Calling All First Stage Alumni

In conjunction with First Stage’s 25th anniversary season, First Stage has launched its Alumni Network in an effort to reach out and connect with the growing number of past Young Performers, Theater Academy students, and other friends of First Stage.  After 25 years, we have a lot to look back on: productions, Academy classes, countless workshops and residencies in schools, and the refining and discovery of young talents. The new Alumni Network allows us and alumni from all corners of the globe to reminisce about past years, rekindle old friendships and stay in touch with one another. As much as we’re looking forward to our future, we want to show our appreciation to everyone who has been with us over these past years and helped make First Stage what we are today.

To kick off this new project, First Stage is hosting an Alumni Homecoming for past students, teachers and artists. This event promises a fun-filled evening with performances by students in our Glee Club and Organized Chaos improv group, as well as a chance to reunite old friends and former teachers. Also, we’re giving attendees the chance to relive Academy days with our honorary guests. Former teachers will be coming back for this special event to lead exercises that you may remember from your days in Academy.  There will also be opportunities throughout the night to record testimonials about your time at First Stage. Don’t miss out on this incredible night dedicated especially to you!

Save the Date!
Alumni Homecoming
Friday, December 30, 2011
6:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to join the network and “like” the Facebook page, We encourage you to share stories, photos and even videos of your time with First Stage!

We also introduce the Alumni Spotlight series, in which we will be highlighting some of our alumni, sharing their past and current experiences.
In today’s spotlight, we have actor and composer, Brett Ryback.

Muskego native Brett Ryback began his theatrical career with First Stage when he was just 5 years old. Since then, he has become an accomplished actor, composer and award-winning playwright. He recently returned to First Stage as the musical director for SEUSSICAL, working alongside director Tony Clements, who was incidentally the music director when Ryback performed in the 1995 production of CADDIE WOODLAWN. Clements notes that, "He's not just a music director to this production. He's a great collaborator. For the cast and for me. I knew Brett would come in with a point of view and a good eye. There have been numerous times throughout this process that I've relied on him (and Jessica Redish, our choreographer) for things far beyond singing and dancing."
Other First Stage productions that Ryback performed in back in the 90s include TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH.

Ryback’s repertoire has seemingly increased since First Stage. In California, Ryback had the opportunity to act in world premieres of IMAGINE AND DR. CERBERUS for Orange County’s South Coast Repertory, as well as appear in television series such as “House” and “How I Met Your Mother.” He has also contributed extensively to the musical theater scene with Liberty Inn (Ovation Award nominations Best Book, Best Music/Lyrics), Weïrd (Winner, Tennessee Williams One-Act Competition), and A Roz By Any Other Name (Winner, Henrico County Theatre, Virginia, One-Act Competition).

In February, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Skylight Opera Theatre will collaborate on a reading of Ryback’s musical, THE TAVERN KEEPER’S DAUGHTER. The musical is based on the story of his grandparents whom he describes as “two Polish kids from Milwaukee in the 1940s,” as quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A cabaret of Ryback’s works will also play at Skylight Opera Theatre this coming March through April.

Read the Journal Sentinel’s piece about Ryback’s return to First Stage as the Musical Director for SEUSSICAL here.

Stay tuned for more Alumni Spotlights!

Written by: Jillian Toyad

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