Performance & Speaker Guide

Below, or in this PDF, you’ll find the available UPAF Cornerstone and Member Group options for interactive speakers and entertainment during your Workplace Giving Campaign. Offerings will specify if they are virtual performances, or if the performance group is comfortable performing in-person masked.

Be sure to also look at our robust library of pre-recorded options, including performances and testimonials from each Member Group.  



First Stage-Impact

Bring a First Stage student into your workplace to share his/her impactful story and learn about the many ways First Stage makes positive changes in the lives of young people, our community and the world! Students will present personal testimonials and songs (or monologues) that are sure to entertain and inspire.


Life Skills through Stage Skills Workshop

Ever wonder what it would be like to attend First Stage Academy? Engage employees in your workplace giving campaign as a First Stage Teaching Artist leads them through an interactive workshop. Employees may learn warm up techniques, play improv games, and see firsthand the life skills through stage skills taught to young people through the First Stage Academy Program.

Length: 15-45 minutes (customizable)

Audience: Maximum of 50 participants
Booking time: At least 3 weeks prior to event


Speakers Available:

·       Betsy Corry, Managing Director

·       Jeff Frank, Artistic Director

·       Nancy Clarkin, Director of Philanthropy

·       JT Backes, First Stage Theater Academy Director

·       Julia Magnasco, Director of Programming



“I Hate Opera”

Performance of some of the great arias, duets, and ensembles from opera, you'll go in hating opera, but come out an opera lover/appreciator.  


“Meet the Creative Team”

Ever wonder how a show gets built?  Learn more by talking to the creative teams that design a show (performers, costume/wig designer, or set designer)


“Developing Your Voice”

Opera Singers train for years honing their craft, developing their voice and confidence, and creating compelling characters.  This interactive program will teach you some of the basics of voice necessary to hone your focus and confidence, skills that can translate into your next great workplace presentation or on-stage cameo.  Learn some tips and tricks that singers do to warm-up their voices to create those rich and engaging sounds.


I'm Ready for my Close-up Mr. DeMille

What do performers do to look so fabulous? Erica Cartledge, Resident Wig & Makeup designer, shows you first-hand the intricacies and delicacies of character transformation and incredible make-up artistry.   *Please note, this would need a volunteer to adhere to Florentine's Covid policies and come into our Opera Center to be transformed by Erica, we could record the transformation to show to their company.  


Speaker Available:

Arts, business, and community - and how they all matter to each other (20 min)

Maggey Oplinger, Florentine Opera’s General Director and CEO, will share her passion of all things ART. From her beginning in Milwaukee, taking her around the world, and back to her hometown of Milwaukee, how do opera, the arts and UPAF make a difference - and why all of that should matter to you.



Speakers Available:

·       Michael Pink, Artistic Director

Topics include:

·       The Impact of the Arts on Our Community

·       The Power of Community Outreach

·       Get to Know YOUR Milwaukee Ballet                                                                                                                               


MILWAUKEE RE                


Performances and Impact Statements

Experience the power of theater firsthand! Performers offer testimonials communicating how the arts have changed their lives and the importance of supporting UPAF.

  • Emerging Professional Residents – recent college graduates performing songs/monologues (program funded by UPAF Bright Minds)
  • Professional Training Institute – high school students in Milwaukee Rep’s pre-professional training program performing songs/monologues
  • Next Narratives Monologue Competition participants – high school students competing in a national competition with monologues written by contemporary Black playwrights
  • Milwaukee Rep Guest Actors ­ professional actors appearing in current productions (subject to availability)

LENGTH: 10-20 minutes

AUDIENCE SIZE: Ideal for any audience size

BOOKING TIME: At least 3 weeks before event

Technical Demonstrations – Virtual Only

Panel Discussions with past Rep Designers

Hear about how our technicians bring stories to life and what it takes to design lighting, sound, sets, and/or costumes for Rep productions

LENGTH: 15-30 minutes

AUDIENCE SIZE: Ideal for any audience size

BOOKING TIME: At least 2 weeks prior to event




Corporate Theater Training

Jenny Toutant, Chief Education and Engagement Officer, will lead your team in a workshop using theater to improve communication skills, creative thinking, teambuilding and leadership. 


General Workshops

Jeffrey Mosser, Associate Director of Education, will teach your group various theater skills. Sample workshops include “Physical Theater for the Smallest Screen”, “Basic Acting”, and “Writing Your First Play”.

LENGTH: 20 minutes-1 hour

AUDIENCE SIZE: Small (less than 20)

BOOKING TIME: A least 2 weeks before event



  • Mark Clements, Artistic Director

“UPAF support is essential to creating world-class theater at Milwaukee Repertory Theater”

  • Chad Bauman, Executive Director

“The Financial Impact of the Arts in Milwaukee”

  •  Deanie Valone, Literary Director

“New Play Development – Putting Milwaukee’s voice on the map”

  • Jenny Toutant, Chief Engagement and Education Officer

“The Power of Arts-Integrated Education”

  • TBD, Chief Diversity Officer

“Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion through the Arts”

LENGTH: 15-30 minutes

AUDIENCE SIZE: Small or Medium

BOOKING TIME: At least 2 weeks prior


Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Available virtually or in person upon request

Speaker Available:

Mark Niehaus

America is brimming with extraordinary musicians, live concerts, and orchestras as unique as the communities they serve. Orchestral music making is flourishing in our country, encouraging creativity and bringing people together to share the experience of live music. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra President & Executive Director Mark Niehaus will share how symphony orchestras fuel local economies, attract new business development, educate young people, and—through the power of music—unite individuals and cultures in times of public celebration and healing.



Skylight Singers

Skylight offers an array of talented singer-actors to perform songs from the Broadway musical catalogue. They give compelling testimony about the importance of the arts in our community while entertaining the audience through song. In person and virtual options available.



This lighthearted virtual presentation highlights the importance of arts education. Members of Skylight’s education department will captivate your imagination as singers perform highlights from KidsWrites, a show with stories and songs written by 3rd - 8th grade students, giving you a sample of the creative minds of Milwaukee’s youth.

LENGTH: 15-30 minutes

AUDIENCE SIZE: Ideal for any audience size

BOOKING TIME: At least 2 weeks prior to the event


Speakers Available:

·       Michael Unger, Artistic Director

·       Jack R. Lemmon, Executive Director

·       Amanda Rossman, Education Director



Speaker Available:

·       Kate Schmitt, Managing Director

·       Richard Hynson, Artistic Director

LENGTH: 15-30 minutes

AUDIENCE SIZE: Small or Medium

BOOKING TIME: At least 2 weeks prior



Spoken Word, Art Therapy, Dance, Drumming, Teaching Artist/Young Performer led activity


Speakers Available:

·       BAMKE Executive or Performing Artist to speak to the power of the arts 





Let Danceworks lead your employees through a mindful movement practice including gentle stretching, breathing, and guided meditation all from the comfort of their home. Learn how a few minutes can revive you mind and spirit. Would you like to hear about how the arts create ritual and deeper connection to self and the community? Just ask to add a speaker.

LENGTH: 10-20 minutes, but can customize to suit the company’s needs


Mad Hot Rhythm Lesson

Get up and moving with Mad Hot Rhythm faculty as they lead you through a dance lesson using this year’s energizing choreography. Would you like to hear about how arts education impacts our youth? Just ask to book a speaker.

LENGTH: 15-30 minutes depending on company’s request


Pick a Style!

Give your employees the gift of movement with an introductory class to a dance style of your choice. Pick from Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Salsa, or Tap.

LENGTH: 30-60 minutes depending on company’s request


Speakers Available:

·       Amy Brinkman-Sustache, Director of Education – “How the Arts Serve the Life Span” or “The Impact of Arts Education on the Individual”

·       Julia Gray, Executive Director – “Elevating the Art of Social Conversations through Dance” or “A Celebration of Dance: Building on the Past 30 Years for the Next 30 Years”

·       Jessica Fastabend, Community Programs Manager - Dance is the Vehicle: Real Stories of Arts in the Community



Interactive Workshops & Performances:

Write A Play in 20 Minutes

Let your right (write?) brain run rampant on a coffee break as you learn the art of writing a short play. Building characters through dialogue and dropping them into a conflict, you’ll sign off this virtual workshop with your own two-minute play ready for office antics, home adventures, or your own memory-box of life in 2022.

LENGTH: 25-30 minutes max

PARTICIPANTS: Any number (smaller sizes more effective)

ARTIST: Marcella Kearns or MCT Teaching Artist


In the Style of…

Ready to wordsmith with the best of playwrights and screenwriters? This casual writing workshop leapfrogs through styles of masters and genres. You’ll take a bland piece of dialogue and shape it into your own favorite kind of story. Have a pencil, paper, and your favorite warm beverage at the ready.

LENGTH: 30-60 minutes

PARTICIPANTS: Any number (smaller sizes more effective)

ARTIST: Marcella Kearns or MCT Teaching Artist


Twist Your Tongue

Ever wonder what it takes for an actor from Milwaukee to sound like a kid in Brooklyn or a princess in France? Break down sound and learn a dialect with one of Milwaukee’s masters of verbal disguise.

LENGTH: 30-60 minutes

PARTICIPANTS: (TBD, smaller group would be more effective)
ARTIST: Elyse Edelman


Matt Daniels on the Ukulele

Actor Matt Daniels sings popular favorites accompanied by his ukulele. Using his signature vocal stylings, he presents tunes from old time Vaudeville all the way up to today’s biggest pop hits…. And he’s no Tiny Tim: the novelty of the uke disappears almost immediately as audiences fall under the spell of these expertly arranged and skillfully performed songs. You can sing along or sit back and listen; the ukulele is a guaranteed good time!
LENGTH: 5 minutes– 2 hours
AUDIENCE SIZE: Ideal for any audience size
BOOKING TIME: At least 2 weeks prior to event

Steve Watts – Piano/Vocals 

Steve is a Milwaukee-based actor/singer/musician who plays and sings primarily pop and rock classics, but also incorporates many other genres into a request-based piano bar style show.  He has performed for many years in theatres and clubs internationally, and as a result has accumulated an extensive repertoire of songs.  

LENGTH: 5-90 minutes

AUDIENCE SIZE: ideal for any audience size

BOOKING TIME: at least two weeks prior to event


Speakers Available:

  • Brent Hazelton, Artistic Director
  • Marcella Kearns, Associate Artistic Director
  • DiMonte Henning, Actor
  • Elyse Edelman, Actor




Speakers Available:

  • MYSO Current Students

“How MYSO Changed My Life” testimonial

  • AND/OR student performance groups:
    • Small group jazz ensemble
    • Small group string ensemble
    • Soloist (e.g. jazz pianist)
    • Other groups available upon request
  • Linda Edelstein, CEO, MYSO Alumna

“The Community Impact of Music Education at MYSO”

"MYSO's Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Development of Young People"

  • Carter Simmons, Artistic and Music Director

“Access, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Programming”

  • Sabrina Raber, Community Liaison and MYSO Alumna

“Stories of Success – How MYSO impacts the lives of our students”

“Fostering Community Partnerships – the impact of MYSO on the community”

  • Guillermo Baena, Philanthropy Officer – Individuals

“Fighting Poverty and Creating a More Inclusive Milwaukee at MYSO.”



Next Act Theatre wants to work with you on your United Performing Arts Fund campaign this year! Pre-recorded, via Zoom or live and in-person, let us help you launch or land your campaign. From board rooms to ball rooms, Next Act can find the perfect fit to entertain and enlighten your team. In addition to the possibilities listed below, Next Act is happy to chat about your ideas and needs outside of the following offerings:


Sing Out!

Add a unique and personalized touch to your UPAF campaign! Next Act has a portable keyboard (and a portable keyboard player) for everything from background music to personalizing song lyrics that include employee, campaign chairs or even a CEO’s names, hobbies, or contributions they lent to the campaign. Next Act can customize material to fit your campaign’s theme.


Keeping You In Sketches (and Song)!

Let Next Act Theatre write and perform a short skit featuring employees from your office! Too shy? No worries! We can place employee names, hobbies or how they contributed to the campaign into a funny skit. We can bring an actor in to recite a monologue for you – either serious or comedic. We can work with you for just the right entertainment to match your company’s campaign theme! 


On Call!

Need an emcee? How about a judge or two? What about a short talk on a number of topics: Testimonials from artists, students and arts administrators on the personal importance theatre has had on their lives? Let us work with you to find the perfect person to talk to your group.


Workshops for You!

Laughter truly is the best medicine, so why not give your team a dose of super fun, audience participation, improvisational comedy in a workshop designed especially for you!?


Author! Author!!

Ever wonder how a play gets written? Have Next Act Theatre’s Education Manager, Grace DeWolff, walk your team through the process. Come out the other side with a short play in hand.


Bring In The Clowns!

Next Act Theatre can round up just about anyone you might need for your event: jugglers, face painters, clowns, elves or mimes!


We look forward to hearing from you and providing your team with just the perfect touch to your campaign, be it themed or not. Thank you for all you do to help support the arts!!





Carl Storniolo  Pangaea Steel Pan Group

Pangea is a musical ensemble that specializes in performing music from the Caribbean.  The steel pan, a Trinidadian instrument constructed from the bottom of an oil barrel, is featured, giving the group that special “island” sound.  Pangaea performs as a duet (pans and marimba), trio (pans, marimba and bass) or in solo format (pans with pre-recorded backing tracks).

The steel pan is frequently heard in Caribbean music, such as calypso and reggae.  However, any style of music can be arranged for the steel pan, and Pangaea plays a variety of calypso, reggae, pop, Bossa Nova, jazz, and “classical” songs.


Terry Smirl Jazz Trio

The Terry Smirl Trio has been performing throughout the Midwest for well over 20 years, playing jazz renditions of classic tunes from the Great American Songbook in a style that is tasteful and light yet always swings hard.  The trio consists of piano, upright bass, and a small drum kit (we bring a digital keyboard if no piano is available on site), and the trio requires very little floor space.  Guitar is available as an optional substitute for the piano.  

Our performances typically include songs that were composed during the “Golden Age” of American popular song—from the late ‘20’s through the early ‘50’s—and lend themselves perfectly to our classic, straight-ahead jazz style.  We specialize in playing very quietly, and our renditions of these tunes work perfectly as background music for cocktails, dinner, mingling, etc.  However, we can also “open up” and swing hard for concert settings!


Brew City Blasters

The Brew City Blasters is a brand new offering from Les Artistes.  The band uses standard "Dixieland" or New Orleans band instrumentation: trumpet, clarinet (or soprano saxophone), trombone, piano, bass, and drums.   Our repertoire consists of classic New Orleans favorites such as When the Saints Go Marching InBill BaileyDo You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?St James InfirmarySt Louis BluesAlexander's Ragtime BandJust A Closer Walk With Thee, etc.  We also play a growing list of more contemporary jazz titles rooted in Gospel, Blues, etc.  Unlike other similar bands in town, this band is made up of highly trained, professional jazz musicians, not retired people, amateurs, or hobbyists. 


Deep Listening Workshop

In this participatory workshop, Milwaukee composer Lawton Hall will lead participants in a series of collective sound exercises that bridge mindfulness and listening. A protegé of the late American composer Pauline Oliveros, Hall is an expert in her technique of Deep Listening, which she called “a non-verbal creative expression of experience, to be received with embodied understanding, that may bring a sense of well-being.

Length: 30 – 45 minutes Audience: any audience size
Booking time: at least 2 weeks’ notice


Speakers Available:

·       David Bloom, co-artistic director of Present Music (available remotely)

·       Eric Segnitz, co-artistic director of Present Music

Subjects include:

·       Navigating a Pandemic…how Present Music has stayed relevant when the audience stayed home

·       40 Years of New Music…Present Music enters its 5th decade



Performers Available:



Musical Duo: From Celtic to Delta blues, from classical to pop with a healthy dose of unique original material!


Speakers Available:

·       Suzan Fete, Artistic Director / Co-Founder / Stage Director

·       Lisa Rasmussen, Managing Director

Subjects include:

·       The history of women in the theater (Renaissance Theaterworks is the second oldest theater in the nation founded to create gender balance)

·       Renaissance Theaterworks through the years

·       Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic

·       A deeper look at their production of Neat, a streaming performance that was taken to South Africa after its original run in 2012