Highlights from 10/14 to 10/21
It’s a huge week for any venue with a spotlight and a microphone, but especially for experimental and eclectic stagings. It’s a good time for kids, too, who get to enjoy acts like the Wiggles, a Junie B. Jones musical and appearances by Cinderella ballerinas at Bayshore Town Center. This is also prime time for off-stage events like Gallery Night’s musicals and live art performances, as well as Uprooted’s first fundraiser event this Saturday.
Who knew that our fair city’s ballet troupe was so outgoing? Recent months have seen prolific web postings including notices about former dancer Melissa Sandvig appearing in the So You Think You Can Dance? Tour and the upcoming “Prince Charming” custard being created at Kopp’s . All this will be before the Oct. 22 season-opening of the Cinderella ballet at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Before the three-day run, ballerinas will appear at the Bayshore Rotunda from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday. Area youth can take pictures with the costumed dancers and listen to a reading from the classic fairy tale. For tickets to Cinderella, consult the Milwaukee Ballet website.
Gallery Night recommendations, all around the Milwaukee area, 10/16 (and day of 10/17)
This particular night and day of Milwaukee’s quarterly arts calendar is going to be a barn burner. There are 64 locations mentioned in the Third Ward Assocation guide — which means that there is likely another 10 or so great showings that are not listed. We like the Inova Gallery presentation of the 2008 Nohl Fellowship winners, which includes several film and video artists and one photographer. For more info, call 414-229-5070 or visit the UWM website for further details.
…We also like the music videos showing at Cramer-Kasselt advertising offices; new works from Pezzetino will be showing along with performances by Allen Cote (The Championship), Jay Flash, Robert Hansen, Trevor Irish (The Maze), Justin Rolbiecki (The Vega Star) and Erin Wolf (Group of the Altos). Permanent artwork from Andy DeWeerdt and Charles Dwyer will be available for viewing, and all the artists are playing to benefit the Sojourner Family Peace Center. Other highlights to look for include Paradise Lost? Climate Change in the Northwoods at Walker’s Point Center of the Arts; Food As Art at Hotel Metro; Reginald Baylor as Artist-in-Residence at the Pfister Hotel; an Impromptu Gallery fundraiser for RedLine Milwaukee at the Jefferson Block Apartments; and MIAD students Sean Cairns and Danielle Rosen creation of “a spectacle of arresting theatricality” at the Pritzlaff building.
Against Type! AKA: Roles I’ll Never Play, But Could, Uprooted Theatre Company Fundraiser at the Cool Water Bar and Grille, 10/18
Dennis F. Johnson, artistic director for the new acting company, announced last week that this would be a “night of monologues and songs performed by UPROOTED’s acting company.” But this one-night extravaganza will also feature artists from Alchemist Theatre, American Players Theatre, In Tandem, Milwaukee Rep, Renaissance Theaterworks, Youngblood Theatre Company and others. Reservations and advance tickets are recommended. Karen Estrada, Chris Flieller, Angela Iannone, Raeleen McMillion, Jim Pickering and Julie Swenson are just a handful of the artists that will be performing. There will be a silent auction of gift baskets, complimentary wine (along with a cash bar) and available appetizers. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person. For reservations and directions, call Cool Water Bar and Grille at 414-810-3975.
Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins, the Madison Theater Guild at the Bartell, 10/14 to 10/24
Stephen Temperley’s play, here at the Madison Evjue stage and directed by Betty Diamond, tells the real-life story “of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York socialite and tone-deaf diva who thought she was a great soprano. In truth, she squawked like a deranged rooster. Her brilliant, wry accompanist chronicles Florence’s unlikely rise to cult status, which culminated in an infamous sold-out Carnegie Hall performance. This is a heartfelt, wickedly funny look at the limits of self-perception and the unpredictable nature of friendship. For reservations, visit the Bartell website or call 608-661-9696.
Year of Magical Thinking, Milwaukee Rep on the Steimke Theater stage, 10/14 to 11/8
The New York Times and UK best-selling book of 2005, this brilliant stage adaptation also captured a Tony Award nomination. Critics hailed it as “the cultural event of the season” (New York Post) and “remarkable” (The New York Times). Novelist and screenwriter Joan Didion’s memoir captures the compassion, humor and bewilderment of a fiercely intelligent woman whose world lurches suddenly from the ordinary to the unimaginable with her husband’s sudden death. It is an inspirational story that is both a love letter to a child and a tribute to an extraordinary marriage. Visit The Rep website or call 414-224-9490.
Hand In Hand, Waukesha Civic Theatre, 10/15 to 10/19
The WCT is hosting an interesting, experimental drama project written and performed by Leslye Orr. It’s part of a Potawatomi Bingo And Casino Miracle On Canal Street charity award that the group received; the award allows younger audiences to travel and see theater at no charge. While several of the performances are for the school set, a handful are reserved for general audiences, too. In the play, “audience members experience a heightened awareness of their own senses. They are seated in a spiral configuration in the Ralph North Studio Theatre, asked to close their eyes and are brought in touch with the world of Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, who was legally blind. A myriad of objects are passed around the spiral while actress Leslye Orr tells a riveting story inspired by the profound letters and witty lectures of the great educator and her spirited pupil.” Visit the WCT website or call 262-547-0708 for tickets; school viewings are free but must be arranged.
True West, Pink Banana Theatre, 10/15 to 10/30
The most intriguing bit of PB’s formal announcement about the production of Sam Shepard’s most seminal work may be the location and the “reservations only” invite. The secret, as we learned after speaking with Artistic Director Rose Wasielewski a few months ago, is that the play takes place in an apartment. It’s kind of an immersion-vérité stage work, bringing the world of Shepard’s warring brothers into an actual living space. The story is about “two estranged rival brothers reconnecting at their mother’s home while she is away on vacation. Austin, the younger of the two, is an aspiring screenwriter struggling on a screenplay while house sitting for his mother. His vagrant brother Lee, appears at the house after the two have not seen each other for years. In the process exposing each one’s inner desires as they collide.” To make a reservation, call 414-698-8991 and visit the Pink Banana Theatre website.
Dracula: The Undead, Alchemist Theatre, 10/15 to 11/7
“Forget about Bela Lugosi and Gary Oldman. This is the true story of the demon-creature that is Dracula, told to you by gypsies deep within the Transylvanian forest at the ruin site of Castle Dracula. This new, dark and sexy version of the classic story will set the audience directly into the strange forest setting of the Castle Dracula ruins.” The Bay View venue revs up for Halloween with this show. There are six alternating performances of Radio WHT’s original version of Dracula as well. Also, there will be plenty of Halloween partying in the lounge during the last few days of October. Check the Alchemist Theatre website for showtimes or call 414-426-4169.
Picnic, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre with the UWM Peck School of the Arts, 10/15 to 11/1
This collaborative and professional work at the Broadway Center stage will feature three acting students and several faculty actors in prominent roles for William Inge’s Pulitzer-winning play. The story is set in a small town in Kansas circa- 1953. Young women are riled up by the appearance of the virile Hal Carter (played by Youngblood Theatre’s Andrew Edwin Voss). The status quo is tumbled with funny and dramatic moments. “Inge’s masterpiece chronicles the hopes and despairs that lie between the realization of adulthood and the eternal optimism of youth.” Another thing that makes this staging unique is the ongoing blog created for the cast and crew to chronicle the process. For tickets, visit the Milwaukee Chamber website or call 414-291-7800
The Sunshine Boys, Racine Theatre Guild, 10/16 to 11/1
A theatrical agent tries to reunite his elderly uncle, a former star of vaudeville, with his long-time stage partner to revive one of their routines for a televised comedy special. There’s just one little problem: The two old men hate each other and haven’t spoken in years. Visit the Racine Theatre Guild’s website or call 262-633-4218 for ticketing information.
Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business, First Stage Children’s Theater, 10/16 to 11/14
Mention the name Junie B. Jones to children, and many know about her book series. First Stage taps into that kiddie zeitgeist with the season opener musical about a “spirited kindergartner” who is convinced her new baby brother is a monkey. For tickets, visit the First Stage website or call 414-267-2929.
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Goats and Monkeys at the Live Artist Studios, 10/18
We just got word today that there is indeed a stage reading at this 228 S. 1st St., 3rd floor space. It is directed by former Milwaukee Shakespeare director Stephen Fried, now of New York. Members of Goats and Monkeys come from talent pools among actors around Milwaukee, including Brian J. Gill as Hamlet; Laura Gordon, as Gertrude; Norman Moses as Polonius; Jonathan Smoots as Claudius; and other luminaries. Visit the Goats and Monkeys website for details.
What I Did Last Summer, UWM Theatre Mainstage Series at the Arts Center, 10/20 to 10/25
A.R. Gurney’s story, set in the summer of 1945, is about a teenager who is trying to discover his manhood while his father is away fighting in the Pacific. During a vacation, he encounters a free-spirited art teacher who helps him rebel against his affluent upbringing. For tickets, call the UWM Box Office at 414-229-4308 or view this PDF.
Rodrigo y Gabriela, The Pabst Theater, 10/14
Everybody and their cousin knows about the Andrew Bird (and second night with St. Vincent) concert happening on Friday, but just as talented and important is this Mexican classical guitar duo (who lives in Dublin, Ireland, interestingly). The two have the word ‘electric’ written in many of their reviews, even though neither plays an electric guitar in the set supporting a new studio album. But from appearances (see video below), they can apparently generate a charge via music. Did we mention that the couple met while playing in a thrash metal band? Yes, it’s true. For tickets, visit the Pabst Theater website or call 414-286-3663.
Mindy Smith with special guest Erick Baker, Cedarburg Cultural Center, 10/16
This soprano who sings “Americana with a twist” ahead of her new album, Stupid Love, is highly regarded for “illuminating words and sentiments.” Some arrangements incorporate banjo or slide guitar; others are graced with strings, and there are rock influences as well. Learn more about the artist here. For tickets (including cheap student rates!), visit the Cedarburg Cultural Center website.
North, Concord Chamber Orchestra at St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10/17
This 8 p.m. concert will feature the lead pianist from the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra with music from the Nordic countries. While it features the Grieg Piano Concerto as played by Ingrid Hanson-Popp, the audience will also listen to pieces such as the Icelandic Dances, Op. 11 by Jon Leifs and the Tragic Overture by Franz Adolph Berwald. Oh, and anyone dressed as a Viking gets in free — we’re not kidding. Visit the Concord’s website for ticketing information, or visit Hanson-Popp’s website to learn more about the artist.
Judy Collins, Alverno Presents at the Pitman Theater, 10/17
Alverno asks: “How do we celebrate 50 years in a single night? How does one artist encapsulate the excellence, the journey and the beauty? It helps if she’s an icon. It’s good if she’s released more than 40 albums, has had numerous Top 10 hits, Grammy nominations and gold and platinum selling albums. And, it is especially meaningful if her artistry only deepens and becomes more expressive with time.” Collins brings her unique and calming sound for the first official show of the series. Visit the Alverno website for program details, season packages, a blog and more on the upcoming acts, or call the box office at 414-382-6044.
Israel in Egypt, Bel Canto Chorus at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center, 10/17
Written in just 27 days, the colossal Israel in Egypt is the fifth of 19 oratorios Handel composed in England. Essentially a choral oratorio, with almost 30 massive double choruses, tells the story of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Second in popularity only to Messiah, Israel in Egypt will be a compellingly dramatic way to begin the 2009-10 Bel Canto Chorus season. Also performing with the Bel Canto Chorus: Sian Davies, soprano; Gerrod Pagenkopf, countertenor; James Doing, tenor; Jason Coffey, bass; and the Bel Canto Chamber Orchestra. Visit the Bel Canto website or call 414-481-8801 for more detail, including online ticketing.
Wiggles Go Bananas Live!, Milwaukee Theatre, 10/18
Do you have toddlers? Do they like to dance and clap? Then these two shows, at kid-friendly times of 1:30 and 5 p.m., should be a great experience for them. The Australian children’s show sensation, ahead of the group’s recent hit Monkey Man featuring Kylie Minogue (see link), and as part of the “Reach Out and Read” pediatric program, will be rolling into the downtown venue. All the favorites should also be there, including Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, Wags the Dog and the Wiggles dancers. For information, visit the Milwaukee Theatre website or call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 to order tickets.
Our condolences here at ThirdCoast Digest go out to the family and friends of Elizabeth Birr, who passed away last week at age 30. Birr was the music director for Carte Blanche Studios, a graphic designer for Byte Studios and, in general, a talented musician and vocalist.
There are a few welcome developments for youth theater next week, and we’ll write about them in the near future. But we want to note ahead of time that the Skylight Opera and Milwaukee High School of the Arts are working on a collaboration that brings a showcase of original student pieces to the Studio Theatre at MHSA next weekend. Sometime after that, select students will travel to England to workshop their productions at the Thurston Community College and Gecko Theatre Company of London. The final pieces will premiere on the mainstage of MHSA. Also of note, 16-year-old composer Minh-Tam Trinh will present the fruits of his labor, thanks to the MacDowell Club‘s grand prize award that he received earlier this year. You’ll get a chance to hear it on Oct. 25 with Travis Reynolds at the piano and the Whitefish Bay High School Bel Canto choir under the direction of Richard Kieffer.