Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presents UNNECESSARY FARCE

by Paul Slade Smith

August 9-25, 2019

Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre

 

Milwaukee, WI. – As UNNECESSARY FARCE opens, we meet two cops settling into a Sheboygan motel room who think they’re ready to catch their embezzling mayor red-handed in the room next door. They’re not. And the hilarity that ensues from their misplaced confidence makes Paul Slade Smith’s modern-day farce a perfect comedy to start the 2019-2020 theatre season! Directed by Ryan Schabach, this production runs August 9-25, 2019, at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre in the Historic Third Ward.

 

Undercover cops Eric and Billie have one job to do: Wait in their motel room until their city’s beloved but potentially corrupt Mayor Meekly confesses to his female accountant in the bugged room next door. It should be simple and easy – and yet there are a number of troubling questions that need answering: Who’s in which room? Who’s hired an incomprehensible Scottish hit man? Who’s really taken the money? And why does the accountant keep taking off her clothes?

 

Partnered together as Eric and Billie are two local actors making their MCT mainstage debuts: Ben Yela and Rachael Zientek. They’ll be joined onstage by returning actors Jonathan Gillard Daly, as the befuddled Mayor Meekly; Amber Smith, as accountant Karen Brown; Rick Pendzich, portraying a hired gun for the Scottish mafia; and Jenny Wanasek, as the mayor’s wife Mary Meekly. Rounding out the group of seven is Tim Higgins, also making his MCT debut, as Agent Frank, the mayor’s head of security.

 

UNNECESSARY FARCE is the first play by Paul Slade Smith, a writer and actor based out of New York City. Since its premiere in 2006, the play has received more than 275 productions, including at Peninsula Players in Door County, where Smith’s second play THE OUTSIDER (then called A REAL LULU) made its world premiere in 2015.

 

In his introduction to the play, Smith writes that “believability is the key to the comedy in this play. In writing UNNECESSARY FARCE, it has been my goal to create believable, identifiable, empathetic characters who are earnestly trying to succeed in very difficult and stressful situations… the more honest the portrayal, the bigger the laughs.”

 

While director Ryan Schabach has been seen on MCT stages before – most recently as Dr. John Watson in last year’s season opener, SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY – this production marks his debut as a director with the company, in his favorite genre of theatre. “Farce lives at that glorious intersection between physical and situational comedy, and my love affair with both runs deep. It’s a place we all know well, but we are often detoured and miss the laughter in life. MCT is bringing back the laughs!”

 

While beer and theatre may not have an obvious connection, Schabach and other artists involved in this production are among the many performers in Milwaukee who also play featured roles at local breweries. Our preview night of UNNECESSARY FARCE, August 9, will shine the spotlight on the connection between Milwaukee’s breweries and theatres with the help of Lakefront Brewery. Lakefront will provide a complimentary pre-show beer sampling featuring some of MCT’s favorite “acting beer-tenders.”

 

UNNECESSARY FARCE performances will take place August 9 – 25, 2019 (Opening Night: Saturday, August 10), in the Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre, 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. Tickets are available Monday through Saturday from noon-6:00 p.m. at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, or by phone at (414) 291-7800. Tickets can be purchased online 24 hours a day at milwaukeechambertheatre.com. Group, student and senior discounts are also available. For more information, visit milwaukeechambertheatre.com. UNNECESSARY FARCE is co-sponsored by Briggs & Stratton Corporation Foundation and Cary & Susan Silverstein.

 

[ CAST ]

Mayor Meekly ………………………………………………………………………………… Jonathan Gillard Daly*

Agent Frank …………………………………………………………………………………………………… Tim Higgins

Todd …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Rick Pendzich*

Karen Brown ………………………………………………………………………………………………… Amber Smith

Mary Meekly ……………………………………………………………………………………………. Jenny Wanasek*

Eric Sheridan ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Ben Yela

Billie Dwyer …………………………………………………………………………………………….. Rachael Zientek

 

[ PRODUCTION STAFF ]

Director………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Ryan Schabach

Stage Manager………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Judy Martel*

Scenic Designer……………………………………………………………………………………….. Martin McClendon

Costume Designer……………………………………………………………………………… Aliceson Hackett-Rubel

Lighting Designer…………………………………………………………………………………………. David Gipson**

Sound Designer……………………………………………………………………………………………. David Cecsarini

Propmaster………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Moira Tracey

Dialect Coach………………………………………………………………………………………….. Raeleen McMillion

 

*AEA  **USA

 

[ BIOGRAPHIES ]

 

JONATHAN GILLARD DALY – Mayor Meekly

Jonathan’s last appearance at MCT was in GREAT EXPECTATIONS. He is a former member of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s resident company, and has appeared in more than 60 productions since returning to Milwaukee in 1998, including THE DALY NEWS, a musical memoir written by him and developed as part of MCT’s Montgomery Davis Play Development Series. Other recent local credits: THE EAGLE IN ME at Next Act Theatre (which he also wrote and previously workshopped through the MDPDS), KISS ME KATE at Skylight Music Theatre, ANNIE JUMP AND THE LIBRARY OF HEAVEN at Renaissance Theaterworks, THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER: THE MUSIC at First Stage, and ANIMAL FARM at the Milwaukee Rep. Regional credits include Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Arizona Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Clarence Brown Theater, American Players Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and PCPA Theaterfest. Jonathan’s other plays include TO THE PROMISED LAND, which received its world premiere at First Stage. He is a native Milwaukeean and a graduate of Marquette University High School and UW-Madison.

 

TIM HIGGINS – Agent Frank

This is Tim Higgins’ first production with MCT. He has previously appeared in many installments of Bunny Gumbo’s Combat Theatre, COME BACK at In Tandem Theatre, and THE COMEDY OF ROMEO AND JULIET (KINDA SORTA) and MACBETH (KINDA SORTA) with Schmitz ‘n’ Giggles.

 

RICK PENDZICH – Todd

Rick returns to MCT for his eighth mainstage production with the company. Previous roles include: Oscar Wilde in SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY, Max in LEND ME A TENOR, Fred in FALLEN ANGELS, Sandy in HAY FEVER, and himself in THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) [REVISED]. A graduate of UW-Whitewater, Rick has had the pleasure or working with numerous theatres in Milwaukee’s great artistic community. Other roles include: Wally in THE FABULOUS LIPITONES (In Tandem Theatre), Officer Lockstock in URINETOWN (Skylight Music Theatre), Horton the Elephant in SEUSSICAL: THE MUSICAL (First Stage), Steve in GRACE (Next Act Theatre), and Jim O’Connor in THE GLASS MENAGERIE (In Tandem Theatre).

 

AMBER SMITH – Karen Brown

Amber Smith (EMC) is ecstatic to return to MCT after appearing with the company as Gabriella in BOEING BOEING.  Most recent acting credits include: Amber Von Tussle in HAIRSPRAY and Penelope Pennywise in URINETOWN with Skylight Music Theatre; Velma Kelly in CHICAGO with Greendale Community Theatre; and Katie in THE WILD PARTY with All In Productions, Inc.  Directing credits include: IF/THEN, WEDDING SINGER, PARADE, and SPRING AWAKENING for Greendale Community Theatre.

 

JENNY WANASEK – Mary Meekly

Jenny Wanasek has appeared in the MCT productions CHAPATTI, VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, PICNIC, THE MOONLIGHT ROOM, LOST IN YONKERS, THE IMMIGRANT, MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL, and CLARENCE, as well as directed MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS, THREE DAYS OF RAIN, and MRS. WARREN’s PROFESSION for the company. She’s appeared in some 35 productions and directed as many for such companies as the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Next Act, Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, In Tandem, First Stage, Sweetwood Productions, and the Marcus Center. She is a co-founder of the Center for Applied Theatre, which uses theatre to address social issues, and teaches Applied Theatre techniques at UW-Milwaukee.

 

BEN YELA – Eric Sheridan

Ben Yela is making his MCT debut in UNNECESSARY FARCE. His previous local credits include multiple productions with Quasimondo Physical Theatre, including CELSIUS 232 and ANIMAL FARM, THE WAY THINGS GO at Theatre Gigante, and A TIME TO LIVE at Windfall Theatre.

 

RACHAEL ZIENTEK – Billie Dwyer

Rachael Zientek is a Milwaukee native and excited to work with MCT! She was recently seen as Althea in ANNIE JUMP AND THE LIBRARY OF HEAVEN at Renaissance Theaterworks, as Medium Alison in FUN HOME at Forward Theater and as Hope in URINETOWN at Skylight Music Theatre. This fall, she will be seen in Elephant & Piggie’s “WE ARE IN A PLAY!” at First Stage and NEWSIES at Skylight Music Theatre.

 

RYAN SCHABACH – Director

Ryan Schabach is a local theatre artist balancing his career as a director, fight choreographer, playwright and a long standing member of Actors’ Equity Association. Wisconsin directing credits include HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES with Third Avenue Playhouse, two productions of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) [REVISED] at Door Shakespeare and one production of the same play at UW-Madison. In Texas, Ryan directed the world premiere musical PANTO MOTHER GOOSE at Stages Repertory Theatre and THE LITTLE PRINCE at Globe of the SW: Shakespeare Festival. This fall he will be directing BEAST ON THE MOON, by WI playwright Richard Kalinoski at Unity Theatre (Brenham, TX).

 

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MILWAUKEE CHAMBER THEATRE

Founded in 1975, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) produces intimate and accessible theatrical works that engage and challenge the audience, while employing and nurturing principally local theatre artists. Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright and Managing Director Kirsten Finn, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre performs at the Broadway Theatre Center in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

 

 

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