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Skylight Music Theatre Announces 2021-2022 Season

Show Line-Up Crafted to ‘Refresh the Dry Places in Our Spirit’ 

Beloved Revivals, Featured Guest Artists and Exciting Premieres 

Season Opener, “The Full Monty” Begins September 24, 2021 

Milwaukee, Wis. (May 26, 2021, updated July 21) — Artistic Director Michael Unger today unveiled Skylight Music Theatre’s 2021-2022 season, which marks the theatre’s return to in-person performances after more than one year. It will be Unger’s first official season since joining Skylight in 2019, due to canceled shows during the pandemic.

“As we planned our new season, we thought about how much we need the arts to entertain and uplift us, and how much we have missed that,” said Unger. “We were inspired by the quote on the beautiful, hand-painted ceiling of our home, the Cabot Theatre, which says, ‘to help us forget some things, remember others, and to refresh the dry places in our spirit.’  I think our new season, with stories that spread joy, fill the heart, and inspire the soul, will do just that.” The Cabot Theatre ceiling quote is paraphrased from World of Wonders by Robertson Davies, a Canadian author who wrote fondly about being an actor, playwright, and above all, an audience member.

To celebrate the new season, Skylight held a virtual season announcement featuring highlights of all the shows, special surprise guests, plus a live Q&A with Artistic Director Michael Unger on June 9. The recording of the event is available here.

Skylight is Milwaukee’s professional music theatre company, located at 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

Guest Artists from Broadway and Beyond

Skylight’s new season will welcome an array of guest artists as part of the creative teams. James Gray, known for his work on Broadway and television, will direct and choreograph The Full Monty, opening September 24. An original Broadway cast member of Once on this Island, Gerry McIntyre, will choreograph Little Shop of Horrors, opening November 19. Jill Anna Ponasik, longtime Skylight collaborator and producing artistic director of Milwaukee Opera Theatre, will direct Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, beginning January 14, 2022. Broadway’s Kenneth L. Roberson, who choreographed Broadway’s Avenue Q and All Shook Up, will direct and choreograph Raisin, opening February 11, 2022. Dennis DeYoung, lead singer and songwriter of the legendary rock group Styx, will be in residence at Skylight to work with the creative team on his epic musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, opening May 27, 2022. A featured performer in the role of Claude Frollo will be Robert Cuccioli, who received a Tony Award-nomination for his leading role in Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway.

Skylight Showcases Exceptional Local Talent

Throughout its history, Skylight has featured exceptional Wisconsin-based talent on its stage. The previously announced Little Shop of Horrors, which had originally been scheduled to open in November 2020, features a diverse cast led by David Flores as Mushnik, Ashley Oviedo as Audrey, and Kevin James Sievert as Seymour. Casting announcements for other productions will be made at a later date.

“Our long intermission is finally over,” said Skylight Executive Director Jack R. Lemmon. “We know patrons are eager to return. We have heard from so many people letting us know how important Skylight is in their lives, and we can’t wait to get back to producing and presenting exceptional entertainment. We are grateful to see lower infection rates and increased vaccinations, which allows us to open. We continue following guidelines to ensure that audiences, artists and staff experience live theatre as safely as possible.”

Skylight’s Return to Live Theatre Begins with a “Show-All” Comedy

The 2021-2022 season launches with smash Broadway hit The Full Monty from Sept. 24 – Oct. 17, 2021. This hilarious ten-time Tony Award-nominated musical will be produced at Skylight for the first time. It will be directed and choreographed by James Gray, known for his work on Broadway and television. An unlikely band of out-of-work steelworkers decide to turn their lives around by baring it all for the greater good. The irresistible humor and songs lead up to one of the most anticipated final moments in Broadway history.

The Full Monty is as funny (and revealing) as it is touching,” said Unger. “It centers on salt-of-the-earth characters on whom unemployment has forced desperate measures. It explores many kinds of love stories, but the heart of the show is the love between a father and a son – and the lengths one must go to learn what is most important in life.”  

Skylight Revival Highlights Holiday Season

For the holiday season Skylight presents Little Shop of Horrors, running Nov. 19, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022. With a tuneful score by creative geniuses Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, (Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Aladdin), this musical has become a worldwide phenomenon, devouring the hearts of theatregoers for over 30 years. Featuring a disarmingly funny love story and the most famous carnivorous plant in musical history, Little Shop of Horrors offers hilarious entertainment for the whole family. The music blends pop, doo-wop, Broadway and Motown into heartfelt songs including “Suddenly Seymour” and “Somewhere that’s Green.”

Little Shop will offer special New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day performances.

Little Shop has been on our list to revive ever since it was a hit when Skylight presented it in 2003,” said Unger, who directs the production. “We were getting close to opening this show last November, but had to delay. We are thrilled to entertain audiences this year with this tuneful, fun, and beloved musical.”

Gerry McIntyre will choreograph Little Shop of Horrors. He choreographed Berkshire Theatre Group's acclaimed production of Godspell last summer, the first musical to be produced in the U.S. since the pandemic shut down theater.  An original Broadway cast member of Once on this Island in 1990, McIntyre has appeared on Broadway in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Uptown…It’s Hot!, and Anything Goes, among others.

Regional Premiere of Wildly Inventive Off-Broadway Hit

Skylight presents the regional premiere of the 2017 off-Broadway hit Ernest Shackleton Loves Me from Jan. 14-30, 2022. This wildly inventive musical crisscrosses continents and time in an improbable and enchanting love story. With astounding ingenuity, modern pop music, and images of Shackleton’s actual journey on the doomed ship “The Endurance,” Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is a romantic ride linking a struggling modern-day, single-mom composer/violinist, and the early-1900’s, intrepid, banjo-playing, Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton. Written by Joe DiPietro (author of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Memphis), Brendan Milburn and Val Vigoda.

Jill Anna Ponasik, producing artistic director of Milwaukee Opera Theatre will direct. Ponasik has a long history at Skylight, including directing acclaimed productions of Carmina Burana, Oklahoma!, Ruddigore, The Tales of Hoffmann and Tosca.

“This exhilarating musical explores the unexpected similarities and sacrifices made by artists and explorers in a refreshing tale that is as much suspenseful, historical travelogue, as fantastical love story,” said Unger.

‘Raisin’ Marks Skylight Premiere

From Feb. 11-27, 2022, Skylight will present the Tony Award-winning Raisin, marking a Skylight premiere. With a terrific Grammy-winning score that combines jazz, gospel and 70’s soul, this powerful, uplifting musical adaptation is based on the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Set in Chicago in 1951, Raisin follows the struggles of the first African American family to buy a house in the all-white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. Ambition nearly rips the family apart as Raisin travels from jubilation to heartbreak to ultimate triumph, while reaching for a piece of the American Dream.

Raisin will be directed and choreographed by Kenneth Roberson, who choreographed Avenue Q (2003) and All Shook Up (2005) on Broadway and performed in the Broadway productions Black and Blue and Oh, Kay!

“I saw the original Broadway production of Raisin when I was a teenager. It instantly became one of my favorite shows,” said Unger. “It has been on my list since I first interviewed for this job at Skylight two years ago. World events have made this title more important than ever. As an organization, Skylight is focusing on systemic racism and injustice and finding opportunities to address racial equity and inclusion. Raisin, being presented during Black History Month, will be a convergence of many positive forces.”

Season Closer Features Music by Dennis DeYoung of Styx Fame

The 2021-2022 season closes with an epic musical to be directed by Unger. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, features book and original score composed by Dennis DeYoung, lead singer and songwriter of the legendary rock group Styx.

DeYoung is from the Chicago area, as is Unger. The two met 26 years ago, and Unger recalls going to DeYoung’s home studio several times to hear the entire score of The Hunchback of Notre Dame sung by his childhood rock hero. “I have been chasing after this show for decades,” said Unger. “Dennis is a magnificent melody maker (think “Babe,” “Lady,” “Grand Illusion,” “Come Sail Away,” and so many more) – and his version of this classic novel is wonderfully faithful to Hugo’s original. It’s a phenomenal combination. This was on the schedule to be produced in 2020-2021 for my first season. I am thrilled that this show, which brings together one of my favorite novels, one of my favorite rock idols, and lots of local Milwaukee talent will finally be on the Cabot Theatre stage for what will be my inaugural Skylight season.”

DeYoung said, “Over the years I have been fortunate enough to have some success in writing songs but the ones I have written for this show I love as much or more than any I’ve ever done. Years ago, Michael and I met outside Steppenwolf Theatre and became fast friends. He has always been a fan of my version of the Hunchback and he vowed that, should he ever be the artistic director of a theater, we would do the show. Skylight – that’s you.”

That pledge comes to fruition May 20 – June 12, 2022, with the Wisconsin premiere of a newly revised version of DeYoung’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. A 2008 production won the Jeff Award for Best Midsize Musical when it was presented at Chicago’s Bailiwick Theatre.

Skylight’s production features Broadway star Robert Cuccioli in the role of Claude Frollo, the archdeacon who takes in the hunchback after he is left on the steps of Notre Dame as an infant. Cuccioli received a Tony Award nomination for his leading role in Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde. The title role of Quasimodo will be played by international opera and pop singing sensation Ben Gulley.

2021-2022 Skylight Music Theatre Season

Schedule and artists subject to change. Health and safety protocols may be revised pending updated government and CDC guidelines. Skylight offers a risk-free guarantee to exchange, credit, or refund tickets for any canceled performances.

Skylight Premiere

THE FULL MONTY

Sept. 24 – Oct. 17, 2021

Book by Terrence McNally

Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek

Directed and choreographed by James Gray

Based on the 1997 film

This hilarious, smash Broadway hit was nominated for ten Tony Awards. An unlikely band of out-of-work steelworkers decide to turn their lives around by baring it all for the greater good. Full of heart, irresistible humor and toe-tapping pizzazz, The Full Monty leads up to one of the most anticipated final moments in Broadway history!

This production contains adult themes, language, and very brief nudity.

Recommended for ages 15 and up.

“Genuinely uplifting!” - Broadway World

 

Skylight Revival

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

Nov. 19, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022

Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman

Music by Alan Menken

Directed by Michael Unger

Choreographed by Gerry McIntyre (Original Broadway cast member Once on This Island)

Based on the film by Roger Corman, screenplay by Charles Griffith

Little Shop of Horrors is a worldwide phenomenon, devouring the hearts of theatregoers for over 30 years. In this disarmingly funny and quirky love story, our hapless hero journeys from obscurity to fame and fortune, unwittingly allowing an opportunistic plant to grow from innocent little flytrap to unstoppable carnivorous force.

Recommended for ages 8 and up.

"Leaves the audience... feeling just like Audrey II between victims – ravenous for more" – The New York Times

Sponsored by Private Asset Management – Baird

 

Regional Premiere

ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME

Jan. 14-30, 2022

Book by Joe DiPietro

Lyrics by Val Vigoda

Music by Brendan Milburn

Directed by Jill Anna Ponasik (Director Skylight’s Oklahoma! and Carmina Burana)

This 2017 Off­-Broadway hit crisscrosses continents and time in an improbable and enchanting love story. With astounding ingenuity, modern music, and cutting-edge video, this wildly inventive musical is a romantic ride linking a struggling modern-day, single-mom composer/violinist and the early-1900’s, intrepid, banjo-playing, Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton. From the author of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

Recommended for ages 12 and up.

“An epic musical adventure!” - TimeOut New York

 

Skylight Premiere

RAISIN

Feb. 11-27, 2022

Music by Judd Woldin

Lyrics by Robert Brittan

Book by Robert Nemiroff­ and Charlotte Zaltzberg

Directed and choreographed by Kenneth L. Roberson (Original choreographer Avenue Q and All Shook Up on Broadway)

Based on the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.

With a terrific Grammy-winning score that combines jazz, gospel and 70’s soul, this powerful, uplifting musical adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun won the 1974 Tony Award for Best Musical. Set in Chicago in 1951, it follows the struggles of a Chicago family, the first African Americans to buy a house in the all-white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. Ambition nearly rips the family apart as Raisin travels from jubilation to heartbreak to ultimate triumph, while reaching for a piece of the American Dream.

Recommended for ages 10 and up

“A warm and loving work!” – The New York Times

Sponsored by Jan Serr & John Shannon

 

Milwaukee Premiere

Dennis DeYoung’s

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

May 20 – June 12, 2022

By Dennis DeYoung

Directed by Michael Unger

Featuring Robert Cuccioli (Tony Award-nominated Best Actor, Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway) and international opera and pop singer Ben Gulley

Adapted from the novel by Victor Hugo

Like no Hunchback you’ve seen before, this epic and romantic tale of love, lust and obsession is penned by Dennis DeYoung, lead singer/songwriter of the legendary rock band Styx. Its soaring pop score explores the beauty, hypocrisy, and tragedy of Hugo’s epic masterpiece with monumental power and scope.

Recommended for ages 12 and up.

“A thrilling stage extravaganza!” - Variety

 

SUBSCRIBER ADD-ONS

While not part of a subscription package, subscribers have the first opportunity to purchase tickets for the following at subscriber prices before they go on sale to the general public.

MKE MaKEs Premieres

BIPOC NEW MUSICAL WORKS FESTIVAL

Staged Concert Readings

May 6-8, 2022

These readings of never-before-produced musicals by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) writers and composers from across the country were selected from submissions to the MKE MaKEs New Musical Works series. Skylight will present the finalists in concert readings on May 6-8, 2022.

Skylight Music Theatre Celebrates 62nd Season in 2021-2022

Skylight’s 2021-2022 subscription season opens in the fall with the hilarious Broadway smash The Full Monty (Sept. 24 – Oct. 17, 2021). For the holidays, Skylight presents worldwide phenomenon Little Shop of Horrors (Nov. 19, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022). In 2022, Skylight brings the enchanting and quirky Off-Broadway hit Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (Jan. 14-30, 2022). In February, Skylight presents Raisin, a musical based on the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (Feb. 11-27, 2022). Closing the season will be Dennis DeYoung’s adapted musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (May 20 – June 12, 2022). In addition to the five mainstage shows, Skylight will offer staged readings from the BIPOC New Works Festival, with selections chosen from submissions of writing teams in which at least one author and/or composer is a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artist. (May 6-8, 2022).

2021-2022 Guests Artist Biographies

Robert Cuccioli has performed in over 150 stage productions during his 40-year career. Critically acclaimed for his work in the classics and contemporary plays as well as musicals, some highlights include on Broadway: Jekyll & Hyde (Tony nomination, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award), Les Misérables, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. Off-Broadway: A Touch of the Poet, Caesar & Cleopatra, And The World Goes ‘Round (O.C.C. Award), Rothschild and Sons (Offie nomination – London) and Jacques Brel.

Dennis DeYoung is a founding member of the legendary rock band Styx, which has sold 30 million records worldwide. Dennis has penned eight top-ten singles in America, including “Come Sail Away,” “Lady,” “Mr. Roboto,” “Desert Moon,” and “Show Me the Way.” He starred in the 20th anniversary tour of Jesus Christ Superstar for which he received a Joseph Jefferson nomination for best supporting actor. His Hunchback also won a Joseph Jefferson award for best musical in 2009.

James Gray staged the Emmy Award-winning Mel Brooks – The AFI Lifetime Achievement Award and choreographed Humor Me starring Elliot Gould. Gray directed and choreographed Peg O’ My Heart, the Musical, and choreographed for NYC principal ballet dancer Tiler Peck; a K-POP song for Madam Secretary (CBS); and Lin Manuel Miranda on Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO). Gray is the longtime associate director/choreographer to Broadway’s Susan Stroman, working on Mel Brooks’ The Producers and Young Frankenstein; Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway; Harold Prince’s Prince of Broadway; and more.

Ben Gulley has won awards and competitions throughout the nation for his singular blend of talents as an operatic tenor (Metropolitan Opera’s National Council District & Regional Competition, Richard Tucker Foundation, Gerda Lissner Foundation) and as a crossover artist. Performances include his Carnegie Hall debut with The American Symphony, Rodolfo in La Bohème at Opera Orlando and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Opera Idaho. Gulley has appeared in concerts with David Foster, Natalie Cole, Blues Traveler, Opera Steamboat, Grand Rapids Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, and Sarasota Opera, among others.

Gerry McIntyre won widespread acclaim for his most recent choreographic credit: the Berkshire Theatre Group's production of Godspell -- sold out, twice-extended, with rave reviews. He was recently made Associate Artistic Director of the York Theatre. He has choreographed for Off Broadway, in London, and in regional theatres, as well as for TV and film. As a performer, Broadway shows include Once On This IslandUptown It’s HotAnything GoesChicago, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, also appearing in the film.

Jill Anna Ponasik is Producing Artistic Director of Milwaukee Opera Theatre (MOT). Select past productions include: Ruddigore (Skylight Music Theatre), Carmina Burana (MOT/Skylight Music Theatre/Chant Claire Chamber Choir/Danceworks Performance Company), Zie Magic Flute (MOT/Quasimondo Physical Theatre), Doc Danger and the Danger Squad (MOT), Svadba (MOT/Wild Space Dance Company), The Tales of Hoffmann (MOT/ Skylight Music Theatre), A Chorus Line (MOT/Theater RED), Handel’s Bestiary (MOT/Danceworks Performance Company/Lynden Sculpture Garden), The Kreutzer Sonata (Renaissance Theatreworks), among others.

Kenneth L. Roberson is a veteran director/choreographer. On Broadway he choreographed the Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Avenue Q, and All Shook Up. Other NYC credits; A Boy and His Soul, George C. Wolfe’s Harlem Song, and Wycliff Gordon’s Jazz a La Carte. Director credits: Nina Simone: Four Women Lettin’ the Good Times Roll, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

Michael Unger joined Skylight as Artistic Director in 2019. Unger is also the Producing Artistic Director of NewArts in Newtown, CT, created in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. He was Associate Artistic Director of Off-Broadway’s York Theatre. Unger has directed benefit concerts featuring Susan Stroman and Andre DeShields, as well as for the Sandy Hook and Parkland communities. World premieres include Spelling Bee, Caligula, and A ROCKIN’ Midsummer Night’s Dream, featured in the documentary, Midsummer in Newtown.

Performance Information

Skylight performances are in the Cabot Theatre in the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee, Wis.

Tickets & Box Office

Subscriptions are on sale now. Subscribers get the best seats at the best prices. Subscriptions can be purchased through the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office (414) 291-7800, Monday – Friday, from noon - 6 p.m. or by emailing tickets@skylightmusictheatre.org. Check for updates at www.skylightmusictheatre.org/subscribe

Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. Email EmilyF@skylightmusictheare.org for more information.

For ticket discounts and more information, sign up for Skylight’s email newsletter at www.skylightmusictheatre.org or call the Box Office (414) 291-7800.

Health & Safety Protocols

Skylight Music Theatre follows local government, CDC and State of Wisconsin guidelines in consultation with area doctors. Protocols are subject to change and may be revised pending updates. Skylight requests masks for those who are not vaccinated and encourages anyone who feels safer wearing a mask to do so. For the most up-to-date protocols, please visit our website at www.skylightmusictheatre.org/health.

Parking Vouchers

Purchase discounted parking vouchers from the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office for use in the Historic Third Ward parking garage at 212 N. Milwaukee Street (one block east and one block north). Vouchers can be purchased for $5 during normal Box Office hours. Vouchers are valid starting at 5 p.m. for evening performances and from 12-5 p.m. for Saturday and Sunday matinees. Not valid for Wednesday matinees. Voucher sales are not available during intermission.

About Skylight Music Theatre

Skylight Music Theatre marks its 62nd season in 2021-2022. Skylight is Milwaukee’s professional music theatre company, producing the full spectrum of music theatre ranging from blockbuster Broadway musicals to reimagined operas, and from exciting world premieres to contemporary off-Broadway hits. Skylight’s home is the 350-seat Cabot Theatre, modeled after an 18th century French opera house. It is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful theatres in Milwaukee. With just 350 seats everyone has a great view and feels close to the powerful emotions on stage. 


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