Claire Nowak
Theater

Far Off Broadway, But Successful

Soulstice Theatre presents Moon Over Buffalo in St. Francis.

By - Oct 30th, 2014 04:04 pm
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Moon Over Buffalo

Moon Over Buffalo

Far from the Third Ward or Downtown, where audiences are accustomed to seeing theater, Soulstice Theatre has been producing high quality shows in the residential quiet of suburban St. Francis. The mix of shows have been pretty adventurous and the reviews have typically been good. Jillian Smith, artistic director and president of Soulstice Theatre, has created a venue that’s a draw for theater lovers.This week Soulstice launches a production of Moon Over Buffalo, the 1995 Broadway comedy by playwright Ken Ludwig,  also known for his Tony Award-winning Broadway plays Lend Me a Tenor and Crazy for You.

Set in the 1950s, the show follows George and Charlotte Hay, married traveling actors who perform at a repertory theater in Buffalo, New York. They get a call from film director Frank Capra, who is considering the couple as replacements for the stars of his current project, “The Twilight of the Scarlet Pimpernel.” Farcical chaos ensues as they prepare for Capra’s arrival and deal with their own marital problems. Critic Vincent Canby called Ludwig “one of those comparatively rare contemporary playwrights who thinks in terms of old-fashioned, knockabout farce.”

The Broadway show was a successful vehicle for Carol Burnett and Philip Bosco, both of whom were nominated for Tony Awards and later got a London production starring Joan Collins and Frank Langella. Soulstice has cast real life husband and wife Michael Chobanoff and Maureen Murphy Chobanoff. Maureen recently appeared in Sunset Playhouse’s The Mousetrap.

Opens Nov. 7 and runs through Nov. 22 at 3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave.  General admission is $21 with student and senior discounts at $19. Tickets are available online or by calling 414-481-2800.

My Dear Othello by Theatre Gigante

Artistic directors Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson put a new spin on Shakespeare in My Dear Othello, a mix of text and dance that doesn’t retell the Moor’s entire tale, but focuses on an intense story arc involving Othello, Desdemona, Iago and Emilia. The show debuted in 2004 with a script by Kralj and Anderson and original choreography from Kralj, who has performed with the Slovenian National Theater Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and Chamber Dance Theater.

Kralj plays Desdemona and Janet Lilly, the head of the Department of Dance at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, plays Emilia. Michael Stebbins and Tom Reed make their Gigante debuts as Othello and Iago. The show also features new music by Seth Warren-Crow as well as scenic art by the late, legendary Milwaukee artist Schomer Lichtner.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel critic Mike Fischer called the show “an intriguing” adaptation that’s indebted to both choreographer Jose Limón and Japanese Noh technique. Onmilwaukee.com critic Dave Begel called the “the latest example of how creative some of the smaller companies in town can be when they are free to tell a great tale however they want.”

Running through Nov. 8 at UWM’s Kenilworth Studio 508 Theater. Tickets are $25 with discounts for seniors and students, available online or by calling 800-838-3006.

Splinter Group Does Gamma Rays

Jim Farrell, artistic director of Splinter Group, began his theater company to produce shows that were genuinely artistic, not simply ones that would sell seats. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds epitomizes that mission statement.

Splinter Group brings Paul Zindel’s 1964 play to life under the direction of Mallory Metoxen. Winner of the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Best American Play, the show focuses on the timid Tillie Hunsdorfer (Kat Wodtke) and her struggles living in a dysfunctional family with her cynical, druggie mother Beatrice (Niffer Clarke) and mentally ill sister Ruth (Megan Kaminsky).

Begel saluted the production and noted that “Mallory Metoxen, who made a spectacular directorial debut last season in ‘The Understudy’ at Renaissance, is at the helm of this intense drama, and she proves that her first hit was no fluke.”

Running through Nov. 9 at the Marian Center, 3211 S. Lake Dr. Tickets are $15, available online.

0 thoughts on “Theater: Far Off Broadway, But Successful”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t know about this theater company in St. Francis (will have to check it out). And The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man In The Moon Marigolds is such an intense play (I’ve seen it before) – and it sounds like Splinter Group did it well (their intent, to be artistic and not to sell seats, is a good beginning towards this end).

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