News‎ > ‎

New Theater for the Kettle Moraine Players

posted Nov 14, 2016, 4:20 AM by Jeffrey Wolf

By: Abbie Schmidt, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Posted November 14th, 2016

If you’ve ever been to Jim’s Place in Slinger, you’ve probably noticed an old church across the street. On October 12th, 2016, the Kettle Moraine Players closed their purchase on the 96 year old church building, paying $47,500. I spoke with John Brandl, the Business Manager for the Kettle Moraine Players.

How did the opportunity to buy the building come about?

“We’ve been watching for a space in which we could make a theater for a couple years. About 80% of our actors and audience comes from northern Washington County so that’s the area we’ve been watching. We had an opportunity to lease in West Bend in January but that didn’t work out so we kept watching for opportunities. In early March our Chairman saw this listing.”

Why did you want to buy it? What sets this venue apart from others?

“We liked the church a lot the first time we went through it in March. We love the fact that we have 17 feet of vertical staging. If a play has a second floor balcony or room, we can actually play it as that and we can use full height staircases when needed. This adds a lot of realism to shows. The theater will be very intimate for actors and audience. At the front of the stage an actor is only 4 feet from the audience. And for the audience, no one is more than 7 rows from the stage. They will really see the facial acting in detail and even the color of the actors’ eyes. That makes for a great theatre experience for everybody. We will seat 48 on the main floor and 24 in the balcony and the seating will elevate from the stage so the audience can easily see over the people in front of them and look straight at the actors rather than up at them, just like at the Milwaukee Rep. Those in the balcony will have a downward viewing angle, also like the Milwaukee Rep. We also examined the community's support of the performing arts. Slinger scored very well, partly because they passed a pretty big referendum to build a new theater by quite a wide margin. This community loves theatre and that was also evident to me when I attended ONCE UPON A MATTRESS on Friday night. By the way, that was a terrific show. Kudos to everyone involved.”

When will it be open?

“We hope to occupy it in August and have the opening production on October 13, 2017. March through July will be a lot of construction.”

What kind of plays will be shown here? (What are the age groups involved in a show and how long does the average show take to produce?)

“Most of our shows are non-musicals with cast sizes of 10 less. Occasionally you’ll see a cast of 15 but that’s unusual. A typical year (September through May) will be 6 shows and 1 of those will be a musical but those will also have a small cast. In our last 17 shows, 4 had roles for students. That suggests an average of about 1 show per year. But those numbers don’t include characters from age 19 to 23 which high school students can frequently play. In 2010 we did THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. About 12 Slinger high school students auditioned and one, Edward Euclide, won the role of Peter Van Daan. But there will be even  more  opportunity off the stage for students. They will be able to help with lighting and sound and earn credits toward classes where they will learn to design those areas and to be stage managers and even to learn directing. With so many shows there will be lots of opportunities.”

Is there anything else you would like people to know?

“Summer will be education time as well as some weekday evenings and Saturdays during the school year. We are considering kicking off our education program this coming summer (before our theater is available) by renting space from Slinger HS. Our board of directors will make the decision by January and maybe even in November. If they decide to do it we would offer 2 afternoons of education in acting, monologues and auditioning in May (13 & 20) on Saturday afternoons and auditions on Sunday afternoon, May 21. Then rehearsals would be 3 hours in the mornings from June 10 through June 23 except the 11 & 18 (Sundays) with performances on June 24 & 25. This class/camp would probably have a cost per student of $150 and the show would be HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL JUNIOR (60 minutes long). The ages would most likely be students who are completing grades 5 through 10. While most of the students would probably be from Slinger I expect some would come from Hartford, Jackson and Germantown also, so we would cap the enrollment at some number between 30 and 50. Everyone in the class is included and the audition just determines what role.”