By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Aug 25, 2020 at 9:31 AM

After months in COVID-induced intermission, the Milwaukee Rep is re-opening the curtains, returning to the stage with a newly assembled "season reset" of shows while pushing its previously announced 2020-21 season entirely to next year. 

The new reimagined season will open on Dec. 1 with a one-person version of the holiday classic "A Christmas Carol" starring Lee E. Ernst, followed by four plays chosen or re-envisioned for the stage for the COVID era: "Ella Fitzgerald: The First Lady of Song," "McGuire," "Antonio's Song/I Was Dreaming of a Son" and "Nina Simone: Four Women."

The new season reset schedule is as follows:

  • "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol" – Dec. 1-24 in the Quadracci Powerhouse
  • "Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song" – Feb. 16-March 14 in the Quadracci Powerhouse
  • "McGuire" – March 23-April 18 in the Quadracci Powerhouse
  • "Antonio's Song/I Was Dreaming of a Son" – April 7-May 2 in the Stiemke Studio
  • "Nina Simone: Four Women" – April 27-May 23 in the Quadracci Powerhouse

"The original 2020-21 season was designed to be enjoyed by over 250,000 audience members and involved 500-plus artists and staff," said artistic director Mark Clements, in a press release. "Unfortunately, given the realities of COVID-19, producing the announced season in a safe and responsible manner is not possible at this time. However, we know how important theater is during challenging times, so we are pleased to offer an alternative that will provide high-quality, entertaining theater in an environment that is safe and welcoming to our patrons. For safety, we are starting with the smallest cast shows and building up from there through the spring. It may look different, but our dedicated artists and staff are eager to put their skills to task and provide our audiences with a theatrical experience that will undoubtedly meet our world-class standards."

Most notably, the Milwaukee Rep will return in December with audience members back in the seats. The Rep will install several safety protocols when the season reset begins – including increasing cleanings, paperless tickets, mandated masks, social distanced seating arrangements, a limited 35 percent capacity and an enhanced HVAC ventilation system.

For those who still feel uncomfortable about returning to indoor spaces with strangers, however, the Rep will also offer high-definition virtual showings for home-viewing as well as more of its virtual content such as Play On Shakespeare readings and performances, REPair Divides Conversations, new SoundStage original audio plays and new REPlay discussions featuring Clements and artistic teams chatting about their favorite productions from the past decade. 

"We were one of the first institutions to shut down in Milwaukee at the beginning of this pandemic, and we’ve utilized all the creativity and expertise of our staff and board to put forth this reopening plan," said executive director Chad Bauman, in a release. "All of us are looking forward to the day where we can welcome audiences together in a shared live experience, and we are doing everything in our power to reopen with revitalized energy and purpose."

Season reset passes are on sale now at the Milwaukee Rep's website. As for subscriptions and tickets purchased for the previously announced 2020-21 set of shows, tickets have automatically rolled over to the 2021-22 season. 

For more information on the Rep's upcoming reopening and restart, visit the Rep's website. And to donate money to the Rep Rising Fundraising Campaign, working to raise money for the artists, staff and facilities during these unprecedented times, click here

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.