Milwaukee Rep Theater gets major sponsorship deal for facility renovations

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The largest Wisconsin-based bank has just committed to helping the state's largest performing arts center get closer to its dream home. Associated Bank signed up for a $10 million, 20-year sponsorship for the Milwaukee Rep. Theatre.

It's a full audience tonight for Titanic. Theatre-goers are already getting excited that a major facelift is coming to Milwaukee Rep.

That is Milwaukee Rep's main entrance on Wells Street today, and here is what it may look like two years from now.

"It's everything above us, above us here, over and down. Ok. So there's three theaters back there. There's production shops back there. There's gonna be a new education and engagement center that's going to serve 20-thousand students from 200 plus schools," said Chad Bauman, Milwaukee Repertory Theater executive director.

Titanic is here now. It's back after the pandemic shut it down early last year. Milwaukee Rep. was gifted this space by the former power company in the 1980s. That's why one of the theaters is called the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater.

"Four decades later, 300-thousand people a year come through this complex. That's a lot of wear and tear and it just basically needs to be redone and rebuilt. And also we have grown to be one of the country's largest regional theatres and so we need to expand as well," said Bauman.

Only one of the Rep's three theaters has had minor renovations.

"We expect that construction will start at the end of 2023. So while we're working on one theater, we'll be performing in the other two," said Bauman.

And there's a bigger picture too. Smaller theatres that have struggled during the pandemic may see more visitors with the increased interest.

"And just to get people back in the area, you know we're right across the street from the Rep, we're up and coming here. And then the renovations at the Rep as well just are gonna bring more people in, get more eyes and more attention and I think the theatre community really needs that," said Emily Szymanski of Sunstone Studios.

Visit Milwaukee agrees. "The Rep's new complex will be transformational for our performing arts scene.

I can't wait to see all the amazing things this next chapter holds."

Milwaukee Rep. has 130-thousand square feet, with 700 performances a year.

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