Cast and Creative Team Announced for Carmina Burana

Collaboration Between Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Danceworks Performance Company and Chant Claire Chamber Choir

 

March 15-31 at Skylight’s Cabot Theatre

 

Milwaukee, Wis. (February 4, 2019) — Skylight Music Theatre announced the cast and creative team for Carmina Burana running Friday, March 15 through Sunday, March 31, 2019 in Skylight’s beautiful Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

 

Carmina Burana is a collaboration between Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Danceworks Performance Company and Chant Claire Chamber Choir. These four organizations have united to reconceive the Carl Orff masterpiece for Skylight’s intimate Cabot Theatre stage.

 

Featuring Cast of 62

 

The production features an intergenerational cast of 62 performers. On stage will be 17 Skylight artists, seven Danceworks dancers, four Chant Claire guest artists, six percussionists, two pianists, and one conductor. They will be joined by 25 Chant Claire Chamber Choir members singing.

 

Skylight Artistic Associate and Carmina Burana Stage Director Jill Anna Ponasik said Carmina has been reimagined as “total theatre” in which music, dance and words are inseparable. Composed in 1937 and based on a series of medieval poems, Carmina takes an unflinching look at the pleasures and perils of the human condition. “We are approaching this piece as if it was written for us now, not something foreign and from another time and place,” she said.

 

Most often presented in concert halls as a choral cantata, Carmina features the recognizable song “O Fortuna,” a tremendous, thundering choral anthem often used in television commercials and film scores.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Event

 

Ponasik described the collaborative version of Carmina at Skylight this way: “Is it an opera? No. Is it a musical? No. Is it a concert? No. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that unites theatre, dance, music, and visual images in performance.”

 

Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Ray Jivoff said, “I think audiences will be riveted by this Carmina. Each musical moment is connected to an action onstage.”

 

Ponasik added that this version “will feel as though it is speaking to you in a way that is immediate, direct, and instantly relatable. Even though we are using the original languages of Latin, French and German, the message will be clear. We are bringing Carmina Burana up close and will see ourselves in the performers onstage. Their experiences are ours.”

 

Comprised of Twenty-Five Brief Musical Sections

 

Carmina Burana consists of 25 musical sections, none longer than four minutes in length, each relating to the turning of fate’s wheel and the unpredictability of the human condition. Carmina touches on the full scope of existence from birth to death, joy to despair, and everything including love, fear, the seasons, and the moon.

 

Creative Team

Stage Director…………………………………………………………………………………………… Jill Anna Ponasik

Music Director………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Janna Ernst

Choreographer………………………………………………………………………………………………. Dani Kuepper

Scenic Designer………………………………………………………………………………………………………Lisa Schlenker

Costume Designer…………………………………………………………………………………………… Shima Orans

Lighting Designer…………………………………………………………………………………………… Jason Fassl**

Assistant Music Director…….…………………………………………………………………………………Maggie Rebers

Conductor………………………………………………………………………………………………………Benjamin Bedroske

Production Stage Manager…………………………………………………………………………. Daniel J. Hanson

Dramaturg………..………………………………………………………………………………………………….Daniel J. Brylow

**The Lighting Designer represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829.

 

Singers

Bob Balderson, Laura Basse, Emanuel Camacho, Alaina Carlson, Cecilia Davis, Katie Koester,

Jason Martin, Ellie Quint, Brett Sweeney, Tim Rebers, Nathan Wesselowski, Jackie Willis

 

Chant Claire Artists

Jennifer Grokowsky, Sandy Lash, Craig Schaefer, Adam Qutaishat

And the Chant Claire Choir

 

Dancers

Ryan Cappleman, Julia Edwards, Posy Knight, Elisabeth Roskopf, Zachary Schorsch,

Maggie Seer, Christal Wagner

 

Young Performers

Isabel Franco, KyLee Hennes, Landon Martin, Marcia Olson, Lorelei Wesselowski

 

Orchestra

Timpani……………………………………………………………………………………………. Michael “Ding” Lorenz

Percussion……………………………………………………………….Ryan Kahlbaugh, Colin O’Day, Terry Smirl, Thomas Wetzel, Alex Wier

Carmina Burana

March 15 – 31, 2019

Composed by Carl Orff

Arranged by Wilhelm Killmayer

First time at Skylight

 

Carmina Burana is presented by sponsors Jan Serr & John Shannon. Additional support provided by Herb Zien & Liz Levins for Opening Weekend performances.

 

Biographies

Jill Anna Ponasik (Stage Director) As Skylight’s Artistic Associate and as Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Artistic Director, Ponasik works to connect audiences and artists in unconventional ways. Recent and future projects include the reading of a new Jason Powell musical, Doc Danger and the Danger Squad, the re-mounting of MOTs wildly successful Zie Magic Flute, and a co-production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito with UW-Milwaukee, where Ponasik teaches opera students. She has worked with numerous area arts groups including First Stage Children’s Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Renaissance Theatreworks. She holds degrees from The University of Minnesota and Rice University.

 

Janna Ernst (Music Director) spent years in Germany and Spain before moving to California, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance at San Diego State University and a Master’s Degree in Collaborative Piano at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her final degree is from the University of Michigan, where she worked with Martin Katz as a Specialist in Vocal Accompanying. Ernst works steadily as an accompanist and vocal coach. Currently on faculty in the opera theatre department at the UW-Milwaukee, she has also held positions at the University of Oklahoma, Southern Methodist University and New Orleans Opera, among others.

 

Dani Kuepper (Choreographer) is the Artistic Director of Danceworks and has been a member of the Danceworks Performance Company since 1998. Kuepper has choreographed on every DPC season in her tenure and collaborated extensively in the Milwaukee community with established organizations as well as independent artists. She received her BFA and MFA from UW-Milwaukee, where she has been a faculty member of the UWM Dance Department since 1999. She received the UWM Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award for non-tenure track instructors in 2010 and the Outstanding Performance & Choreography Award from the Wisconsin Dance Council in 2018.

 

Benjamin Bedroske (Conductor) is a 2011 Music Education graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is currently a director of music and worship and cantor at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Wauwatosa, and also directs the Stevan Sijacki Serbian Orthodox Choir of St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church. Bedroske is founder and artistic director of Chant Claire Chamber Choir – a 50+ voice ensemble of musicians throughout the Milwaukee and SE Wisconsin area. Bedroske has previously taught HS/MS choir, and has served as the Men’s Choir director for Singing in Wisconsin, and also as section leader in the Bel Canto Chorus.

 

 

About the Collaborators

 

Milwaukee Opera Theatre (MOT) was founded in 1998 by Charissa York Glazner. Today, MOT produces at least four projects each season, ranging from the classic to the contemporary, with a special affinity for locally sourced work. MOT considers itself Milwaukee’s micro-brewery for opera, proudly producing small batches of high quality, local lyric theatre.

 

Danceworks Performance Company is a dynamic group of dancers/choreographers committed to creating and performing contemporary dance that is physical, virtuosic, entertaining and honest. Danceworks, Inc. enhances joy, health and creativity by engaging the community through dance. Danceworks is a member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).

 

Chant Claire was founded in 2013 with the intent to create authentic choral music in authentic community. In 2017, Chant Claire was selected by composer Eric Whitacre for his masterclass at the Basilica of St. Josaphat. In June 2019, Chant Claire will perform at the Milwaukee AGO’s 100th Anniversary Convention.

 

About Skylight Music Theatre

 

Skylight Music Theatre will celebrate its 60th anniversary in the 2019-2020 season. Its mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight presents productions “Skylight Style” – bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage but with the audience as well. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.

 

Skylight Music Theatre is supported in part by the United Performing Arts Fund, Wisconsin Arts Board and CAMPAC – the Milwaukee County Arts Fund

 

Performance Information & Calendar

Performances of Carmina Burana are Friday, March 15 through Sunday, March 31, 2019 in the Cabot Theatre, Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee.

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