Milwaukee Repertory Theater Announces 2017–18 Season | Playbill

Regional News Milwaukee Repertory Theater Announces 2017–18 Season The season includes Ayad Akhtar’s The Who & The What, Guys and Dolls, and the new musical Mark Twain’s River of Song.
Ayad Akhtar Monica Simoes

Milwaukee Repertory Theater, led by Artistic Director Mark Clements and Managing Director Chad Bauman, has announced the 13-show lineup that will span over four theatres as part of its 2017–18 season.

The upcoming season is set to open September 2017 and will run through May 2018.

The slate includes Frank Loesser’s celebrated musical Guys and Dolls; Ian Wooldridge’s new adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm; Dael Orlandersmith’s interview-based solo play, Until the Flood, about the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar’s newest play The Who & The What; and the world premiere of Mark Twain’s River of Song, a new musical by Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman about the Mississippi River and its most famous traveler.

Full details of the 2017-2018 Milwaukee Repertory Theater lineup, as outlined by the theatre, are listed below:

By Stephen Temperley
Directed by Laura Braza
September 8–November 5, 2017
Stackner Cabaret
Eccentric Manhattan socialite Florence Foster Jenkins once declared, “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.” And, oh, did she sing—often and loudly, but rarely on key. Her recitals brought her a legion of die-hard fans, and she capped her improbable career with a Carnegie Hall concert that famously sold out in two hours. Time Out calls Souvenir “a memorable illustration of the purely theatrical magic that can turn the tinniest ear to gold.” Her story was recently told in an Oscar-nominated film starring Meryl Streep. Souvenir is a charming and hilarious musical comedy that reminds us that you can achieve anything when you set your mind to it.

Guys and Dolls
Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, book by Jo Swerling, and Abe Burrows
Directed by Mark Clements
September 19–October 29, 2017
Quadracci Powerhouse
After sold-out productions of Ragtime and Dreamgirls, Mark Clements reunites with Olivier Award-winning choreographer Stephen Mear for a dazzling new production of the Tony Award-winning Guys and Dolls. This celebrated musical comedy follows two small-time gamblers as they pursue love and luck, from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, Cuba.

The Who & The What
By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by May Adrales
September 27–November 5, 2017
Stiemke Studio
From Milwaukee native Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Disgraced and The Invisible Hand, comes a thrillingly fierce and funny new play about identity, religion, and the contradictions that make us who we are. Growing up Muslim with her close-knit family in Atlanta, Zarina is writing about women and Islam when she meets Eli, a young convert who bridges the gap between her modern life and traditional heritage. When her conservative father and sister discover her controversial manuscript, they all must confront the beliefs that define them.

Murder for Two
Book and music by Joe Kinosian
Book and lyrics by Kellen Blair
November 10, 2017–January 14, 2018
Stackner Cabaret
Co-written by Milwaukee High School of the Arts graduate Joe Kinosian, Murder for Two is the perfect blend of music, mayhem, and murder that has played to sold-out audiences all over the country. In this hilarious 90-minute show, 2 performers play 13 roles—not to mention the piano—in a witty and winking homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries.

Holmes and Watson
By Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by Joseph Hanreddy
November 14–December 17, 2017
Quadracci Powerhouse
Dr. Watson is called upon to disprove the many frauds, fakes, and charlatans who have popped up all over the world claiming to be Sherlock Holmes following his “death” at Reichenbach Falls. Watson travels to a remote mental asylum where three men have recently been admitted, each claiming to be the late detective and matching his physical description. Watson must confront the men and figure out which one is the real Holmes.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm
Adapted by Ian Wooldridge
Directed by May Adrales
January 9–February 11, 2018
Quadracci Powerhouse
A co-production with Baltimore Center Stage
Among the most famous political novels of all time, Animal Farm is a timeless and devastating allegory of idealism betrayed by the desire for personal power. When the animals of Manor Farm drive out their abusive farmer, they take over running the farm for themselves. Their experiment in collective leadership succeeds—until the pigs step into the vacuum of power created by the farmer’s expulsion, and betray the ideals of freedom and equality for all animals. This vibrant and moving production will breathe fresh life into a literary classic as resonant today as when it was first published.

Black Pearl Sings!
By Frank Higgins
January 19–March 18, 2018
Stackner Cabaret
Music unites strangers and bridges racial divisions in this powerful story based on real life events. It’s 1933, and an ambitious song collector for the Library of Congress visits a Texas prison where she meets Pearl, an African-American woman with a soulful voice and steely spirit. Featuring more than a dozen beautiful a cappella renditions of spirituals and American folk songs, Black Pearl Sings! explores what it means to be a woman in a man’s world, being black in a white world, and fighting for one’s soul in a world where anyone can be a commodity.

One House Over
By Catherine Trieschmann
Directed by Mark Clements
February 27–March 25, 2018
Quadracci Powerhouse
When Rafael and Camila Hernandez move in downstairs to help Joanne with her elderly father, Joanne breathes a little easier. She needs their help, and they need jobs. But she can't anticipate the complications that arise when "the help" starts to feel like family... and act like it. A brilliant new comedy by one of today’s hottest playwrights, it’s an empathetic but searing examination of boundaries, power, privilege, and fear in a single backyard.

Until the Flood
Written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Neel Keller
March 13–April 22, 2018
Stiemke Studio
From Pulitzer Prize finalist and celebrated performer Dael Orlandersmith (Yellowman), comes an extraordinary theatrical event that explores the reactions of the St. Louis region to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. After conducting hundreds of interviews, Orlandersmith crafted a stunning play featuring eight real-life characters, all with unique and interesting perspectives. These stories reflect a range of human experiences – the drive to forward one’s prospects with education, the innate need to protect our loved ones from the harsh realities of the world, and the urge to seek answers to life’s biggest questions. The result is a theatrical mosaic of diverse voices that explores how a community heals and grows together.

Mark Twain’s River of Song
By Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman
Directed by Randal Myler
March 23–May 20, 2018
Stackner Cabaret
From the creators of The Rep’s hit productions Low Down Dirty Blues and Back Home Again: On The Road With John Denver, comes this exploration of the music and culture of America’s first superhighway, the Mississippi River. From the iron red water in Minnesota to the deep, dark Southern Delta, the river carries the stories and songs of the people. Come take a ride on the Mississippi—guided by the voices of the men and women who lived and worked on the river, tied together with the observations and insights of the Mississippi’s most famous traveler, Mark Twain. Performed by three world-class musicians, including David Lutken (Woody Sez, John Denver), River of Song is a journey through America’s Heartland and features traditional songs like “Dance Boatmen Dance,” “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” and “Deep River Blues.”

Our Town
By Thornton Wilder
Directed by Brent Hazelton
April 10–May 13, 2018
Quadracci Powerhouse
Wisconsin native Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is one of the greatest American plays ever written. With poetic beauty and simplicity, Our Town illuminates the powerful bonds that hold communities together through everyday life and moments of crisis, as it follows the lives of the Gibbs, Webbs, and their friends and neighbors. With humor, wit, and exceptionally powerful storytelling, Wilder delivers universal truths about what it means to be human and encourages us to live life to its fullest.

Off –Subscription Programming

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Adapted and Directed by Mark Clements
Featuring Jonathan Wainwright as Scrooge
November 28 – December 24, 2017
Pabst Theater
The Rep’s hit new adaptation, which broke box office records last December, is a tale of love, hope and redemption with just the right blend of beautiful music, lively dancing, stunning sets, and eye-popping special effects. It’s a dazzling Christmas feast with enough theatrical goodies to fill any sized stocking hung by the chimney with care. Join Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Scrooge in this holiday classic the whole family will love.

For additional information on subscription packages contact The Rep’s Ticket Office at (414) 224-9490 or visit


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