Inspirational, Contemporary Folk Tale ANTARCTICA, WI Opens This April at First Stage

Inspirational, contemporary folk tale


Opens this April at First Stage


Written by Finegan Kruckemeyer, with input from the citizens of Milwaukee

This play was co-commissioned by First Stage in Milwaukee, WI and 

Filament Theatre in Chicago, IL

Directed by Malkia Stampley


Milwaukee, WI – March 13, 2018 – From international, award-winning playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer comes ANTARCTICA, WI, a world premiere production inspired by Kruckemeyer’s own conversations with young people in Milwaukee. An uplifting, contemporary folk tale, it tells the story of a very special boy, one who sees more deeply than others. He sees so much that he loves in his city, but he also sees the fractures. When he begins to see icebergs floating into Milwaukee, he alone must find a way to help his community navigate through the dangerous waters.


ANTARCTICA, WI runs April 6 – 22, 2018 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in the Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Marcus Center Box Office at 929 N. Water Street, by phone at (414) 273-7206 or online at Suggested for families with young people ages 10 – 17+.


“When Jeff Frank (First Stage Artistic Director) invited me to write about what it might be like growing up in Milwaukee now, encountering big transitions in a society which is also doing the same,” said Kruckemeyer. “I interviewed a lot of insightful young people, and shared a questionnaire which was answered by wise youth and elders both.” These conversations gave Kruckemeyer material from which to draw upon in crafting his new play.


“The play’s title is an overlaying of the metaphor and the truth,” continued Kruckemeyer. “Antarctica is the place our hero imagines, and Milwaukee is the place he lives. In each case he’s viewing a landscape of seismic shifts and things in motion – of huge objects reshaping themselves, splitting apart or moving together. And he’s also viewing objects in those environments (Antarctic icebergs and Milwaukee citizens) which each show a small part of themselves, but also have a whole lot of things going on beneath.”


Added Artistic Director Jeff Frank, “Finegan is one of the most talented young adult playwrights working in theater today. Audiences here loved our production of his play THE SNOW from our 2015-2016 season. We are so lucky to be producing his new world premiere ANTARCTICA, WI at First Stage. He has crafted a contemporary folk tale, set in the here and now of Milwaukee, that’s grounded in reality, but with touches of the fantastical.”




Finegan Kruckemeyer (Playwright) has had 84 commissioned plays performed on five continents and translated into eight languages. He has received 35 awards including the 2017 Mickey Miners Lifetime Achievement Award (for services to international theater for young audiences), the 2015 David Williamson Award for Excellence in Australian Playwrighting and an inaugural Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship. This year, 34 seasons (including six world premieres) are presented globally, with seasons in eight countries and six languages. To date, Finegan’s plays have had seasons in: 200 international festivals; all Australian states/territories; eight US national tours; five UK national tours and at the Sydney Opera House (six works), Scotland’s Imaginate Festival (three works), New York’s Lincoln Center for the Arts (three works), DC’s Kennedy Center for the Arts (three works), Ireland’s Abbey Theatre (two works) and Shanghai’s Malan Flower Theatre (two works). Finegan and his work have received six Australian Writers Guild (AWGIE) Awards, an honorary Tasmanian Theatre Award for Exceptional Writing, among others. Finegan has been a keynote speaker at the Ubud Writer’s Festival (Indonesia), the TYA USA National Conference and the ITAYRN Conference (Argentina), among others. He has delivered papers or sat on panels at conferences/festivals around the world. He was one of 21 selected worldwide for the ASSITEJ Next Generation (young leaders in children’s theater), and has sat on the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board, Australian Script Centre board, Australian Writers Guild Playwrights Committee and Arts Tasmania’s Assistance to Individuals, Tas Literary Awards and Artsbridge panels. Finegan was born in Ireland, and emigrated to Adelaide at age 8. In 2004, he moved with his wife Essie to Hobart, Tasmania, from which he now writes for national/international companies.


Malkia Stampley (Director) is a Milwaukee native and received her acting training at Marquette University. She is a founding member of Bronzeville Arts Ensemble and recently directed Black Arts MKE and Marcus Center’s BLACK NATIVITY. Recent performances include: LEARNING TO STAY (Forward Theater); WELCOME TO BRONZEVILLE (First Stage); PROJECT: BLACK LIVES (Bronzeville Arts Ensemble/Milwaukee Fringe Fest); CROWNS (Skylight Music Theatre); HOLES (First Stage); A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); DREAMGIRLS (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (Theatre LILA/Children’s Theatre of Madison collaboration, Optimist Theatre); THE COLOR PURPLE (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); A MIDNIGHT CRY (First Stage); BURYING THE BONES (In Tandem Theatre); GOOD PEOPLE (Forward Theater); RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER™: THE MUSICAL (First Stage); DREAMGIRLS (St. Louis Black Repertory Theater); BLACK NATIVITY (Congo Square Theatre) and RAISIN IN THE SUN (Court Theatre). She also twice toured Japan and Taiwan, in a Disney music revue. TV credits include Shameless, Chicago PD, Empire and The Chi.


The adult actor cast of ANTARTICA, WI includes: Allen D. Edge (Member of Actors’ Equity Association) as Dan; Marques Causey as Terry; Justin Lee as Matty; Tasha McCoy as Eleanor/May, and Robert Torres as the Understudy to Mr. Edge and Mr. Causey.


Allen D. Edge (Dan) is an ordained minister, talented actor, director, producer and comedian with over 40 years in the performing arts. Mr. Edge has performed with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Geva Theatre Center and Renaissance Theaterworks. He was also featured in a number of commercials and films, including Barber Shop 2 and Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns. He has performed at Zanies in Chicago, Barrel of Laughs, All Jokes Aside, Jokes & Notes in Chicago, U Got Jokes Chicago, The Comedy Café in Milwaukee, The Apollo Theatre in New York, on Comedy Central’s Comic Justice and as the opening act for Patti La Belle, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and The O’Jays. Mr. Edge holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Columbia College Chicago. He is a member of Toastmasters International and a founding member of Transitions Edge Productions and Bronzeville Arts Ensemble.


Justin Lee (Matty) appears with First Stage again after this season’s production of Dr. Seuss’s THE CAT IN THE HAT. A proud graduate of Xavier University, he has been serving as this year’s Artistic Fellow at First Stage.


Marques Causey (Terry) has been featured in several workshops and readings; and understudied GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM. With a BFA in Acting from UW-Milwaukee, Marques has worked with many regional theater companies including Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (THE BROTHERS SIZE; PICNIC), Forward Theater Company (EXIT STRATEGY; THE FLICK), Renaissance Theaterworks (LUNA GALE, THE BALLAD OF EMMETT TILL), Children’s Theater of Madison (TO THE PROMISED LAND) and Door Shakespeare Company (JULIUS CAESAR, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM).


Tasha McCoy (Eleanor/May) will make her First Stage debut in Antarctica, WI. She has graced the stages of Milwaukee theaters and venues as an actress and vocalist for over 20 years. Most recently, she was seen performing in Black Nativity as a principal ensemble member.


Robert Torres (Understudy for Mr. Edge and Mr. Causey) has been the Production Fellow at First Stage since August. He received his BA from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, where he stage managed for THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT and performed in many other productions including: ANGELS IN AMERICA, CLOUD 9 and EURYDICE.


Young performer roles are double cast. Young performers in the Ice Cast include: Gabe Smith (as Awon) from Fox Point; Jeffrey-Thomas (JT) Snow (as Lenny) from Mequon; Michael Black (as Dewayne) from Milwaukee; Isaiah Martin (as Marvin) from Milwaukee; Chantae Miller (as Janelle) from Waukesha; Kai Liebenstein (as Michelle) from Milwaukee and Emily Harris (as Captain) from Milwaukee.


Young performers in the Berg Cast include: Vicente Gunderson (as Awon) from Franklin; Collin Woldt (as Lenny) from Muskego; Jonathan Edwards (as Dewayne) from Milwaukee; Ashley Nord (as Janelle) from Glendale; Nahjee Robinson (as Marvin) from Milwaukee; Elisheva Scheuer (as Michelle) from Bayside and Claire Zempel (as Captain) from Wauwatosa.


The Artistic Staff for ANTARCTICA, WI includes: Yu Shibbagaki (Scenic Designer); Jason Fassl (Lighting Designer); Christine Pascual (Costume Designer); Josh Schmidt (Sound Designer); Marissa Ashlyn, Member of Actors’ Equity Association, (Stage Manager) and Jade Bruno (Assistant Stage Manager).


Tickets start at $15 – Tickets may be purchased at or through the Marcus Center box office, in person at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee or by phone (414) 273-7206 or toll free at (888) 612-3500. The number for TDD (for deaf and hard of hearing patrons) is (414) 273-3080.

Group Sales – Groups of 10 or more receive 15% off main floor, regular single ticket prices on most First Stage performances at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater. Call (414) 267-2964 or email for more information.


Special events for ANTARCTICA, WI

Opening Night Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018

Following the opening night performance, First Stage invites all patrons to attend the Opening Night Reception at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located one mile from the Marcus Center at 325 W. Walnut Street. Patrons can mix and mingle with the cast and crew of ANTARCTICA, WI while enjoying refreshments, courtesy of First Stage.


Pay What You Choose performance: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

Pay What You Choose tickets are available on a first come, first served basis with a minimum suggested donation of $5 per person. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. on the day of the performance. Patrons are encouraged to arrive early.


ASL Interpreted Performance: Sunday, April 22 at 3:30 p.m.

This performance will be sign language interpreted for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Assistive listening devices are also available at the Todd Wehr Theater.


Tech Talks

Following select performances, learn more about the behind-the-scenes magic at our Tech Talks, a 20-minute extended talkback with our creative team.


Saturday, April 14, following the 3:30pm performance, Artistic Director Jeff Frank shares the story of how and why a playwright from the other side of the world wound up crafting this play inspired by the citizens of Milwaukee.


Saturday, April 21, following the 3:30 pm performance, learn behind the scenes information with Technical Director Emily Adams and Design Supervisor Brandon Kirkham as they share the story of the scenic design and creation for ANTARCTICA, WI and the magic of bringing it to life.

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