Milwaukee Rep plans Stackner Cabaret renovation

Receives $1 million in gifts to help fund project

A rendering from Uihlein-Wilson Architects of the Shackner Cabaret renovation.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:12 pm

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater has received two gifts totaling $1 million that will help fund a renovation and expansion of the 30-year-old Stackner Cabaret in its East Wells Street complex in downtown Milwaukee.

Former board president Vince Martin, retired CEO and chairman of Jason Industries, and his wife Jan Martin are donating $750,000 and the Stackner Family Foundation is giving $250,000.

A rendering from Uihlein-Wilson Architects of what the Stackner Cabarets bar area will look like after the renovation.

The Stackner Cabaret, which opened in 1987, is one of three performing spaces at the Milwaukee Rep’s complex at 108 East Wells St. The 124-seat venue has been playing to near capacity crowds for an average of 300 performances a year, the Milwaukee Rep said in a news release.

The planned renovation will increase the number of seats by more than 35 percent, address aging infrastructure issues and provide a new kitchen. 

“Jan and I have personally always enjoyed the Stackner shows and have felt that the Stackner fills a unique space in the very rich Milwaukee theater scene,” Martin siad. “We expect this gift will provide needed refurbishing and allow and encourage more people to share the Cabaret experience.”

A rendering of the Stackner Cabaret seating area.

The project is expected to cost $1.7 million. The Rep is in the process of raising the additional funds.

Audience members and longtime subscribers will be able to keep their same seats, under the architectural designs by Uihlein-Wilson Architects. Construction is not expected to disrupt the 2017-18 season.

“We are so grateful to the Martins, who in their 30-plus year involvement with The Rep have made an exceptional impact on the theater and our community,” said Chad Bauman, managing director. “With this extraordinary gift and the generosity of the Stackner Family Foundation and others, we will ensure that the Stackner Cabaret remains one of Milwaukee’s most treasured and unique performance venues for decades to come.”

The Rep announced in June a capital campaign to raise $10 million to fund physical infrastructure repairs, community engagement, new play development, a new production of A Christmas Carol and its endowment.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.