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2016-17 Season: Furlan Auditiorium Productions


Sunset Playhouse recently held our 2016-17 Season Preview Party where we announced eight productions to be offered as part of its 2016-17 Furlan Auditorium Season, including hilarious comedies, edgy dramas, intriguing mysteries, and Broadway musicals.

TFurlan-productions-2016 -17he Furlan season begins in September with MOON OVER BUFFALO (directed by Michael Pocaro), a comical look at a couple of over-the-hill actors trying to keep their marriage and their ragtag touring company afloat. October will bring FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (directed by Diana Alioto), the beloved musical story of Tevye, Golde , their five daughters, and the colorful community of Anatevka. In December, THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER (directed by Michael Pocaro) launches the holidays with a couple struggling to mount the annual church pageant while forced to cast a family of raucous, misbehaving bullies.

YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (directed by Brian Zelinski), a classic screwball comedy in which everything that can go wrong absolutely does, kicks off the new year. March will find us in that LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (directed by Tommy Lueck), with its meek floral assistant, Seymour Krelborn, stumbling across a new breed of plant which can only survive on human blood. Then we’ll meet five southern women, whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team. A heartwarming story of love and laughter, THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB will be directed by Dustin Martin.

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (directed by Carol Dolphin), is the mystery that keeps on giving as eight dinner party guests meet their demise one by one. The Furlan 2016-17 season wraps up in a big, boisterous way with the musical HELLO, DOLLY! (directed by Tom Weissgerber). This turn-of-the-century New York City story of matchmaker Dolly Levi, features a memorable, Tony-Award winning Jerry Herman score.

MOON OVER BUFFALO – September 8-25, 2016

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF – October 13 – November 6, 2016


YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU – January 19 – February 4, 2017

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS – March 2-19, 2017

THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB – April 20 – May 7, 2017

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE – June 1-18, 2017

HELLO, DOLLY! – July 13 – August 6, 2017


Season tickets for the 2016-17 season at Sunset Playhouse are now on sale, both Full Package and the Pick & Choose Flexible Package. Individual tickets will go on sale July 5, 2016.

MRS. FUN To Appear at Sunset!








February 18-20, 2016

MRS. FUN, a multi-talented duo comprised of keyboardist/vocalist CONNIE GRAUER and percussionist KIM ZICK, will present four performances for the SideNotes Cabaret Series at Sunset Playhouse, February 18-20, 2016. Combining a unique blend of jazz, funk, and spoken word, this acclaimed duo creates a sophisticated, complex, and adventurous style of music that has pleased audiences and reviewers alike.

Although Grauer and Zick are natives of Waukesha, Wisconsin (hometown of the legendary Les Paul) and attended the same high school, they had only a passing acquaintance until years later when Zick was putting together a band and needed a keyboard player. She got in touch with Grauer and the duo has been gathering awards ever since. MRS. FUN has been consistently praised for flawless musicianship and dynamic stage presence.

After relocating to Nashville, Grauer and Zick attracted the attention of many music industry leaders. During their time there, MRS. FUN performed and recorded with k.d. lang, Indigo Girls, and Janis Ian, among others. They also created several albums of their own, collaborating with renowned producers such as Jim Rooney and Victor DeLorenzo.

MRS. FUN continued to receive accolades, rave reviews, and awards after their return to Milwaukee. Voted ‘Best Contemporary Jazz Group’ by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) for three consecutive years, Grauer and Zick also have received WAMI awards for Best Instrumentalists on keyboard and drums. Grauer also has been awarded WAMI’s Best Female Vocalist and Best Stage Entertainer.

A busy touring schedule includes festivals and concert halls throughout the United States and Canada. MRS. FUN has shared the stage with Billy Cobham, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Arlo Guthrie, Violent Femmes, and many other notables. In addition, they are annual headliners at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, and have appeared on Wisconsin Public Television and for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Performances are Thursday, February 18 at 8:00 p.m., Friday, February 19 at 8:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 20 at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. Sunset Playhouse, 800 Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove, WI.

To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit Use code FUN and receive $5 off our adult priced tickets.

Sunset Rummage Sale Coming Soon

Rummaging Around

It was with great anticipation that I went to a recent rummage sale at a very well-known theater here in the Milwaukee area. The chance to go backstage and see what sorts of costume and props treasures were available was so exciting that I planned my weekend around the sale. The chance of a lifetime, I figured. The long line of people waiting to get into the sale only heightened my excitement. This was going to be good! To my disappointment, however, the items with which the theater chose to part were less than breathtaking. One sad rack of costumes, several tables of mostly useless props…how utterly disappointing.

I would have gotten a great deal more satisfaction out of staying home and mowing the lawn.

While it would be amazing to have the resources (and budget) available to constantly buy new things, designers do their best to re-purpose as much as possible. I suppose that even larger theaters are under budget constraints and hold tightly to much of what they own, so it should have not come as a surprise that the pickings at the rummage sale were slim. But it never fails that every show will require the acquisition of at least a few new costumes or props, and every theater has a limited amount of storage space to hold all the many, many pieces it owns.

Volunteers here at Sunset all have the privilege of getting a backstage tour, where they can see just how crammed full of treasures our own storage areas tend to be. Between the small and large props storage areas, the costume loft, the costume shop and all sorts of nooks and crannies where things are kept, we are constantly looking for creative ways to organize and store the great trove of pieces we own. Our closets are bursting at the seams and it’s getting tough to figure out where to store anything new.

So, with that in mind, we are starting to get ready to host our own rummage sale sometime this summer. It’s time to clean out our stock of “stuff”….and we are betting on the fact that you are going to find some great treasures when we do. Not just one sad rack of costumes and a couple of tables of props, but all sorts of things that we simply can’t keep.

We can’t say just yet what will be available, but we can promise that you will have a good time searching through our treasures and will hopefully find a piece or two that belongs at your house. Perhaps it’s a costume you recognize from a show you’ve seen, or a prop for which you can find a brand new use….maybe even some furniture that your college-bound kids could use in their new apartments. Won’t it be fun to say that you own a little piece of Sunset?

No matter what, we hope to guarantee that it will certainly be more fun than mowing your lawn!

(Keep an eye out for information about the sale. It will be this summer, that much is certain, but the dates and times are yet to be determined.)

Only Four Actors. But HOW Many Different Costumes?????

Only Four Actors. But HOW Many Different Costumes?????

Joanne Cunningham, Costume Designer

It should come as no surprise that to design costumes for a large musical takes a great deal of time. With 30+ people in a cast, and with each person probably requiring multiple costumes, a costume designer’s organizational skills are really put to the test when the upcoming show is a large one.

This is why it is a nice break to occasionally do a small show, one with only a few actors. After all, how hard can it be to costume just a handful of people?

Well….sometimes it’s not all that easy, especially when those few actors are playing a dizzying number of roles. Such is the case in Sunset Playhouse’s upcoming production, 39 STEPS.

When I offered to design this play, I assumed that having only four actors to costume would be a breeze, especially since lately I have been doing exceedingly large and complicated shows. Let’s just say that my assumptions were slightly incorrect. Between these four tremendously talented actors, no fewer than 28 different people are portrayed…and each one needs to be costumed in such a way that the audience will be able to differentiate between them and recognize them each time they appear on stage.

Many of the character and costumes changes are exceedingly quick and happen on stage, so some costumes need to be rigged for easy on/easy off changes. Do you really think that jacket is buttoned? If I’ve done my job well, it will appear so. The reality, of course, is that I am giving my utmost thanks to the inventor of Velcro, a costume designer’s greatest tool. It comes in mighty handy in a show such as this one!

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In order to make sure the actors know which costumes to wear at which times, designers usually prepare a costume plot. This is a scene-by-scene listing of who is on stage and what, exactly, they should be wearing. Costume plots often resemble large spreadsheets. An actor can follow his or her costume changes across the page, using this as a roadmap to make sure that all needed pieces are pre-set in places where they can be easily accessed during the play. In ONE memorable scene in 39 STEPS, two of the actors change roles more than a dozen times. Needless to say, that’s one complicated costume plot!

Be sure to make a date to come and see THE 39 STEPS and see if you can keep track of all the costume changes. I’m certainly hoping that the actors will manage to remember what they are wearing when!



Ryan Capplemann aka Ryan Capp will present his one-man show CAPPS OFF TO HOLLYWOOD at Sunset Playhouse this week – April 9 – 11th.

Ryan is well known to Milwaukee theater audiences as he has performed in many shows around town and has become one of the go-to choreographers here in Milwaukee as well.  Triple-threat RYAN CAPP sings, dances, and acts his way through a cabaret performance dedicated to the great song and dance routines of the movies. Ryan will bring vitality and dynamic energy to this presentation as he honors the artistry of famous dancers such as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Tommy Tune, Ray Bolger, Jimmy Cagney, Sammy Davis Jr., and many, many more!

Ryan and music director Adam Baus will have you tapping your toes and wanting to do a time step.

There are four performances of CAPPS OFF TO HOLLYWOOD: Thursday, April 9th at 7:30, Friday, April 10th at 8:00 and Saturday, April 11th at 3:00 and 8:00. Tickets are $20 each and are available by calling our box office at 262-782-4430 or may be purchased on our website:

CAPPS OFF TO HOLLYWOOD is the final show in our successful SideNotes Cabaret Series. These shows are performed in the Studio Theatre and feature table seating. Don’t miss this great show. Ryan Capplemann is a must see!

Are you a Rising Star?

Sunset Playhouse is heading in to our 56th season of providing quality entertainment. What many people don’t know is that Sunset is also home to three professional series, including Musical Mainstage. Six times a year, these popular concerts revolve around a theme-everything from the Beatles to Gershwin and feature four professional singers, several accomplished musicians, and one ‘Rising Star’, a promising high school singer, in a 90-minute production.

Musical MainStage will hold auditions for next season’s performers on Saturday, April 18th from 9:00-3:00. In addition to our adult singers, we are looking for our next Rising Stars. The commitment for our Rising Stars is very limited-only four rehearsals, two performance days-and we use music stands so even memorization of the pieces isn’t a big issue. That means the time away from school work and activities is minimal. There are six concerts each season so we’ll be selecting six Rising Stars. In the past, several of our students have also been awarded small college scholarships after their Sunset participation. If you will be in high school during 2015-16, why not audition to be one of the Rising Stars?

We think this is a wonderful opportunity for young people to work alongside experienced performers in a professional environment.

You can find additional information about the auditions – just click here and go to our auditions page.

Meet the cast of THE NERD

Meet The Cast
(in order of appearance)
Zach Zembrowski (Willum Cubbert) – Zach is beyond excited to return to the Sunset stage. Favorite roles include Albert Soady Jr. in ESCANABA IN LOVE (Sunset), David Rodingham in WRITE ME A MURDER (Waukesha Civic Theatre), and The Pirate King in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE (Storyteller Theater of Milwaukee).

Deanna Strasse (Tansy McGinnis) – Deanna is so excited to be playing Tansy again (post-high school). Favorite roles include Jean (FUNNY MONEY) at Waukesha Civic, Carol/America/Velda/et al (THE AMISH PROJECT) with The Off-Book Players, Christina (MURDER ON THE NILE) at Sunset Playhouse, and Elvira (BLITHE SPIRIT) with the Hartford Players.



Phil Stepanski (Axel Hammond) – Phil is thrilled to be back at Sunset after his recent turn as the stuttering Billy Bibbit in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. Other Playhouse credits include Cole Porter in RED, HOT, AND COLE, Moonlight in LUMBERJACKS IN LOVE, and two bug In a rug Children’s Theater productions.
Terry Gavin (Warnock Waldgrave) – Terry’s credits include MACBETH (King Duncan), DOUBT (Father Flynn), ANGELS IN AMERICA: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES and PERESTROIKA (Roy Cohn), WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (Nick), and DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Biff). In addition, he has appeared in the film BILL WILSON and recently completed filming HOUSE ARREST.

Donna Daniels (Clelia Waidgrave) – Donna has been performing on the Sunset stage for over twenty years and is thrilled to join old and new friends onstage and backstage! Her Playhouse credits include Miss Casewell in THE MOUSETRAP, Chelsea in ON GOLDEN POND, Ouisa in SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, Lucille in DEARLY DEPARTED, and Trudy in SOCIAL SECURITY.

Jonathan LaMack (Thor Waldgrave) – Thirteen years old and a Waukesha resident, Jonathan is very involved with singing and acting. Credits include OLIVER, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, and MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET.

Robin Christiansen (Rick Steadman) Performing for the first time at Sunset Playhouse, Robin is returning to the stage after a hiatus of several years. He majored in theater at Northwestern University, where his credits include Barry Champlain (TALK RADIO), Shamraev (THE SEAGULL), and the Philostrate (A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM).

One of the funniest plays ever written, THE NERD was first presented by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, then produced in Great Britain before it went on to Broadway.

The action centers on the hilarious dilemma of a young architect who is visited by a man he’s never met but who saved his life in Vietnam. The guest turns out to be an incredibly inept, hopelessly stupid “nerd” who outstays his welcome with a vengeance.

Click Here to purchase your tickets online!


Or call the box office: (262) 782-4430

February Sunset Spotlight

Are you on the Sunset mailing list? If not, now is the time to sign up. You will receive: The Sunset Spotlight, our Sunset eblasts, show announcements, ticket deals, and so much more.

Click here to join our mailing list.

Here is our February Sunset Spotlight – hope you enjoy.

A message from our Board President, Marla Eichmann

Marla Eichmann

I hope you are surviving the winter chill!! If you have cabin fever or the winter blahs, come on over to Sunset. Thanks to a generous donation, we are painting the lobby! If that doesn’t brighten your spirits, THE NERD should! Or Musical MainStage, or the comedy of Will Durst, or….. there is always so much going on–join the fun! In order to keep track of all those fun activities, check out our brand new website at! And mark your calendars now for another exciting event–our Season Preview Party on March 30th. We can’t wait to announce our new season and you will have an opportunity to purchase your season package that evening!Thank you for your continued support. Our needs are endless so if you want to volunteer or donate, we can always use your help! Most important to me is your interest in Sunset. I hope to see you at the Playhouse!!
See you at the Playhouse!
Marla Eichmann Signature
Marla Eichmann
Sunset Playhouse Board President
A message from our Artistic Director, Nancy Visintainer-Armstrong

Hello Everyone,

Will this winter ever end? Despite the snow and cold, January and February have been exciting months at the Playhouse. A big thank you to the casts, crews, and audiences who braved the weather to attend our wonderful shows: ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, Musical Mainstage’s GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADWAY, and HEART FULL OF SWING, our SideNotes sell-out show!

Now it is time to think Spring and March is going to be a very active month at the Playhouse! I’m looking forward to THE NERD opening Friday, March 12th. Directed by Brian Zelinski, this Larry Shue comedy promises an evening of non-stop laughter. Speaking of comedy, you won’t want to miss legendary comic and political satirist Will Durst on March 20th and 21st. Direct from San Francisco, BOOMERAGING promises to “reveal the meaning of life by the end of the show.”Our popular Musical MainStage series will offer a tribute to singer-songwriters like Elton John and Carole King. And to close out the month, we invite you to attend our Season Preview Party at 7 p.m. on March 30th. We’ll reveal our exciting 2015-16 season, including excerpts from the shows, and follow it all up with dessert and a cash bar in the Studio Theatre.

Stay warm, think Spring, and see you at the Playhouse!


Nancy Visintainer-Armstrong

Artistic Director

Volunteers Needed at Sunset

Volunteers needed at the Sunset Playhouse. Are you looking for a volunteer opportunity that is fun and creative? One that has flexible hours during the week and on weekends? If so, Sunset Playhouse is calling!

sunset volunteersSunset Playhouse, conveniently located near downtown Elm Grove, is searching for new volunteers who would like to get involved in all types of backstage work. It doesn’t matter if your only experience with theater is sitting and watching a play – the friendly folks at Sunset are eager to teach you all that you need to know.

The opportunities for volunteering at Sunset range from helping in the costume department to building sets, from helping out with children’s shows to running the light board, and pretty much everything in between. Sunset bases its success on the dedicated volunteers who give anywhere from a few hours a month to many hours a week in all areas of show production.


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Aside from the excitement of being involved in a play or musical from the ground up, there are other perks to volunteering at Sunset. Free tickets to shows, invitations to special social activities planned exclusively for volunteers and the camaraderie of an instant “family” are among the benefits our volunteers enjoy. Many volunteers find themselves coming back again and again once they realize just how much fun they are having.

We invite you to come and tour Sunset and discover what volunteer opportunities are awaiting you. Call Kristen Kraklow, our Volunteer Coordinator, at 262-782-4431 and schedule a tour this week! Just remember, Volunteers needed at Sunset Playhouse so please consider joining us.


Auditions for bug in a rug, THE FROG PAL

bug in a rug, the interactive theater for children is holding open auditions. Sunset Playhouse bug in a rug Children’s Theater travels to area schools and performs a 45 minute show for children aged 2 – 8. Bug in a rug is a wonderful live theater experience which offers many young children their first experience with live performance.
The audition for bug in a rug is:
Monday, February 23
7:00 pm
Sunset Playhouse
Sunset Playhouse bug in a rug children’s theater is looking for three female actors for our Spring performance of THE FROG PAL.  Sunset Playhouse bug in a rug shows are performed at local schools as well as at The Playhouse.
Actors must have their own transportation, a flexible schedule, and the love to work with kids. Rehearsals for this bug in a rug show begin in April and performances are day/evening/weekend May – July. This is a paid opportunity.
Actors do not need to prepare anything for the audition. It will be a group audition with open scenes, improvisation, and some Happy Birthday singing.
To learn more contact Erika Navin, Director of Education, We hope you will consider auditioning for our bug in the rug series. It is a wonderful program which is enjoyed by thousands of children in the Milwaukee area.





Treat yourself and a special someone to a Valentine’s Day celebration as PETE SORCE and THE SWING EXPLOSION SEXTET present a cabaret filled with memorable vocal and instrumental standards in the styles of the Rat Pack and big bands at Elm Grove’s Sunset Playhouse, February 12-14, 2015.

As part of its SideNotes Cabaret Series, Pete and the group will present four performances in the intimate and relaxed atmosphere of Sunset’s Studio Theater. The evening’s entertainment will offer timeless songs performed by a prestigious group of exceptional musicians.

PETE SORCE has performed with a “Who’s Who’ of legendary entertainers including Les Brown, Nelson Riddle, Mel Tormé, and Duke Ellington. He attended Lincoln High School where he sang with his friend, Al Jarreau, and also worked with popular rock groups Big Apple and Toll Free. THE SWING EXPLOSION SEXTET includes Jeff LaBarge (leader/arranger and saxophone), John Rose (trumpet), Dave Smith (trombone), Ben Leon (keyboard), Jeff Hoorman (bass), and Jim Ryan (drums).


Performances are Thursday, February 12 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, February 13 at 8:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 14 at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m.


Will Durst in BOOMERAGING coming to Sunset

Will Durst, will perform his comedy show BOOMERAGING at Sunset on March 20th at 8:00PM and 21st at 3:00PM & 8:00PM. (1)

You don’t have to be a baby boomer to enjoy five-time Emmy nominee Will Durst’s new one-man comic show, “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG.” In fact, from the looks of the audiences Durst has been attracting in the long-running show this year in San Francisco, everyone loves to laugh at boomers, even young folk!

A Midwestern baby boomer with a media-induced identity crisis, WILL DURST, according to the New York Times is “quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today.” This equal opportunity offender is exceptionally adept at swatting both partisan and political pinatas upside their heads.

Reigning as C-SPAN’s favorite comic (8 appearances) Durst is a 5-time Emmy nominee and recipient of 7 consecutive nominations for the American Comedy Awards Stand Up of the Year. He is the first comic invited to perform at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the first American to be nominated for the prestigious Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the show “Myth America.” He has racked up more than 400 television appearances in 14 different countries while slinging jokes areound the globe in his one man crusade to make people laugh out loud on purpose against their will.will_durst (1)

Getting old can be depressing, but Durst’s “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG” is a moral-booster for his audience. “I am not as old as my parents were when they were my age,” he quips. “This is the oldest I’ve ever been and I’m beginning to sense a pattern.”

Will Durst promises to “reveal the meaning of life by the end of the show.” Boomeraging is indeed a wonderfully uplifting show so grab your hearing aids and canes and see for yourself. You won’t be able to stop laughing.

Click here to purchase tickets or call our box office at 262-782-4430.

Will Durst’s performances are made possible by the First Amendment.

will durst 2 (1)



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