Director Tim Rutten-Kempees

Numbers by Day, Director by Night

ASPI is proud to present “Escanaba in da Moonlight” as the “After Dark” Production for the 2019 season.

Ever have a disappointing hunting season where nothing seems to be going your way? In Jeff Daniels’ play “Escanaba in da Moonlight”, that’s exactly what huntsman Reuben Soady feels like. Except his unlucky streak will make him the oldest Soady in history to not shoot a buck.

Director Tim Rutten-Kempees
Director Tim Rutten-Kempees

Meet the Director who will bring the Yooper hunting experience to life, Mr. Tim Rutten-Kempees!

Accountant by day, director by night, Tim comes to ASPI with years of experience wearing multiple theater hats. On top of having a bachelor’s degree in theater, Tim has acted in over 20 shows. “Escanaba in da Moonlight” will be the seventh show he has directed and the second second he has directed with ASPI, his first being “Barefoot in the Park”. Tim also played Warren in ASPI’s production of “Meet Me in St. Louis”.

The cast of “Escanaba in da Moonlight” is what Tim believes will really draw the audience to the show.  The production is early in the rehearsal process, but it has already been filled with lots of laughs and a lot of fun!

Did we mention that the play takes place in Upper Michigan? So, this production is sure to hit close to home to many in the audience! Get ready for some slang and references only a true “Yooper” would know.

Will Reuben Soady go down in history as the oldest Soady to not shoot a buck by the end of hunting season? Buy your tickets now to find out! Performances will be September 12-15 and September 19-22.

Elf The Musical, Jr.


  • Friday – Saturday, December 6 & 7 @ 7 PM
  • Saturday – Sunday, December 7 & 8  @ 1 PM
  • Friday – Saturday, December 13 & 14  @ 7 PM
  • Saturday – Sunday, December 14 & 15 @ 1 PM
Dec 6-8, 13-15!
Nancy Byng Community Theater

Elf The Musical JR. is based on the 2003 New Line Cinema hit and features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer) and Chad Beguelin (Disney’s Aladdin On BroadwayThe Wedding Singer), a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan (AnnieThe ProducersHairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone).

The musical tells the story of a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is given the name Buddy and raised by elves in the North Pole.  Buddy lives happily unaware that he is actually a human until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth.

With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list, and his stepbrother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of the holidays.

Elf The Musical JR. is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).  All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 Phone: 212-541-4684 Fax: 212-397-4684


Buddy – Bella Frank
Jovie – KK Blau
Walter Hobbs – Kael Richard James
Emily Hobbs – Myah Jane Mlnarik
Michael Hobbs – Natalie Pera
Deb – Paityn Keller
Charlie/Macy’s Store Manager – Nick Blaser
Sarah – Brynna Moody
Chadwick – Lauren Herison
Matthews – Emma Ronk
Mr. Greenway/Taxi Driver – Brady Cox
Santa/Souvlaki Seller – Sophia Wonz
Shawanda/Macy’s Saleswoman – Sadie Smith
Police Officer – Faith Marquardt
Charlotte Denon – Sydney Surber
Teenager – Ashlynn Vanderheyden
Fake Santa – Cora Heinecke
Darlene Lambert – Mary Peterson
Emma Van Brocklin – Hailey Marquardt
Elf 1/”Santa’s” Helper – Jaycie Norman
Elf 2 – Hannah Nicholson
Elf 3 – Darcin Wright
Elf 4 – Eden Kuchta
Elf 5 – Alexa Samsa
Elf 6 – Maria Ronk
Elf 7 – Sawyer Norman

Production Staff:

100% Youth Driven (even behind the scenes):

Jr. Director – Sydney Surber
Jr. Asst Dir – KK Blau
Jr. Production Coord – Ellie Finger
Jr. Stage Manager – Allie Brehmer
Jr. Choreographer – Bella Frank
Jr. Technical Director – James Perkins
Jr. Marketing – KK Blau
Jr. Lights / Sound – Nick Symons
Jr. Costume Designer – Calea Wirtley
Jr. Props – Alyssa Peterson
Jr. Make-up – Gracelynn Williquettes

Young @ Heart Production Staff:

Director – Liz Jolly
Asst. Director – Josh Blau
Choreographer – Debra Jolly
Stage Manager – Tanya Brehmer
Technical Director – David Jolly
Scenic Design – David Jolly & Mike Konkel
Lighting Designer – Debra Jolly
Costume Designer- Katie Myrick-Jackson
Props Manager- Jim Klein
Marketing – Josh Blau
Volunteer Coordinator – Brigette Finger
Production Coordinator – Ali Carlson

Want to help out? We need lots of extremely important behind-the-scenes elves! 
Contact for more information. 

And 5, 6, 7, 8!

the movements used by dancers esp. in performing ballet, or the art of planning such movements

In other words, choreography is what can take a show from BLAH to WOW!
For ASPI’s upcoming production of “Footloose: The Musical”, we have two choreographers, Ali Carlson and Jennifer Hibbard, dedicated to creating the dance numbers for the show and to teach those dance numbers to the cast.

Ali has been dancing since the age of 3. With her entire family being involved in the theater, she got involved at an early age. However, it wasn’t until she was an adult that she found her passion for choreography.

Jennifer has danced jazz and ballet since the age of 7 and has received a secondary major in dance from Butler University, Jordan College of Fine Arts. Fun fact: Jennifer started and ran her own dance studio for 10 years.

Both have many years of choreography experience under their belt, so who better to explain the importance of choreography and how it goes from rehearsal to the stage!

The choreography process begins by creating the dance numbers. That creative process takes a lot of preparation and is different for every choreographer! One approach is to work with the Director of the production to get a feel for the style of the show, which is different for every production. The choreography is one way to set apart one musical from the next. For example, the free-spirited nature of “Footloose” is going to be different from the sultry atmosphere of “Cabaret”. For the next step, the choreographer looks at the cast and their abilities and creates the dance numbers from there. Other factors in the beginning stages of choreography include the spacing in the theater and the timeline of the production.

For this end of June production, choreography rehearsals began at the beginning of May. Teaching the choreography to the cast usually begins after the music has started- it’s important for the cast to know the music first before learning movement. Once the teaching portion is complete, it’s then time for REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW! A Dance Captain is crucial for running reviews at rehearsals. For “Footloose”, Bella Frank is serving in the role as Dance Captain. Did we mention the role is crucial? The show would not run without her!

What are our two choreographers most excited about for “Footloose”?

Jennifer- To see the enthusiasm and joy the cast portrays. It’s such a fun cast!

Ali- Seeing the performers develop from audition to opening night! That is always my favorite part. They start out scared, then I challenge them (and sometimes I can see the overwhelming feeling… but the actors have such perseverance), to opening night where they know they GOT THIS!! It’s such a great feeling to know that I had a part in their development from start to finish.

Come see the choreographers and the cast kick off their Sunday shoes for ASPI’s production of “Footloose: The Musical”! Tickets are on sale NOW! Showtimes include June 21, 22, 28, and 29 at 7pm and June 22, 23, 29, and 30 at 1pm. To purchase tickets, check out the ASPI website at or by calling the box office at 920-826-5852.

Special thanks to Ali Carlson and Jennifer Hibbard for their contribution to the blog post. You may have recently seen Jennifer and Ali on stage for ASPI’s production of “Cabaret”. When not on stage, you can find Ali behind the scenes as ASPI’s Resident Production Coordinator as well as ASPI Board Secretary.

♫ Let’s Hear it for the Funding ♫

In our last post, we talked about all the volunteers and community support that it takes to make ASPI a success. After the last blog post, you may be thinking, so where do the funds come from to maintain the theater building, daily operations, and production costs?

ASPI needs not only the community’s time and talents, but also monetary support. The theater is largely funded through ticket sales, so come see our shows! Invite your friends. Spread the word about this hidden gem in Abrams.

(Also, those yummy concession stand snacks also go back to support the theater. Supporting the theater never tasted so good ?)

Other ways the community can contribute to the theater is through sponsorships, advertising, and donations.

Sponsorships start as low as $25 per year through $500+, and sponsorships are acknowledged with our gratitude in the production programs. Did we mention that sponsorships at the higher levels get discounted ticket prices? Click here  to learn more about how you can sponsor ASPI.

Advertising is a way for businesses to support the theater and vice versa. A full page black and white ad is only $180 for the year. This ad will appear in the season’s programs of all four productions. With 8 performances per production there is the potential of reaching 3,000+ people. Advertisers also receive 2 complimentary tickets to 3 of the 4 shows that year. That is a $90 value! Through the advertising, ASPI also seeks to support and promote area businesses.

And finally, ASPI accepts monetary donations of any amount. That is how we were able to fund our new cushioned chairs, through the generous donation of the Bond Foundation . A quick and easy way to donate is online at our website. Follow the link here.

Looking ahead, the financial vision of ASPI is to be debt free of the mortgage in approximately 5 to 7 years. In the long term, other potential updates to the theater space include additional bathroom space, a new roof, an updated sound system, and LED lighting for the stage.

Also looking towards the future, the theater is looking into ways to make good use of the theater space during down times. This includes renting the theater space for weddings, gatherings, and funerals. Most recently, the theater hosted an Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show, which brought together Northeast Wisconsin wedding vendors for a spring wedding show in a unique and quaint setting.

Again, the theater thrives off community support, whether that be through volunteering time, attending shows, spreading the word, or through financial support. We want this community theater to be at the heart of its community, for the community to see the theater as their own.

Want to be part of ASPI and the theater family? Have questions about how you can financially support the theater? Contact the box office at (920)826-5852!

Special thanks to Jim Klein for his contribution to the blog post! 

Theater Chairs Bond Foundation


Did you know that Abrams Spotlight Productions, Inc. (ASPI) is completely run by volunteers?

You read that right! The theater, from performers and production crew to set designers and the box office, even the board of directors, is entirely dependent on volunteers. So how does that work?

ASPI is considered a 501c3 nonprofit organization. While many nonprofits may have paid staff to assist in day to day operations, ASPI relies on the generosity and commitment of its community members. Each production, and the time in between, involves hundreds of hours of volunteer help. So, you can count on the theater being seldom empty or dark, even between productions. 

“We have been blessed with a very dedicated active board and volunteer staff. They are not only on the sidelines giving direction or orders but putting in countless hours to make this theater thrive and standout,” says board member Jim Klein.

You got a talent, we’ll take it! You may not even realize it, but you have a talent that ASPI needs.

Here is just a preview of the roles and skills needed to keep ASPI running: directors, performers, production crew, set designers and builders, costumes people, prop masters, ushers, box office attendees, board of directors, maintenance, repair, upkeep, lawn work, flower beds, painting, plumbing, etc.

And this is just naming a few!

Mr. Klein says it best, “ASPI loves to be the community theater in the heart of little Abrams… We want the community to take ownership of this hidden gem.”

That is what makes ASPI so special! It thrives off its community support.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about how you can volunteer at the theater, call the theater’s box office at (920) 826-5852 and check out the Volunteering section of our website.  

Stay tuned because in our next blog post we will discuss how you can financially support and get involved in ASPI!

Special thanks to Jim Klein for his contribution to the blog post. Mr. Klein was inducted as an ASPI board member in January 2019, but he is not new to the theater scene. Mr. Klein has appeared in several ASPI productions such as The Wizard of Oz (the Wizard), Shrek (retiring knight and bishop), Odd Couple (Speed), Meet Me in St. Louis (Trolley Conductor), Annie (President Roosevelt), and Singing in the Rain (Audience Heckler). Mr. Klein has also contributed his talents as Assistant Director for Charlie Brown and lighting for Oliver! Prior to ASPI, Mr. Klein spent 28 years working for Charitable Foundations as the Director of Planned Giving. ASPI is excited to have Mr. Klein on board!

Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show is March 31

The Stadium View, JPS Nvitations and Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. will present the Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple Street, Abrams. Brides, grooms, their families and friends are invited to attend the show, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 31, at the theater. The Byng Community Theater, formerly a quaint country church, has been newly renovated and is now open for weddings and funerals.

Guests at the Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show will have the opportunity to speak directly to a variety of wedding vendors from Northeast Wisconsin. Vendors will provide information about their products and services, including wedding cakes, music, photography, invitations, make-up, and more.

Drawings for prizes will be held throughout the event.

Tickets are $10; however, fees will be waived for the first 200 registrants. Call the Abrams theater box office to reserve your tickets, 920-826-5852.

Wedding vendors interested in exhibiting at the show are encouraged to call the box office for prices and availability, 920-826-5852.

Click Here to print out your free ticket!

The Many Faces of Oliver

Name that character: “Please, sir, I want some more.”

Yep, that’s Oliver Twist. The sweet, young orphan who must navigate the world’s cruelties from workhouses to foul caregivers and thieving pickpockets.

Productions and actors come and go, but the sweet and innocent spirit of Oliver Twist stays the same. Let’s meet the many faces who played the beloved orphan over the years…

 The Original London Production (1960)

The very first Oliver, leading the way for future child actors, was none other than Keith Hamshere, who was 14 at the time of the production. The Original London Production ran for 2,618 performances! Fun facts: Keith Hamshere left acting to pursue a career as a Hollywood still photographer. His work includes films such as James Bond and Star Wars.

Original Broadway Production (1963)

The original Broadway production, starring young Bruce Prochnik in the role of Oliver, ran from 1963 to 1964 with a total of 774 performances! Not only was the musical a success with audiences, but it was also a winner of 3 Tony Awards: Best Original Score (Lionel Bart), Best Conductor and Musical Director (Don Pippin), and Best Scenic Design (Sean Kenny)!

Fun Fact: In 1962, Bruce Prochnik played Oliver Twist in a UK TV miniseries.

Bonus: Georgia Brown and Barry Humphries from the Original London Production reprised their roles as Nancy and Mr. Sowerberry in the Original Broadway Production.

Oliver! The Film (1968)

The film Oliver! features young Mark Lester and it is based on the stage musical, using the same music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. Though the film does eliminate some song numbers such as “I Shall Scream” and “That’s Your Funeral”, the film was a smashing success! It was a winner of six Academy Awards and two Golden Globes!

Fun Fact: Oliver’s songs were actually dubbed by actress and singer Kathe Green.

Come and see our very own Sadie Smith in the role of Oliver Twist for ASPI’s production of Oliver! Get your tickets NOW for a show that will have you begging for more! To order tickets, go to or call the box office at 920-826-5852.


According to Oliver: 5 Life Lessons from Oliver! The Musical

Palace of Westminster in fog seen from London Eye
  1. Share a meal with friends (or strangers).

       “But there’s nothing to stop us from getting a thrill

        When we all close our eyes and imagine

        Food, glorious food!”

   2. Every walk of life is worth living, especially if you spend it with people you love.  

      “When you got someone to love

       You forget your cares and strife

       Let the prudes look down on us

       Let the wide world frown on us

        It’s a fine, fine life!”       

   3. It’s never too late to turn your life around or have a change of heart.

       “And tho’ I’d be the first one to say that I wasn’t a saint

        I’m finding it hard to be really as black as they paint

        I’m reviewing the situation.”

   4. Family are those who you choose to surround yourself with.

        “Consider yourself at home

        Consider yourself one of the family

        We’ve taken to you so strong

        It’s clear we’re going to get along.”

   5. While it makes for a good musical number, thievery is not condoned.

       “Large amounts don’t grow on trees

        You’ve got to pick a pocket or two.”


We’d do anything for you , our audience. So, come and see ASPI’s very own production of Oliver! Tickets are on sale NOW! For more information and to order tickets, go to or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

What Christmas Means to Me

Picture this… You are lying in your bed and your eyes begin to flutter open. You look at your window and see that the sun is barely peeking through. It’s too early to wake up, so you begin to drift off. But wait! It’s Christmas morning!

SantaYou shoot out of bed and rush to your door. You go to wake up your parents, but there’s no time! You have to check under the tree! After months and months of asking and multiple letters to Santa because I have obviously been [fingers crossed] very good this year, your Christmas dream is about to come true. That’s right, the present you have been waiting all year is before you. Look at that perfectly wrapped box. You can almost taste your anticipation. You open the box… But what is this????? This isn’t what I asked for?!

Have you ever been there? Well Ralphie Parker knows the feeling. He so desperately wanted a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. The mother of all presents! If you don’t know how the story goes, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say this:

“You’ll shoot your eye out!”

But if we are being honest, looking back on Christmases past, what do we remember most? Is it the presents? Or is it making cut out cookies with your grandmother. Picking out a Christmas tree. Going sledding. Singing carols. Snowball fights. Building a snowman. Sitting with your family as you all enjoy Christmas dinner. All that and more are the priceless moments that will last for a lifetime. Those are the cherished moments and traditions you will look back on in years to come with nostalgia. Now that is what Christmas is all about.

How will you use this holiday season to make a memory that will last a lifetime?

Need some holiday cheer? No bah humbugs allowed here! Tickets are going fast for ASPI’s production of A Christmas Story: The Musical. For more information on the show or to order tickets, go to or call the box office at 920-826-5852.