A Trove of WWII Letters Inspires New Musical, The Daly News, Premiering in Milwaukee

News   A Trove of WWII Letters Inspires New Musical, The Daly News, Premiering in Milwaukee
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) will present the Milwaukee premiere of The Daly News, a new musical based on the true World War II-era experiences of the middle-class Daly family of Milwaukee, Nov. 13–Dec. 14.
Jonathan Gillard
Jonathan Gillard Photo by Tom Fritz Studios

Written by Milwaukee actor and playwright Jonathan Gillard Daly, the musical memoir "chronicles the lives of the Daly family as inspired by the true stories told in their WWII family newsletter, The Daly News," according to production notes. "The lively score embraces several period musical styles including boogie-woogie, vaudeville-style patter and ballads."

This is the world premiere of a revised three-actor version of the musical play, which was seen on the West Coast with a larger cast.

In The Daly News, writer-actor Daly invites audiences to witness the realities of World War II that his relatives experienced every day.

According to MCT notes, "Martin Daly, Jon's grandfather, wrote the weekly newsletter to keep his four sons connected to the rest of the family during WWII. The war is examined from every angle: parents worried about their sons on the front lines, young brides missing their husbands and caring for the children, and soldiers fighting to protect their loved ones back home." The musical stems directly from the numerous weekly issues of The Daly News that were "pounded out by Martin onto onion-skin stationary during the war."

Performances play Broadway Theatre Center's 99-seat Studio Theatre, at 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. The Daly News has book and lyrics by Jonathan Gillard Daly, and music by Gregg Coffin, Larry Delinger and Jonathan Gillard Daly.

MCT producing artistic director C. Michael Wright directs the production, which features three Milwaukee-based actor-musicians — Daly, Jeff Schaetzke and Jack Forbes Wilson.

Jonathan Gillard Daly is a Milwaukee native and graduate of Marquette University High School and UW-Madison. In addition to his work as a playwright, Daly is also a company actor at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Daly began working on this show after receiving The Daly News collection of newsletters after his father died. After reading the texts, the playwright "was motivated to write a tribute to his grandfather."

The creative team includes scenic designer Stephen Hudson-Mairet, costume designer Ellen Kozac, lighting designer Matthew J. A. Kerr and properties designers Meghan Savagian and Randy Holper.

Opening night is Nov. 14.

For more information visit www.milwaukeechambertheatre.com.


Founded in 1975, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre "produces intimate, high-quality, professional theatrical works of literary merit that engage and challenge the audience, while employing and nurturing principally local theatre artists."

MCT is under the leadership of producing artistic director C. Michael Wright and managing director David R. Todd.

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