201415-962x330-amish-v4Milwaukee Repertory Theater presents Jessica Dickey’s poetic and touching play, The Amish Project, starring Rep Associate Artist Deborah Staples and directed by Milwaukee-based theater director and Rep Literary Coordinator Leda Hoffmann, making her Milwaukee Rep directing debut with this production. These two versatile and talented women will bring to life this profound and thought-provoking play, a fictional exploration of the Nickel Mines schoolhouse shooting in an Amish community and the path of forgiveness and compassion forged in its wake. The Amish Project runs February 11 – March 22, 2015 and opens on Friday, February 13 in The Rep’s intimate Stiemke Studio.

Deborah Staples and Leda Hoffmann are both alumni of The Rep’s artistic internship program, one of the finest programs of its kind in the country and now celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Staples is a veteran Rep actor who is a current Associate Artist, a former resident Acting Company Member, and a former Rep acting intern from the 1990/91 Season. She is celebrating her 20th Anniversary with Milwaukee Rep this year. Staples has had title roles in numerous Rep productions (see bio below) as well as starred in the one-woman Quadracci Powerhouse production of The Blonde, The Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead during the 2008/09 Season. She was later nominated for a Jeff Award for her performance in that same role at Chicago’s Writers Theatre.

Leda Hoffmann is also an alumni of The Rep’s Artistic Ensemble. She was a directing intern during the 2010/11 Season and is now a full-time member of The Rep’s Artistic Staff as the Literary Coordinator. In addition to directing for each of the four installments of Rep Lab at Milwaukee Rep, Hoffmann has a burgeoning career as a Wisconsin theater director (see bio below). Critics have commented: “Hoffmann has a history of presenting Milwaukee with complex, thought-provoking plays, a reputation all the more impressive given this is only her fourth year in the city,” commented Matthew Reddin with Urban Dial Milwaukee. Paul Kosidowski with Milwaukee Magazine said, “[2013] was a great year for young directors, most notably Leda Hoffmann, who made her mark with two powerful classically-based productions: a pared-down King Lear at Alchemist Theatre, and an outdoor staging of Margaret

Atwood’s feminist retelling of The Odyssey, The Penelopiad.”

Praised by The New York Times as “extraordinary” and as “a remarkable piece of writing,” The Amish Project is a devastating and beautiful one-woman tour-de-force performance that compels audiences to question the paths taken at the crossroads of grief, rage, and clemency. Inspired by the 2006 school shootings in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, this fictional account of a real-life tragedy allows audiences to glimpse into the world of Amish culture, and to come to grips with the true limits of compassion and forgiveness.

“The Amish Project is a play that is loosely based on an actual incident – the Nickel Mines shooting when a man broke into a single-room schoolhouse in Pennsylvania and shot and killed five young Amish girls,” said Artistic Director Mark Clements. “While the play is inspired by those true events, it’s not a detailed breakdown of it. Instead, The Amish Project explores deeper themes of forgiveness and reconciliation showing how the Amish community responded to that incident. The Amish made it very clear that they did not blame the shooter or his family, and they wanted them to be provided for. There have been numerous productions of The Amish Project around the country and audiences find that they are still talking about the play long after they’ve seen it.”

Director Leda Hoffmann added: “The Amish Project challenges us to consider our capacity for forgiveness and empathy. I am thrilled to be working on this play with Deborah Staples in the intimate Stiemke Studio.”


The Stiemke Studio Season is sponsored by Ed Seaberg and Patrick Smith.


Single tickets for all of The Amish Project performances are now on sale and can be purchased online at, by phone at 414-224-9490, or in person at The Rep’s Ticket Office at 108 E. Wells Street. Ticket prices start at $30.00. Group tickets are also available for purchase by calling Morgan Halverson in Group Sales at 414-290-5340.


Deborah Staples is an Associate Artist with The Rep, this year being her 20th with the company. She was most recently seen at The Rep playing Veta Louise Simmons in Harvey, Belinda in Noises Off, Susan in How The World Began, Mrs. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank, Emilia in Othello, and Jean Louise in To Kill a Mockingbird. She has also played leading roles at American Players Theatre (eight seasons), Writers Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Meadow Brook Theatre, New American Theater, Illinois/Wisconsin/Iowa Shakespeare Festivals, and many more. Roles include: Cleopatra (Antony and Cleopatra), Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing), Helena (All’s Well that Ends Well), Kate (Taming of the Shrew), Lady Macbeth, (Macbeth), Yelena (Uncle Vanya), Billy Dawn (Born Yesterday), Cressida (Troilus and Cressida), Lydia Gwilt (Armadale), Nora (A Doll’s House), Nancy (Frozen), Catherine (Proof), Natalya (A Month in the Country), Ariel (The Tempest), Gwendolyn (The Importance of Being Earnest), Elvira (Blithe Spirit), Roxane (Cyrano De Bergerac), everyone in the one-woman show The Blonde, The Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead (Joseph Jefferson Award nominated), and the title roles in Elizabeth Rex, Mary Stuart, Anna Karenina, Anna Christie, Phedre, and Mirandolina. Films include Baraboo, Waterwalk, and Pilot Error (which begins select showings in Wisconsin on March 2nd). Staples has taught multiple acting classes at Marquette University, is a voiceover artist and the mother of two fabulous girls. Up next for her is 10 Questions at Next Act Theatre.


Leda Hoffmann (Director) is making her Milwaukee Rep Stiemke Studio directing debut. A former Rep Directing Intern, Hoffmann now serves as The Rep’s Literary Coordinator. Directing credits include: The Comedy of Errors (Door Shakespeare); The Penelopiad (Luminous Theatre); King Lear (The Alchemist Theatre); Birth Witches (Riverside Theatre); The Chairs (The Alchemist Theatre);Phaedra’s Love (World’s Stage Theatre Company); and six short plays over the past four years of Rep Lab (Milwaukee Rep). Hoffmann is a proud graduate of Grinnell College and a member of Lincoln Center Directors Lab 2012

Courtney O’Neill (Scenic Designer) is a Chicago-based Scenic Designer. Her designs have been seen at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Northwest University, Milwaukee Repertory Theater (Song Man Dance Man) The Hypocrites, Theatre Squared (Fayetteville, AR), About Face Theatre, Collaboraction and Noble Fool, among many others. She received a Jeff Award for Mud (The Hypocrites) and a Jeff Citation for Talk Radio (The Gift Theatre). She holds a BFA from DePaul University and is pursuing her MFA at Northwestern University.

Leslie Vaglica (Costume Designer) is the Junior First Hand in the Costume Shop at Milwaukee Repertory Theater. As a costume designer she began her career with Optimist Theatre for Twelfth Night (2011). Additional costume design credits include: UW-Milwaukee Dance Department (numerous projects), Wild Space Dance Company and Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

Jason Fassl (Lighting Designer) returns to Milwaukee Repertory Theater for his 18th production as lighting designer. Favorites include: Guys on Ice (2004 – 2009); The Glass Menagerie (2007); Edward Albee’s Seascape (2007); and I Just Stopped by to See the Man (2009). Over the last decade, Fassl has also designed lighting for Milwaukee Ballet, American Players Theatre, Peninsula Players Theatre, Door Shakespeare, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Next Act Theatre, American Folklore Theatre, Forward Theatre Company, Children’s Theatre of Madison, The Pearl Theatre Company, and many others. He is an Artistic Associate for First Stage. Fassl is also a member of United Scenic Artists Local #829 and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local #18.

Victoria Deiorio (Original Music and Sound Designer) is a critically-acclaimed sound designer and composer for theater based in Chicago. She returns to Milwaukee Rep having been an associate designer on productions of The Foreigner and Frozen. Off-Broadway Productions: A Christmas Carol (St. Clement’s Theatre); Two Point Oh (59E59th Street); Cassie’s Chimera (Joe’s Pub, The Public Theatre), The Bluest Eye (Steppenwolf Theatre @ The Duke Theatre); Ophelia (NYC Fringe Festival), and Arnie the Doughnut (The Pearl). As associate designer Off-Broadway: Boy and Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams (Primary Stages); God of Hell (Actor’s Studio Theatre); Luminescence Dating (Ensemble Studio Theatre); and Live Girls (Urban Stages). National Tour: Private Lives (LA Theatre Works). Regionally she has worked with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater, Center Stage, Cleveland Play House, Chautauqua Theatre Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, First Stage, Geva Theatre, Writers Theatre, many other theaters and in and around Chicago, New York , and L.A. She has been nominated for 11 and has received six Joseph Jefferson Awards, as well as two After Dark Awards. Deiorio is the head of Sound Design at DePaul University.

Jill Walmsley Zager (Dialect Coach) was the dialect coach for recent Rep productions of Good People, A Christmas Carol, Harvey, after all the terrible things I do, The Color Purple, and The Doyle & Debbie Show. Other Milwaukee Rep credits include: The History of Invulnerability, The Whipping Man, End of the Rainbow, Noises Off, Ragtime, A Raisin In the Sun, Clybourne Park, Sense and Sensibility, A Christmas Carol, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Mountaintop, Assassins, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lombardi, Yellowman, Ten Chimneys, The 39 Steps, My Name Is Asher Lev, Laurel and Hardy, and Cabaret. Regionally, she has worked at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Drury Lane Water Tower, Apple Tree Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre and Conference Center, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Zager earned her Master’s Degrees at Central School of Speech & Drama (London) and Northwestern University. She is married to James Zager, the Head of the Theatre Program at Carroll University.

Philip Muehe (Assistant Director), a native of Rochester, Minnesota, is a member of The Rep’s Artistic Intern Ensemble. He recently enjoyed his professional directorial debut with Tigers Be Still at the Commonweal Theatre Company. While there he also stage managed, served as assistant director for productions of The Memory of Water and The Last Night of Ballyhoo, and directed a staged reading of Doubt. Also an actor, he holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of North Dakota. Favorite stage credits include How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (Bud Frump),Assassins (Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald), and The Last 5 Years (Jamie)

Sarah Hoffmann (Stage Manager) is The Rep’s Production Stage Manager. In her time at The Rep, she has worked on numerous wonderful projects including The Color Purple, The History of Invulnerability, and Ragtime, and has celebrated seven holiday seasons in the Pabst with A Christmas Carol. Elsewhere, she has spent time with American Players Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Northern Sky Theater (formerly American Folklore Theater), Riverside Theatre in the Park (Iowa City, IA) and First Stage where she was the Production Stage Manager for three years.

Marguerite Frey is the Stage Management Intern for this production.


Jessica Dickey is from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and lives in New York as an actor, writer, and coach. She received her BFA from Boston University and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts; she also attended the Pennsylvania Governor’­s School for the Arts. New York credits have included Manhattan Theatre Club, Keen Company, Cherry Lane, AndHow! and HERE, with countless workshops and readings with Rattlestick, New Georges, Culture Project, and many others. Regional credits have included multiple productions with Williamstown Theatre Festival, Huntington Theatre Company, George Street Playhouse, as well as the Denver Center, Portland Stage Company and the Dallas Theater Center. Television credits have included Law & Order, The Education of Max Bickford, and the pilot Cop Shop, the latter both starring Richard Dreyfuss. Developing new work is a passion for Dickey; she is a Founding Member of The Fire Dept and has birthed several new plays with The New Harmony Project.

Dickey has been a writer all her life – from designing magazines when she was little (cover to cover!) to creating expressive arts curriculum for all ages (winning her the Bell Atlantic Leadership Award in 1997), to being a semi-finalist in the Emily Dickinson Poetry Contest in 2003, and now at the behest of her mentor, Arthur Laurents, a bourgeoning playwright. The Amish Project is her playwriting debut.

TICKET PRICES: Prices begin at $30.00.

TICKETS/INFORMATION: 414-224-9490 or buy tickets online at

TICKET OFFICE LOCATION: 108 E. Wells Street in Milwaukee’s Downtown Theater District

TICKET OFFICE HOURS: MondaySunday, Noon – 6:00pm*

*On days with performances the Ticket Office will stay open until fifteen minutes after curtain.

Milwaukee Repertory Theater is a nationally-recognized company that presents compelling dramas, powerful classics, award-winning contemporary works, full-scale musicals, housed in its three unique performance venues – the Quadracci Powerhouse, Stiemke Studio and Stackner Cabaret. The Rep also produces an annual production of A Christmas Carol at the beautiful and historic Pabst Theater. Under the leadership ofArtistic Director Mark Clements and Managing Director Chad Bauman, The Rep is committed to creating plays that are meaningful and relevant to the society we live in – plays that are challenging, visceral, and engage the community through the issues they explore, demonstrating how a theater deeply rooted in its locality can also enjoy a richly influential and resonant national voice.