By Tom Jozwik and Barb Haig
As a cluster with a joint pastor, St. Sebastian and St. Catherine are always looking for ways to collaborate. And this year’s St. Sebastian Cabaret Variety Show – April 20 and 21 – is the latest partnership venture, thanks to a talented director who grew up and has now returned to St. Catherine.
Elizabeth Krueger has been the formidable Lady Capulet (Juliet’s mother) in “Romeo and Juliet” and the neighborly stage manager in the American classic “Our Town,” among other stage characters. More recently, following theatrical postings in Newport, Rhode Island, and New York City, Elizabeth has been directing a cast of St. Sebastian and St. Catherine parishioners in the “Not Your Garden Variety” Variety Show.
“I think it’s going well,” Elizabeth says. “We’re right on track for where we need to be; we’re powering ahead. I’m excited for it.”
St. Catherine Origins
Longtime St. Catherine friend and St. Sebastian Cabaret mainstay Kris Reck brought the production and its need for a director to Elizabeth’s attention. Elizabeth has a busy schedule, highlighted by working with her husband at the Murder Mystery Company – a theatre company that does murder mystery shows throughout Wisconsin – and taking care of 16-month-old daughter Daenerys.
But that didn’t dissuade Elizabeth from signing on. No doubt her willingness to volunteer stemmed at least in part from the example of Elizabeth’s parents, Mike and June Wessa. Both are active parishioners at St. Catherine, with June currently serving as parish council chair.
Elizabeth attended St. Catherine School from kindergarten through eighth grade, then went on to Pius XI High School. Theatre (“Hamlet” and “Les Miserables”) was one of her involvements as a member of Pius’ class of 2003. “It was just something I enjoyed doing,” she said. “I don’t know that it was a serious (consideration) until I hit college.”
Studying Theatre in London
After declaring a double major in theatre and French at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota, Elizabeth had the opportunity to study in London during her junior year. “London is such a huge theatre culture, it’s great,” she says today.
Studying abroad afforded the opportunities to take in plays at the Globe Theatre (replica of the similarly named playhouse of Shakespeare’s day), where many patrons stand rather than sit; to experience the tutelage of professors from London’s Hamlin University; and to put on, for the public, Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”
As her 2007 graduation from St. Mary’s neared, Elizabeth and classmates were made aware of “huge mass auditions” around the country—and she wound up hiring on with CLIMB, a children’s theatre company based near St. Paul. She traveled throughout the Midwest for a year, staging educational plays on such topics as bullying, the environment, and avoiding drugs.
From CLIMB she went to the Astor mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, whose one-time owner, John Jacob Astor IV, perished aboard the Titanic. Set in a community renowned for its stately Victorian homes, the mansion has been turned into a living history museum. Elizabeth worked for two years as a reenactor, portraying a pair of Victorian characters while giving tours and participating in comedic improv shows and murder mysteries.
As an acting professional residing just down the road from New York City (Elizabeth and fellow performers resided in the Astors’ former servants’ quarters, 3.5 hours from the city), it was perhaps inevitable that Elizabeth would eventually cast her lot with the Big Apple. New York turned out to be home for nearly eight years, during which she “was in a fair amount of shows” off-Broadway, “Romeo and Juliet” among them, and “was doing fairly well.”
But she tore her meniscus in her knee, putting her out of work for several months in a city that’s tough for an injured individual. She decided to sublet her apartment and recuperate in Milwaukee.
Match Making in Milwaukee
Back in her hometown she got involved in a high school friend’s independent TV project, on which one of the writer-actors was a certain Bryon Krueger. Elizabeth returned to New York, and Bryon—possessor of an accounting degree, as well as an actor whose credits include television—eventually moved there from Milwaukee in the aftermath of their “dating long distance, lots of phone calls, lots of visiting.”
The couple married at St. Catherine Church in 2013, and they soon relocated to Milwaukee, just five minutes from St. Catherine’s and 15 minutes from St. Sebs.
“I’ve enjoyed being back,” she said. “And I’m having fun” overseeing this year’s Cabaret team.
- What – A cast of 30 parishioners, neighbors and friends singing, dancing and laughing their way to your heart! Download the list here.
- Cost – Suggested $20 per person donation. Go to bit.ly/SebsGarden to purchase tickets with a credit card or download a form and return it with a check to the Parish House, 5400 W. Washington Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53208
- Location – The Cabaret is held in the St. Sebastian Church Hall, on the corner of 54th and Washington Blvd. Parking is available throughout the Washington Heights neighborhood and in the school parking lot adjacent to the church.
- Entrance – Enter on 54th street. You’ll check in and find your table number at the registration desk, then either take the stairs or elevator to the Church Hall.
- Time – The Church Hall opens at 6:00, so come early! The show starts at 7:00 and runs about two hours, with 20 minutes for an intermission.
- Fun! – At this year’s Variety Show, EVERYONE is involved! You’ll have a chance to contribute to an original song that’s actually created during the show. Our talented writers, Jesús Villa and friends from the Kangaroo Lake Writers Group, will be composing the words and music during a live auction. You can bid on the song’s title, what type of music genre it should be, and even names or businesses to include! Be sure to come with a full wallet and plenty of ideas!
- Food/Beverages – We’ll provide some snacks at each table. Wine, beer, soda, coffee and water will be available for purchase.
You can learn more about Elizabeth in this 2012 article in the Catholic Herald – https://catholicherald.org/special-sections/myfaith/chasing-her-dream/