What are your Rules for Happiness?

Carl Sandburg had a couple of Rules for Happiness:

  1. To eat regularly
  2. Stay out of jail
  3. To sleep often and well
  4. To have a little love in the house
  5. To get what [he wrote] printed in a free country for free people

IMG_1889At the In Tandem office, Sandburg’s Rules of Happiness tickled us. Turns out, we had a few “Rules” of our own. Artistic Director Chris Flieller said, “Eat breakfast for dinner every once in a while.” Mine was “to read books, pet cats, and eat cake.”

As we thought about our Rules for Happiness, we wondered what our audiences’ “Rules” might be. And so, the idea for our current exhibit in the 10th Street Gallery (which doubles as In Tandem’s cozy lobby) was born.

From our preview performance to today, our Rules for Happiness exhibit has blossomed to over 130 entries, as patrons jot down their ideas and clip them to the wall. Among our favorites are:

“Marry your best friend.” – Betsy

“Lovingly snuggle with a warm, purring cat.” – Karen

“Assume that everyone is a family member” – Tim

“Finding time to have that extra glass of wine every so often.” – Maria

“Always look on the bright side of life” –Eric

“Live each day to the fullest.” – Sharon

“Don’t forget to take a nap on a summer afternoon” – Mike

We aren’t the only ones pleased with how well the project is going. Each performance, patrons like yourself love reading all the “Rules” and adding theirs to the collection.

The Rules for Happiness exhibit will be on display through October 21 during The Eagle in Me: An Evening of Carl Sandburg. New rules are added every show!

For more information about this exhibit and the 10th Street Gallery, click here.

Learn about our Community Partner for The Eagle in Me

AGB Book driveFor The Eagle in Me: An Evening of Carl Sandburg, In Tandem Theatre is pleased to partner with Literacy Services of Wisconsin (LSW) to collect new and gently used books throughout the run of the show. Last year, we raised nearly 1,000 books for LSW. This year, our goal is to raise 1,500 books! Books for all ages are welcome but please no encyclopedias, magazines or Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.

Although we may be raising books for this organization, you may be wondering what LSW is and what do they do with the books that are donated. We sat down with the Executive Director of LSW, Holly McCoy, to answer your questions and learn more about this organization.

Q: What is Literacy Services of Wisconsin and what does it do?

Literacy Services of Wisconsin partners with motivated adults to provide access to quality basic education and skills training so they can improve their lives, enrich their families, and strengthen our community. Adults face obstacles when they lack basic knowledge, education credentials, and English language skills. Access to education and training breaks down barriers and opens opportunities to provide for themselves and their families.

Q: When was Literacy Services founded?

Literacy Services was founded in 1965. It was sparked by the “Each One, Teach One” concept that was championed by Dr. Frank Laubach’s revolutionary literacy initiative. The idea truly captured the imagination of a small but mighty group of people who brought it to life here and around the state. We are humbled to be a part of the literacy movement that spread around the globe, and we are honored to be able to help it thrive here in Wisconsin. Our grassroots, community-built organization is a case study in American ingenuity and the power of the human spirit.

Q: What programs/classes do you offer?

We believe that every adult student is unique. We offer many different programs to align with the goals of our students. Our comprehensive programming allows students to excel in an environment that meets them at their level. Programs include: Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education, English language learning, workforce development instruction, High School Equivalency Diploma, & digital literacy.

Q: What do you do with the books that are donated through book drives?

Donated books benefit our agency in a variety of ways. We first examine books to see if we can use them directly in the classroom. We raise funds by selling books online through our partnership with Sharehouse Goods. The remaining books are re-circulated back into the community. There are shelves of free books at our locations for any of our guests to take home. We also host book giveaway events that raise awareness for our mission. We even attempt to extend the life of damaged books by utilizing them in crafty ways at fundraising events.

Q: What do you like best about working at Literacy Services?

I love working at LSW. Our team is leading the way in the adult literacy space in Milwaukee and they bring their passion and commitment to our students every day. Our volunteers dedicate so much of their time, knowledge, and talents to ensure that students receive individual attention and the organization is making a needed difference in our city. Our students – the reason we do this work – are everything. Students are a constant reminder of why our mission matters and how transformative education can be.

Q: How many volunteers and students do you have at Literacy Services?

We have over 450 volunteers! (Which is beyond amazing!) Last year, we served 1,336 students at eight program sites throughout Milwaukee.

Q: What are some ways to volunteer at Literacy Services?

Literacy Services has many volunteer opportunities. We are always looking for volunteer tutors to work one-on-one with students looking to improve their reading, writing, numeracy or English language skills. There are so many other ways to get involved and volunteer. Visit: https://literacyservices.org/volunteer/ to learn more!

Meet Our New Administrative Associate, Kiersten!

When you call the In Tandem Theatre office this season, you may hear a new voice on the phone! We are thrilled to introduce our new Administrative Associate, Kiersten. Before we kick off the season, we thought you might like to get to know her so we sat down and asked her a few questions about herself.

KierstenTell us a little about yourself, Kiersten:

I recently graduated from UW-Green Bay with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre performance and a double minor in dance and business.  I spent the following month after graduation backpacking through Southeast Asia. A few months after my return, I worked at a theatre in Auburn, New York before ending up back here in Wisconsin at In Tandem Theatre.

How long have you worked at In Tandem?

I have worked at In Tandem for a couple of weeks now.

What is your favorite part about your job?

I love being able to do something different every day. I get to constantly learn new things and hone my craft in different areas of theatre, thanks to Chris and Jane for always letting me tag along for an extra few teaching moments.

What is your favorite place(s) to go in Milwaukee?

I am still new to Milwaukee, but I love that there is always something going on and something new to do on the weekends.  I also love the fact that I am surrounded by so much art and theatre on a daily basis!

What is your favorite play or musical? 

My favorite musical is “Spring Awakening,” because it was a play ahead of its time that made political and social injustices the forefront of its show.  The musical’s modernized rock music and lighting display make 1981 Germany’s social and political issues still relevant today.

Is there any piece of theatre that you would love to see?

“Angels in America” is a show that I would love to see because of its sensitive and controversial topics that the play introduces to its audience and helps start a conversation that is not always so easy to talk about.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I’ve traveled to both Europe and Asia but would love the opportunity to be able to see Australia and volunteer my time at a wildlife reserve, or visit Edinburgh Scotland during their Fringe Festival.

What’s a fun fact about yourself/what do you want people to know about you?

Although theatre and art is a huge part of my life, I also love being one with nature!  During the summer you can catch me out on the golf course, or hiking through the mountains on “the road less traveled.” In the fall, I’ll be deep in the woods deer hunting with my dad up north, and in the winter you can find me shredding some powder in the peaks of Colorado or Michigan.

Meet Our Technical Director, Shane

Have you ever wondered who’s in charge of getting everything together behind the scenes? From lighting and sound to set building, our Technical Director, Shane, puts all the pieces together for our shows. Learn more about him in the following Q&A!

Shane, Technical DirectorTell us a little about yourself, Shane:

I grew up in the Milwaukee area and was heavily involved in band playing the French horn as well as the Mellophone in marching band. I graduated college from the University Wisconsin- Eau Claire with a Comprehensive Theatre degree and an emphasis in lighting design. After graduating, I spent a year as a Lighting and Sound Apprentice for Two River Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. I came back to Milwaukee the following year interning in the Lighting Department at the Milwaukee Rep. I now spend my days at In Tandem, The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts and freelancing in and around the Milwaukee area. I love spending my time exploring new places, biking, camping, baking, cooking, and spending time with my cat, Keiko

What is your favorite part about your job?

I’d say a tie between the people I work with, and getting to be a part of creating something that audiences get to enjoy.

What is your favorite place(s) to go in Milwaukee (restaurant, entertainment, etc.)? 

My favorite place to eat is either Vagabond or the Milwaukee Public Market. When the weather is warm I spend lots of time down by the lake and all the wonderful parks around town.

What is your favorite play and/or musical? Anything that you would love to see? Why?

My favorite play would have to be You Can’t Take it With You, one of the first shows I worked on in high school; the grandfather  reminds me a lot of my own grandfather. Waitress the musical is my current favorite musical with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum coming in close second. I hope to one day see Hamilton if I can ever get tickets!

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Top of my list would be Poland. I want to learn more about my heritage and visit the town that my mother’s side of the family left when they came to America.

What’s a fun fact about yourself/what do you want people to know about you?

I love architecture and history; it’s probably what I would be doing if I wasn’t doing theatre. My brain is also filled with lots of random facts about the history of Milwaukee and current projects in and around downtown.

Announcing our 2018-19 Season!

The wait is over! After many inquiries, we now announce our 2018-19 season featuring brand new shows, world premieres, a poignant drama and a hilarious play about misunderstandings!

The Eagle in Me: An Evening of Carl Sandburg by local Milwaukee playwright, Jonathan Gillard Daly
September 28 – October 21, 2018
Journey through the heart of America with one of its finest storytellers, Pulitzer-Prize winning author and poet, Carl Sandburg. Milwaukee’s own Jonathan Gillard Daly recreates Sandburg’s traveling show, bringing his poetry, folklore and music to life in this exciting world premiere.

Merry Chris-Mess by Anthony Wood, author of A Cudahy Caroler Christmas
November 30, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Milwaukee’s “go-to” for alternative holiday entertainment, In Tandem whips up the perfect concoction of silly songs, hilarious sketches and a one-act parody called It’s A Life by Anthony Wood, author of A Cudahy Caroler Christmas! A little naughty, this show is best suited for ages 16+

The Velocity of Autumn by Eric Coble
February 22 – March 17, 2019
Angela Iannone stars as Alexandra, a woman in a showdown with her family over where she’ll spend her remaining years. After locking herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the entire block, her estranged son, Chris, climbs in through the second-story window as the family’s unlikely mediator. A wickedly funny and wonderfully touching discovery of the fragility and ferocity of life. Some adult language and situations, best suited for ages 16+

The Fabulous Lipitones By John Markus and Mark St. Germain
April 26 – May 19, 2019
When the fourth member of The Fabulous Lipitones keels over while holding the winning B-flat during finals, the remaining three must scramble to find a replacement in time for the national competition! When they hear “Bob” singing beautifully over the phone, they’re all ears…but when they meet him, he’s not quite who they expected. A hilarious take on tolerance, preconceived notions and the perfect path to harmony in this play with music.

Want to learn more about the shows? Attend our FREE Sneak Peek and Open House on Monday, June 4th to see live performances, enjoy complimentary snacks and a cash bar. Performances are at 6pm and repeated at 7:30pm. This event is FREE but reservations are required. Please call the box office at 414-271-1371 or click here to reserve your seats.

You can still get last season’s subscription prices. Call today and save BIG! Get a four-show subscription for $96 or a three-show subscription for $72. (That’s only $24 a ticket! What a steal!)

After July 31, 2018 subscription prices will be $116 for four shows or $87 for three shows.

Call the box office at 414-271-1371 to purchase your season subscriptions. As always, you can reserve your dates right away or choose your dates for the season as the shows grow closer. We hope to see you next year!

The Fantasticks: An Interview with Robert Spencer

The Fantasticks began Off-Broadway in 1960 and went on to become the world’s longest running musical with over 21,000 performances in New York. While the production closed in June 2017, it lives on as a classic piece of musical theatre.

Cast member, Robert Spencer, who plays the role of Henry in In Tandem’s production of The Fantasticks, played the role of Matt in the 1960’s. We sat down with him to get his perspective on this charming, whimsical musical and his fascinating acting career.

The cast of The Fantasticks Off-Broadway. Robert Spencer is one in from the left.

The cast of The Fantasticks Off-Broadway. Robert Spencer is one in from the left.

How did you get started in acting?   

As a child, I loved to sing and my parents determined that I was destined to be the next Frank Sinatra.  When I was seventeen years old, I began studying voice at The Russell Wood musical workshop in downtown Chicago.  Mr. Wood also produced scaled down Broadway musicals on the weekends.  Within three weeks, he threw me into the chorus of Guys and Dolls.  On opening night, as we were singing the finale, I distinctly remember thinking, “I don’t want to be the next Frank Sinatra, I want to be a Broadway Musical Comedy Star!”  Soon after that, I was being cast in leading roles.  Developing the personalities and behaviors of the characters I was playing captured my imagination and I knew, “I no longer just wanted to be a musical comedy star, I wanted to be a serious actor” and I sought out the best acting teacher in town, Minnie Galatzer.  She taught “The Method,” a popular acting training program that was developed by the great Russian theatre practitioner, Konstantin Stanislavski.  I loved this method of study, as well as my subsequent training after I moved to New York in 1957.  I have been a professional actor for 63 years.

What was it like playing Matt in The Fantasticks Off-Broadway?
It was a dream come true.  My personal manager, Carly Mills, was also Kenneth Nelson’s (the original Matt in The Fantasticks) manager.  I was in Bye Bye Birdie at the time, and on one of my nights off, he took me to see the show.  I was completely enthralled with the production, and vowed that I would play Matt, someday.  Four years later, I had the opportunity to audition for the role.  There was a line of young men that went around the block at the Sullivan Street Playhouse, also wanting to land that plumb part.  And much to my surprise, I GOT IT!  I loved playing Matt.  Discovering new and unexpected facets of his character was very satisfying to me.

How long did you play Matt in The Fantasticks?
I played Matt for one year and ten months.  It’s the longest I’ve ever played any role.

What is it like to be back in The Fantasticks, this time in the role of Henry?
I am having the time of my life.  To be a part of this phenomenal cast that Jane and Chris have assembled is a real treat at this point in my professional life.  When I was in the Off-Broadway production, every time Henry made his entrance, I fantasized what it would be like to play that role someday.  It only took 53 years to fulfill that fantasy.  I am one happy camper.   

What is your favorite thing about The Fantasticks?
The score.  It’s not only wonderful music, it totally supports, and furthers the narrative of this, delicate, beautiful love story. 

What has your favorite role to play, in any show?
It’s a toss-up between The Emcee in Cabaret and Norman the dresser in The Dresser.

Are there any parts that you never got to play that you wish you could? Any parts that you hope to play in the future?
I really don’t have a specific list of roles I want to play.  Through the years, I’ve pretty much taken whatever has come my way.  I have been blessed with many great roles in my lifetime.  I am about to play a role I’ve had my eye on for some time.  I’ve been asked to play Fool to James Pickering’s King Lear this summer for Optimist Theatre.  I am “chomping at the bit” to work on this one. 

What is the best piece of advice you ever got about acting, and from whom?
Be Present.  Listen.  Play your intentions.  Have fun.  These simple, practical words of wisdom came from Eve Collyer, my New York acting teacher.

What are some of your favorite moments during your acting career?
Being cast in the original production of Bye Bye Birdie, my first Broadway Show.  And stepping onto the stage for the first time at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin, to play Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

The Fantasticks at In Tandem Theatre performs April 27 – May 20, 2018. To purchase tickets, call the box office at 414-271-1371, visit us in-person at 628 N. 10th Street, Milwaukee WI, 53233 (Monday-Friday 10am-5pm), or click here.

Out Goes the Tide, In Comes the Youth


Draw Write Here Class

The Draw Write Here! class presenting work that they created from The Outgoing Tide.

DRAW WRITE HERE!, created by Helene Fischman, brings together local artists and writers for special collaborative events. For their last event, they saw In Tandem Theatre’s production of THE OUTGOING TIDE and used it as muse for creative response in their medium which they presented at the Tenth Street Theater on Tuesday, March 6. The performance sprung from the heart of the theatre, yet reached beyond its walls.

After the DRAW WRITE HERE! performance, Fischman created the following commentary based on the participant’s experiences:

“Several weeks ago, I brought my collective “Draw Write Here!” comprised of both youth and adult artists and writers, to see the In Tandem Theatre production of Bruce Graham’s, The Outgoing Tide. Taking high school students to a play prompts my radar to be up. As every dramatic detail unfolds, I am wondering if they can relate. What they can reap from the themes? In their worlds driven by technology and social media, are they finding this engaging?  The In Tandem Theatre is a great place to take teenagers because of its size, they can connect to the work because they can practically reach out and touch it. It’s a small, 99-seat studio theatre, so wherever you are seated is right up in its grill – enmeshed in the physical space of the play. You are in the air the actors breathe in an almost uncomfortable intimacy. ”

To view the full commentary, click here.


View a Sneak Peek of The Outgoing Tide

Gunner is beginning forget words and becoming confused. His wife, Peg, wants to move them from their beloved Chesapeake Bay home and into assisted care. Trapped by the menacing grip of an aging mind and fearful of his uncertain future, Gunner hatches an unorthodox plan to shape his own destiny.

Don’t miss the powerful drama, THE OUTGOING TIDE, February 23 – March 18, 2018. Purchase tickets at http://bit.ly/TheOutgoingTide