Death of a Salesman Coming to KMP

by | Mar 5, 2024

Death of a Salesman at Kettle Moraine Playhouse

As the sixth production in Kettle Moraine Playhouse’s 2023-24 season is being readied for a seven-show run April 5-14, KMP asked director Paul Steinbach, founder of Seventh Row Center theater company, about his motivation to stage Arthur Miller’s signature work, Death of a Salesman.

Paul Steinbach, director of Death of a Salesman at Kettle Moraine Playhouse

Q. Why this title?
A. After we wrapped Of Mice and Men, people asked what was next. I didn’t really have anything on my front burner, but a title that has always intrigued me in terms of how seldom it is staged, at least at this level, is Death of a Salesman. It’s widely regarded as one of the greatest — if not the greatest — dramas in American theater history. I wasn’t as close to the material as I was to Of Mice and Men, but it doesn’t take long to get close to literature this good.

Q. What about the literature appeals to you?
A. A couple of things. First, the way Arthur Miller structures the narrative in an almost seamless fluidity between reality, flashback and delusion is remarkable. Second, these distinct storytelling mechanisms allow for the creation of very complex characters and situations within a main timeline that spans all of about 24 hours or so, plus an epilogue. It’s intense.

Q. Does that make staging the show a challenge?
A. No question. The intimate nature of the Kettle Moraine Playhouse requires us to stage the show in a way that is not common or even suggested by the author. But that intimacy also plays in our favor. It will be an experience for audience members and actors alike.

Q. How did you select the cast that will bring this story to life?
A. I see a lot of local theater, and performers and performances will naturally stand out. You can begin to picture certain individuals in certain roles based on what you’re watching live at that moment. I didn’t want to even begin to attempt to stage Death of a Salesman until I was confident I had the actors who could pull it off. It takes an extraordinary commitment to take on these roles and do them justice, but cast chemistry is so important, too. Many of these cast members have appeared on stage with me and each other over the years, and a couple are actors I’ve wanted to work with for some time. It takes a comfort level and a spirit of collaboration to make it all work. We’ve assembled a terrific group in that sense.

Q. Can you give audiences an idea of what to expect?
A. If we’re doing our jobs right, they can expect to be immersed in a live theater experience that remains completely relatable, even seven decades after Miller won a Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman. It’s a timeless story about success and failure, loyalty and betrayal, and the awkward, even damaging ways we as human beings sometimes communicate love — and the lengths to which we might go to show it.


Death of a Salesman is showing April 5-14 at the award-winning Kettle Moraine Playhouse in Slinger
Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturday matinees at 3:00pm
Sunday matinees at 2:00pm

Tickets are available at www.kmplayhouse.com.