First Stage plans the world premiere of Arthur, as well as The Hobbit and SpongeBob


First Stage will open its 2022-23 season with a world musical premiere adapted from Marc Brown’s “Arthur” stories – the ones generations of children have watched in animated form on PBS.

Is that not enough for you ? Want more big names on the next season of First Stage? How about SpongeBob, Bob Marley, JRR Tolkien and a certain red-nosed flying creature?

Here’s a look at First Stage’s 2022-23 season. Unless otherwise specified, all shows are at the Todd Wehr Theater at the Marcus Performing Arts Center.

“Arthur and his friends are making a musical!” Oct. 7-Nov. 6. John Maclay and Brett Ryback wrote and composed this adaptation, in which Mr. Ratburn’s class puts on a show, and Arthur’s friends help him through a little stage fright. Khalia Davis choreographs and directs. For people aged 5 and over.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” 25 Nov-Dec 24. First Stage revives its adaptation of the animated television special, written by Robert Penola with musical arrangements by Timothy Splain. First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank directs. For ages 4 and up.

“Carmela Full of Wishes” 20 Jan-Feb 12, 2023. Alvaro Saar Rios is adapting a book written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson, about a girl running errands with her brother while trying to make do with a birthday wish. Michelle Lopez-Rios is directing. For ages 3 and up.

“The Hobbit,” February 3-March 5, 2023, Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, 325 W. Walnut St. Greg Banks adapts JRR Tolkien’s novel The Adventure of Bilbo Baggins. Five actors and a musician interpret dozens of characters while telling the story. Jeff Frank directs. For ages 8 and up.

“The SpongeBob SquarePants Musical” From March 3 to April 2, 2023. A young audience adaptation of the animated adventures of the animated Porifera, with songs by Yolanda Adams, Sara Bareilles, David Bowie and other worthies. Tommy Novak directs. For ages 6 and up.

“The Three Little Birds by Bob Marley” April 21-May 21, 2023. Michael J. Bobbitt adapts a story by Cedella Marley, itself adapted from the song by his father Bob. Here, the three birds help anxious young Ziggy get out of the house safely and avoid scary obstacles. Samantha D. Montgomery directs, with choreography by Sonya Thompson of Ko-Thi Dance Company. For ages 3 and up.

First-stage start-up

First Stage’s group of advanced teenage actors will perform these shows at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.

“A Midsummer Night’s dream” December 9-18. Shakespeare’s classic comedy, for ages 11 and up.

“Little woman,” March 24-April 2, 2023. Adaptation by Kate Hamill of Louisa May Alcott’s novel about the March sisters. For people aged 12 and over.

“The Graceful Sisters”, May 5-21, 2023. This world premiere is a “free adaptation” of Aeschylus’ “Eumenides” by Alice Austen, which plunges a contemporary young woman into the ancient Greek universe of the Furies. Matt Daniels directs. For people aged 13 and over.

For subscription, tickets and other information, visit or call (414) 267-2961.

Contact Jim Higgins at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @jhiggy.


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