Perf. Arts

Civic Theatre, STEM collaborate on musical
'The Pirates of Penzance Jr.' opens tonight



By JODY L. MAYERS - Special to TimeOut 

January 16, 2014


WAUKESHA - People respond to the elevated level of emotional response elicited by a story told to and with music, said John Cramer, managing artist director at the Waukesha Civic Theatre.

The upcoming production of “The Pirates of Penzance, Jr.” opens today and is the fourth annual collaboration between the WCT and STEM public charter school in Waukesha.

“The STEM musicals have grown in attendance each year, and the talent level of the cast and crew has also grown,” Cramer said. “They truly do a great job with the show.”

The show is an MTI Broadway Jr. version of the great Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, edited to be a shorter version of the show, with the music changed to keys appropriate for children to perform, Cramer explained. The cast is made up of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students from STEM.

“Mike Travia, the director, has done an incredible job with the show,” Cramer said. “Audiences of all ages will appreciate the music, the story, the characters, and the pirates, pirates, pirates.”

Cramer said this particular production is exciting on many different levels. First of all, the age of the performers is inspiring. The quality of storytelling that these young people bring to the stage is amazing, he said.

“The fact that the STEM Academy even produces a musical is a testament to the school district and the incredible teachers we have in Waukesha,” he said. “We are fortunate to have a middle school, and a teacher like Mr. Travia, working on behalf of our students to create well-rounded, educated, and informed future citizens.  I’m proud to be associated with both WCT and with STEM.”

Cramer said although he has not been a major part of the rehearsal process, his son is playing Major General Stanley in the musical.

“The cast have formed friendships and bonds, have enjoyed each other’s company and talent, and worked diligently to create a work of art that they can all be very proud of,” he said. “The rehearsals that I have observed have been full of energy and discipline, again a testament to the leadership of Mr. Travia and the dedication of the students involved in the show.”

Cramer said he is confident 2014 will be a good year for the WCT with its current season running through June and the upcoming season, WCT’s 58th year as Waukesha’s cultural cornerstone.

“I love our partnership with STEM,” he said.  “They are one of several area organizations that we partner with throughout the year. I am always thrilled to hear reports of people talking about WCT and how involved we are in the community, and how we bring a solid artistic foundation to the core of the city, and even the county.”