by Aaron Kopec

London’s famed serial killer was rumored by many to have killed up to eleven women between 1888 and 1891 but only five remain widely accepted as actual victims.   These are the Canonical Five.
Mary Ann Nichols (Polly), Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly were prostitutes suffering through difficult times in London's Whitechapel district.
Each met their violent, horrific end by the hands of the unkown murderer playfully named "Jack" by popular media.

In 2008, The Alchemist Theatre produced Jackie Benka's "RIPPER" with much success.  
Since then, Alchemist has also explored the classic tale of "DRACULA" and lead audiences through the life of Chicago serial killer H.H.Holmes.
This year, after many requests to "bring back the horror shows" The Alchemist Theatre is presenting three brand-new versions of these audience favorites.


The Canonical Five of Jack The Ripper
Thursdays through Saturdays 7:30pm
Jan 24th through Feb 9th
$17 HERE     $20 AT-THE-DOOR


by Eva Sotomayor       Marquette Tribune
"Before TV gave us 'Dexter,' there was Jack the Ripper."

"The plays of the YEAR OF FEAR were chosen to construct a sort of nrrative when viewed together.  First, we catch glimpses of an  unknown monster llurking in the shadowy alleyways, killing off the forgotten souls of London's Whitechapel district. The the monster stalks our loved ones from the darkness in 'Dracula.'  Next he takes the form of the 'everyman' who lives next door and tortures and murders possibly hundreds just out of view. Finally, with 'Lear,' the monster is in our  minds as the title character brings us along through his trip to madness."



by Mike Fischer     Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A bus in New Delhi. The streets of Ciudad Juárez. A spa in Brookfield.

Those were the places running through my head Thursday night while watching "The Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper" - written, directed and designed by Aaron Kopec - at Alchemist Theatre.

In its best moments - many of them involving Amato, who is exceptional - Kopec does for the Ripper's victims what Roberto Bolaño did in "2666" for the murdered women in Ciudad Juárez. He compels us to see these women as individuals. He gives them a name. Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols. Annie Chapman. Elizabeth Stride. Catherine Eddowes. Mary Kelly.


The Alchemist puts the Ripper’s victims in focus

by Matthew Reddin     Third Coast Digest

"The Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper is meant to be a scary play.
It’s not.
It’s more than that.      
Yes, it scares, startles and frightens, but the show Aaron Kopec has brought to the Alchemist Theatre stage for its 'Year of Fear' is too complex and moving for such a pedestrian adjective as 'scary.'"'

"It doesn’t matter how many women scream before the curtain comes down, or how dark the fog around the lamplight seems – any show that can pull off moments like that with as much grace and power as The Canonical Five is not an ordinary horror play – it’s a terribly astonishing one."


The Alchemist, Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper

Local Trolley

Contrary to the male point-of-view, much of the story unfolds from the perspective of the women who would loose their lives at the hands of Whitechapel’s unknown killer. In their private moments with each other, they share kindnesses, concern, their meager possessions and hefty burdens. After the first of their circle falls to a vicious murder, with them we go deeper and deeper into fear’s mist, barely enduring reality as their loop grows narrower and narrower.


Below are listed the cast and crew of

Anna Figlesthaler
Anna is thrilled to be performing at The Alchemist in this spine-tingling trio of horror shows: The Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper, Dracula, and House of Horrors: A Chronicle of H.H. Holmes. Anna has performed in several productions at The Alchemist over the past couple of years, including performances as the saucy secretary Marjory Lotus in Help Wanted and the unlucky musician/actor/some time prostitute Mallory in Faust. Most recently, Anna finished her Master’s in Liberal Studies by writing the play This is What Democracy Looks Like, which was performed as a staged reading at The Alchemist. When not acting, Anna teaches Theatre, English, and Speech at Rufus King High School.

Drake Dorfner
Greetings, My name is Drake and I am quite optimistic about the upcoming play. I enjoy books, as well as video games other then that I like to do plays at the theater; I am twelve (soon to be thirteen) which is considered peculiar in my current age group to like theater although I find I enjoy acting regardless of the opinions of others. I attend Burdick Elementary and enjoy it there, I am also in the seventh grade and am doing welly academically. I look forward to the play and am enjoying being a part of it as well.  

Erin E
Erin has performed in several Alchemist shows including Aaron Kopec's "Help Wanted" (Peggy Lundt) and "Faust: An Evening at the Mephisto Theatre" (Rose, the Lounge Singer).
other recent credits:
Windfall: The President (Miss Petrovich)
Bad Example: 1984 (Citizen One/"Julia")
Cannibal! The Musical (The Chief)

Harold Loeffler-Bell
Harry was last seen acting in Pink Banana's production of Hot House as Lamb. He is a graduate of the Marquette University Theater Program where he played a variety of roles like Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream and characters in the Laramie Project. He played the role Chris in the film Baraboo by Mary Sweeney. When not acting he writes funny songs, or woks on his website, where he draws fun comics and other art. He would like to thank Aaron for casting him, and his family for always supporting him.

Libby Amato
Libby is pretty damn pleased to be back on the Alchemist stage, after performing in the delightfully wicked FAUST. Other Milwaukee credits include productions at In Tandem Theatre, Optimist Theatre, Chamber Theatre, First Stage Children's Theatre, and Windfall Theatre among others; and in Madison with Forward Theatre. This coming spring she will add Next Act Theatre to the list with their production of GRACE. Libby is a graduate of Carroll University with a BFA in Theatre Performance. Love to Joe and Beth Amato. And yes, Mom...I die in this one. Spoilers!

Liz Whitford
Liz Whitford is thrilled to be a part of “The Canonical of Five of Jack the Ripper!”  She started her acting career with the Alchemist’s first telling of Jack the Ripper in 2008.  Since then, she has been in every Alchemist horror production including last year’s “The Alchemist Eye.”  In addition, Liz portrayed the sweet, innocent Marguerite in  "Faust," Dr. Holmes' wife Clara in the production of "Murder Castle," Lucy Westenra in the sold-out production of “Dracula: The Undead.”  Recently, Liz has performed in several In Fools For Tragedy productions including “Medea” and “In My Mind’s Eye.”  Don’t forget to get your tickets to see Liz portray Lucy in this year’s Alchemist production of “Dracula!”

Randall T. Anderson
A founding member of Wisconsin Hybrid Theatre, Randall has been performing throughout the mid-west for over twenty years.  Returning audiences may recognize him from his work in Help Wanted, Faust, or simply from behind the bar.  He can also be heard the first Sunday of the month as part of WMSE's Frontier Radio Theatre.  Randall is delighted to once again work with all of the talented artists of the Alchemist.

Sammich Dittlofff
Sammi is thrilled to be part of another season of horror at the Alchemist Theatre. She would like to thank her friends for their continued support and for coming to see the show, Aaron and Erica for working around her bum foot, and her boyfriend and parents for motivating her to do it all during a trying start to the new year. She hopes everyone enjoys the show and comes back to see her in Dracula and H.H. Holmes later this year.

Sharon Nieman-Koebert
Sharon has done film and commercial work and has acted for numerous theatre companies in the Milwaukee area. Favorite roles include: "Martha" in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and "Margo" in The Wisdom of Eve. She was "Aunt Alicia" in the musical Gigi this past holiday season at Off The Wall Theatre, and just completed a run as "Margaret" in Ripper. She will also be seen in the Alchemist's production of Holmes. She retired from the practice of law several years back and is a Docent at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Sydonia Lucchesi
Sydonia is currently a Film and Technical Theatre major at UW-Milwaukee and is absolutely, positively thrilled to be back for her fourth show at the Alchemist!  Recent productions include "Here's a Howdy Do!" at the Skylight Music Theatre, "Help Wanted" and "In Love...Yet Again" at the Alchemist, and "Bye Bye Liver; The Milwaukee Drinking Play" with the Pub Theatre Company.  

Aaron Kopec
Aaron is an owner at The Alchemist. He also wrote, directed built the set and designed the sound. He is extremely grateful to have so many amazing actors willing to do all the really hard work that makes some of the stuff he does look so good.

Kurtis Witzlsteiner
This is Kurtis' first time working for Alchemist Theatre, although he has previously worked in this space with Bad Example Productions. He has been around Milwaukee for some time now and has done most of his work at Off the Wall Theatre, but when Aaron asked him if he was creepy enough to be part of the Year of Fear, he jumped at the opportunity. Kurtis can be seen in the next two productions here at Alchemist Theatre that include Dracula and the House of Horrors: A Chronicle of H.H. Holmes. Favorite roles include Berdine in Psycho Beach Party, Claude in The Ritz and Barry Klemper in The Boys Next Door. Kurtis would like to thank Aaron for this opportunity and is looking forward to more fear in 2013.