Fireside Theatre Partnership

Partnership Provides Opportunity for Students

Published: March 1, 2014
By: John Mielke
Some things are just meant to be. When Michael Clickner left the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wis., to move back to Racine and be closer to his parents, he may have believed his Fireside days were over.

Clickner, who is now the Fireside Theatre technical director and scenic lab supervisor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, worked for the Racine Theatre Guild for a few years before getting a call from Skelly Warren, who is now a Parkside emeritus professor of design and technical production. 

"One day out of the blue, Skelly called me and asked if I wanted to work at Parkside building sets for the Fireside," Clickner said. Warren remembered Clickner when the two first met working on the Fireside production of "Hello Dolly." 

"We worked well together," Clickner said. "I have great feelings for The Fireside and I, of course, said yes. It was the best of both worlds." 

When Dick and Betty Klopcic opened The Fireside in 1964, professional theatre was not a part of the operation. "My parents started the theatre business in 1977 and we got involved with UW-Parkside when we re-did our art gallery into a theatre back in the early 80s," said Rick Klopcic, the son of Dick and Betty Klopcic.  

Today, Rick Klopcic operates the Fireside Theatre with his wife, Jane, and their son, Ryan. "It helps us both," Rick Klopcic said. "It helps the Parkside scenic shops hire professional people who can then teach the students who want to go into that field. 

"It's kind of an extension of their education for the students to come over here and load in and tear down a show, and see the whole thing put together with Broadway actors. And it helps us get our sets built. It's kind of a neat, unique situation." 

The partnership between the two organizations was formally honored with the naming of the set design and construction space in the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts Humanities as The Fireside Theatre Scenic Studios. 

"It is such an honor, I know my dad would really be proud," said Rick Klopcic. In March 2011, Gov. Scott Walker presented the Wisconsin Department of Tourism Legacy Award posthumously to Dick Klopcic.

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