Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Jule Styne,
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Directed by John Cramer
September 16 to October 2, 2016

Read the Reviews: Waukesha Freeman, WaukeshaNOW

Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Jordan Levene

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.


John Cramer *


Jude Cramer

Kid 8 / Boy Scout / L.A. / Pastey

Kelli Cramer *

Rose Hovick

Jim Donaldson

Jocko / Weber / Goldstone /
Detroit Announcer / Minsky /
Announcer / Phil

Elle Erato

Balloon Girl / Hotel Guest / Gail /
Showgirl 4

Molly Flanagan

Kid 5 / Hotel Guest / Agnes /
Showgirl 5

Carrie Gray

Mother 3 / Gladys / Electra

Carolann Grzybowski

June Hovick

Evan Hansen

Kid 2 / Young Yonkers

Logan Jarecki

Mother 2 / Hotel Guest /
Miss Cratchitt / Mazeppa

Benjamin Johnson

Boy Scout / Tulsa

Jenny Kosek

Mother 1 / Hotel Guest /
Tessie Tura

Jaelyn Laatsch

Kid 6 / Hotel Guest / Waitress /
Marjorie May / Showgirl 3

Rich Labinski

Pop / Hotel Guest / Philadelphia
Announcer / Bougeron-Cochon

Jordan Levene

Mother 4 / Hotel Guest / Thelma /
Showgirl 2 / Renee

Noah Maguire

Conductor / Rich Man / Kringelein /

Katie McCaskey

Baby Louise Hovick

Megan Miller

Louise Hovick

Samual Piatt

Kid 1 / Young Tulsa

Julia Rady

Baby June Hovick

Santana Vannarath

Georgie / Yonkers / Cow

Alexander Vrba

Kid 9 / Boy Scout / Angie / Cow

Chance Wall

Clarence / Young L.A.

McKenna West

Mother 5 / Hotel Guest / Cow /
Dolores / Showgirl 6

Logan Wroblewski

Kid 3 / Young Angie

* The Actor appears through the courtesy of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Production Staff 

Director / Choreographer

John Cramer

Associate Director / Scenic Designer

Mark Schuster

Music Director

Anne Van Duesen

Orchestra Director

Jim Van Duesen

Stage Manager

Nicole Allee

Master Carpenter

Jeff Smerz

Costume Designer

Sharon Sohner

Associate Costume Designers

Harmonie Baker and Aleta Bernard

Sound Designer

Keith Handy

Lighting Designer

Chris Meissner

Wig Master

Anthony Mackie

Orchestra (In Alphabetical Order)


Julie Johnson


Glen Quarrie


Brian Running


Dale Smith


Jacob Sudbrink


Jim Van Duesen

Waukesha Civic's ‘Gypsy' wows with talent, music

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
September 22, 2016

WAUKESHA - "Gypsy" is a fitting choice to herald in the 60th anniversary of Waukesha Civic Theatre's inception, an accomplishment that only 100 of the 7,000-plus community theaters across the country can boast of.

The 1959 musical, based on the life of Rose Hovick and her two daughters, June and Louise, was woven together by three theater greats - Arthur Laurents (libretto), Jules Styne (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics). Many prominent stars have taken on the role of Rose - Rosalind Russell, Ethel Merman, Bernadette Peters and Bette Midler, to name a few.

But the Civic has its own shining leading lady - Kelli Cramer - who dazzles us with her voice and her acting prowess. Her husband in real life, John Cramer, takes her on as her patient agent and long-suffering almost-fourth husband. It is an unmitigated joy to see them together again on stage.

Director John Cramer with the help of Mark E. Schuster, who also designed the set, have garnered a talented cast of 28 actors, singers and dancers and six musicians and honed them into a stunning, precise musical masterpiece. Even the professionals would find some strong competition here.

Rose, the aggressive advocate for her two daughters, June and Louise, whom she was determined to shape into stars, is the epitome of the stage mother. On the one hand, it is a success story, but the downside reveals the sad tale of parents who do not respect their children's right to fashion their own lives. One wonders how many successful celebrities and athletes have been pushed to exhaustion toward achievement by a parent or coach. There is a fine line between encouragement and support and total manipulation and control. The price to pay is costly on both sides of that line.

There were many outstanding performances, probably too many to be included in one short review, but some of the standouts include the trio of boy dancers, Jude Cramer, Evan Hansen and Logan Wroblewski; Baby June (Julia Rady); Tulsa (Benjamin Johnson), an amazing dancer and singer; the three strip-tease artists, Jenny Kosek, Logan Jarecki, and Carrie Gray, who provided some comic relief; Louise (Megan Miller), who displayed a gamut of emotions and skills; and, of course, the multitalented Cramer couple, Kelli and John, who made Rose and Herbie beyond-memorable characters.

Several songs that are especially moving are "Let Me Entertain You," "Small World," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Together Wherever We Go," "If Momma Was Married" and the final number, "Rose's Turn," which stirred many of us to tears as Kelli Cramer made us feel her anguish for what might have been.

The many scene changes were executed swiftly and smoothly, the costumes (Sharon Sohner) were very reflective of the glitz of show biz, the music (Anne and Jim Van Deusen) was well calibrated with the vocalists and dancers, and the sets (Jeff Smerz and Mark E. Schuster) were varied and functional. Special mention should be made of designers Aleta Bernard and Harmonie Baker for the creative costumes they fashioned for Rose and for the Burlesque Trio.

If you only go to one musical this fall, I'd strongly recommend this one. Wow!

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2012

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'Gypsy' puts family, both real and imagined, into show business

By MARILYN JOZWIK - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
September 20, 2016

Hollywood had its Barrymores. Community theater has its Cramers.

For its opening night of "Gypsy," Waukesha Civic Theatre put on parade three talented members of the Cramer family. Most notably, Kelli Cramer played the role of Rose Hovick, the overbearing stage mother of two, including the striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee.

This is a tour de force performance, elevating the show to about as close to professional quality as community theater can get.

Playing alongside Kelli Cramer is her husband John Cramer, managing artistic director of WCT, who also directed the show with Mark Schuster's assistance. Both Kelli and John are members of the Actors Equity Association, the union representing theatrical performers. It is a rarity to have such accomplished thespians on a community theater stage.

Last spring, the Cramers' daughter, Elena, starred in "Annie Get Your Gun." After seeing her mother perform, it is evident the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree. Impressive in smaller roles in "Gypsy" was the Cramers' son, Jude.

This is a huge cast, with good performances from top to bottom, an outstanding set and lighting, and crisp, clear sound for the story and Stephen Sondheim's lyrics. Anne Van Deusen is music director.

I was thrilled to see something I've been hoping for at WCT for years – the orchestra, directed by Jim Van Deusen, was on the stage, providing up close sound for Jules Styne's memorable music.

No business like ...
"Gypsy" is set in the 1920s, the waning days of vaudeville, on the cusp of the Depression. Single mom and three-time married Rose is trying desperately to get her daughters, particularly the cute, blonde June, into show business.

She meets Herbie, a one-time talent agent turned candy salesman. Rose likes Herbie – and vice versa – and she asks if he'd represent her daughters' act.

She dreams up acts for her girls, which include adding four boys and a dancing cow. The girls continue their girlish routines, even when they move into young adulthood. In a very slick scene, the young performers morph into their more mature counterparts while dancing in a patriotic skit. Strobe lights flicker while the older performers replace the younger. Really nicely done.

But while times are changing, Rose's show doesn't. Several disgruntled performers bail, including daughter June, who runs off with one of the boys in the show.

Rose sets her sights on daughter Louise, who was happy to let her sister take the spotlight and is reluctant to be the star. Louise, however, begins to warm to the idea of her new "family" consisting of her mother, Herbie and a small troupe as they sing a joyous "Together Wherever We Go." But the pickings for performances are slim.

Herbie finally finds a gig, but doesn't realize it's part of a burlesque show, which Rose vowed she'd never do.

Once more, Rose sees a way to use her daughter's skills, but the tradeoff is huge. Louise, who takes the name Gypsy Rose Lee, goes on to stardom, and a life without her mother's influence.

Superb pieces
Everything about Kelli Cramer's Rose is superb. She caresses, rather than belts, the lyrics "Everything's coming up roses" and you feel her hopefulness. She hangs on to the "ms" in hum-drum in "Some People," and you feel her distain for an ordinary life. She mutters hilarious asides under her breath, to great comic effect. Her emotions are raw in "Rose's Turn," in which she mulls her desire for stardom. Musically, she hits every note with strength and nuanced emotion.

John Cramer allows his Herbie to step aside and let Rose rule. Their "Small World" scene, in which they discuss their common ground, is sweet and tender. The pacing is perfect, with just the right awkward pauses that only veteran performers can pull off.

As Louise, Megan Miller has a lot of territory emotionally to cover, and does it well. With slumped shoulders and quiet obedience, she plays the once passed over daughter reluctantly thrust into the spotlight. Like a butterfly struggling out of a cocoon, her transformation into a confident star is something to see.

Miller and Carolann Grzybowski, who plays a marvelous June, pair up for a charming "If Momma Were Married," although Miller seemed somewhat overpowering in that number.

Another wonderful scene featured Benjamin Johnson, who fashioned another entertaining performance after a starring role in Sunset's "Anything Goes." His Tulsa character sways gracefully like a tree in the breeze, sliding and gliding with fluid dance moves. He and Jude Cramer, Santana Vannarath and Alexander Vrba do some great tap dancing in their tuxes, one of several nicely choreographed scenes by John Cramer. (Another featured the whole cast tap dancing during curtain call).

The burlesque strippers played by Jenny Kosek, Logan Jarecki and Carrie Gray have great fun with "You Gotta Get a Gimmick" as they give Louise a lesson in striptease. It's always a funny scene and could have been camped up even more.

"Gypsy" is a great start for WCT's 60th season, showcasing the considerable talents of the area's First Family of Community Theater and many others.

Student rate is available for children and any patron with a current student ID. Senior rate applies to all patrons 60 years or older. Military rate is available for any patron with a valid current Military ID.

For our "Pay What You Can" performances, patrons can buy tickets for that show on the day of the performance at whatever price their budget will allow.

Subscriber rate is available to any subscriber for unlimited additional tickets outside their package.

10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Educational Group Rate is only available for all educational groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops. 10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Volunteer of the Production - Jordan Levene

Jordan won the hearts of everyone in the cast when she stepped in to understudy the role of Dainty June. Not only had she joined the ensemble late, after another actor had to drop out of the show, but she learned the leading role in less than two weeks, and performed it for more than half the run. She was also a very helpful, positive, and optimistic presence backstage. One cast member said it best … “she is AMAZING!”

Kudos, Jordan!