Aliens have in­vaded the Skylight!

Mil­wau­kee-born play­wright James Valcq has had a stel­lar ca­reer, and it’s far from over.

Milwaukee Magazine - - Content - BY LIND­SEY AN­DER­SON

BORN IN 1963, James Valcq grew up in an era of Cold War para­noia and space-race ma­nia. As a young adult, he watched a lot of kitschy sci-fi flicks in his Wash­ing­ton Boule­vard home. “They were show­ing them on Chan­nel 12 at the time, and I’d just got­ten a VCR, so I’d record them late at night and watch them again later, over and over again,” he says. “They were all so ter­ri­bly won­der­ful. Or ter­ri­ble and won­der­ful, maybe.”

Af­ter rack­ing up act­ing and singing cred­its at the Skylight Mu­sic The­atre (when it was still called the Skylight Opera The­atre) and the Mil­wau­kee Sym­phony Orches­tra, he moved to New York City to make mu­si­cals.

His child­hood ob­ses­sion in­spired his first off-Broad­way hit, Zom­bies from the Be­yond – a mu­si­cal com­edy about the plucky em­ploy­ees of the Mil­wau­kee Space Cen­ter and a buxom alien avi­a­tor in­tent on ter­ror­iz­ing, and zomb­i­fy­ing, the lo­cal men­folk.

The play re­turns to Mil­wau­kee this month for a 13-show run at the Skylight The­atre, and Valcq is happy to see that Zom­bies still has an au­di­ence in his home­town, at the venue where he made his the­atri­cal de­but (he sang in a Skylight pro­duc­tion of Wozzeck when he was only 7 years old).

He’s also happy to be liv­ing in Wis­con­sin again. Af­ter 22 years in New York City, he de­cided to move back to the Dairy State and now works at the Third Av­enue Play­house in Stur­geon Bay as co-artis­tic di­rec­tor.

“Run­ning a the­ater has al­ways been one of my dreams,” he says. “And I thought, ‘Well, if not now, when?’ I’m very glad to be back.”

Valcq con­tin­ues to find in­spi­ra­tion in his home state. He’s cur­rently work­ing on a show called Box­car that’s slated to open at North­ern Sky The­ater in Door County this com­ing sum­mer. “It’s about ho­bos rid­ing the rails dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion – in Wis­con­sin, of course.”


Zom­bies from the Be­yond runs Feb. 2-18 at the Skylight The­atre (158 N. Broad­way). Call Skylight at 414-291-7800 to pur­chase tick­ets, or visit sky­light­mu­sicthe­

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