Tuesday, April 21, 2015



 Marty McNamee as Stone, Shayne Steliga as
Lt. Munoz and Ben George as Stine

David Ferrie as Buddy Fidler
     Tamara Martinsek as Donna, Ben George as Stine,                                  Stone & Stine
                         David Ferrie as Buddy Fidler
Marty McNamee as Stone, Laura Monagle as Bobbi

The finale of Windfall Theatre’s 2014-2015 22nd season of bringing Fearless theatre to Milwaukee audiences opens Friday, May 1 with the Milwaukee premiere of the multiple Tony Award Winning musical CITY OF ANGELS with lyrics by David Zippel, music by Cy Coleman and book by Larry Gelbart.  CITY OF ANGELS eight show run is staged in Windfall Theatre’s intimate performance space located at Village Church Arts, 130 East Juneau Avenue, in the heart of Milwaukee’s downtown theater district.
About the Musical:
Hitting Broadway in 1989 and running for 800+ performances, with major productions in London’s West End in 1993 and 2014 CITY OF ANGELS is a winner of 6 Tony Awards, 8 Drama Desk Awards, 3 Olivier Awards and an Edgar Allan Poe best play award for Larry Gelbart’s book.  CITY OF ANGELS is a musical comedy homage to 1940’s film noir private eye movies told in two simultaneous plots, the “real” world of a writer turning his book into a screenplay and the “reel” world of his characters in the fictional film.  Through this convention it deals with the writer’s integrity and freedom of expression vs. crass commercialism and content censorship.  It’s a saavy and sassy send up of the pretensions of Hollywood that resonate today.
...an evening in which even a throwaway wisecrack spreads laughter like wildfire…
Wonderfully wry…the stuff that dreams are made of.”
~ The New York Times
About the Writers:

CITY OF ANGELS team of writers is comprised of two legends Cy Coleman, music and Larry Gelbart, book and a talented up and coming lyricist David Zippel.  CITY OF ANGELS was Zippel’s first full length musical.  Growing up in Easton, PA he wrote parody lyrics to pop tunes making fun of his high school teachers. He attended Harvard Law School to become a theatrical lawyer, but was side tracked by meeting Barbara Cook’s accompanist Wally Harper who was looking for a songwriting partner to create music for Ms. Cook’s Carnegie Hall show.  Among Zippel’s many honors are Tony and Drama Desk Awards (City of Angels) and Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards (Disney’s Hercules and Mulan and The Swan Princess). He has worked with many composers including Marvin Hamlisch (The Goodbye Girl), Phil Collins (Tarzan), Alan Menken (Hercules), and Andrew Lloyd Webber (The Woman in White).

 Composer Cy Coleman (1929 – 2004) was born Seymour Kaufman, in New York City to Eastern European Jewish parents, and was raised in the Bronx. Coleman was a child prodigy who gave piano recitals at Carnegie Hall between the ages of six and nine.  His fabled Broadway career includes Wildcat, Little Me, Sweet Charity, I Love My Wife, On the Twentieth Century, and The Will Rogers Follies. Among his film scores are Father Goose, The Art of Love, Garbo Talks, Power and Family Business. He wrote the acclaimed television specials If My Friends Could See Me Now and Gypsy in My Soul for Shirley MacLaine.

Larry Gelbart (1928-2009) a prolific playwright, screenwriter and television writer is most well known as a creator and producer for the record breaking hit TV Show M*A*S*H. He began his career as a writer at age 16 for Danny Thomas’s radio show after Gelbart’s father who was Thomas’s barber showed him some jokes his son had written.  During the 1940’s he wrote for Jack Paar and Bob Hope; in the 50’s he wrote for Red Buttons, Sid Caesar and Celeste Holm. He collaborated with Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Woody Allen.  He received Oscar nomination for Tootsie and Oh, God!  In addition to the long running Broadway hit CITY OF ANGELS, he co-wrote with Stephen Sondheim the long running Broadway smash A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. In 2002, he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame and in 2008 he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
About the Ensemble:
Windfall has assembled a cavalcade of Milwaukee musical theater talent, directed by Carol Zippel with music direction by Paula Foley Tillen, to take audiences into CITY OF ANGELS’ film noir, Hollywood studio system world of the late 1940’s.  The cast of 17 features Ben George as Stine the novelist turned would be screenwriter; Marty McNamee as Stone the film noir detective; Laura Monagle in the dual roles of Bobbi/Gabby Stone’s film noir love and Stine’s wife; Tamara Martinsek in the dual roles of Donna/Oolie the “Girl Friday” with a heart of cold in the movie and the real world; Amber Smith in the dual roles of Alaura Kingsley/Carla the lethal film noir femme fatale and the movie mogul Buddy Fidler’s wife; David Ferrie as Buddy Fidler cut throat movie mogul and star maker and Irwin S. Irving his film noir alter ego; Shayne Steliga as Lt. Munoz Stone’s nemesis and Pancho Vargas actor and Hollywood playboy; Alison Pogorelc as the film noir bad girl Mallory Kingsley and vapid starlet Avril Raines. Filling the mean streets of LA in the film and Hollywood studio worlds by playing multiple roles and bringing to life the intricate Jazz harmonies of CITY OF ANGELS evocative score are Cleary Breunig, Doug Clemons, Mohammad ElBsat, Marcee Doherty-Elst, Christopher Elst, Leslie Fitzwater, Thom Gravelle, Amanda J. Hull and Matt Zeman.  
The creative team features choreography by Alicia Rice; costume design by Kathleen Smith; lighting design by Kevin Czarnota, set design by Carol Zippel and Thom Gravelle, violence design by Christopher Elst, sound design by Mohammad ElBsat and stage management by Veronica Zahn.
Windfall Theatre presents
Lyrics by David Zippel, Music by Cy Coleman, Book by Larry Gelbart
May 1-16
(5/1, 5/2, 5/8, 5/9, 5/11, 5/14, 5/15, 5/16)
All Windfall Theatre performances are at 8pm
At Village Church Arts, 130 E. Juneau
Tickets $20.00
Box Office: 414-332-3963
Purchase Your Tickets Today
With Generous Support Provided by

Monday, January 12, 2015

PRIN February 13-28, 2015

Michelle Waide as PRIN


Humorous Interrogation of Public Education
Windfall stages ‘Prin’
By Mac Writt
Shepherd Express
Acid tongued, unapologetically tenacious and devastatingly witty, the titular character of Windfall Theatre’s Prin is a loveable tyrant dressed in a crisp navy suit and heels. The show is set in the economically gloomy world of 1980s English academia. Headmistress Prin, played by the marvelous Michelle Waide, is locked in heated combat with those that want to merge her beloved teacher’s training college with the local polytechnic. If that were not enough, a scandal involving a dozy-headed English professor arises and Prin’s closest ally and protégée, whom she lovingly nicknames “Little Pig,” threatens to dismantle the only true friendship Prin ever had.

The play’s set design is simple and unobtrusive. Most of the action takes place in Prin’s headmaster’s office, overlooking the college’s grounds. This led to some clever staging throughout the performance. Sometimes Prin would address the audience as if they were a class of graduating seniors. Seating around 50 patrons, the space made for a supremely intimate theater experience. By the show’s end the audience has thoroughly peeled away at Prin’s prickly exterior, exposing a wholly sympathetic character.

At its core, Prin is a comedy and it is a treat for those who prefer their humor on the drier side. Fast-paced dialogue, rich in sarcasm, is ample throughout the piece. Playwright Andrew Davies, perhaps best known for his adaption of classic literally works, expertly the weaves the audience through Prin’s chaotic life on campus. Director Maureen Kilmurry allows her characters move freely while onstage, sipping whiskey and tidying up the office, peaking the audience’s interest enough in a play heavy on dialogue and short on dazzling sets or action sequences.

The cast, who all showcase very polished English accents, are exceptional. Waide’s Prin manages to create both a maniacal and lovable character. Carol Zippel, who plays the shy and rather frumpy Dibs, is the perfect contrast to Prin’s commanding presence. The show dabbles in themes such a lust, sexuality and feminism, but Prin is largely about the mediocrity of the public education system. It is obvious to see the similarities between Prin’s posh English prep school and our own educational shortfalls here in Wisconsin.
By Julie McHale

Andrew Davies, a Welshman who early on settled in London, is best known for his film and TV scripts and adaptations. “Bridget Jones Diaries” is one of his big successes as is the popular “House of Cards,” currently playing on HBO.  He has also adapted some of Jane Austen’s novels, an author that continues to draw a substantial audience. Davies, a writer who has garnered his share of awards, has only written two stage plays, one of which is now playing at Windfall Theatre. “Prin,” … is a comic drama replete with memorable characters, Brit wit and some provocative ideas about education and relationships.

Michelle Waide… plays the key role as the unwavering Principal of a small, private college that educates teachers of physical education. She is a passionate believer in the significance of bodily movement and the pursuit of excellence. Carol Zippel plays Prin’s dear, dumpy Vice Principal Dibbs, who accommodates Prin’s every whim and is rewarded with constant berating.  Prin sees herself as a superior human being and treats all the underlings around her accordingly. She is extremely rigid and disgustingly self-righteous, ruling her territory with intimidation and hiding behind the robes of higher education and lofty idealism. As a teacher myself, I found her “addresses” all too redolent of many of the clichés I’ve had to suffer through in my career. A stranger to change and compromise, Prin does not readily comprehend that her world is crumbling around her.  One even feels some sympathy for her as her kingdom topples.  As the play ends, we pity her for her emptiness and misplaced priorities.

The four other characters that Davies has created are all a bit quirky but lovable. As they appear before their threatening boss, some stutter and cringe, while a few others take her on.  The scene when Melanie, the student who has been carrying on with Walker, her English professor, and has also been quite willing to accommodate others in need,  boldly enters Prin’s office,  is fascinating as we watch how she reacts to Prin’s manipulative bullying tactics. Sonia Rosenthal as Melanie is excellent in the role. Walker, the offending English teacher, is endearingly memorable as he confesses and rationalizes his dalliance. Mohammad N. ElBsat aces this part. Boyle, the sorry little science teacher who loves to dissect rats, is well rendered by Ben George. He surprises us all when he eventually wins over Dibbs’ heart and gives her the courage to confront her surly, snobby boss. That scene is one of the best in the play. Zippel so beautifully portrays the transformation of Dibbs as the story progresses. The last character, Kite, the superintendent of education, is strongly played by Howard Goldstein. He is a match for Prin. We don’t particularly admire or like him, but we enjoy watching them spar for power.

The play, well directed by Maureen Kilmurry,  is rich with irony and provocative ideas about the mission of education, the role of progress and change, and the complexity and mystery of close relationships. It runs through February 28 in the Village Church on the corner of Juneau and Edison in Milwaukee.  Call 414-332-3963 or visit their website at www.windfalltheatre.com for times and tickets. 


 Cast of PRIN
(From Left-Right Sitting) Michelle Waide as PRIN; Carol Zippel as DIBS;
Sonia Rosenthal as MELANIE;
(From Left-Right Standing) Howard Goldstein as KITE; Ben George as BOYLE;
 Mohammad ElBsat as Walker

Thursday, October 2, 2014


(Cast of IDENTITA left to right: Marion Araujo, Joan End, Joe Picchetti, Charles Hanel)

Generous Support Provided by UWM Slovenian Arts Program

Julie McHale’s Waukesha Freeman Review of IDENTITA

I am not an historian.  My knowledge of geography is also quite paltry. However, the present offering at Windfall Theatre still intrigued me. The story is universal; we can see the same forces and conflicts going on here in many parts of the world in some form ad infinitum.

The play by Louise Zamparutti, a local playwright who teaches at UWM, is entitled “Identita,” and identity is its subject.   Set in a small village on the border between Slovenia and Italy, it traces a family torn apart by WWII and the various allegiances espoused by different members in that family.  The story is told through the voice of a young American of Italian heritage who returns to the nation of his birth after 20 years to attend his father’s funeral.  He encounters many surprises and discovers a past that he was totally unaware of.

We have many expressions around the subject of identity. Someone is trying to “find himself.” “He’s not himself today.” “You’re not the person I thought you were.” One’s identity consists of one’s genetic heritage, one’s knowledge and experiences and talents, one’s self-concept. It is formed over time and is changed and shaped as we live our lives. And yet, I often hear people say that “People don’t change; they are who they are.” To simplify, perhaps one’s identity is that unique mix that constitutes each person’s essence.

Upon his arrival, Joe Picchetti, very well cast as Josh, the young American, comes upon a small coffee shop, run by Julia.  Marion Araujo, with her soulful face and serene wisdom, is an oasis for Josh as he encounters the turmoil among his relatives. He returns to her for solace and understanding whenever he runs into an obstacle on his journey.

During WWII, most of the countries invaded by the Nazis formed resistance units.  In many instances, they were poorly organized and not very effective. As is true in any diverse group, there were disagreements as to how to handle the Germans.  Resist or comply?  Which group to join? How to best resist?

Josh meets his great-aunt Vida and her husband Aldo, a couple of modest means and fierce loyalties to the past Italian resistance movement, and his great- uncle Fabio, Vida’s brother, and his snobby, pushy wife Paola, a couple of substantial means and some bitter feelings toward Vida and Aldo.  Josh is caught between them at times as he tries to gather material about his father and return to America unscathed.

What struck me most about this story is how quickly we rigidify, how judgmental and unforgiving and divisive we become, adopting the attitude of “If you disagree with me, you must be wrong.”  This lack of humility, this lack of effort to try to understand differences probably accounts for many a war. It almost makes me despair that humans will ever begin to live together peaceably.

Christine Horgen is powerful as Vida; Charles Hanel, a very lovable Aldo. Joan End did a good job of alienating us in her portrayal of Paola; her husband Fabio, played by Gregory Valentine, made me feel drained and resigned when the demands of life become too much for him. Overall, all the characters were quite well developed and portrayed.  Each elicited our pity and/or sympathy. The cellist, Alicia Storin, provided beautiful transitional music between scenes.

Check it out.  It will lead to a fruitful discussion.  “Identita,” directed by Carol Zippel, runs two more weekends in The Village Church on Juneau and Edison (one block east of Water Street) in Milwaukee.  Windfall is always worth a visit. 

Call414-332-3963 or visit Brown Paper Tickets  for times and tickets.

 (IDENTITA cast L-R: Christine Lathrop Horgen, Charles Hanel, Joe Picchetti, Gregory Valentine, Joan End)

Monday, April 14, 2014


The Cast of Windfall Theatre's STOREFRONT CHURCH
L to R: Shayne Steliga, Ben George, Jason Will, Howard Goldstein, Ericka Wade, Bill Jackson
Bill Jackson as Reverend Chester Kimmich and Shayne Steliga as Donaldo Calderon in STOREFRONT CHURCH

Windfall Theatre continues its 21st Season with
by John Patrick Shanley

Pulitzer Prize, Academy and Tony Award-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley's sharply affecting comedy for our timestells the tale of a Bronx Borough President forced by the mortgage crisis into a confrontation with a local minister causing them both to confront a question of conscience that faces us all: What is the relationship between spiritual experience and social action?

STOREFRONT CHURCH by John Patrick Shanley
May 2 - 17
(Fri. 5/2, Sat. 5/3, Fri. 5/9, Sat. 5/10,
Mon. 5/12, Thu. 5/15, Fri. 5/16, Sat. 5/17)

Ben George, Howard Goldstein, Bill Jackson, Shayne Steliga, Ericka Wade, Jason Will
Carol Zippel
Mohammad N. ElBsat

All Windfall performances are at 8pm
At Village Church Arts, 130 E. Juneau
Tickets $20.00
Box Office: 414-332-3963
Box Office: 414-332-3963

Box Office: 414-332-3963

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The Cast of Windfall Theatre's THE PETRIFIED FOREST
Heat up your winter at Windfall Theatre's production of Robert Sherwood's THE PETRIFIED FOREST a play that is at once funny, romantic, political, violent and ironically resonant today as it was in 1934 when it opened on Broadway and captured the restless mood of the country. It was a huge hit and became a popular film. It tells the tale of hostages held by gangster Duke Mantee in an isolated gas station/diner in the Arizona desert. Their stories revolve around two restless souls: Alan Squier, a drifter searching for meaning to his existence and Gabrielle Maples, the diner's waitress who dreams of escaping to see the world.
FEATURING: Randall T. Anderson, Mark Boergers, Cleary Breunig,
Marcee Doherty-Elst, Mohammad N. ElBsat, Christopher Elst, Thom Gravelle,
Amanda J. Hull, Robert W.C. Kennedy, Tom Marks, Joe Picchetti
DIRECTION: Carol Zippel
COSTUMES: Kathy Smith
LIGHTING: Kevin Czarnota
Windfall Theatre Presents
by Robert Sherwood
February 14 - March 1
(2/14, 2/15, 2/21, 2/22, 2/24, 2/27, 2/28, 3/1)
Village Church Arts
130 E. Juneau Avenue
All performances at 8pm
Tickets $20.00
BOX OFFICE: 332-3963
Box Office: 414-332-3963


        Robert Sherwood is remembered for his stage plays, movie scripts and film reviews.  He is also the winner of four Pulitzer prizes. “The Petrified Forest” and “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” are two of his most famous plays, and “The Best Years of Our Lives” often makes the list of the 100 best films ever made.
         It is always satisfying to encounter a classic play again, and Windfall is not afraid to take the chance of unearthing a good one. I remember their production of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” in 2010, proving again that scripts written many years ago still have relevance with human nature being the constant.
        “The Petrified Forest” takes place during the Great Depression in a small café in Arizona. The National Park by the same name is alluded to as a parallel to the lives of all the characters. Their dreams have been aborted, and except for the ending, when there is a glimmer of hope for one of the characters, the mood is dark and the prospects, stagnant.
         Three generations of family members run the Black Mesa Bar-B-Q Gas Station/Diner in the Arizona desert – Gramps, Jason and Gabby Maple.  Gramps wallows in his memories; Jason, in his glory days in WWI and his involvement in the American Legion, and Daughter Gabby in her dreams of going to France to re-unite with her mother and pursue art. Each of these characters is well developed as are several of the patrons who drop in for a beer,  a bite and a little comraderie.
         Boze, a former football star, works in the Café and is in hot pursuit of Gabby, who has bigger dreams. The arrival of another visitor, Alan Squier, changes the dynamic completely.  His inglorious failure as a gigolo, a husband and a would-be writer, colors his perception of himself and the world.  His allusion to T. S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men” pretty much sums up his dismal philosophy. He is smart, handsome, and disillusioned and depressed.  BUT, his conversation with Gabby elicits a few humane sparks in him. The contrast between Boze and Alan is stark and creates some tension and some suspense.
        A buildup of drama occurs when Duke Mantee (a character modeled after Dillinger) arrives with two of his henchmen and holds all the characters hostage. They have hi-jacked the car of the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm, so these two characters and their chauffeur Joseph have also joined the trembling assemblage.
        Several surprises are in store for us as this encounter proceeds.  People’s characters are often revealed in crises, and that is certainly true here. Even Dillinger is seen as a human being, not just a bad guy.
        Well paced and directed by Carol Zippel, “The Petrified Forest” holds our interest throughout.  The standouts in a well chosen cast include Joe Picchetti as the cynical Squier, Amanda J. Hull as the tough-minded but innocent Gabby, Tom Marks as the fearless Gramp Maple, and Robert W. C. Kennedy as the slippery Duke Mantee.  Marcee Doherty Elst is memorable in her cameo role when she unearths some of her long-hidden frustrations.
        This production runs through March 1 with showings on February 21, 22, 24, 27, 28 and March 1.  There are no Sunday performances because Windfall’s Theatre is the Village Church at 130 E. Juneau in Milwaukee.  Call 414-332-3963 or visit their website at www.windfalltheatre.com  If you’ve never attended a performance at Windfall, I recommend that you do if you’re looking for quality theatre in an intimate space at a reasonable price. The fact that they’ve been around since 1992 says a lot in a city where good theatre abounds.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

FEARLESS 2013-2014 SEASON 21


The cast of Windfall Theatre's production of An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf
L to R: Lindsey Gagliano, Matt Wickey, David Flores (seated),
Christopher Elst and Mohammad ElBsat