There’s Something in the Attic

attic_theatre_logoBY Michael Casper

Back in 1950, aspiring actors would come to the actual attic in the Cloak Family home on North Union Street in Appleton, Wisconsin to take acting lessons from Zoe Cloak. Since then the Attic Theater has presented hundreds of performances in venues from church basements to Lawrence University, and UW Fox Valley Communication Arts Center.

Stacy Parish auditioned for her first show at the Attic in 2014, and last fall she was elected to the board, and is now part of the marketing arm of the theater and its performances.

“We are a homegrown non-profit community theater,” Parish said “who last year made the decision to, instead of doing a large production musical, would do three straight plays. There is a lot of competition for theatergoer’s attention and dollars, and this is a way to save some money.”

The majority of the people who audition for Attic productions are not professional actors.

“Very hard to make a living, acting,” Parish said. “But this is such a great way to see and enjoy quality entertainment, without paying an exorbitant amount of money. If you bought our season package, it’s less costly than one show at the PAC.”

Mid July the Attic will present Gore Vidal’s Tony Award winning, “The Best Man,” directed by Nancy Ernst.

THE STORY:  William Russell, the ex-Secretary of State, is a wit and scholar with high liberal principles, beloved of the eggheads and suspected by practical politicians. Joseph Cantwell is a ruthless and hard-driving young man, a dirty fighter who will let no scruples stand in the way of his ambitions. And Arthur Hockstader is an ex-President, who loves politics for their own sake, admires a rough-and-tumble battler more than a chivalrous one, and is determined to have the final say in the selection of his party’s candidate…All of this provides the framework for some vivid and interesting scenes in which Mr. Vidal contrasts the minds, emotions and fighting spirits of the two candidates. 

“It is somewhat reminiscent of ‘Ides of March,’ or ‘House of Cards,’ in that the main characters are political candidates vying for the same nomination, and a peek behind the scenes,” Parish said “sort of an uncanny resemblance to what’s going on politically in real life today. There is a wonderful ensemble cast, and our director, Nancy Ernst, who has been around for decades is really talented. She used to teach theater at Neenah High School, she’s been acting since I can’t remember when, having done both stage and film.”

When: July 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22 @ 7:00pm, July 17 @ 2pm.
Where: Perry Hall Theatre, UW Fox Valley Campus, Menasha

At the end of the month you’ll enjoy “Music in the Attic: A Swellegant Evening of Cole Porter,” under the direction of Carol Jegen.

“Carol has been teaching voice forever,” Parish said “she was also on the Attic board for many years, and a performer.”

American composer Cole Porter’s credits include the musical “Kiss Me, Kate,” which won him a Tony for Best Musical, plus “Anything Goes,” “Can-Can,” and many more. His numerous songs include “Begin the Beguine,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” and on and on.

Standing Stacy Parish and Nancy Ernst Seated, Carol Jegen

Standing Stacy Parish and Nancy Ernst Seated, Carol Jegen

“What’s exciting about the night of Cole Porter music is that it’s something we’ve never done before,” Parish said “we’re doing it as a fundraiser. Hoping to bring the musical back without the high cost. We’ll be in the black box Baehman Theater, set up with cabaret style seating and atmosphere. The pianist will be recalling the history of Cole Porter while the performers sing the incredible music. There a lot of talented people in this area, and not many places do a cabaret setting like we’re doing, so we’re very excited about the shows. Our mission statement sums it up; to create excellent community theatre through performances, education and community outreach.”

The Attic Theatre will be presenting four concerts, July 27-30 at 8pm in the Lucia Baehman Theater located in the Communication Arts building on the UW Fox Valley Campus.

Audience members will indulge in an evening of fine wine, food and song as talented performers from around the area will come together to showcase the unforgettable songbook of Cole Porter.

Seating for this event is limited.   Ticket cost for this limited seating event is $25/person. 

For ticket information call the Attic Theatre box office at 920-734-7887, or order tickets online at   Season ticket packages available!

Volunteer for Free Shows
Volunteer as an usher, house manager or assist in the box office and see Attic Theatre shows for free.

Ushers seat guests, sell refreshments at intermission and tidy up the theatre after the performance. House managers direct ushers and monitor the lobby and concession stand during the performance. Box office assistants distribute and collect for Will Call tickets and may sell tickets. High school students may also earn volunteer hours toward school requirements.

For information or to sign up, please contact Judy Hebbe at or 920-850-1952.

One comment

  1. Stephanie Cloak-Sander

    It is great to see that the Attic Theater is still going. My Grandma Zoe would so pleased.

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