Who We Are – Next Act Theatre

Who We Are


Cody Estle, Artistic Director

Prior to his arrival at Next Act in 2022, Cody was the Artistic Director at Chicago’s Raven Theatre, where he had also previously served as the Associate Artistic Director. He directed 13 productions during his tenure at Raven Theatre: those productions have been nominated for Jeff Awards for Best Production and Best Director and have been named “Best of Chicago Theatre” by Windy City Times and the Chicago Tribune. He also has directing credits with Northlight Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, First Floor Theatre, Redtwist Theatre, The Artistic Home, Haven Theatre, Mary-Arrchie Theatre and Citadel Theatre. Cody is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and an alumnus of Columbia College Chicago.

David Cecsarini, Producing Artistic Director

This year marks David’s 43rd year as a theatre professional, having debuted as a journeyman actor with the Guthrie Theatre in 1978. He returned to the state of his later upbringing in 1980 by way of the American Players Theatre in Spring Green. After seven seasons as an APT acting company member and fight choreographer, he made his way east, where he has acted with many of Milwaukee’s professional companies over the years.

David has proudly served as Artistic Director and Producer for Milwaukee’s Next Act Theatre for 30 seasons, where he has directed over 40 productions and acted in as many others. Behind the scenes, he has created sound effects and scores for most of Next Act’s work, and for many other professional productions. David holds a BA in Theatre, received upon graduation from the University of Minnesota in 1977.

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Jane Flieller, Development Director

Jane is delighted to join the Next Act team, having most recently served as Producing Director for In Tandem Theatre, a Milwaukee-based theatre company she co-founded with her husband, Chris. Her work with In Tandem culminated in twenty-one years of producing critically-acclaimed, exciting live theatre, for which she received an Artist of the Year Award from the Milwaukee Arts Board, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the 2019 Footlights People’s Choice Awards, and numerous Best of the Year Recognitions through the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Shepherd Express.

A former stage manager, Jane toured nationally with the Great American Children’s Theatre Company and has worked locally for Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, First Stage Children’s Theatre, Theatre Tesseract, Next Act Theatre and Next Generation Theatre. For several years, Jane was the stage manager for ComedySportz, a position she originated. Jane’s directing credits include In Tandem, Carroll University, Broadway Baby Dinner Theatre, South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, Whitefish Bay High School, Marquette University, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Fond du Lac.

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A.J. Magoon, Marketing Director

A Milwaukee-based arts administrator and actor, A.J. holds a BA in Theatre Arts and a minor in Public Relations from Marquette University. He has performed various administrative duties for Summit Players Theatre, First Stage, Theatre Gigante and Theatre Nervosa, and came to Next Act from Bottom Line Marketing and Public Relations.

In addition to his behind-the-scenes work, A.J. has been seen onstage with First Stage, Renaissance Theaterworks, Theatre Gigante, Sunstone Studios, Voices Found Repertory, Acacia Theatre Company, Summit Players Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (Young Playwrights Festival), Theatre Nervosa, Quasimondo Physical Theatre, Windfall Theatre and Cooperative Performance. Outside of theatre, he enjoys baking and spending time in the great outdoors.

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Mike Van Dreser, Technical Director/Rental Coordinator

Mike has served as Next Act Theatre’s Technical Director since 2011, taking on the additional roles of Facility Manager and Rental Coordinator in 2014. Previously, Mike was the resident Master Electrician and Light Board Operator. Mike studied with renowned Lighting Designer Jason Fassl.


When Mike is not working for Next Act he is working on building his own production company that services technical theatre needs for high schools, colleges and other area theatre organizations. Mike looks forward to many more years with Next Act and the Greater Milwaukee theatre arts.

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Pia Russo, Education Manager

Pia is a multidisciplinary educator who graduated from Marquette University in 2022 with degrees in Theatre Arts and Secondary Education. While most of her credits are still from Marquette, such as directing GIDION’S KNOT and DOUBT and stage managing ANTIGONE, she has also interned at Door Shakespeare, where she mostly overcame her fear of bugs, and has helped run the Next Actors program with her predecessor Grace DeWolff. She has taught a little at a lot of high schools, including Wauwatosa West and Pius XI High School. When not at Next Act, she can be found playing board games, chilling with her roommate and cat and yelling about how much she loves her students to anyone who will listen.

Email Pia

Christine Yundem, Ticket Office Manager

Christine discovered the world of audience services when she joined the staff of Milwaukee’s Performing Arts Center (n/k/a Marcus Center) in its inaugural season. She has worked with dozens of arts organizations and their audiences as ticketing evolved from paper and pencil to computer systems to the internet, providing new ways to enhance patrons’ experiences. Long a friend of Next Act Theatre and supporter of its mission, she was pleased to become part of its dedicated team in 2014. Since then, she has found in her interactions with Next Act audiences ample validation of her often-stated opinion that the nicest people come to theatre. Christine’s abiding interest in the fine and folk arts of diverse cultures means that she herself is often found in an audience.

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Libby Amato, Business Manager

Libby has been a member of the Next Act family for many years in a variety of roles, including House Manager, Ticket Office Attendant, Actor, Deck Chief and Administrative Coordinator. As of 2023, she’s delighted to add Business Manager to the list. Libby is a long-time Milwaukee theatre professional. She also recently turned her weird hobby (soap-making) into a small business venture. In her free time, she enjoys running by the lake and hanging out with her cat.

Email Libby

Board of Directors

David Anderson, Johnson Controls (Retired)

Vice President
Daniel P. Murray, Broadway Law Offices

Donna Martynski, Community Volunteer

Immediate Past President
Cathryn Jakicic, Trusted Media Brands

Brooke Billick, Artisan Partners Limited Partnership (Retired)


Terri Alioto, Community Volunteer
Haly Besaw, RW Baird
Paul Barno, Grantosa Drive Elementary School (MPS)
Michael Burzynski*, CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP
John DiMotto, Circuit Court Judge (Retired)
Mohammad ElBsat, Carrier Globe International
Annie Jurczyk, Keller Williams Realty, Inc.
Jane Lukic, Wheel & Sprocket/Kegel’s Inn
John McGivern, Actor, Writer, Comedian
Sean Rierdon, Clarios
Susan Schoenfeld, Community Volunteer
Sandra Zingler, Community Volunteer

*past President