Artistic Director: Tim Backes
Tim Backes is a 2006 graduate of South Milwaukee High School and a 2010 graduate of the University of Wisconsin. While at South Milwaukee, Tim was heavily involved in music and theater, being on stage for four musicals and one fall play while also playing the saxophone in the wind ensemble and singing in choir, Madrigals and Vocal Jazz. He is excited to be back with his alma mater directing three shows per season at the high school!
Today, Tim works for a copywriting agency by day and continues to be involved in Milwaukee’s theater scene. He is an artistic associate for All In Productions, a relatively new theater company in the area dedicated to hiring local actors and technicians. He directed the company’s critically acclaimed productions of Next to Normal and Songs for a New World, and performed in the company’s premiere production of The Last Five Years.
Tim has also performed with such local companies and ensembles as the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, Chant Claire Chamber Choir, Greendale Community Theatre, Soulstice Theatre, The Alchemist Theatre, Lake Country Playhouse and 5 AM A Cappella.
Technical Director: Nick DaVia
Nick DaVia is the technical director for the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, a role he has served in for several years now. He manages the stage crew during rehearsals and performances and takes charge of set design and construction for all SMHS theater company productions.
As technical director of the PAC, Nick supervises everything behind the scenes. He is responsible for stage lighting, sound, set construction, rigging, safety, event scheduling, and theatre rental. It is his duty to make sure that all events that happen in the PAC look and sound as good as possible, and happen smoothly, stress-free, and safely for everyone involved.
Costume Designer: Amanda J. Hull
A graduate of UWM’s BFA Acting & Musical Theatre Programs, Amanda is Associate Producer/
Light and Sound Technician: Rick Chojnacki
Rick Chojnacki, aka “Mr. Cho,” is starting his 21st year assisting students working on lights and sound for the South Milwaukee High School Theatre Company. Rick started doing lights and sound when his children went to South Milwaukee High School, and has continued through the years working with numerous students. Some of the students he worked with have gone on to work professionally in the industry, coming back to visit and assist him in learning the new technologies.
Rick has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication with a minor in English Literature. He performed onstage during college and has acted and directed with local community theater groups. He has also assisted in lighting and sound design at other schools in the area. In addition, Rick coaches girls’ softball with a rival school. He enjoys traveling with his wife and time with his children and grandchildren.
Choreographer: Cora Trexell
Cora Trexell graduated from Muskego High School in 2018 and is enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee studying vocal performance and dance. At Muskego, she performed in all aspects of the music program as a member of the 300-member marching band and wind ensemble, and multiple choral ensembles, including Chorale, Sorelle Cantanti, Chamber Choir and the student-led a cappella group, the Latte Ladies. She performed leading roles in musicals such as West Side Story (Anita) and Sister Act (Sister Mary Robert).
Cora’s additional theatre experience includes five years at the Missoula Children’s Theatre Performing Arts Camp. Most recently cora was a co-dance captain in Greendale Community Theatre’s production of Mamma Mia!
At UWM, Cora participates in choir and UWM Opera Theatre. She studies voice with Dr. Tanya Kruse-Ruck, delving deeper into both operatic literature and musical theatre. When not dancing at UWM she is a dance instructor at Anita’s Dance Center, teaching various styles such as tap, ballet, jazz and mini classes to students age 3-12.
Orchestra Director: Peter Thompson
Pete Thompson is the South Milwaukee High School band and orchestra director. He organizes the pit orchestra for the musicals, coordinating rehearsals and conducting from the pit during performances. He has worked with South Milwaukee High School for nearly two and a half decades in the music department.