Lois Ehlert’s MOLE HILL STORIES returns to First Stage

Contact Erica Davis (414) 267-2931 or edavis@firststage.org

Lois Ehlert’s MOLE HILL STORIES returns to First Stage
Three of Ehlert’s most famous stories come to life onstage in this bilingual journey of music, theater and dance.

November 5 – 20, 2016
Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

by Alvaro Saar Rios
Adapted from the book by Lois Ehlert

In collaboration with Danceworks

Directed by Michelle Lopez-Rios

Milwaukee, WI –Lois Ehlert’s MOLE HILL STORIES returns to First Stage November 5 through November 20, 2016, at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located at 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee. This interactive performance is part of First Stage’s First Steps Series, designed to provide families and younger children (ages 3 to 7) an introduction to live theater in an engaging and lively environment. Tickets can be purchased online at www.firststage.org or by phone at the First Stage Box Office at (414) 267-2961.

Inspired by the work of celebrated Milwaukee author and illustrator Lois Ehlert, this innovative collaboration with Danceworks brings three of Ehlert’s most famous stories to life – Mole’s Hill, Cucu, and Moon Rope. The play draws on the bilingual nature of Ehlert’s stories, integrating Spanish language, live music and dance, creating a living environment through which the characters journey. “I am thrilled to be a part of this magical collaboration combining dance, music and storytelling,” said Director Michelle Lopez-Rios. “From moving blades of grass to a soaring and singing Cuckoo bird, the design team has created a fun and creative playground for the performers that family audiences will fall in love with.”

MOLE HILL STORIES premiered as part of First Stage’s 2012-2013 season marked the first collaborative production between First Stage and Danceworks, expanding on their rich history of informal collaboration.  Lois Ehlert’s enchanting stories and strong visual sense were the perfect fit for the blending of talents between the two companies.

First Stage’s production of Lois Ehlert’s MOLE HILL STORIES is sponsored by PNC.

Director Michelle Lopez-Rios
Michelle Lopez-Rios was last seen at First Stage as the Mask Maker in LUCHADORA. She is a professional dialect coach, actor, director, and Associate Professor of Theatre at UWM. Coaching credits include Goodman Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Uprooted, and Skylight. Co-founder of the Royal Mexican Players, she and Alvaro Saar Rios have worked together for a decade creating original works all over the country. Their latest collaboration, The Royal Mexican Players project will premiere at UWM in November.

Choreographer Dani Kuepper is the artistic director of Danceworks Performance Company (DPC), She joined DPC in 1998 and has since choreographed more than 30 dances for the company. As a Danceworker, she has enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate extensively in the Milwaukee community with established organizations as well as independent artists. Dani received both her B.F.A. and M.F.A. from UW-Milwaukee, where she has been a faculty member of the UWM dance department since 1999.

The adult cast of MOLE HILL STORIES includes Karl Iglesias (Member of Actor’s Equity Association) as Fox/Owl/Ensemble; Giana Blazquez (First Stage Fellow) as Cucu/Ensemble; Karlies Kelley as Dancer/Ensemble and Wanyah Frazier as Dancer/Ensemble. The understudy for this show is David Stein.

Young performer roles are double-cast.  Young performers in the Paws Cast are Lizzie Borg (as Mole); Jonathan Edwards (as Skunk) and Madelyn Ballard (as Raccoon) from Milwaukee; Gabriela Bastardo (Ensemble) from St. Francis and Lindsay Gleason (Ensemble) from Oak Creek.

Young Performers in the Claws Cast are Sarah Kinn (as Mole) from Germantown; Nathan Kabara (as Skunk) and Saraí Santiago (Ensemble) from Milwaukee; Marion Frank (as Raccoon) from Wauwatosa and Natalia Dedinsky (Ensemble) from Delafield.

The Artistic Staff for Lois Ehlert’s MOLE HILL STORIES includes:  Dani Kuepper (Choreographer) from Danceworks; Sarah Hunt-Frank (Scenic Designer); Andrea Bouck (Costume Designer); Amanda McDonald (Lighting Designer); Erin Paige (Sound Designer); Mitch Shiner (Music Supervisor/Musician); Julio Pabon (Music Advisor); Margaret Kayes, Member of Actor’s Equity Association (Stage Manager) and Jake Schertz (Assistant Stage Manager).

TICKETS for Lois Ehlert’s MOLE HILL STORIES are $14.  Tickets may be purchased at www.firststage.org or by phone (414) 267-2961.

Sensory friendly performance: Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 3:30 p.m. Developed for families with children who need sensory accommodations, this sensory friendly performance includes a smaller audience size, reduction of intense lighting and sound, quiet areas within the building, social stories and more. Tickets are available by phone at (414) 267-2961.

ASL Interpreted Performance: Sunday, November 20 at 1:00 p.m. This performance will be sign language interpreted.


About: Lois Ehlert’s MOLE HILL STORIES

  Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee

Dates:  November 5 – 20, 2016                                                                         

Description:  Inspired by the work of Milwaukee author/illustrator Lois Ehlert, this collaboration with Danceworks returns to First Stage, bringing three of Ehlert’s most famous stories to life – Mole’s Hill, Cucu, and Moon Rope. Journey with Mole as she discovers, with the help of her friends, that there is more to life than one can see at first glance and that our dreams are within reach if we believe. Actors, dancers and live music spin a magical world, and true to Ehlert’s original text – the play makes use of English and Spanish language. Suggested for families with young people ages 3–7 and up.

Saturday, November 5 at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 6 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 12 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 12 at 3:30 p.m. – Sensory friendly performance
Sunday, November 13 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 19 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 20 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.

Tickets and information:
  Tickets are $14. Call (414) 267-2961 or online at www.firststage.org


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 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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