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. 

Watch Next Steps on Milwaukee PBS

Academy ClassesSensory Friendly PerformancesSpring Break Workshop 


Summer Academy Classes
August 10-14, 2020 │ August 17-21, 2020 │ August 10-21, 2020 (two-week session)
Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

Register for Next Steps Summer Academy

  • 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.

Class Sizes
Our classroom model includes teams of lead teachers, special education professionals, and teaching assistants with approximately a 2:1 and often 1:1 student to teacher ratio. Family aides may accompany a student to class as necessary and agreed upon between the family and First Stage. 

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!

2019-2020 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


Next Steps Spring Break Workshop: POSTPONED
For the safety of our students and families, this event is postponed due to COVID-19. Learn more and stay tuned for updates.

Saturday March 28, 2020│10 AM-12:15 PM│Milwaukee Youth Arts CenterNew and returning students welcome!

  • Experience both a Next Steps acting and musical theater class.
  • Act out the classic tale “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, learn an exciting song and dance, and enjoy family crafts and game time with your fellow actors!
  • Take your next steps in communication, teamwork, and expression through interactive, accessible, and exciting activities.

The event is for students ages 8-13. Cost is $30. Registration Deadline is March 14. 

For more information or to register, please contact us at NextSteps@firststage.org or call Next Steps Director Samantha Montgomery at (414) 267-2972  or Assistant Director Coltyn Giltner at (414) 267-2919.


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.