Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presents DEATHTRAP

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presents

DEATHTRAP

by Ira Levin

August 10-27, 2017

Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre

 

Milwaukee, WI. … Sidney Bruhl has stumbled across a killer idea for a murder mystery play – and if its writer isn’t careful, killer is exactly what Sidney Bruhl will become! Such is the setup for DEATHTRAP, Ira Levin’s gripping comedy/thriller that is simultaneously a lively riff on the murder-mystery genre and a terrifyingly spellbinding execution of its most perilous motifs. Dripping with twists and turns, this Tony-nominated play is a perfect kickoff for MCT’s “Mysteries of Life” season, led by returning director Michael Cotey and performed at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre in the Historic Third Ward.

 

In an integral bit of meta-theatre, “Deathtrap” is both the title of Levin’s play itself and the title of the play being fought over by Sidney Bruhl and his student, Clifford Anderson. When Sidney first encounters this new play, he’s been facing writer’s block for years, his days as a successful writer of Broadway thrillers long past. Initially, he and his wife Myra come up with a complicated scheme: invite Clifford over to work on the play together, and convince the first-time writer to add Sidney’s name to the billing – and the profits. But it’s increasingly harder for them to resist the obvious, simpler option – kill Clifford and take the play for themselves.

 

MCT has enlisted three talented local actors to portray this complex trio. Bill Watson will play cash-starved writer Sidney, while Di’Monte Henning (seen last year in LOBBY HERO) will play his student Clifford. Susan Spencer, last seen on the Cabot stage in Skylight’s production of SWEENEY TODD, will make her MCT debut as Myra. Rounding out the cast are Mary Kababik, playing eccentric Dutch psychic Helga ten Dorp, and David Sapiro, playing Sidney’s friend and attorney Porter Milgrim; both are also making their MCT debuts.

 

DEATHTRAP also marks the return of Michael Cotey, who previously directed MCT’s opening show for the 2015-16 season, BOEING BOEING. Cotey, a graduate of UW-Milwaukee currently completing his master’s thesis for the directing program at Northwestern University, began his career as the founding artistic director of Youngblood Theatre, an ambitious company (now-defunct) that specialized in boundary-pushing new works, many of which were performed in found or nontraditional spaces.

 

After the success of BOEING BOEING (MCT’s best-selling production of the past 10 years) Cotey and producing artistic director C. Michael Wright decided on DEATHTRAP as his follow-up. Cotey says he found this play thrilling to be “deceived” by, and hopes audiences will be able to enjoy the same rollercoaster ride he experienced on his first read.

 

“What I love about this play is that at one moment you think you know what’s going on and just when you think you are one step ahead of it something completely unexpected happens,” Cotey says. “The play takes a hard left when you were certain it was going to take a right. Then it does it again. And again. I think audiences are going to love trying to match wits with this play and constantly having the rug taken out from underneath them.”

 

This production will also mark a reunion for Cotey and actor Bill Watson, an associate professor at UW-Milwaukee who Cotey ranks as one of his greatest mentors during his time in the university’s acting program. Watson directed multiple productions that Cotey was a part of, and the two acted opposite each other in EQUUS, Cotey’s first professional production, at In Tandem Theatre in 2007. “I think whenever we have strong mentors, we keep those people somewhere inside of us and their voices show up in our work one way or another. Bill is one of those voices, and to be able to work with him again in this capacity is one of the aspects about this production I’ve been looking towards the most,” Cotey says.

 

DEATHTRAP holds the honor of being Broadway’s longest-running comedy/thriller, having opened at the Music Box Theatre on February 26, 1978 and run for 1,793 performances until June 13, 1982, when it closed at the Biltmore Theatre. The play was adapted into a feature film released the same year, starring Michael Caine as Sidney, Christopher Reeve as Clifford and Dyan Cannon as Myra. In addition to DEATHTRAP, Ira Levin is best-known for writing the novels Rosemary’s Baby, A Kiss Before Dying, and The Stepford Wives, all later adapted for the screen as well (although, unlike DEATHTRAP, none by Levin himself).

 

After DEATHTRAP, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s season will continue through April 2018, with four additional plays exploring “The Mysteries of Life.” Shortly after DEATHTRAP closes, MCT will move to the Studio Theatre for Terrence McNally’s bittersweet modern romance FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE (Sept. 20-Oct. 15). For the holidays, producing artistic director C. Michael Wright will present Tom Dudzick’s MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET (Nov. 22-Dec. 17), a spirited comedy about an unorthodox Buffalo, NY family. Then, in 2018, MCT will first present Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney’s THE BROTHERS SIZE (Feb.21-March 18) in the Studio Theatre and then conclude its season in the Cabot with DOUBT, A PARABLE (April 12-29), directed by C. Michael Wright.

 

DEATHTRAP performances will take place August 10 to 27, 2017 (Opening Night: Friday, August 11), in the Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre, 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. Tickets are available Monday through Saturday from noon-6:00 p.m. (noon-5:00 p.m. summer hours through August 5) at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, or by phone at (414) 291-7800. Tickets can be purchased online 24 hours a day at milwaukeechambertheatre.com. Group, student and senior discounts are also available. For more information, visit milwaukeechambertheatre.com. DEATHTRAP is co-sponsored by Briggs & Stratton Corporation Foundation, Donald A. Cress, Patrick & Julia Fennelly, and The Gerlach Family.

 

[ CAST ]

Clifford Anderson …………………………………………………………………………………. Di’Monte Henning

Helga ten Dorp ……………………………………………………………………………………………. Mary Kababik

Porter Milgrim ………………………………………………………………………………………………. David Sapiro

Myra Bruhl …………………………………………………………………………………………………. Susan Spencer

Sydney Bruhl …………………………………………………………………………………………………… Bill Watson

 

[ PRODUCTION STAFF ]

Director………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Michael Cotey

Stage Manager…………………………………………………………………………………………………. Brandy Kline

Scenic Designer……………………………………………………………………………………………. Arnel Sancianco

Costume Designer……………………………………………………………………………………………. Eleanor Cotey

Lighting Designer……………………………………………………………………………………………… Alex Ridgers

Properties Master……………………………………………………………………………………………….. Nikki Kulas

Sound Designer……………………………………………………………………………………………. Grover Hollway

Dialect Coach………………………………………………………………………………………….. Raeleen McMillion

Fight Choreographer………………………………………………………………………………………. Christopher Elst

Assistant Director/Assistant Stage Manager…………………………………………………….. Sophronia Vowels

 

[ PERFORMANCE INFORMATION ]

August 10-27, 2017
Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
        

 

10

7:30 p.m. P

11

8:00 p.m. O

12          

8:00 p.m.

13

2:00 p.m.

16    1:00 p.m.*

7:30 p.m. V

17

7:30 p.m. T

18

8:00 p.m.

19    4:00 p.m.

8:00 p.m. C

20

2:00 p.m.

23
1:00 p.m.*
24           

7:30 p.m. T

25

8:00 p.m.

26      4:00 p.m.

8:00 p.m.

27

2:00 p.m.

P = Preview; O = Opening; T = Talkback; V = ViewPoints;

*= Talk Theatre; C = Community Building Night (half-price tickets)

 

 

[ SPECIAL EVENTS ]

 

–Pre-performance ViewPoints: Join us for an insightful pre-show talk with Gary Warren Niebuhr, retired librarian and mystery novel aficionado. This free presentation is on Wednesday, August 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Skylight Bar & Bistro on the second floor of the BTC.

 

–Pre-performance Talk Theatre: MCT producing artistic director C. Michael Wright will lead lively, informative chats with director Michael Cotey at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, August 16 and actors Mary Kababik and David Sapiro at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, August 23 in the Skylight Bar & Bistro.

 

–Post-performance Talkbacks: Post-show discussions with the artists will take place following performances on Thursday, August 17 and Thursday, August 24.

 

Community Building Night: As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure MCT productions are accessible to as many members of the Milwaukee community as possible, we’re hosting half-price Community Building Nights during every production in the 2017-2018 season. DEATHTRAP’s Community Building Night is set for 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 19.

 

[ BIOGRAPHIES ]

DI’MONTE HENNING – Clifford Anderson

Di’Monte is excited to return to MCT for DEATHTRAP, after appearing in LOBBY HERO last season. A native of Milwaukee, Di’Monte serves as the executive director for performing arts organization Lights! Camera! Soul! His theatre credits include JITNEY (Youngblood), TO THE PROMISED LAND (Cliff), DREAMGIRLS (Tru-Tone), A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (Puck), THE SUITCASE DREAMS (Groom), HAIRSPRAY (Seaweed), BURYING THE BONES (James), and HAIR (Tribe). TV credits include Chicago PD, Cellcom, and Harley-Davidson. Di’Monte has studied theatre at UW-Milwaukee and is a recent acting resident of the Milwaukee Rep’s Emerging Professional Residents program.

 

MARY KABABIK – Helga ten Dorp

Mary B. Kababik is absolutely thrilled to be working at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre for the first time, and very much looking forward to working with this cast and director.  Mary’s other Milwaukee credits include Optimist Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park (THE WINTER’S TALE, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, JULIUS CAESAR), Next Act Theatre (MICROCRISIS, HERESY), Youngblood Theatre (NEIGHBORHOOD 3: REQUISITION OF DOOM), In Tandem (EQUUS, TWO ROOMS, THE AFGHAN WOMEN), and Theatre X (THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK), among others.  Mary has long had an interest in bringing historical figures to life, and since 2008 has portrayed Cordelia Harvey, former First Lady of Wisconsin during the Civil War, in a one-woman show that is part of the theater program at the Kenosha Civil War Museum.

 

DAVID SAPIRO – Porter Milgrim

David Sapiro is honored to be making his MCT debut in DEATHTRAP. He has most recently been seen as James in TIME STANDS STILL at In Tandem Theatre. Other credits include Cliff in Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of LUNA GALE; John in David Mamet’s A LIFE IN THE THEATRE at the Alchemist Theatre; numerous roles for Acacia Theatre Company, most recently Sigmund Freud in FREUD’S LAST SESSION; and Ethan in Ben Parman’s STARLINGS at Soulstice Theatre.

 

SUSAN SPENCER – Myra Bruhl

Susan is happy to make her MCT debut! She has appeared here on the Cabot stage for Skylight Music Theatre in SWEENEY TODD (Beggar Woman); The Witch in INTO THE WOODS; Glinda in THE WIZARD OF OZ and Fantine in LES MISÉRABLES. Broadway and National Tour credits: Fantine in LES MISÉRABLES; Eva in EVITA; Jo March in LITTLE WOMEN: THE MUSICAL; Grizabella in CATS; and THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, at Radio City Music Hall. Regional credits include First Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre, Pioneer Theater and Denver Center Theater.

 

BILL WATSON – Sidney Bruhl

Local Acting Credits: Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (PICNIC), In Tandem Theatre (THE CHOSEN, EQUUS), First Stage (ESPERANZA RISING). Nationally: Shakespeare and Company, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, The Empty Space, Seattle Children’s Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, The State Theatre, Live Oak Theatre, Axis Theatre Ireland, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Montana Shakespeare In The Parks, and Montana Repertory Theatre. Bill has taught on the faculties of the University of Texas, the University of Montana, and the University of Idaho before coming to Milwaukee in 2004 to initiate a new undergraduate BFA acting program at UWM. He has since directed many productions for UWM and Marquette University,  including HAIR, AS YOU LIKE IT, 7 GUITARS, THE BOYS NEXT DOOR, RUINED, OUR TOWN, LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST, THE HOT L BALTIMORE, OTHELLO, TWO ROOMS, and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. In 2013, Bill and his partners Nancy Smith-Watson and Jim Tasse co-founded Feast of Crispian, an organization that uses acting processes and Shakespeare text to aid American service veterans with re-integration, substance/alcohol abuse and PTS issues. To date they have served over 800 veterans and are mounting their third all-veteran-cast production (JULIUS CAESAR, …AND COMES SAFE HOME) this November: OTHELLO IN AFGHANISTAN at Next Act Theatre.

 

MICHAEL COTEY – Director

Previous work at MCT: BOEING BOEING, THINGS BEING WHAT THEY ARE, and the Young Playwrights Festival. Other directing credits include Illinois Shakespeare Festival (THE COMEDY OF ERRORS), Northwestern University (THE GREAT GATSBY, EQUIVOCATION, FRANKENSTEIN), First Stage (ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD and AS YOU LIKE IT), Goodman Theatre (staged reading of REFERENCES TO SALVADOR DALÍ MAKE ME HOT), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (CEMENTVILLE), Illinois Wesleyan University (TREASURE), and Youngblood Theatre (CARTOON, THE FLU SEASON, and SPIRITS TO ENFORCE). From 2009-2013 he was the founding artistic director of Youngblood. As an actor, Michael has worked with the Milwaukee Rep, Next Act, In Tandem and Youngblood, as well as Utah Shakespeare Festival and Illinois Shakespeare Festival regionally. Michael has assisted prominent directors at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Milwaukee Rep, Gift Theatre and Northwestern. He was part of the FAIR Assistantship Program at Oregon Shakespeare (‘17),  a member of  the Chicago International Puppetry Festival Catapult Program (‘17) and Director’s Lab Chicago (‘13). Michael graduated from UWM with a BFA in Acting, and is in the process of completing his thesis to earn his MFA in Directing from Northwestern University. In 2014 he was named UWM’s “Graduate of the Last Decade.”

 

#####

 

MILWAUKEE CHAMBER THEATRE

Founded in 1975, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) produces intimate and accessible theatrical works that engage and challenge the audience, while employing and nurturing principally local theatre artists. Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright and Managing Director Kirsten Finn, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre performs at the Broadway Theatre Center in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

 

 

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