Most people are happy to be entertained when going to the theater.
The Company of Strangers, a theater company new to the area, wants to not only entertain but educate audience members through its productions.
The company, which was founded in 2009 in Appomattox, Virginia, will be presenting “The Glass Menagerie,” by Tennessee Williams, Feb. 24, 25 and March 3, 4, at the The Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. The show includes mostly Waukesha County residents.
The cast of “The Glass Menagerie” features Nathanael Press of Milwaukee as Tom Wingfield, Sandra Baker Renick of Pewaukee as Amanda Wingfield, Kettle Moraine High School student Kimberly Laberge as Laura and JJ Gatesman of Milwaukee as Jim. The show’s musician is Joseph Kelley of Mukwonago.
Besides Director Jessica Sosnoski of Waukesha the crew includes light and set director James Sosnoski of Waukesha, head administrator Crystal Peterson of Waukesha and Barb Hummel of Sussex.
Director and co-founder of the company Sosnoski has a passion for theater that goes way beyond learning lines and building sets. One of her missions is “to help teach the audience how to think critically about the situations presented to them, with a direction and application to their own lives.”
The company wrote an analysis of the first show they produced and read it to the audience before each show.
“This practice has become our primary differentiation from other theater companies,” said Sosnoski, adding, “You will receive a mind-engaging education.”
Sosnoski says the group has an ethical standard and will not compromise in their shows.
“We think that good quality entertainment can still be performed with excellence without having to compromise,” said Sosnoski.
She also mentioned that the company is collaborative, with cast and crew having their say about how each show shapes up and solving problems together. The company opens up on social media and online platforms about all aspects of a production, including how rehearsals and the technical side are progressing, as well as any challenges they might be facing.
“This lets the audience relate to our world better and helps relax the actors as well,” said Sosnoski.
“The Glass Menagerie” is the group’s second show in the Milwaukee area. The first, “An Enemy of the People,” by Henrik Ibsen, was presented in October 2016. That show, presented just before the November presidential election, was chosen for “its potent lessons on the freedom of speech,” said Sosnoski.
“The Glass Menagerie,” set in 1937 St. Louis, has a cast of four. The show is narrated by Tom Wingfield, a poet with a blue-collar job to support his overbearing mother, and shy sister who wears a leg brace. Tom is torn between duty and resentment, which leads to family disharmony. With his mother’s encouragement he finds a possible suitor for his sister to help her overcome the crippling shyness that has narrowed her world to a fragile collection of glass figurines.
“After the 20-plus members from the last show, I wanted a smaller battle,” said Sosnoski, “but it also seemed as good a time as any to undertake one of my favorite works of all time.”
The Company of Strangers’ next production is “An Ideal Husband,” by Oscar Wilde, and will be presented in August or September.
Sosnoski’s next directing gig is “Amateurs,” by Tom Griffin, at Lake Country Playhouse in Hartland in May.
If you go
WHO: The Company of Strangers
WHAT: “The Glass Menagerie”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24, 25 and March 3, and 2 p.m. March 4
WHERE: The Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee (lower level of the Grand Avenue Mall, Plankinton Building, under TJ Maxx)
TICKETS: $10 admission (cash bar also available)
INFORMATION: Email firstname.lastname@example.org