.  Phil’s sublimely hilarious physical and musical comedy is a huge hit every year. http://www.philipearl.com

Enjoy the excellent selection and values in our silent auction.  Cash, checks and credit cards will all be gratefully accepted and any amount paid over retail value will be tax deductible.


Turner Hall

1040 N. 4th St.

Milwaukee, WI 53203.

We will be upstairs in the ballroom.

Please note:  Turner Hall is a non-smoking building.


Parking at Turner Hall is primarily in the paid lots adjacent and nearby metered streets.

Note:  There is a basketball game at the Bradley Center the night of February 12th, so give yourself plenty of time to find parking.

Directions and Detailed Parking Information:  http://pabsttheater.org/pages/directions


If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at SSFry@OptimistTheatre.org or 262-498-5777.

Thank you again for your Optimistic support.  Together, we’ll continue to bring free Shakespeare in the Park to Greater Milwaukee – and have a great time doing it.


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New Kickstarter Video – Announcing the Cast for AS YOU LIKE IT

February 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm (2013 Shakespeare in the Park, As You Like It, Optimist Theatre Updates) (, , , , , , , , )

Ramble through the forest of Arden with the cast for Shakespeare in the Park’s 2013 production of AS YOU LIKE IT.



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Shakespeare in the Park 2013 – News, Updates, and Cast Announcement

February 20, 2013 at 9:06 pm (2013 Shakespeare in the Park, As You Like It, Optimist Theatre Updates) (, , , , , , , , , )

Thanks to a little help from our friends, Optimist Theatre is off to a great start on making Shakespeare in the Park 2013 a reality. An update…

BMO Harris Challenge Grant / Kickstarter Status


We’re almost 78% funded!

As of February 20, Optimist Theatre has raised a total of $15,536 in pledges and donations toward BMO Harris’ $20,000 challenge grant. With 7 days left to raise the remaining $4,464, we’re optimistic.

Optimist Theatre is raising a large portion of these funds through a Kickstarter campaign. If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a great way for non-profit organizations to fund a specific project.

Since we launched this campaign, we’re proud to note that the Shakespeare in the Park 2013 project has been selected by the Kickstarter organization as both the Project Pick of the Day (among the thousands of other causes) and as a Staff Pick for Milwaukee projects.

If we meet our goal, Kickstarter turns your pledge into money by charging your credit card. If we don’t make it, then you don’t get charged and Optimist Theatre does not get any money.


Our deadline to tally pledges for the challenge grant is the end of the day February 28, 2013.

When meet their challenge, BMO Harris will turn every $1 you give to $2.


SITP logo color with frameOptimist Theatre is excited to present William Shakespeare’s comedy AS YOU LIKE IT and we’re proud to announce the cast for this year’s production…

Mr. Tom Reed,* Director

Ms. Tess Cinpinski as Phoebe
Mr. Todd Denning* as Touchstone
Mr. Christopher Elst as
Charles/Oliver Martext
Ms. Alison Mary Forbes as Amiens
Mr. David Franz as Oliver
Mr. James Fletcher* as Duke Senor/Duke Frederick
Mr. Clayton Hamburg as Orlando
Ms. Kristin Hammargren as
Mr. Evan Koepnick as Silvius
Mr. Patrick Lawlor* as Jacques
Mr. Bryce Lord as Adam/Corin
Mr. Emmit Morgans as Le Beau
Ms. Tamsyn Reed as Lady Page
Ms. Genesee Spridco as Audrey
Ms. Sara Zientek as Celia

In addition to these actors and roles, Optimist Theatre will again cast a young company of players. In THE TEMPEST, they were The Tribe; TWELFTH NIGHT had The Nocturnes; and they were The Coven for MACBETH. For AS YOU LIKE IT, we will have The Guild.

Ongoing announcements, including casting for The Guild, will be posted here on the Optimist Theatre blog.

Dates: Performance dates are slated for July 11 (preview night for media), July 12 (opening night), 13 and 14 and July 18, 19, 20 and 21. Possible additional dates will be July 25, 26 and 28.12-10=12

Location: Performances will be held at the brand new amphitheatre in Kadish Park overlooking the beautiful downtown Milwaukee skyline.

*Members of Actors Equity Association.


FUN 1: Yet again, Shakespeare has his heroine dress as a boy to escape detection. Ah, Rosalind. But hey, if it works once (or 4 or 5 times)…

QUIZ: What name does Rosalind assume as a boy in disguise?

FUN 2: In the original text, there are actually two characters named Jaques in AS YOU LIKE It. One is a melancholy lord attending to Duke Senior, the other is Jaques de Boys, the brother of Oliver and Orlando.

QUIZ: Which Jaques delivers the famous “All the world’s a stage” speech?

FUN 3: Musical Comedy? AS YOU LIKE IT has more songs in it than any other Shakespeare play.

     QUIZ: How many songs are featured in AS YOU LIKE IT?

Community Partner News: MKEFoodies

MKEFoodies is a group of ordinary Milwaukeeans who enjoy food, drink, and socializing. More importantly, it’s a collective that believes that community is vital, and that giving back makes a big difference.

Shakespeare in the Park has been selected to benefit from MKEFoodies’ February gathering.

Thank you. We are honored.

Watch for more updates

To see how the pledge drive is going, check in on our Kickstarter or on our Facebook page.

Thank you for your consideration and support. Here’s to a shining 2013 and we’ll see you at Kadish Park!

Susan Scot Fry
Managing Director

Optimist Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit theatre company.  All donations are 100% tax deductible.  For more information, visit www.OptimistTheatre.org.

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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 www.OptimistTheatre.org 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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First Rehearsal for Twelfth Night

May 11, 2011 at 11:50 am (2011 Shakespeare in the Park, Twelfth Night Updates) (, , , , , , )

Last night was Optimist Theatres’ first rehearsal for Twelfth Night. What a JOY!

As we got to know each other in this first gathering, some fun stuff came up and I’m going to share…

  • Not only does Milwaukees’ free Shakespeare in the Park get to revel in her directing talents before she heads to Utah Shakespeare, but this is the largest cast that Ms. Laura Gordon has ever directed.
  • We have a name for our ensemble!  Last year, they were “The Tribe”.  This year, they are (drum roll….) “The Nocturnes”.
  • Todd “Some Men Are Born Great” Denning has done Twelfth Night 6 other times but this is his first as Malvolio.  We WIN!
  • The live music score being composed by TJ Hull is drawing from heavily from the Postmodern Era.  Oooo, I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with.
  • Marcy “A Horse of That Color” Kearns was an English Major and is almost as fascinated by the kind of paper she’d write about Twelfth Night as she is about playing Maria.  ALMOST.

There’s much more in store, but I suppose we should keep some things a surprise… Oh! But I so want to tell you about the beautiful costume drawings done by Ms. Leslie Vaglica!  And the set design by Mr. Steve Barnes!  No…  I must be strong.

In the meantime, enjoy the album of first rehearsal photos on the Optimist Theatre Facebook page.

Fittingly, the evening was concluded by Mr. Tom Reed, channeling Mr. Jim Pickering:

“Holy *&^%, Mr. Willy Snake&*^%”.



Susan Scot Fry

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Shakespeare in the Park 2011 Will Be…

December 2, 2010 at 5:56 pm (2011 Shakespeare in the Park, Twelfth Night Updates) (, , , , , , , )

William Shakespeare’s


Directed by Ms. Laura Gordon*

With Mr. James Pickering** as Malvolio

To be performed outdoors on the campus of Alverno College in June 2011.   Exact dates are TBD.



Our Associate Artistic Director, Mr. Tom Reed, has again arranged for audition space at Alverno College and is organizing all those details. If you’re interested in receiving audition information, please drop him a line TReed@OptimistTheatre.org.



Shakespeare in the Park and Optimist Theatre merchandise is now available via our online store.

Please visit us at www.printfection.com/OptimistTheatre and peruse to your heart’s content. Hoodies and tote bags and coffee mugs, oh my!  Proceeds all go to support free Shakespeare in the Park for Milwaukee.


The original musical soundtrack from The Tempest is available on CD for only $8 – which includes shipping! Please drop a line to SSFry@OptimistTheatre.org to order your copy and relive the magic.

Digital Download of the whole album is available via CD Baby.  Click on http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/fullfathomfour to preview all the tracks and to order your own copy.


Shakespeare in the Park is a joyous gift to the great city of Milwaukee, WI.  Thank you for being part of it.

Susan Scot Fry

*Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
**Member of Actor’s Equity Association

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5,000 Postcards Need a Good Home!

May 15, 2010 at 8:36 am (The Tempest Updates) (, , , )

Hello Milwaukee and Environs!

We have 5,000 postcards hot off the presses and they’re looking for a home.  Do you know of any places in the Milwaukee area that display promo materials for upcoming arts events? Tickets are free, but we need to make sure people know it’s happening.

Also, if you would like a stack to distribute at your place of employment, please chime in. I’d love to get them to you.

And don’t forget to RSVP for yourself, soon. We’re already at 343 reservations and I want to make sure you Shakespeare in the Park fans get in.

Email me at SSFry@OptimistTheatre.org for postcards and to RSVP.

Thank you for your support.

Susan Fry

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It’s a Tempest Treasure Hunt!

May 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm (The Tempest Updates) (, , , )

Starting May 11, 2010, The Tempest will hit the streets of Milwaukee.  Literally.  Well, copies of the play will, at any rate.

Agents for Optimist Theatre will be releasing copies of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest into the wild in various places around Milwaukee.  Inside each paperback will be a letter personally inviting you to come see The Tempest, to bring the copy you just rescued with you and have it autographed by Prospero himself (aka Mr. James Pickering).

Watch for a release announcement and clues.  Happy treasure hunting!

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Enjoy! A Brave New World Video Montage

May 3, 2010 at 7:23 am (Brave New World Updates) (, , , , )

Optimist Theatre’s celebration of Shakespeare in the Park, this past January was a microcosm of the talent, support and sheer joy that is being brought to this project.

Many area artists gathered and strutted their substantial stuff for an appreciative audience.  Laughter, great music and an enticing Tempest preview (accompanied by a killer gourmet popcorn bar) made for a great evening.

Enjoy this show snippet and we hope to see you at The Tempest this June on the beautiful Alverno College campus.

(Aren’t Ken and David – aka Stephano and Trinculo — just the cutest?  More pix of these 2 coming soon…)

In Ars Veritas,

Susan Scot Fry

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Coming Soon! YouTube Videos!

April 13, 2010 at 10:59 am (Optimist Theatre Updates, The Tempest Updates) (, , , , )

Free Shakespeare in the Park is just around the corner, but there’s lots of prep to be done.  To keep you up to date on progress, tell you a bit about the production, and give you a look at behind the scenes, we’re working on a series of short videos.

These podcasts will be posted on the Optimist Theatre YouTube channel — which you can find at http://www.youtube.com/user/OptimistTheatre.  Feel free to check it out anytime.  If you want to be notified when a new video is posted, just subscribe.  It’s free, it’s easy and it doesn’t trigger any kind of spam.

If you’ve got any suggestions for video topics, just chime in. Email Ron Fry at RSFry@OptimistTheatre.org with your burning Tempest wishes.

In Ars Veritas,

Susan Scot Fry

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