The Milwaukee arts scene kicks into gear
A new comic opera will be born at the Skylight Opera Theatre Friday. Composer -librettist Kirke Mechem based The Rivals on a 1775 play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. But Mechem set the play in Rhode Island at the turn of the 20th century. He retained the plot, of an American heiress pursued by two suitors, one a charismatic British naval captain and the other an impoverished composer. And the rivals turn out to be… but that would be telling.
The Skylight staged Mechem’s Tartuffe in 2007, to great critical acclaim. The Rivals could be just as big. The show runs Sept. 16 to Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets start at $22.50 for weekdays and $25.50 for weekends; for more detailed pricing or to purchase call (414) 291-7800 or visit the Skylight’s website.
You probably know On the Beach as the 1959 post-apocalyptic Stanley Kramer film starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins. But Dale Gutzman, of Off the Wall Theatre, focused on the original novel, by Nevil Shute. The book inspired Gutzman’s new play of the same name. It opens Thursday, Sept. 15. The story is about the last survivors of a nuclear holocaust as they live out their days in Australia and wait for the radiation to reach them. The show runs through Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $23.50 general admission and $26.50 reserved seating. Student prices apply for some performances. To order, call (414) 327-3552 or go to Off the Wall’s website.
First Stage is the second largest company in the city and one of the most acclaimed children’s theaters in the nation. The company will open its 25th season with a big name, Seussical. Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynne Ahrens (lyrics) wove together several Dr. Seuss tales into a cohesive narrative. The Cat in the Hat himself is the lead character. The show promises a gleeful experience for kids and a nostalgic one for parents. The show runs at the Todd Wehr Theater Sept. 16 through Oct. 16, with shows at 7 p.m. Fridays; 1, 3:30 and 7 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 and 3:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets range from $11 to $29, based on date, time and seat location; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (414) 273-7206 or visit First Stage’s website.
For 11 years, the Wisconsin Conservatory’s Prometheus Trio has delighted audiences at the Helen Bader Recital Hall. At 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 19 and 20, pianist Stefanie Jacob, violinist Timothy Klabunde and cellist Scott Tisdel will begin their 12th year of concerts. The program: Édouard Lalo’s Trio No. 1 in C Minor, Eugène Ysaÿe’s Poeme Nocturne, and Beethoven’s Trio in E-flat. Tickets are $22; a four-concert subscription is $70; to order, call (414) 276-5760.
On Friday, Sept. 16, the DePue Brothers Band opens the Guest Artist Series at Wisconsin Lutheran College. The four brothers play a distinct brand of bluegrass, perhaps due to classical violin training and the tinge of rock and blues they bring to it. Tickets are $34 general admission, $31 for seniors and donors and $12 for students, and can be purchased online.
As part of their Current Tendencies II show, the Haggerty Museum of Art is hosting a concert at the Church of the Gesu featuring The Vitrolum Republic. The Milwaukee-based group performs in a genre they’ve dubbed “gypsy noir,” which blends a classical influence with folk, bluegrass and blues, among other styles. The concert is free. It starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at 6 p.m.; a reception follows.
Wild Space Dance Company, now in its 25th year, is known for innovative works placed in and related to unusual venues. For In the Space Between, Debra Loewen’s company has occupied the two structures and the courtyard of the Pritzlaff Building, 325 N. Plankinton Ave. The audience will move relatively freely throughout these beautiful industrial buildings to find ongoing dances. Tom Bamberger’s videos back-projected on giant screens are integral to Loewen’s piece. Shows are at 8 p.m. Sept. 15 through 17, and tickets are $20 general admission, $18 for students and seniors and $25 for premium tickets. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit Wild Space’s website.
On an average weekend, Humboldt Park is quietly charming. This weekend is not your average weekend. Saturday and Sunday, Humboldt Park becomes a musical United Nations, as Alverno Presents’ Global Union returns to the city for another year. The six bands performing at this year’s festival come from Europe, Africa and South America. Each offers a different style. Stay tuned for a detailed list from us later in the week, and whet your appetite at Alverno Presents’ website for a full list and links. The concert runs from noon to 5 both days, and is free to attend.
Lots of rock festivals claim to have the best acts or the coolest venue. Rock the Green is one of the few to promise almost nothing — a near-zero impact concert at Veterans Park on Sept. 18. The eco-friendly concert is bringing in some pretty big names, including The Fray, Ben Folds and Fitz and the Tantrums. But the most noteworthy element is the organizers’ commitment to a green lifestyle and their choice to donate the proceeds to local nonprofits with a sustainability focus. Some of those groups will host booths at the festival. Sure, they’d love it if you’d step up and volunteer to make the world greener. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door, with $50 premier viewing tickets also available. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit their website. And don’t even think about dropping that cup on the ground.
Garrison Keillor, host and creative force behind A Prairie Home Companion, the best-known and best-loved radio variety show in existence. Keillor is also an author with a deeply loyal following. His Milwaukee can hear him up close at An Evening with Garrison Keillor, coming to the Marcus Center on Sept. 19. The event is the first in the new Marcus Center Presents series, which brings in high-profile entertainers for one-night engagements. Tickets start at $43, online or at (414) 273-7206.
Billing itself as the largest all-volunteer street festival, Bay View Bash takes over Kinnickinnic Avenue this Saturday (Sept. 17). The year’s theme is Rock ‘N Reggae. Local bands, some of those persuasions, will perform on the Bash’s three stages. Food, art and merchandise vendors will line the street from Potter to Clement. For more information, or to find out how to volunteer, stop by their website.
American Players Theater: The Cure at Troy, through Sept. 25
Racine Theater Guild: Comic Potential, through Sept. 25
APT: Of Mice and Men, through Oct. 1
Fireside Theater: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, through Oct. 23
Sunset Playhouse: Arsenic and Old Lace, through Sept. 18