Making herself right at home on the stage

Ozaukee High graduate continues to craft a career as family-friendly playwright

FORMER FREDONIA RESIDENT and Ozaukee High School theater director Kerrylynn Kraemer (top-most photo, pictured with some of her children) has written six plays, including “Eden Prairie All-Class High School Reunion,” which premieres on Oct. 25 at the Plymouth Arts Center. The is shown rehearsing in the above photo. Kraemer has 12 children, many of whom also are involved in theater. Submitted photos
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

The play’s the thing for Kerrylynn Kraemer, a 1990 graduate of Ozaukee High School and the school’s former theater director.

In the last dozen years or so, Kraemer has written six plays and performed in numerous others, mostly with the Plymouth Arts Center.

Her latest play, “Eden Prairie All-Class High School Reunion,” will be performed Oct. 26 and 27 at the arts center.

Not bad for someone who attended a school with no theater program.

“We just had forensics and we did play acting,” she said. “In senior speech, we did  put on a play in school.”

And there was no community theater except in Port Washington. Kraemer, the daughter of Al and Betty Kraemer, said she wanted to take dance lessons but the closest dance studio was in Grafton. Any musical training she received was through church.

Her exposure to theater came from field trips at Rosemary School, now called Divine Savior Catholic School, and attending performances at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee.

After high school, she moved to Plymouth and took singing lessons. She was soon invited to try out for a role in “The Nutcracker” performed by the Sheboygan Theater Co.

Kraemer began volunteering at the arts center and started performing in 2001. She works there now part-time as an administrative assistant.

At the same time, Kraemer became theater director at Ozaukee High School. She remained in that position until 2010.

That’s when she started writing.

“The principal told me the first year there was no money to order plays so I tried writing one,” she said.

Since then, Kraemer has written five more plays —“Eden Prairie” is her sixth — and she has a new one,  “The Story of the Nutcracker,” to be performed in December with the In Motion dance group.

Kraemer has also been the forensics coach at the Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School for 16 years and at Howards Grove High School for five years.

In 2007, she wrote “Ghost Elizabeth,” which premiered at Ozaukee High School in 2005 and which she directed and produced at the arts center in 2007.  

Other shows Kraemer has written that premiered at OHS were “After, the Happily Ever After,” “The Three Rings” and “Tale of Rumpelstiltskin.”

Kraemer’s also the co-founder, producer and singer of Celtic Folk, a singing group that performs at the Plymouth Arts Center.

On top of that, she has 12 children, ages 2 to 19, one of whom is a step child and all of whom she home-schools.

Her theater career includes some real-life romance, having met her second husband, Dan Mahlendorf, when they did a play together.

Many of her children also are involved with their parents in the theater.

“My oldest girls do design and act, and one daughter does videos,” Kraemer said.

What does she enjoy most about her playwriting?

“I love doing the research part of it,” she said. “It’s hard to find the time because of all the kids and such. But I carve out in-between moments, like while I’m in the doctor’s waiting room. It’s a good challenge for me. It keeps me young.

“It’s so neat to be able to write it on paper and hope the people who read it like it. And maybe you teach people something.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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