World Premiere Wisconsin To Host Inaugural Festival Celebrating New Plays And Musicals, March 1- June 30

The theater festival will run March 1 - June 30, 2023 throughout the state - from the tip of Door County to the state line and across 20 distinct zip codes.

By: Feb. 21, 2023

World Premiere Wisconsin To Host Inaugural Festival Celebrating New Plays And Musicals, March 1- June 30

Four years in the making, after extensive planning and collaboration amongst a team of noted Wisconsin theater professionals, World Premiere Wisconsin has announced its inaugural festival comes to Wisconsin this spring. The theater festival will run March 1 - June 30, 2023 throughout the state - from the tip of Door County to the state line and across 20 distinct zip codes.

The new works created for World Premiere Wisconsin by nearly 50 participating theaters will explore, illuminate, and celebrate the vastness of Wisconsin's story, culture, and the many people who make up this great state. The comprehensive WPW line-up boldly says: "this is Wisconsin, and as theater makers and patrons, we take great pride in that." World Premiere Wisconsin is Proudly Presented by Ten Chimneys Foundation.

Additional sponsors include: Community Sponsors United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF), Destination Door County, Full Compass Systems, and Milwaukee Magazine, Spotlight Sponsor Destination Madison and VISIT Milwaukee, Media Sponsor: Isthmus, and In-Kind Support: Distillery.

Great theater and the development of new plays are not new to Wisconsin - there is a long history of such work in this state. However, WPW now provides a platform for Wisconsin to be recognized for its exceptional work and contributions to American theater with this first-of-its-kind collaboration - both statewide and nationally.

When asked why she thought a theater festival like this was needed now, WPW Founder Jen Uphoff Gray commented: "World Premiere Wisconsin was born out of my desire to celebrate the incredible theater makers in our state. I hoped that bringing us all together towards a common purpose could build new relationships, attract attention (both statewide and around the country) for our work, and generate enthusiasm for the exciting new plays and musicals being created here. We are already seeing these goals come to fruition, and I could not be prouder of what we have already accomplished together.

"Theatergoers will have an extraordinary opportunity this spring to be the first to see scores of new works without having to travel far and to know that by showing up, they are contributing to the creation of this art. Live audiences are a crucial ingredient in the development of plays and musicals, and Wisconsin's audiences will help us launch all these stories out into the world!"

WPW Festival Producer Michael Cotey added: "WPW is a big, bold idea not just for Wisconsin but for all theaters. Theaters across the country are struggling. By taking such a big swing with this festival, we hope to set an example of what's possible in the spirit of collaboration and inspire others with the work we've done to rally theaters together in their state. But we'll still be able to say we did it first, and as someone born and raised in Wisconsin, I'm very proud of that."

Festival Highlights

New World Premiere Wisconsin Website

WPW has launched a new website with a complete listing of all productions, readings, workshops, and more. Audience members can search the website's calendar, filter, and explore categories like region, genre, or "Local Brew," which features pieces by Wisconsin playwrights. Visitors can also sign up for the WPW newsletter and Digital Passport. Visit the new site here:

Digital Passport

WPW is also excited to offer a free mobile-exclusive digital passport that allows visitors and locals to check-in at participating festival theaters, redeem promotional offers, and earn points along the way, which can be redeemed for rewards. WPW partnered with the technology company Bandwango, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, to launch this passport. Their team has successfully launched many gamified check-in trails with destinations in the U.S. and Canada. The pass is free, and once audience members sign-up, it is immediately sent to their phone and email; no downloads are required. Those who sign up and follow WPW on Facebook and Instagram will be entered into sweepstakes and giveaway opportunities exclusive to passport holders. To learn more:

Awarded Wisconsin Department of Tourism Grant

In December, World Premiere Wisconsin was awarded the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant at its full amount of $39,550, which will increase the festival's ability to reach more people across the state through print and online media.


Festival Theater Productions:

At the core of WPW are 248 performances across 11 full productions by Wisconsin's leading professional theaters in three regions (Madison, Milwaukee, Door County), including...


THE HEART SELLERS by Lloyd Suh at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, February 7 - March 19, 2023

HOOPS by Eliana Pipes with original music by B-Free adapted from the Hoops Portrait Project by Nicole Acosta at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, March 10 - April 2, 2023

TIDY by Kristin Idaszak at Renaissance Theaterworks, March 24 - April 16, 2023

THE GRACIOUS SISTERS by Alice Austen at First Stage, May 5 - 21, 2023

GOD'S SPIES by Bill Cain at Next Act Theatre, April 27 - May 21, 2023

TBA at Skylight Music Theatre, May 19 - June 11, 2023


SHINING IN MISERY: A KING-SIZED PARODY book by Colleen DuVall, music by Andrew Abrams, and lyrics by Mark-Eugene Garcia at Capital City Theatre, February 23 - March 5, 2023

ARTEMISIA by Lauren Gunderson at Forward Theater Company, April 13 - 30, 2023


I CARRY YOUR HEART WITH ME by Jennifer Blackmer at Third Avenue Playworks, May 10 - 29, 2023.

A ROCK SAILS BY by Sean Grennan, at Peninsula Players, June 13 - July 2, 2023.

THE FISH WHISPERER book by Scott Guy and Robin Share, music by Dan Wessels and Ron Barnette at Northern Sky Theater, June 14 - August 25, 2023.

World Premiere Wisconsin will also unfold throughout the state thanks to 40 additional professional, community, and academic theater companies staging full productions, readings, and workshops of new work in more than 20 communities.

Current lineup of all productions:

Current full festival participant list:

Please refer to the website for additions and any updates to the full WPW festival schedule. Listings are subject to change. For specific production updates, please refer to the producing theater's website for the most up-to-date information, including runtimes and how to purchase tickets.