Fast Forward

Jennifer Uphoff Gray keeps Forward Theater moving

Jennifer Uphoff Gray still can’t quite believe the success of Forward Theater Company’s inaugural season.

“It feels like it’s been a charmed first year,” she says.

The company formed in early 2009, around a kitchen table filled with people committed to filling the gap left by the just-closed Madison Repertory Theatre. “We wanted Madison audiences to have access to local professional theater,” she says.

The project was personal for Uphoff Gray. A Fitchburg native, she left town for Harvard and then spent twelve years in New York City. She returned with her family in 2005, with the goal of building a life—and a fulfilling theater career—in Madison.

As artistic director, Uphoff Gray worked with Forward’s advisory board and board of directors to create a balanced debut season, a highlight of which was the Midwest premiere of Christopher Durang’s Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.

Getting the play was a major coup for the company, as was wrapping up the season in the black and gaining support for a larger-scale second season, which features another regional premiere. This month, Forward presents In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play, a smart comedy set in Victorian times.

“It’s just an incredibly lovely play,” Uphoff Gray says. “It’s a great kickoff.”

In the Next Room runs November 4–21 at Overture Center. forwardtheater.com

Katie Vaughn is associate editor at Madison Magazine.

Read more arts profiles here.

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