First Stage Brings Award-Winning Young Adult Novel Mockingbird to the Stage.

Contact Erica Davis (414) 267-2931 or

First Stage Brings Award-Winning Young Adult Novel Mockingbird to the Stage.

March 24 – April 9, 2017

Todd Wehr Theater, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Adapted by Julie Jensen
Based upon the book Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Directed by Marcella Kearns


Suggested for families with young people ages 10-17+


Milwaukee, WI – First Stage continues its 30th anniversary season with MOCKINGBIRD based on the young adult novel by Kathryn Erskine, winner of the National Book Award. Adapted for the stage by Julie Jensen, MOCKINGBIRD runs March 24 – April 9, 2017 at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N. Water Street, 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
MOCKINGBIRD explores the poignant story of how the perseverance of one girl can change an entire community. “Caitlin navigates her community’s journey through the aftermath of a tragedy and healing even as she herself strives to find her own place among them,” said Director Marcella Kearns. “It’s a tough road as, by her very nature – she is on the autism spectrum – she views and experiences the world very differently than others around her. Nevertheless, she’s persistent, and her path to understanding may even accelerate the healing of those around her.”

“We’re working closely with the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin to ensure that the artistic interpretation of the characters on the autism spectrum is both authentic and respectful,” said Brenna Kempf, First Stage Associate Academy Director and Young Performer coach for Mockingbird. “We look forward to this play continuing the conversation on autism in our community.”

First Stage’s MOCKINGBIRD is sponsored by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and presented in partnership with the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin.

Marcella Kearns (Director) is a Milwaukee-based actor and teaching artist. Most recently at First Stage, she directed LILLY’S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE and ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL for the Young Company. Onstage at First Stage, she has appeared in WITNESS, A WRINKLE IN TIME, ROMEO AND JULIET, and SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS. She also works regularly as an instructor with both its Theater in Education Department and Academy. Elsewhere, Marcy serves as Associate Artistic Director at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and as an adjunct instructor of theatre at Carthage College. She holds an MFA in Acting from the University of South Carolina and is a former Fulbright Fellow (Austria).

Brenna Kempf (Young performer coach) is the Associate Academy Director and Director of Next Steps at First Stage. She has been teaching with the Academy since summer 2012, and joined the Academy office full time in 2015. Brenna has always loved working with young people, and is delighted to work with a company that encourages creativity, compassion, and change in our community. Previously, she taught as an adjunct teaching artist with First Stage’s Education Department and the Milwaukee Rep. She has also assistant directed with First Stage and Milwaukee Youth Theatre. Performance credits: Riverside Theatre in the Park (Iowa City, IA), Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, First Stage, Splinter Group, and more. Brenna is a proud 2013 graduate of UW – Parkside’s Theatre Arts program.

The professional actor cast of MOCKINGBIRD includes Dan Katula* as Dad; Marvette Knight* as Mrs. Brook/Ensemble; Karl Iglesias* as Mr. Schneider/Ensemble; Elyse Edelman as Mrs. Johnson/Ensemble; Lachrisa Grandberry will be the understudy for this production. *Member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Young performer roles are double cast. Young performers in the Eagle Cast include Alex Salter (as Caitlin) and Emily Foran (as Brianna) from Germantown; Morgan McKinnis (as Emma) from Grafton; Cole Sison (as Michael) and Gauri Laroyia (Ensemble) from Milwaukee; Trevor Schmitt-Ernst (as William), Henry Dizard (as Shane), Ava Parikh (Ensemble), and John Eash-Scott (Ensemble) from Wauwatosa; Nikolai Morrow (as Josh) from Delafield; and David Edmundson (as Jose) from Whitefish Bay.

Young performers in the Mockingbird Cast include Emily Harris (as Caitlin) and Miranda Cescarini (as Emma) from Milwaukee; Grace Drabot (as Brianna) from Cedarburg; Christian Wood (as Michael) from South Milwaukee; Liam Jeninga (as William) from Delavan; Jackson Hake (as Josh) from Menomonee Falls; Aryan Kalluvia (as Shane) and Riya Kalluvia (Ensemble) from Hubertus; Saul Ramirez (as Jose) from Greenfield; Lucy Irwin (Ensemble) from Elm Grove; and Zephaniah Singh Ponder (Ensemble) from Brookfield.

The Artistic Staff for ROBIN HOOD includes: Brandon Kirkham (Scenic Designer); Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer); Lyndsey Kuhlmann (Costume Designer); Sarah Ramos (Sound Designer); Marissa Ashlyn Raby* (Stage Manager) and Jake Schertz (Assistant Stage Manager). *Member of Actor’s Equity Association.


OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION: Friday, March 24, 2017
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 MOCKINGBIRD while enjoying refreshments, courtesy of First Stage.

SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE: Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 1:00 p.m.
Designed for families with children who need sensory accommodations, this performance includes a smaller audience size, reduction of intense lighting and sound, social stories, quiet areas and more. Tickets available at (414) 267-2961.




Location:  Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, 929 N. Water Street, Milwaukee


Dates:  March 24 – April 9, 2017


Description: Caitlin sees the world in black and white. Colors are messy, and recess is chaotic. As an 11-year-old on the autism spectrum, Caitlin used to rely on her older brother to help make sense of a world that doesn’t fit her definitions, but now that he’s gone, she’s all on her own. With the support of her advisor, father, and a new reading buddy, Caitlin begins to understand how to embrace the “messiness” of emotions. Soaring with heart and humor, discover how the perseverance of one girl can change a community – and how black and white can always be complemented by a kaleidoscope of colors. Suggested for families with young people ages 10-17+


  • Friday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. – OPENING NIGHT
  • Saturday, March 25 at 3:30 & 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 26 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m.  – PAY WHAT YOU CHOOSE
  • Saturday, April 1 at 1:00, 3:30 & 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 2 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 8 at 1:00 p.m. – SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE
  • Saturday, April 8 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 9 at 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.

Ticket and information:
Tickets start at $15. Call (414) 273-7206 or online at


ASL Interpreted Performance: Sunday, April 9 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.


About First Stage
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in the 2016-2017 season, First Stage is one of the nation’s leading theaters for young audiences and families. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain. Its Theater Academy, the nation’s largest high-impact theater training program for young people, fosters life skills through stage skills and serves over 2,100 students each year. As Wisconsin’s leader in arts-integrated education in schools, First Stage’s dynamic Theater in Education programs use theater to promote active learning throughout the curriculum, serving over 20,000 students throughout southeastern Wisconsin each year.  In 2012, First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. First Stage is the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Eureka Award in 2013 and 2015, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education, and the arts. First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).

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