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West Theatre Director Replaced Nearly on Eve of 'Cats' Opening

Tim Catlett, brought in two years ago to rebuild drama program, has resigned going into huge production, but show will go on with new director already hired.

With exactly two weeks to go before the opening of "Cats," probably the biggest theatre production the Wauwatosa West Trojans Players have attempted, the drama group's director has resigned and has been replaced.

Tim Catlett, who was hired in 2010 to rebuild the stature of West theatre, is resigning effective Friday. He has been replaced by David Adam Steffan.

School Superintedent Phil Ertl confirmed the changed Friday morning and said that the transition in direction of the play had taken place within the past two weeks.

"(Catlett) has resigned," Ertl said. "It was a smooth transition. I believe they went one day without a director. (Steffan) was able to sub in right away, and he's been hired as West's new theatre director and teacher."

Neither Ertl nor West administrators could comment on the reasons for Catlett's resignation, citing confidential personnel rules.

"He's not with us anymore," Ertl said. "That's all I can say."

Ertl said Steffan was a Wauwatosa East graduate, he thought from perhaps 2005, who had directed plays at Whitman Middle School.

Steffan's biography on the School Board agenda for Monday, when his hiring will be approved, says he has attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Roosevelt University and has three years of teaching experience in the Elmbrook School District.

Steffan is being hired at $36,500, pro-rated to a .60 percent full-time equivalency.

The West High theatre program had suffered for a number of years through an annual revolving door of drama directors before Catlett took over the job in 2010. He began with a production of "Cinderella" that fall and then took on a classic in the spring with Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice."

Last year, Catlett put his actors and dancers to work over the summer readying for a full-scale production of "Footloose" and followed it in the spring with a professionally rigged, fully flying "Peter Pan." In between, he sandwiched an intimate "black box" production of the quirky comedy "Harvey."

The next stop was to be Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats," one of the most challenging productions of the modern stage and the second-longest running show in Broadway history.

Based on T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" and for the most part using only Eliot's verse as lyric and dialogue – the hit song "Memory" being an exception – "Cats" presents a non-linear narrative on a static set.

The Trojan Players will present "Cats" at 7 p.m. Nov. 2, 3, 9 and 10 (Friday and Saturday nights) with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Nov. 4.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12.50 for seniors 62 and older, $10 for students and $7.50 for children younger than 6.

Tickets may be purchased online or at the box office.

Jennifer L October 20, 2012 at 05:50 PM
As a parent of a student involved in this production of Cats, I must say I'm so proud of the way the students are handling this transition. The kids love Mr Catlett and wish him well in his future endeavors. As for the Cats production, I've been able to see some of the rehearsals and it proves to be an incredible show. Come see it!
Tosa West Parent of 4 October 22, 2012 at 11:08 AM
My child is also involved. I'm surprised they didn't all quit. (I wouldn't have let my child quit after having been cast.) So I too am proud of the way they have handled this.
Tosa West Parent of 4 October 22, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Mr Catlett also taught theater classes. One of my children took a class & another couldn't fit it in his/her schedule. Speech is also a class that many of the previous directors have taught.
Tosa West Parent of 4 October 22, 2012 at 11:11 AM
You have to wait for the rumors to work their way out. The school board/admin will never say.
TW parent October 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM
TW theater parent It would be decent of the school board to give the parents and community some peace of mind. At a meeting with parents we were assured there was no reason for parents to be concerned and not a police investigation. To me this is a matter of Tim's style being too abrasive to administrators and some parents. The school board has dragged a good man's name and reputation through the mud and driven a good and talented man who the students loved and respected out of teaching

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