Celebrating the new by honoring the old.

That is how Kate Sarner, English teacher and theater director at Wauwatosa East High School described "Encore! Encore!," the latest production by the Tosa East Players.

The performance takes parts from past shows in the Tosa East Theatre's and the Players' history and puts them together in one show. The first performance and the grand reopening is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 24; it will be preceded by a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:20 p.m. The event is being billed as a reopening due to recent renovations of the Dale K. Hidde Theatre.

"It is a high energy, non-stop spectacle that honors all of the people that have put millions of hours into this theater," Sarner said. "We put together favorite snippets of musicals that were performed at East. It represents 54 different shows in two hours"

The performance of "Encore! Encore!" includes pieces from such notable performances as "Beauty and the Beast," "Jekyll and Hyde," "Godspell" and "Phantom of the Opera." The costumes from every show have been stored in a back room and are being utilized for this performance.

The theater upgrade included replacing the original acoustical panels, installing accessible toilets, putting in new carpet and seating, updating electrical and sound components, and using a paint scheme that reflects the color palette of the original theater.

"It needed some technical upgrades to keep it current," Sarner said. "We are lucky to have a very supportive community. In 77 years it has gotten a lot of use."

The theater was originally constructed in the 1940s and over the years much of the ornate plasterwork was covered with acoustical panels that were painted, diminishing their acoustical value.

The renovation project had a cost of about $2.5 million, which was paid for by one-time funding created by the closure of the city’s TIF-2 district.

Sarner has been the theater director at East since 2013 after a stint touring with a group from New York City called Theatre Works. A 2004 UW-Madison graduate, Sarner decided to return to the state in 2012 and took a job at East as the English and theater teacher.

"Whenever I wasn't performing my survival job was teaching," Sarner said. "I missed my students when I would be on tour."

Workers also upgraded the theater's lobby, bathrooms and installed closed-circuit televisions so the kids backstage can observe what is going on while waiting for their cues.

Additional dates and times for the performance of Encore! Encore! include 7:30 p.m. March 25, 31 and April 1, and 2 p.m. March 26 and April 2. There also will be a special reception on March 25 and April 1 for Tosa Players alumni in the cafeteria, and a student and senior matinee at 9:30 a.m. March 30. For tickets to the matinee or the Saturday receptions, please email

Tickets for the performance are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $8 for children under 12.

Read or Share this story: