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They're Giving It Away! Optimist Theatre Brings Free Shakespeare to Milwaukee

(l-r) Angela Iannone, James Pickering and Tom Reed
(l-r) Angela Iannone, James Pickering and Tom Reed
Photo Courtesy of Optimist Theatre

There may not be any such thing as a free lunch, but who needs lunch when we have free Shakespeare to fill our eyes, ears and souls? Milwaukee will soon be treated to the wit, mercy, fantasy and sorcery as only the eloquent Bard can deliver. The Tempest is Shakespeare’s magic adventure story, and for the first time in Milwaukee theatre history, this play will be professionally performed in the park– free of charge –for all to experience and enjoy.

Optimist Theatre will present The Tempest on the campus of Alverno this Friday, June 18th through Sunday, June 27th. This production will be an extraordinary event for our community, not only because it’s the first time free Shakespeare in the park is being performed, but because it is an all homegrown creation. Directed by Optimist Theatre Artistic Director Ron Scot Fry, this completely local production stars James Pickering as Prospero the sorcerer, Angela Iannone as Ariel the sprite, Tom Reed as the supra-worldly Caliban, Jacque Troy as the artful Antonio and Jocelyn Fitz-Gibbon and Andrew Edwin Voss as the young lovers.

Composer T.J. Hull has created an original score to accompany the show. He and his ensemble, The Full Fathom Four, will perform nightly. Those of you who attended Optimist Theatre’s fundraiser Brave New World received a live sneak-listen to this hauntingly beautiful accompaniment. According to the theatre grapevine, this production may live up to the literal meaning of “tempest” by delivering a turbulent theatrical experience unlike any that has previously filtered through the senses of Milwaukee theatergoers.

In addition, there is a curious inclusion of innovative movement interlaced through the production by a troupe of interns called “The Tribe”.

“These artists have invested themselves in this dream because they believe that all of our community deserves to experience the glory of the stage’s greatest wordsmith. Our company shares the belief that Shakespeare teaches each of us to value what it is to be human: to honor the desires, flaws, fears, and breathtaking beauty that arise from the moments of drama, comedy, and tragedy that make up our lives,” says Fry.

Like their name may presciently suggest, Optimist Theatre’s The Tempest may be just the spark that Milwaukee needs to light an incendiary fire for our live theatre-going public and to foster a new breed of theatre-lovers for productions that tell true tales of the human condition.

All performances of The Tempest are on the Alverno College campus. Show dates and times are as follows: Friday, June 18 at 12:00pm and 8:00pm; Saturday, June 19 at 8:00pm; Sunday, June 20 at 8:00pm; Thursday, June 24 at 8:00pm; Friday, June 25 at 12:00pm and 8:00pm; Saturday, June 26th at 8:00pm; Sunday, June 27th at 8:00pm.

Although the performances are free– due to limited seating –reservations are required. To confirm space, email your date preference and total number of attendees to Optimist Theatre’s Managing Director, Susan Scot Fry at  

For more information on Optimist Theatre, free Shakespeare in the Park or The Tempest, contact Susan Scot Fry at the above email address or visit the Optimist Theatre website at


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