'Dad's Season Tickets' shows how Packers traditions are about more than just football
If you’re from Wisconsin, you know that Packers season tickets are a big deal and hard to come by. And perhaps if you are lucky enough to be in a family that does have season tickets, you may understand the dynamics of the Milwaukee Rep’s latest play, “Dad’s Season Tickets.”
In this new musical comedy for football fans by Milwaukee native Matt Zembrowski, a family of three girls try to win over their father's affection in order to inherit his Lambeau season tickets.
"People are calling it a quintessentially Wisconsin show and I didn’t set out to write a quintessentially Wisconsin show, I just wanted to write something that kind of reflected my experience both as a Packer fan and as a person in the theater," says Zembrowski.
The play is set during the Packers' 1996 run for the Superbowl — the start of Zembrowski's personal Packer fandom and a season that's still fresh in a lot of fans' minds. "It's that recent in our memory, but it still feels like a little bit of Wisconsin nostalgia at this point as well," he notes.
Milwaukee actor Jon Daly plays Frank Kosinski, the father of Rhonda, Gabby, and Cordy and holder of the esteemed Packers season tickets. Daly grew up with the Packers as a kid and says, "it's wonderful to be back in that and kind of flexing those muscles again."
In addition to flexing his Packers fandom muscles, Daly also compares this role to when he played King Lear.
"It's really fun to kind of visit this relationship ... because [Frank's] getting on in years and he's ready to pass on these season tickets, which of course is a legendary thing that you have to think about when you're in Wisconsin. But he's got three daughters, and so he's gotta decide basically how he's going to break up the kingdom. That way it's really fun to do that," he explains.
As a father of two, Daly also understands the importance of keeping the relationships between your children positive, moving forward, and full of love even when things get tough.
"When there are conflicts between the kids it's kind of painful for the parents because you can't really take sides, you just have to do your best to get them through it ... That relationship which [Frank] values so much is going through some tough times, so it's really easy for me to relate to," he says.
"Dad's Season Tickets" had a run at the Northern Sky Theater in Door County, Wis. before the pandemic. The show was the theater's best-selling musical in its 28-year history. Zembrowski attributes its success to appealing to multiple crowds — theater goers and football fans alike.
“Every step of the way ... I’ve always asked the question of the cast ‘Is there too much football in this show?’ and they all say no because there’s so much more than that," he notes. "Especially in Wisconsin you find that even Packers traditions are not so much about just football.”
In addition to reopening the Stackner Cabaret with his show, Zembrowski is looking forward to seeing how Milwaukee audiences react to the story.
"As a Milwaukee native I'm just glad to have made the rather circuitous route back home as it were, and have Milwaukee audiences see something written by one of their own," he said.
“Dad’s Season Tickets” will reopen Milwaukee Rep's Stackner Cabaret on October 29th and run through January 2, 2022.