Next Steps

Using research-based best practices, Next Steps serves young people through our philosophy of teaching life skills through stage skills. We strive to help each student take his or her next steps as an artist and a person.

We serve both verbal and non-verbal students, students with classic autism, PDD-NOS, other sensory processing disorders, and Asperger's. With small class sizes, our curriculum explores acting, singing, dancing and improvisation, through which students improve social understanding, fine and gross motor skills, empathy, conversation skills, public speaking and confidence. 

Our Next Steps Theater Academy classes consist of:

  • Acting Theory: Explore character, relationships, action and text while developing overall acting skills and confidence.
  • Musical Theater: Increase your versatility and work on new vocal and dance techniques while exploring the art of telling a story through words, music and movement.

Our Sensory Friendly Performances feature a welcoming environment including adjusted sounds and lighting,, smaller audiences sizes, and available quiet areas staffed by educators experienced with the care of students with autism and other developmental differences. 

Watch Next Steps on Milwaukee PBS 



Summer 2020 Next Steps Theater Academy

In order to ensure delivery of the same high-quality theater training for our Next Steps students for our Summer 2020 sessions, all Next Steps Theater Academy classes will take place on a virtual platform. Registration for all Summer Academy classes is open Friday, May 22, 2020.

Next Steps SaturdaysAugust 2020 Half-Day Sessions

Register for Next Steps Academy


Next Steps

Next Steps Saturdays
Dates: June 20, June 27, July 11 and July 18, 2020 (no class on July 4, 2020)
Times: 9:30-10:15am 
Location: Classes will take place virtually via Zoom
Tuition: $15/class or $50 for all four sessions

Session 1: Frog and Toad - June 20, 2020
Join your Next Steps friends to explore two famous literary friends: Frog and Toad! We will explore themes of friendship, dealing with differences, and creative problem solving through two endearing Frog and Toad adventures: “The Kite” and “Alone.”

Session 2: The Little Engine That Could - June 27, 2020
We think you can, and we know you will have a blast exploring the classic storybook: “The Little Engine That Could” with First Stage.  Climb aboard as with us as we bring the ultimate underdog story to life. Together, we will explore themes of perseverance, helping others, and dealing with adversity.

Session 3: Zomo the Rabbit - July 11, 2020
There is never a dull moment when Zomo the Rabbit is around! In this musical and lively trickster tale, Next Steps actors will explore rhythm, dance, and the vibrant charm of Zomo and his fellow animal friends.

Session 4: The Story of Ferdinand - July 18, 2020
Ferdinand is far more than meets the eye. This timeless tale of identity is the perfect story for Next Steps actors to step inside! Join us as we act out the story of a gentle bull who is expected to fight but chooses kindness instead.


Next Steps Summer Academy
Dates: August 17 – 21, 2020
Times: 9:30 – 10:45am or 1:00 – 2:15pm

Tuition: $90/student, or $160 for both morning and afternoon sessions

Next Steps Theater AcademyMorning Session: Disney’s FROZEN
Next Steps students will explore the Academy curriculum of Acting, Voice and Movement, and Musical Theater, as they dive into the story and songs from the Disney smash hit, “Frozen”. Become Elsa, Olaf, and other iconic characters as you bring this heartfelt musical journey of identity, friendship, and family to life on the stage…or screen, in this case!

Afternoon Session: Disney’s JUNGLE BOOK
Next Steps students will explore the Academy curriculum of Acting, Voice and Movement, and Musical Theater, as they dive into the story and songs from the Disney classic, “The Jungle Book”. Step into the jungle as Mowgli and his animal friends as you and your fellow actors bring vibrant songs like “The Bare Necessities” to life on the stage…or screen, in this case!

For questions or to register, please contact nextsteps@firststage.org or (414) 267-2969.


Sensory Friendly Performances

Our Sensory Friendly Performances offer a variety of accommodations to make your visit to the theater a wonderful experience for the whole family!

Stay tuned for our 2020/21 season's Sensory Friendly performances.

Performance Accommodations:

  • Social stories that outline the experience at the theater; show-specific social stories (with character introductions and plot synopsis) available on our website two weeks prior to the performance.
  • An opportunity to see the actors in costume prior to the start of the performance
  • Smaller audience size with general admission seating
  • Modified house rules: audience members are free to talk or move during the sho
  • Fidget toys and noise-cancelling headphones placed within the house for you to borrow as desired throughout the performance
  • Reduction in sound lovels and flashing/strobe lights
  • Quiet areas staffed by Next Steps Academy teachers
  • TV monitors in the lobby from which you may view the show, should you need to leave the theater during the performance

Contact the First Stage Box Office to reserve your space at (414) 267-2961 or email ticketmanager@firststage.org


Eureka Award

Next Steps is a winner of the Business Journal's Eureka Awards, which recognize creativity, innovation, leaps forward and progress in business, the arts, education, health care and other areas.