Constellation of Stars Join NYC Benefit for Milwaukee’s Skylight Opera Theatre


CB101945Not only are local efforts being made in Milwaukee to shore up the funds of the Skylight Opera Theatre, but the scores of alumni of the legendary company living and working in New York City are interesting in homaging the company as well. After a long and horrid summer of grotesque top-level mismanagement by the group (for more information, this news story, scroll to the bottom, is particularly good), it’s time to help get the organization on a sounder fiscal slope.

Thus comes this announcement from master publicist Katie Rosin:

Story continues below.

Shuler Hensley, Malcolm Gets, Francesca Zambello
Joel Hatch, Lisa Brescia and Nathaniel Stampley

to appear in
The Sky Is Not Falling

a benefit for Milwaukee’s Skylight Opera Theatre

Tony-winner Shuler Hensley (Young Frankenstein, Oklahoma); Broadway, television and film star Malcolm Gets (The Story of My Life, Amour); acclaimed director Francesca Zambello (The Little Mermaid, Little House on the Prairie); Lisa Brescia (Wicked, Aida); The Lion King‘s Nathaniel Stampley; and Billy Elliot‘s Joel Hatch are all scheduled to appear in The Sky Is Not Falling, a benefit concert for the Skylight Opera Theatre on Oct. 5, 2009, 8pm, at St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 W. 46th St.

The New York concert will be a mix of classic and contemporary musical theatre and opera, similar to the company’s eclectic repertoire, and feature a star-studded cast of 26 current and former Broadway performers.

The concert will feature new music by composers James Valcq (The Spitfire Grill, Zombies from the Beyond), Mark Adamo (Little Women, Lysistrata or the Nude Goddess), Josh Rosenblum (Bush is Bad, Garbo and Me) and Brett Ryback (Darling). Valcq is a Milwaukee native whose The Spitfire Grill (book and lyrics by Fred Alley) was both a critical and commercial success for Playwrights Horizons in 2001 and has gone on to become one of the most often-produced new American musicals. The Valcq-penned Zombies From the Beyond was an Off-Broadway hit at the Players Theater in 1995.

Also participating will be tenor William Burden, who has won an outstanding reputation in Europe and North America, appearing in many prestigious opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera and New York City Opera. Burden portrayed the title role in Candide in the Skylight’s 1991-92 production, opposite soprano Carol Chickering, who later became his wife. Actress Phyllis Somerville, whose most prominent role was as the mother in Todd Field’s acclaimed film Little Children, will also perform. Somerville made her Broadway debut in the musical Over Here in 1974, and originated the role of Hannah in the Off-Broadway production of The Spitfire Grill, reprising that role at the Skylight in 2002.

The evening will include performances by Skylight alumni Tari Kelly (The Boy From Oz, The Grinch, Showboat), Benjamin Howes ([title of show]), Jennifer Swiderski (The Drowsy Chaperone, Smokey Joe’s Café), Tom Ford (By Jeeves), Niffer Clarke (The Adding Machine), Branch Woodman (Bye Bye Birdie, Crazy for You), Benjamin Cannon (The Lion King), Richard Carsey (musical director, Little House on the Prairie), Wendy Hill (New York City Opera), Brandon Wood (New York City Opera), Danielle Hermon, Katie Sina, Michael Deleget, Chris Briggs Young, Liz Baltes, Malkia Stampley, Kate McCann, Joanne Lessner and more.

This summer, the Skylight experienced a series of events that left it wounded and struggling artistically and financially, beginning with the decision to eliminate, for fiscal reasons, the position of artistic director. Through an unprecedented coming together of the artistic community — many of whom put their livelihoods on the line to express their resolve — and a Board of Directors that weathered difficult decisions with an unending determination to not allow the company to fail, this beloved institution embarks on its 50th Anniversary season with a renewed sense of commitment and support.

But the company’s financial difficulties remain, and in an attempt to help the Skylight Board raise funds, the artists have rallied.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by calling (800) 432-7250, visiting, calling St. Luke’s Theatre at (212) 246-8140 or visiting the venue’s box office at 308 W. 46th St.

All proceeds, including additional donations, are tax deductible and go directly to the Skylight Opera Theatre, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. More info at: