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Meet the Director: Gillett Local Brings Musical Comedy to Abrams Stage

Playgoers, I bid welcome.
The theatre is a temple, and we are here to worship the gods of comedy and tragedy.
Tonight, I am pleased to announce a comedy.
We shall employ every device we know in our desire to divert you.

Comedy Tonight

We have the great honor of introducing Wayne Strei, director of ASPI’s upcoming production A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. This will be Mr. Strei’s debut in ASPI, but he is no stranger to theater and the arts! 

Mr. Strei was born and raised in Gillett, WI and is a 1972 Gillett High School graduate. While his theater experience began in middle school, his higher education brought him to San Francisco, CA! In 1977, Mr. Strei received his B.A. in theatre arts from San Francisco State University. 

Mr. Strei’s time in San Francisco was filled with performances and directing of numerous shows, as well as being a regular on People are Talking and Good Morning, Bay Area, both of which were local television in San Francisco in the 1980’s. But that’s not all! Mr. Strei was also a longtime food and entertainment writer and critic in the Bay Area. 

In 2001, after 25 years in San Francisco, Mr. Strei returned to Wisconsin to care for his parents. Since his return, he remains living on his family’s farm in the house where he was raised.

Mr. Strei’s theater career hasn’t slowed down! He has since directed a number of community productions at Gillett Secondary School. And seven year ago, Mr. Strei portrayed the role of Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, as directed by Ben Burish, former director of band for Oconto Falls High School. Who better to direct ASPI’s current production than Pseudolus himself! Other shows he has under his performance and director belt include Our Town, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Godspell and a number of musical revues. 

Currently, Mr. Strei is semi-retired and serves as church musician at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Gillett. He also judges forensics and accompanies musicians in local high school performances. 

When A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum hits the ASPI stage in September, it’s guaranteed to leave our audiences in stitches!

“I think everyone who likes to laugh will love this show! It’s irreverent, bawdy, politically incorrect and one of the true musical farces in Broadway history. It moves along quickly and there’s a guffaw every minute,” explains Mr. Strei.

With this being Mr. Strei’s first performance with ASPI, and rehearsals and production well underway, the cast and crew have already left an impression! 

Mr. Strei shares, “I have met so many talented and wonderful performers and technicians with ASPI, some with lots of productions here and in other theaters under their belts and others brand new to the group or even to being on stage! Our youngest performer is in middle school and I think the oldest is a month younger than myself. So about 43. Okay, 50.” 

Still undecided if you should purchase tickets to this upcoming production? Let Director Wayne Strei share with you why this is one production you do not want to miss!

“I know you will enjoy this crazy romp through Rome in 200 B.C. The music is charming and humorous and I think you will be humming some on your way home. Downton Abbey it ain’t, but it doesn’t need to be to introduce you to the wacky citizens who live and love in Rome during this very interesting (and funny) time period. The scenery and costumes are colorful and imaginative.  But mostly come for the singing and dancing and a wonderful script performed by some of the talented and funny people I have worked with in years!”

Showtimes are September 16-18 and 23-25 at 7pm, September 19 and 25 at 1pm. Tickets are on sale NOW and can be purchased at Please call the Box Office with any questions or for more information, (920)826-5852. 

Please note A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is an After Dark Production, this means the musical is rated PG-13.

Are You Ready Guys and Dolls?

Spring days bring another EXCITING ASPI announcement! We are pleased to announce ASPI’s winter production!
Drum roll please…

🎵In December 2021, GUYS AND DOLLS will be gracing the stage! 🎶

This romantic comedy musical features a gambler, a crap game manager, a showgirl, and a missionary. Can a wager between friends really turn into love between the manager and the missionary? Find out if opposites really do attract!
Making her directorial debut this December is Miss Abby Frank! Miss Frank has over 12 years of theater experience, including community shows and school productions. She is no stranger to the ASPI community! Miss Frank has been involved in ASPI productions since her sophomore year of high school. You many have seen her in her first first ASPI production when she played the role of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. Most recently she appeared in the role of Ariel in Footloose (2019).

Let’s conclude with a word from the director herself!

Guys and Dolls is arguably a classic, premiering on Broadway in 1950 before the film was released five years later. My senior year of high school I had the privilege of playing Sarah Brown in our production of Guys and Dolls, and it’s been one of my favorite musicals ever since. The way the show takes two separate, and vastly different romances, and intertwines them into one fast-paced and intriguing storyline is absolutely incredible. It has everything, for everyone, and it is 100% a show for the entire family.

Abby Frank

With her many years of experience on and off the stage, her familiarity with the show, and with the support of her wonderful production crew, Miss Frank is looking forward to directing her first production!

We miss you all a “bushel and a peck” and we cannot wait to welcome you all back through the doors of the theater! Stay tuned to the blog and follow ASPI on Facebook for more exciting updates!

Song Verse

Singing into Spring

With the spring sunshine and rain bringing promises for new and exciting days ahead, ASPI has some very exciting news to share with you!

♬Every field wears a bonnet
With some spring daisies on it,
Even birds of a feather show their clothes off together
Sun’s gettin’ shinery, to spotlight the finery,
Spring, spring, spring ♪ ♫
~ Seven Brides for Seven Brothers ~

We are thrilled to announce that we will be setting the stage to welcome audiences back into the theater this September!

Under the direction of Wayne Strei, ASPI is proud to present the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Audiences will be transported to ancient Rome in this musical comedy following Pseudolus, a slave who seeks to win his freedom by uniting his master, Hero, with the one whom his heart desires, courtesan Philia. Should be simple enough, right? Well, the course of true love never did run smooth.

This musical is inspired by the ancient Roman playwright Plautus, known for his comedic farces. In 1963, the original Broadway musical was a Tony winner for Best Musical AND Best Author. Our audiences are in for a treat as this musical is sure to be a comedic riot. For where Pseudolus goes, chaos follows!

Details on auditions and showtimes COMING SOON! Follow ASPI on Facebook and stay tuned to the blog for highly anticipated updates regarding our September show!

elf the musical

Elf the Musical

December 4, 5, 6 and December 11, 12, 13

Coming off the popular run of Abrams Spotlight Productions production of Elf the Musical Junior…. Our winter show will be Elf the Musical- the FULL production!   Based on the cherished 2003 New Line Cinema hit, Elf features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer) and Chad Beguelin (Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway), with a book by Tony Award winners,Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone).

This production of Elf the Musical is the full length production and includes 2 more songs!  Elf the Musical will feature both adults and kids in various roles.  The modern-day holiday classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner elf. After all, the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

Elf the Musical will be presented December 4, 5, 6 and December 11, 12, 13.

Postponed – My Fair Lady

Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. has postponed the upcoming musical “My Fair Lady” and the Spotlight Wedding Show. Future dates for the shows are being reviewed.

The postponement is in support of the well-being of the theater-going public and those who work on the productions, subject to ongoing assessment by county and state health authorities. ASPI takes the health and safety of our patrons, staff and community seriously.

ASPI customers with tickets to “My Fair Lady” will be contacted via phone or email with further information. 

Please note that ASPI is a volunteer organization with many moving parts. Our volunteers spend countless hours rehearsing, working behind-the-scenes, and doing maintenance and groundskeeping. The community theater’s income is based upon ticket sales, advertising sponsorships, and donations.

Donations to the theater are appreciated, especially now with the postponement of the shows. ASPI will need to reinvest in its promotional materials and cover other unexpected costs. You can help out by clicking here.

We look forward to bringing the spotlight back to the community theater when the coronavirus is in check.


Notice something different about our upcoming winter musical?! ASPI is proud to present Elf The Musical, Jr. That Jr. part is very important because it means that all the cast and production crew are between the ages of 6 and 15. This production is 100% youth driven!

While ASPI makes it a priority to have multi-generational musicals with children’s roles, this will be the very first musical with an entire youth cast. This also includes youth in the production staff, where they will be mentored by their adult counterpart.  You can see the entire lineup of cast and crew here.

Elf The Musical Jr. is being directed by Liz Jolly along with her junior director Sydney Surber. An instant Christmas classic, this musical production of the hit film is an opportunity for our young cast and crew to shine!

In their working relationship as director and junior director, Liz includes Sydney in all her duties and decisions. Sydney’s role as junior director involves various roles such as blocking part of a scene, casting parts in a song, and attending production meetings. Just to name a few!

It may be a junior production, but Liz is demanding the highest professional-level quality from the cast and production staff. She believes they are all more than up to the challenge! Since the “adult” characters in the production are also played by children, casting requires looking at each child is capable of, which gives youth the opportunity to play roles they normally wouldn’t.

The great opportunity a junior production brings to the theater, Liz explains, is that it allows junior members to become more involved in different aspects of theater, such as production. Production roles, while generally not considered as popular as acting on the stage, are just as essential for a show’s success.  Liz cannot wait to see how her young cast and crew grow in their roles both on and off stage.

Liz also believes that directing a junior production breathes new life into all parts of the job. The adults involved in the production are mentoring their junior counterparts, which involves explaining what they are doing and why. Which Liz thinks is great because sometimes why things are done can be forgotten and this mentorship encourages communication.

Both Liz and Sydney believe everyone should make attending Elf The Musical, Jr. part of their Christmas festivities this winter season. This show is sure to get you in the holiday spirit with its huge song and dance numbers and its way of tugging at one’s heart strings. This hilarious show with it’s positive uplifting message will take you from Bah Humbug to Sparklejollytwinklejinglely!

Want to be on Santa’s nice list? Order your tickets for Elf The Musical, Jr. NOW. They make the perfect gift! Showtimes are December 6-8 and December 13-15. It’s sure to be a Santa approved evening ?

Meet the Directors

Liz has been involved with ASPI since 2010. Her many roles have included director of Meet Me in St. Louis, Miss Hannigan in Annie, Kathy Selden in Singing in the Rain, and The Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone, where she also lended her talents as costume designer. Liz’s theater experience also includes work with Theatre Z, PlayByPlay Theatre, Evergreen, Green Bay Community Theatre, SNC Summer Music Theatre, and appearances in Drunken Shakespeare at The Green Room Lounge in De Pere.

Liz is more than qualified to mentor this young cast and crew as she holds a BA in Theatre Studies and Classical Studies from St. Norbert college and an additional degree in acting from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

Miss Sydney Surber has been involved in theatre since the age of 4 years old! Elf will be her eighth production with ASPI. She also had the opportunity to shadow her mom as assistant director for ASPI’s production of Barefoot in the Park. A 6th grader at Bay City Christian School, Sydney is on the volleyball team. When not acting or playing volleyball, she enjoys taking piano and voice lessons.

My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

Production Dates: September 17-20 & 24-27

Tickets go on Sale July 15!
Location: Nancy Byng Community Theater

NOTE: Current ticket holders will be offered early bird opportunity to exchange tickets for new reserved seats any time. Just call the box office at 920-826-5852

Hailed by critics and audiences alike for its heart and wit, My Fair Lady is a beautiful musical about transformation, patronage, gender politics and class.  Acclaimed Professor and confirmed bachelor Henry Higgins makes a wager with his linguistic colleague Colonel Pickering that in six months he can pass off “gutter snipe” Eliza Doolittle as a duchess at an embassy ball. Through arduous training, Eliza learns how to speak English “properly,” and transforms into a lady respected and adored by all classes.  Originally produced on Broadway in 1956, “My Fair Lady” is Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s most popular musical collaboration, earning nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. There have been numerous Broadway revivals and a 1964 movie starring Audrey Hepburn. 

Book and Lyrics by ALAN JAY LERNER             

My Fair Lady Is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

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. 

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.