Our Story

Support Next Act Theatre
Your contribution represents more than hard cash. Your gift conveys that our intimate brand of theatre is meaningful to you and worthy of your support.

Theatre means many different things to different people: an exciting story, a rollicking comedy, love won and lost and won again, lavish scenery, beautiful costumes, a black box, great acting, Shakespeare, not Shakespeare, acrobatics, abstract movement, sword fights, songs, dance – dogs onstage!

But there is one essential element that makes for good theatre which, we think, we can all agree upon: at some point, it gets personal. Stories work best when they involve individuals in the midst of a struggle, or a quest. We identify, person-to-person. We invest. We accept their quest as ours. Their struggle, tragedy or triumph is ours to endure, to mourn or to celebrate. And thus, we are moved, and the theatre has proven itself, again, as essential to the care and feeding of our human spirit.


Next Act Theatre engages the hearts and minds of audiences with intimate, compelling productions intended to stimulate thought, foster the exchange of ideas, and promote the development of new perspectives and understanding.

The mission is defined by four specific and interrelated goals:

  • Next Act produces dramatic material that brings social, cultural and political issues to the center of the community debate, reflecting the universal needs and aspirations of our fellow human beings.
  • Next Act nurtures and collaborates with the best of local, professional talent.
  • Through strategic play selection, community outreach activities, and accessible artistic style and management, Next Act works to develop new audiences.
  • Next Act establishes and maintains familiar, appreciative relationships with patrons and donors through service-oriented administrative practices and proactive staff interaction.


Formed in 1990 by a merger of its predecessor companies, Theatre Tesseract and Next Generation Theatre, Next Act continues its tradition of creating high-quality, professional theatre in Milwaukee. The past 28 seasons have earned the company its strong reputation for producing engaging work that feels intimate, powerful and personal. The plays presented are passionate, often bold, sometimes humorous, and always up-close-and-personal presentations of life.

A strong, vibrant and financially stable company, Next Act produces a four-show season of contemporary drama. The company is particularly noted for its acting excellence, accessible performance style, and for a varied and consistently interesting selection of plays, chosen from the best new works and off-Broadway hits. Next Act has mounted more than 100 main stage productions, including over 100 area premieres and six original scripts.

Our Audience

Next Act performs for a growing subscriber base of over 1,200 and a single ticket community of over 4,500, attracting individuals and groups from Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Our audiences express a consistent and positive appreciation for the intimacy of our performance style and accessibility.

Next Act Theatre is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization.

Production History

2017 – 2018
Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson
The Secret Mask by Rick Chafe
Equivocation by Bill Cain
I And You by Lauren Gunderson

Special Presentations
The Seeds of Banquo by Angela Iannone (Staged Reading)
The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson (Staged Reading)
Hear What’s in the Heart: An Italian Shoemaker’s Tale by Steve Scionti and James Shanta

2016 – 2017
The Taming by Lauren Gunderson
UnSILENT NIGHT by John Kishline and Edward Morgan
The Other Place by Sharr White
Bloomsday by Steven Dietz

Special Presentations
Now or Later by Christopher Shinn (Staged Reading)
An Evening with Carl Sandburg Created & Performed by Jonathan Gillard Daly (Staged Reading)
Milwaukee Minds (Community Youth Project)

2015 – 2016
Back of the Throat by Yussef El Guindi
Bravo, Caruso! by William Luce
Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 by Anna Deavere Smith
Motherhood Out Loud Conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein

Special Presentations
Twilight: Milwaukee, 2016 (Community Youth Project)
McGivern & Mom

2014 – 2015
Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter by Julie Marie Myatt
Heresy by A.R. Gurney
No Child… by Nilaja Sun
TEN QUESTIONS to Ask your Biology Teacher about Evolution by Stephen Massicotte

Special Presentations
When We Go Upon the Sea by Lee Blessing
Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker (Community Youth Project)

2013 – 2014
Perfect Mendacity by Jason Wells
Groucho: A Life in Revue Book, lyrics & music by Arthur Marx & Robert Fisher
Race by David Mamet
Three Views of the Same Object by Henry Murray

Special Presentations
It’s a Wonderful Life: Live Radio Show Adapted by Mary MacDonald Kerr

microcrisis by Mike Lew
It’s a Wonderful Life Live Radio Show Adapted by Mary MacDonald Kerr
The Clockmaker by Stephen Massicotte
Grace by Craig Wright

Special Presentations
A Kodachrome Christmas by Pat Hazell
The Mystery of Irma Vep by Charles Ludlam

The Exonerated by Jessica Blank & Erik Jensen
Sylvia by A.R. Gurney
Vigil by Morris Panych
One Time by Richard Lyons Conlon

Special Presentations
The Women Who Can’t Sing
An Evening in the Harlem Renaissance
Summer Stories w/ John McGivern by John McGivern

2010 – 2011
Four Places by Joel Drake Johnson
Big Boys by Rich Orloff
A Sleeping Country by Melanie Marnich

Special Presentations
Home for the Holidays w/ John McGivern by John McGivern

2009 – 2010
Mary’s Wedding by Stephen Massicotte
7 Stories by Morris Panych
Purgatorio by Ariel Dorfman
The Value Of Names by Jeffrey Sweet

Special Presentations
John McGivern’s Home For The Holidays
This Little Light Of Mine by Adrienne Danrich

2008 – 2009
Lombardi: The Only Thing by Eric Simonson
Murderers by Jeffrey Hatcher
Going to St. Ives by Lee Blessing
The Pavilion by Craig Wright

Special Presentations
Winter Tales with John McGivern
Paul Robeson in Concert

2007 – 2008
An Interview with Paul Robeson by Paul A. Mabon, Sr. & John Kishline
Greetings! by Tom Dudzick
Faith Healer by Brian Friel
The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful by Charles Ludlam

Special Presentations
Winter Tales with John McGivern

2006 – 2007
Last of the Boys by Steven Dietz
Mercy of a Storm by Jeffrey Hatcher
Paradise by Glyn O’Malley
Ears on a Beatle by Mark St. Germain

Special Presentations
A Very Merry McGivern / Santaland Diaries

2005 – 2006
Coyote on a Fence by Bruce Graham
Red Herring by Michael Hollinger
The Retreat from Moscow by William Nicholson
An Infinite Ache by David Schulner

2004 – 2005
Dear Esther by Richard Rashke
The Voice of the Prairie by John Olive
The Goodbye People by Herb Gardner
Master Harold… and the boys by Athol Fugard

2003 – 2004
Mindgame by Anthony Horowitz
Bravo, Caruso! by William Luce
Between Men and Cattle by Richard Kalinoski
Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones

Special Presentations
Dear Esther (Staged Reading)
An Interview With Paul Robeson (Staged Reading)

2002 – 2003
Taking Leave by Nagle Jackson
Rough Crossing by Tom Stoppard
Between East and West by Richard Nelson
Bea’s Niece by David Gow

2001 – 2002
Bee-Luther-Hatchee by Thomas Gibbons
Visiting Mr. Green by Jeff Baron
What the Butler Saw by Joe Orton
Side Man by Warren Leight

2000 – 2001
Down The Road by Lee Blessing
Laughter on the 23rd Floor by Neil Simon
Blood Knot by Athol Fugard
Fallen Angels by Noel Coward

Special Presentations
Bravo, Caruso! by William Luce (Staged Reading)

1999 – 2000
Hauptmann by John Logan
Room Service by John Murray & Allen Boretz
A Night in November by Marie Jones
My Thing of Love by Alexandra Gersten

Special Presentations
Laughter on the 23rd Floor by Neil Simon (Staged Reading)

1998 – 1999
How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel
Greetings! by Tom Dudzick
The Dresser by Ronald Harwood
Below the Belt by Richard Dresser

1997 – 1998
Artis Generis by James DeVita / Descent by Tom Patrick
Stage Struck by Simon Gray
Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuinness
The Price by Arthur Miller

1996 – 1997
Sylvia by A.R. Gurney
The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard
Three Viewings by Jeffrey Hatcher
Kindertransport by Diane Samuels

1995 – 1996
The Destiny of Me by Larry Kramer
Noël and Gertie by Sheridan Morley
Fool for Love by Sam Shepard
Relatively Speaking by Alan Ayckbourn

1994 – 1995
Marvin’s Room by Scott McPherson
On the Open Road by Steve Tesich
Billy Bishop Goes to War by John Gray and Eric Peterson

1993 – 1994
Lips Together, Teeth Apart by Terrence McNally
The Firebugs by Max Frisch
Evelyn and the Polka King by John Olive

1992 – 1993
Brief Lives by Patrick Garland
Incommunicado by Tom Dulack
Private Lives by Noel Coward

1991 – 1992
The Boys Next Door by Tom Griffin
And a Nightingale Sang by C.P. Taylor
Italian American Reconciliation by John Patrick Shanley

Theatre Festival
The Importance of Being Earnest

1990 – 1991
A Wrinkle in Time from the book by Madeleine L’Engle
Reckless by Craig Lucas
The Voice of the Prairie by John Olive
Haven for the Disillusioned conceived by Helena Dynerman
Sea Marks by Gardner McKay

Theatre Festival
The Boys Next Door
Wait Until Dark

FY18 Audit
FY18 Form 990