Currently in its 27th season, First Stage has grown to become one of the nation’s most acclaimed children’s theaters and the second largest theater company in Milwaukee, drawing an annual audience of 115,000. First Stage touches hearts and transforms lives through professional theater productions that engage, enlighten and entertain young people and their families. Committed to new play development, they have presented 49 world premieres and have collaborated with renowned artists including Harry Connick Jr., Stephen Schwartz, and award-winning authors Lois Lowry and Cornelia Funke. With an emphasis on teaching life skills through stage skills, First Stage’s Theater Academy is the nation’s largest high-impact theater training program for young people. Through this training, the Academy nurtures the social and emotional wellbeing of young people while teaching valuable life, academic, and 21st century workforce skills including leadership, empathy, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. The Theater Academy is based at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, a national model for youth training in the performing arts. First Stage offers programs that boost critical literacy skills, increase state standardized test scores, and help teachers learn new and creative ways to teach. They integrate the arts into the standard curriculum, allowing students to learn traditional academic subjects through creativity and self-expression.
For Shakespeare in American Communities, First Stage will present student matinees and evening performances of Romeo and Juliet (May 2014) directed by Associate Artistic Director John Maclay. The company will provide related educational activities, including in-classroom workshops, professional development for teachers, extended talkbacks, and an enrichment guide. They anticipate reaching 50 schools from metropolitan Milwaukee.