Village Playhouse Has Run Planned Through June, 2021 – Shepherd Express

Posted: November 24, 2020 at 7:55 am

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Tom Zuehlke wears many hats at West Allis Village Playhouse. He directs and produces and serves on the theater companys board of directors. Off the Cuff spoke with him about past and future.

You have been Board Secretary for 20 years for the playhouse. What has that been like for you?

Being on the board has been a real rollercoaster ride for me. During my time as secretary, the Village Playhouse has gone through a myriad of changes. In 1999, we lost our venue on the Milwaukee County grounds when the Plankroad School was demolished. For the next 15 years, we were a vagabond troupe, performing in a variety of venues, including church gymnasiums and library basements, other theater companies, or anywhere we could find a stage.

Then in 2014, several Village Playhouse members purchased what is now our home at Inspiration Studios in West Allis. It was a challenge to survive those homeless years, but it created opportunities to produce theatre in different ways. To have a thriving community theatre is an often difficult-always rewarding task, which has been both anguish and fun for the board members.

You have also directed and produced shows since 1984. Describe these roles and how they came to be.

I was first hired to direct Our Town in 1984. I was a Theater Studies major at UWM, and took classes in acting, lighting, Theater History and Stage Management. My directing classes made me realize this was a way to incorporate every aspect of theater. It was natural to take on the producers role since I then got to put together a complete team. Getting everyone to be part of the big picture process is most enjoyable.

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Have you ever performed in productions?

I have. Mostly at UWM I did some Shakespeare, then other classics such as Camelot. I did The Scottish Play with the old Milwaukee Players and a traveling company called Theatre-RX which did shows for medical professionals. Also, a touring production of Love Letters. With the playhouse, I have only acted in one full-length play, but have performed in several one-acts in our festivals. Most recently, I was in a one-person show, which I wrote, titled, An Evening with Me, as a fundraiser for Village Playhouse.

What is most gratifying about these roles?

When the final light fades, and the sold-out audience rises to acknowledge what theyve experienced, that is most gratifying. It doesnt happen often, but when it does- Wow!

Do you feel a comradery with the performers?

Absolutely! As an actor, director or producer, you are a team. You stay long after the final curtain falls. I have several friends from that first VP show I did in 84, and the list continues to grow. My theatre friends are my extended family.

What is the line-up for the next 6 or 7 months?

In December, we will be producing a radio play version of Little Women. This will be a virtual performance only. Come January, our virtual shows will be two, one-act plays which would have been part of our 35th Annual Wisconsin Playwrights One-Act Play Festival (which was cancelled in June). We plan to return to live shows in February with a yet-to-be-determined play. March will be the last of the one-acts from last June, and in April, were doing three George Bernard Shaw pieces: Overrules, How He Lied to Her Husband and Passion, Poison and Petrification. June will see us return to the stage with our 36th Annual Playwrights Original One Act Festival.

For more information on Village Playhouse and their performances, please go to The playhouse is located at 1500 S. 73rd St.

Nov. 20, 2020

9:02 a.m.

Original post:
Village Playhouse Has Run Planned Through June, 2021 - Shepherd Express

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