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Local Theatre Group Brings Back the 1940's

Fundraising Event Salutes WWII Shows for the Troops

The Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre’s third annual theme dinner will be held Thursday, August 11 at the WRCT auditorium in the Centralia Center. This year’s theme is “1940s Canteen,” and features a WWII salute to the troops. “It’s the 75th anniversary of Bob Hope’s first performance before the troops,” said Event Chair Amanda Meidl, “and we wanted to pay homage to his spirit and that of The Greatest Generation.” Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and guests will be treated to a scrumptious dinner created by Great Expectations. Other events include pre-show entertainment and fun after dinner with show to follow. “Peter Greyy is coming all the way from Seattle to emcee as Bob Crosby, assisted by our very own former Broadway performer, Joel Goodness as Bing Hope. It’s the first time these two will perform together, and I can’t wait to see it.”

Other entertainers include Ken Pelo, Amanda Meidl, the Lake Arrowhead Chorus, Two Left Feet, David Farmbrough, Michelle Newman, Lori Thompson, Maggie Dickinson, and the Sam Andrews Sisters – Julie Stoffel, Jill Joosten-Russell, Ann Hartley, and Melanie Kozlowski. The National Guard will present the colors, and Creepers Car Club will have period cars on display. “The evening will be so much fun,” says Amanda, “you can come in costume or not, but the important thing is to enjoy the celebration – laugh, sing along, buy some raffle tickets, eat some fantastic food, and contribute to a great cause at the same time.” Proceeds will go to support Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre programming. Tickets are $40 and include dinner and entertainment.

Bob Hope has been quoted as saying, “I’ve always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there.” The WRCT 3rd Annual Theme Dinner is a great place to steer yourself on August 11. Call for reservations at 715-421-0435.

For more information on this news release, please contact Ellen Roeseler, Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre Executive Director at 715-421-0425 or edwrct@wctc.net.


Jensen Center Hosts Love Letters on February 6

As a prelude to the upcoming Valentine’s Day, the Lettie W. Jensen Community Center is hosting Love Letters on Saturday, February 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Center’s theater. The play is presented by veteran members of the Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater (WRCT), Jody Steinke and Michael Barrett and is under the direction of Cathy Meils, WRCT Director.

The play has been in near constant production in the U.S. and around the world since it first opened on Broadway in 1989. Written by notable playwright A.R. Gurney, the play is designed as a series of letters written over the span of 50 years by two childhood friends, following them through each important stage of their lives. The author requires that the play be read (not memorized) and be staged with two actors sitting onstage. The simplicity of the production, the richness of the characters, and the beauty of the play have attracted actors and audience alike such as; William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Christopher Walken, Robert Wagner, Carol Burnett, Jeff Daniels, James Earl Jones, Alan Alda, Hal Linden, and Candice Bergen to name a few.

First performed by WRCT in 2015, it earned rave review, doses of laughter and a few tears. Excited to mount a second production, the comfort and location of the Jensen Center Theater allows them to reach an even wider audience. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors/students and group rates are available. They may be purchased on-line at www.jensencenter.com, or by calling or stopping in at the Jensen Center during office hours (Mon-Thr 8-4:30, Fri 8-noon) 715-824-5202.


Wisconsin Humanities Council Supports Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre Chekhov Play Reading Workshop

WRCT will offer a series of five lectures and play readings of the five full-length plays by Anton Chekhov

The Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre has received a $2,000 grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council for their 40th anniversary event “Sundays Afternoons with Anton”, a five-part play reading workshop taking place January 10 – April 10, 2016, in Wisconsin Rapids. The series will serve to educate both participants and audiences, with lectures providing historical, social, political and critical information on the times, life, and work of Russian author Anton Chekhov who transformed dramatic literature.

The play readings will take place on a series of five Sunday afternoons in January – April, 2016 and will be free of charge to the public. Refreshments themed to each play will be served. Each presentation will begin with a lecture focusing on a specific aspect, including Russian society, Russian history, Russian theatrical literature, Chekhov and Stanislavski, and Chekhov’s life. The series is presented as a companion piece to a production of the Tony-award winning play, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” to be presented by WRCT in May 2016.

“Anton Chekhov was a seminal figure in the emergence of modern theatre,” says Cathy Meils, Workshop Director, “Chekhov’s works exemplify the idea of the Slavic soul, and hee found his counterpart in the actor/director Konstantin Stanislavski (the Stanislavski Method), who literally transformed acting into a style he described as spiritual realism.” The workshops and plays are scheduled as follows. All will be on Sunday afternoons from 1-4, and all are free to the public. January 10 – “Ivanov,” January 31 – “Uncle Vanya,” February 28 – “The Seagull,” April 3 – “Three Sisters,” and April 10 – “The Cherry Orchard.” The workshop will be held in the Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre auditorium in Wisconsin Rapids.

“Receiving the support and endorsement of the Wisconsin Humanities Council allows us to offer this program free of charge to the public,” said Ellen Roeseler, WRCT Executive Director. “Anyone who appreciates theatre today pays homage to the work of Chekhov and Stanislavski. Providing this historical backdrop is an opportunity we are proud to be able to offer thanks to their support.”

For more information, see the WRCT website at wrctheatre.org or contact the WRCT office at 715-421-0435. For more information on this news release, please contact Ellen Roeseler, Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre Executive Director at 715-421-0425 or edwrct@wc tc.net.

The Wisconsin Humanities Council is a leading statewide resource for librarians, teachers, museum educators and civic leaders, who drive entertaining and informative programs using history, culture and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone. The Wisconsin Humanities Council also awards more than $175,000 a year over seven rounds of grants to local organizations piloting humanities programming. For more information on Wisconsin Humanities Council, visit http://wisconsinhumanities.org or connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WisconsinHumanities Council or Twitter at @WiHumanities.


U.S. Bank Foundation Supports ARTi Gras Festival

Grant Brings Theatre, History, Music, and Poetry to Winter Arts and Culture Festival

The arts and culture festival ARTi Gras has received a $2,500 grant from the U.S. Bank Foundation for the 2016 festival taking place March 10-19, 2016, in Wisconsin Rapids. Amy Gust of U.S. Bank in Wisconsin Rapids presented the check to Cathy Meils, ARTi Gras Festival Chair and Andy Gilbert, President of Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre, the fiscal agent for ARTi Gras.

Each year, the U.S. Bank Foundation provides cash contributions to nonprofit organizations in grant priority areas of education, economic opportunity, and artistic and cultural enrichment. In 2014, the U.S. Bank Foundation provided more than $23.5 million in grant funding. “The Foundation would like to raise awareness of its charitable giving within the community,” said Wisconsin Rapids Branch Manager Amy Gust, “and we are excited to be part of the ARTi Gras 2016 festival.”

ARTi Gras is a 10-day festival of the arts taking place March 10-19 in Wisconsin Rapids and Central Wisconsin, involving collaboration with area arts and culture institutions, and headquartered at Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre. ARTi Gras covers the entire spectrum of the arts, from literary to visual to performing, and involves both guest artists – including international artists – and local artists, with a variety of programming reaching all segments of the population. The festival will expand considerably in 2016, encompassing a longer calendar schedule, more events (including its first international performers), and more venues in a wider geographical area.

“Receiving the support and endorsement of the U.S. Bank Foundation is so vital to the festival,” said Cathy Meils, ARTi Gras Festival Director. “Because of this kind of sponsorship, ARTi Gras can bring the community an exciting array of arts while keeping the cost of ticket prices low. The U.S. Bank sponsorship dollars will enable us to bring in groups from outside the area, which we could not do otherwise.”

ARTi Gras is unique to the State of Wisconsin and has already received grants from the WI Department of Tourism, the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Wisconsin Humanities Council. “The festival is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Andy Gilbert, President of Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre, “and this year’s events will be better than ever. Thank you, U.S. Bank Foundation, for helping to support our local community.”

For more information on ARTi Gras, see the WRCT website at wrctheatre.org or contact the WRCT office at 715-421-0435. For more information on the U.S. Bank Foundation, visit their website at usbank.com/community/charitable-giving.

For more information on this news release, please contact Ellen Roeseler, Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre Executive Director at 715-421-0425 or edwrct@wctc.net.


“ARTi GRAS” Festival on Track for Big Year With Tourism Grant

Tourism Secretary presents $10,000 grant to help expand popular art festival

After two successful years, Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre looks to grow its “ARTi Gras” art festival with help from a Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The 10-day event will feature a wide variety of artistic programming, including literary and visual performances and artists from around the world. The $10,000 JEM Grant will allow Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre to expand the festival’s venues, event schedule and performers.   

“ARTi Gras is a festival on the rise that celebrates the arts and shines a light on cultural organizations in Central Wisconsin,” said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “We are proud to support events like ARTi Gras that showcase the state as an arts destination and create a positive economic impact in the community.”

In fiscal 2015, the Department funded 59 Joint Effort Marketing projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million. Visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects will exceed $31 million. In 2014, the tourism economy in Wisconsin totaled $18.5 billion, a more than five percent increase from 2013. Total business sales in Wood County topped $166 million in 2014, supporting 2,166 jobs and $11 million in state and local taxes.

“We are very grateful to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism for this recognition of our young and growing festival,” said Andy Gilbert, President Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre. “The JEM grant will help us build our audiences and take the festival to the next level.”

The JEM Grant will contribute to new marketing materials including broadcast, online and print, advertising. The new campaign targets surrounding cities and larger metro areas such as Wisconsin Dells, Madison, Eau Claire, La Crosse and Green Bay. This year’s festival will include more than 20 scheduled events across Central Wisconsin as well as TV broadcasts centered on established guest artists.

JEM grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project's first-year advertising and marketing costs, and provide support for second- and third-year projects with decreasing amounts for funding until projects become self-sustaining. For information on the JEM Program and application materials, visit http://industry.travelwisconsin.com.

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the State as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at:www.travelwisconsin.com.