Skylight Music Theatre and Milwaukee Opera Theatre present THE TALES OF HOFFMAN

Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Ray Jivoff today announced the cast, creative team and band for The Tales of Hoffmann, running March 16-29 in Skylight's beautiful Cabot Theatre.

"We have joined forces with Milwaukee Opera Theatre for this imaginative and kinetic adaptation of Jacques Offenbach's mesmerizing opera," said Jivoff. "Although this is Offenbach's best-known work, Skylight has never produced it in our nearly 60-year history. We are thrilled it will debut on our stage with an exciting new English translation and re-orchestration that perfectly captures 'Skylight Style' - bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works."

Jill Anna Ponasik, Skylight's Artistic Associate and Milwaukee Opera Theatre's Artistic Director will direct.

Skylight and Milwaukee Opera Theatre Re-Conceive 'Tales' from Three Hours to Two "In typical Skylight style, we began by studying the original piece, and then gave it a little yank toward the present day," said Ponasik. "Daniel J. Brylow, who wrote the new English translation/adaptation took a piece that was over three hours in length, and by concentrating intensely on the tales themselves, cooked it down to two hours long. Typically performed by at least 20 singers (with fifteen roles for men and five for women), Skylight's production re-conceives the cast into an ensemble of 13 (with eight women and five men)."

Kerry Bieneman created the new orchestration, which distills an opera written for a full orchestra into one that uses two pianos, harp and percussion. Musicians Become Part of Stage Action "The band will be on stage so the musician's technique becomes part of our stage action," said Ponasik. "It also allows us to delight in the peculiar and otherworldly facets of the score." Ponasik added that Michael "Ding" Lorenz will be featured on percussion, performing on many instruments in his eclectic collection.

The gears and mechanics of the instruments are reflected in the kinetic look and feel of the production, which will feature scenic design by Lisa Anne Schlenker and lighting design by Jason Fassl. Sung in English, the story centers on the poet Hoffmann as he embarks on multiple quests to find love, finish a song, and balance life and art. E.T.A. Hoffmann, the real-life inspiration for the title character, is the author of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which Tchaikovsky's ballet, The Nutcracker, is based. Haunting Stories Around the Campfire The Tales of Hoffmann features dazzling music and tour-de-force arias, including the famous "Doll Aria" sung by the mechanical doll Olympia. As the story opens, Hoffmann is besieged by writer's block, haunted by his three ill-fated relationships.

"There is a Twilight Zone quality to these tales, a way in which they are simultaneously familiar and strange, that kindles in me the feeling of sitting around a campfire telling scary stories," said Ponasik. "The real E.T.A. Hoffmann said that, 'It is nearly always the most improbable things that really come to pass.' That captures for us, the kind of intoxicating brew of music, movement, and mayhem The Tales of Hoffmann will bring to audiences."

The Tales of Hoffmann is sponsored by Jan Serr & John Shannon with additional funding from the New Opera Fund established in memory of Mary Ann Gerlach.

The Tales of Hoffmann March 16-29, 2018Composed by Jacques Offenbach Translation and Adaptation by Daniel J. BrylowOriginal Libretto by Michel Carre and Jules BarbierOrchestration by Kerry BienemanDirected by Jill Anna Ponasik Cabarets Follow Select Hoffmann Performances Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Jivoff also announced that cabarets at Skylight Music Theatre's Bar & Bistro will take place immediately following performances of The Tales of Hoffmann on Sunday, March 18 and Sunday, March 25 at 4:45 p.m.

"The Annie Orphans Cabaret" features young performers from both casts of Skylight Music Theatre's hit show Annie (2017) singing a variety of songs. Admission is $10 at the door for all cabarets. Cash and credit card accepted. Cabaret performances are in the Skylight Bar & Bistro, second floor of the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee. Cash bar available at all performances.

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