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           Wisconsin Travel Guide

Performances At The First Stage Children’s Theater and Fireside Theatre

First Stage is the third largest children's theater in the nation, presenting a broad selection of plays for school-age children and their families from September through May each year. Performances are held in the 500-seat Todd Wehr Theater located in the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts complex. First Stage Children's Theater is renowned for artistic excellence and has a tremendous audience following.

The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, offers warm hospitality, professional theater, and fine dining only a one hour drive from Milwaukee. Service and the personal touch are the essence of The Fireside experience. Before each matinee and evening performance theater-goers enjoy a meal themed to set the mood for the show. For example, when I saw the play, Man of La Mancha, I topped off the Spanish entre and salad with a dessert of orange custard flan. If you plan to attend at the last minute it's a good idea to call ahead because The Fireside attracts thousands of visitors from 15 states and Canada year after year. Like other guests, I want to return again and again because of the wonderful memories. The annual Christmas show is so popular that now the production starts in October each year.

A trip to the Fireside not only makes you feel good, it's also convenient. Where else can you get a quality Broadway show, great meal, and opportunity to shop. Almost two acres of entertainment under one roof? Gifts and collectibles in the five specialty shops include many show-related items. Theater tickets are not a budget-breaking $75 or $100 as in Chicago or New York. No need, either, to worry about parking, catching a cab, or skipping dessert to make it to curtain time. If attending in the winter and a storm blows in, hotel accommodations are as close as next door. It's the friendly family atmosphere of The Fireside, and the Klopcic family who run it, that has been bringing New York's professional actors and actresses to Wisconsin, winter and summer, for over twenty years.

Fort Atkinson's production is a Wisconsin product through and through, with all the sets and the costumes for The Fireside's theater-in-the-round, made on the premises by local people. The recent production of Swing on a Star, a tribute show to the Big Bands and the Swing Era, featured some of Wisconsin's finest musicians. For example, Curt Hanrahan playing woodwinds, performed with Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, and Harry Connick.

"People will come where they have been invited, where they have been made to feel welcome, and where they have been asked to return." That's the philosophy of Dick Klopcic, who founded the original restaurant more than 30 years ago. Dick and wife Betty still greet patrons before and after the show, as does son Rick Klopcic, who carries on the family tradition.

Each year's schedule offers variety to please all ages. The yearly line-up includes great shows, among those shown are great hits like Beauty and the Beast, Damn Yankees, and finally A Fireside Christmas, a totally new production every year. Contact the Fireside in advance for show schedules and about arrangements for special children's meals during the production of Beauty and the Beast.

By Ann Hattes

Getting There:

To learn more about upcoming performances visit http://www.firststage.org/.

Use this link to go to the Wisconsin Travel Guide

About The Author

Ann Hattes has written many magazine and newspaper articles, as well as written the book, Country Towns of Wisconsin, which is available at Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Country-Towns-Wisconsin-Charming-Villages/dp/1566261481