10:33 AM
by: Kelsey Lauren

Acclaimed as a modern dramatic masterpiece, ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD  is the fabulously inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the worm’s-eye view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s play.

Director Matt Daniels is an actor, director, educator, and coach. As an actor, Matt has appeared in various media, including award-winning independent films, on television, and on many stages in New York and regionally. Local audiences may recognize him from stints at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, In Tandem Theatre, First Stage, Lake Geneva Theater Company and the late Milwaukee Shakespeare. Matt is a co-founder of goats & monkeys in Milwaukee, and Tyrannosaurus rep in New York City, for which he also served as artistic director. Locally, his directing work has been seen at goats & monkeys, Sunset Playhouse, First Stage Theater Academy, Broadway Baby, and various Milwaukee area high schools. In addition to First Stage, Matt has taught for Act One Studios (Chicago), The Actors Institute (NYC) and Milwaukee Shakespeare. He coaches voice and acting privately, and is an independent teaching artist of Shakespeare in local schools. Matt is a graduate of the Juilliard School Drama Division.

The cast of ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD includes Garrett Hanson (as Player) from Bayside; Maura Atwood (as Tragedian) from Brookfield; Casey Kitzman (as Soldier) from Cudahy; Elise Coorough (as Alfred), Kate Futoransky (as Tragedian), and Garrett Kim (as Hamlet) from Hartland; Matt Rudd (as Ambassador) from Menomonee Falls; Carly Black (as Ophelia), Cassidy Buenz (as Tragedian), and Kelly Venable (as Gertrude) from Mequon;  Eric Schabla (as Guildenstern) and Corwin Weeks (as Polonius) from Milwaukee; Max Mainwood (as Tragedian) and Christian Wimmer (as Horatio) from New Berlin; Sebastian Weigman (as Claudius) from Oconomowoc; and Laura Troshynski (as Rosencrantz) from Whitefish Bay.

Maura Atwood,
Cassidy Buenz, Kate Futoransky, Eric Schabla, Kelly Venable, Corwin Weeks chatted with a us so we could find out what it is like to rehearse and perform on the Main Stage at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.

First Stage: How long have you been performing?
Atwood: I have been performing for about seven years
Buenz: I have been performing on stage for about 10 years now, but there is footage of me somewhere dressing up as Cinderella and singing the Disney songs!
Futoransky: I have been performing since 3rd grade, so about 7 years.
Schabla: 10 years or so. On and off professionally for the last five of those ten.
Venable: I have been performing seriously for three years.
Weeks: I've was in my first show 3 years ago (8th grade) and this is my 6th show since then. I love it.

First Stage: What other shows have you been involved with at First Stage?
Atwood: I was in The Thief Lord, Peter Pan and Wendy, and The Magic Bicycle at First Stage, and in A Winter's Tale with Young Company. This is my first year doing Young Company, and I LOVE it.
Buenz: I was involved with the Young Company musical Into the Woods earlier this year, but other than that, I am still a fairly new actor here.
Schabla: The world premier of Gossamer with First Stage proper. Other Young Company credits include INHERIT THE WIND (Reverend Brown), OTHELLO (Soldier, et al..), DANCING AT LUGHNASA (Michael Evans), A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Oberon, Theseus), THE DIVINERS (Basil Bennett), JULIUS CAESAR (Marcus Brutus), LITTLE WOMEN (Professor Bhaer), AN EVENING OF YOUNG COMPANY SHORTS (Merriman, The Poet, Northumberland, et al..)
Futoransky: I have been in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, Into the Woods and The Winter’s Tale.
Venable: I was in The Wiz, Julius Ceasar, The Winter’s Tale, Carnival, and WorkingWeeks: I was in the mainstage production of Peter Pan and Wendy, the company class performance of The Mouse That Roared last summer, and with Young Company I was in Winter's Tale in March.

First Stage: What is your favorite part about First Stage?
Atwood: My favorite thing about First Stage is their perfect blend of encouragement and professionalism, and the people.
Buenz: My favorite part about First Stage is the acceptance. Being in high school isn't always the most fun thing, but knowing I have here to look forward to makes it all worthwhile. The people you meet here are the best, and you just learn so much about not only performing, but about yourself. You gain so much self-confidence and you learn that you don't have to settle for second best people, because the best people in the world are all in one place.
Futoransky: Something I really love about first stage is how friendly and nice the people are. They really do become your best friends.
Schabla: The teachers and the relationships between students. They work together to create an environment that is highly conducive to artistic and personal development.
Venable: The fact that everyone is so nice!  It is so great to have somewhere to go where you know that even a bad day will be pretty good!
Weeks: My favorite part about First Stage is the people. Being around people who are both kind to everyone and confident inspired me to be a more confident and compassionate person. I also love seeing the passion for theater in us young performers.

First Stage: What inspires you to perform?
Atwood: Acting makes me feel alive, and I believe theater is capable of having a positive impact on people.
Buenz: What inspires me to perform is the connection. Whether it's connecting with my fellow performers, or connecting with the audience, it's such a gratifying feeling. You get such a rush from sharing a joke, shedding a tear or being really frightened, it's just incredible. In sports, you are so focused on making your coach happy, that you lose sight of the game. On stage, my goal is always to make the audience feel something, whether it is complete and utter joy, or making them think about the message of the show and what everything meant. Whether it's 2 people or 2,000, as long as I made them feel something, I have done my job.
Futoransky: Something that inspires me to perform is seeing an audience really enjoy and get into a show. I love the feeling after you are done with a show and you know you did a great job.
Schabla: Life, I believe, is essentially meaningless unless we choose to assign it meaning. Art has supplied this meaning for me. By performing and creating art in the theatre, I strive to evoke a profound empathy, reminding audiences that we have all embarked on a similar emotional, intellectual and spiritual journey by choosing to live.
Venable: The characters inspire me to perform.  Someone had the idea to see these charaters come to life, and I feel the excitement of the character when they are finally brought to life and are able to be more than words on a page.
Weeks: I think I mostly inspire myself to perform. Being able to show off something that I am extremely proud of is something that can't be matched. 

The Young Company is the advanced, college-level actor training program at First Stage Theater Academy.  Young Company students complete coursework led by First Stage’s John Maclay, Todd Denning, Matt Daniels and Karl Miller as well as special guest artists.  Young Company produces three shows a year.

Performances for ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD are Friday, May 4 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 5 at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.

Advanced tickets are available now. Tickets are available at First Stage Academy Office at or (414) 267-2970. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Seating is general admission. This production will be performed in Main Stage Hall at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, 325 W. Walnut St., Milwaukee

For more information about Young Company, contact John Maclay at or Patrick Schley at (414) 267-2970 or

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