This month, In Tandem Theatre celebrates its 10th anniversary with a new show in a new venue. The Milwaukee theater company welcomes guests to the newly reinvigorated Tenth Street Theatre for a production of the fresh and trendy musical comedy "The Girl in the Frame," which runs May 29 through June 15.
In Tandem recently renovated and remodeled the Tenth Street Theatre as its new home for live performance and visual expression.
"We have largely been nomads for years and this is our new and permanent location," says In Tandem co-founder Chris Flieller. "We heard about the location and when we saw it we thought, this will be great, it fit our purposes perfectly."
In addition to a performance space, the theater, located in the lower level of Calvary Presbyterian Church at 628 N. 10th St., has a gallery-style lobby for events. In Tandem aims to install and rotate four to six exhibits throughout the year there.
"Downtown is really where theater happens," Flieller says. "There are more and more people living Downtown and the energy is extremely exciting. We can feel a youthful dynamic energy of the Marquette campus and we knew that we wanted to be in this urban environment."
The lobby, with its cozy fireplace, is a central gathering place for people before and after performances. It is also available for rent to arts groups, as well as for business meetings, parties, musical performances and events.
"We really spent time and gave attention to keeping the architectural beauty of the space while fitting it to our requirements," Flieller says.
"It's a gorgeous space. We have a really strong commitment to staying Downtown and making this area survive. The church's ability to use this building in interesting ways gave us a permanent location which is vital to the growth of any performance group."
To initiate its new home, In Tandem stages the Milwaukee premiere of "The Girl in the Frame." Written by Jeremy Desmon, it is the tale of a couple named Alex and Laney on their fourth anniversary.
"Desmon wrote the music, lyrics and screenplay," Flieller explains. "It is really phenomenal for someone in the business to do all three aspects of a show and I think he is going to be someone that we hear more and more about."
Played by Simon Provan and Alison Mary Forbes, Alex and Laney consider the uncertainties of reality versus fantasy after exchanging the same gift on their anniversary. The gift, a generic picture of a woman in a frame, takes them on an adventure of possibility and forces them to question the benefit of reality and the illusion of fantasy. The musical comedy combines adult humor and charming wit.
"It is a very hip show. It deals with young people in their own lives that will strike a chord with the modern audience," Flieller says.
In the middle of the play's two-week run, In Tandem offers a pay-what-you-can Monday night performance.
"We are a non-profit organization and so we try to do what we can to give back to the community. We want to give the chance to see our show (to) those who otherwise wouldn't be able to."
In addition to "The Girl in the Frame," In Tandem offers summer classes that aim to involve the community both visually and artistically. Class topics range from improvisation to audition techniques.
"Right now we are working on gathering interest on an improv class," says Flieller. "The class will be taught by Dillon Bolin from ComedySportz. He's a very funny and insightful guy -- a great teacher of improv."
In Tandem Theatre was founded in 1998 by Flieller and his wife Jane. The company has staged five performances annually, including its annual holiday show "A Cudahy Caroler Christmas."