Next Act Theatre

Tantalizing Tidbits from Milwaukee's Arts Scene

December, 2019

Many small local theater companies rely on the commitment, talent and passion of their cast and crew, rather than jaw-dropping sets and choreography, in order to make their productions succeed. Next Act Theatre and Renaissance Theaterworks are not afraid to tackle challenging theater works and make them accessible to audiences.


Next Act Theatre


Since 1990, Next Act Theatre has delivered quality productions focusing on domestic and socially relevant issues in a cozy, intimate setting.

 Many Next Act productions, including “A Small Fire,” which runs Jan. 30-Feb. 23, have a cast of less than ten, and about half a dozen dedicated members of its creative team. 2019 marks the 28th season for producing artistic director David Cecsarini, who has directed over 40 Next Act productions to date.

 Written by Adam Bock, the quietly powerful domestic drama “A Small Fire” tells the story of successful business professional Emily, who gradually loses her sense of smell, taste and sight. Independent to a fault, Emily discovers that she must rely on her husband, John, whom she hasn’t treated very well in the past. John must then decide if he can continue to take on the monumental task of caring for his increasingly ailing wife. The play features Mary MacDonald Kerr in the role of Emily and Mark Corkins as Billy.



Laura Gordon in Renaissance's production of Lettice & Lovage. Photography by Ross E Zentner.

Renaissance Theaterworks


For 27 seasons, Renaissance Theaterworks has been dedicated to promoting the work of women onstage and off.

 From Jan. 24-Feb. 16, Renaissance will present Nobel-Prize Winner Irish author Samuel Beckett's existential drama, “Happy Days.” Peppered with absurd humor and questions about the meaning of life, the play will feature veteran Milwaukee actors Laura Gordon in the role of Winnie and Todd Denning in the role of Willie. Often referred to as “the Hamlet for actresses,” Winnie is a mountain of a role, both physically and emotionally – the consummate role for Laura Gordon.

 Few local actors are more familiar to audiences than Gordon, who has performed with the Milwaukee Rep for an impressive 26 seasons, has appeared in more than 85 productions, and directed a number of plays, starting her directing career at Renaissance.

 Starting in the 2020-21 season, Renaissance will begin performing at the Next Act Theatre, as a resident company.