May 4-12, 2009
Milwaukee’s performing arts begin their final push this week as we head into the last full month of the 2008-2009 season. The biggest short-run opening starts Tuesday with a surreal Cirque du Soleil show, then Thursday finds a ‘pay-what-you-can’ show — with proceeds going to charity — for a technically challenging play from Soulstice Theatre. Over the weekend, Pius XI stages a splashy musical at the Pabst Theater. Sunday is Mother’s Day. Why not take her to see a second performance of Marvin Hamlisch with the Jazz Ambassadors, which features an amazing 15-year-old vocal prodigy?
Cirque Dreams: Jungle Fantasy, Milwaukee Theatre, May 5-6 at 7:30 p.m.
Direct from a run on Broadway, the well-known aerial artists present “an exotic encounter inspired by nature’s unpredictable creations that are brought to life by an international cast of 25 soaring aerialists, spine-bending contortionists, acrobats, jugglers and musicians.”
Miriam Di Nunzio said of the show in a 2007 Chicago Sun-Times review: “Everything from the green forest backdrop to the whimsical and colorful costumes (more than 150) oozes childlike wonderment. One part Julie Taymor-esque puppetry, one part Cirque du Soleil splendor and one part Cirque Shanghai acrobatics, it’s not on par with their grand-scale productions but quite entertaining nonetheless.” 414.273.7121 or Milwaukee Theater’s event page.
Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap Competition, Bradley Center, 5/9
A ground-breaking arts education program modeled after the very successful New York City Schools’ dance program featured in the hit documentary film ‘Mad Hot Ballroom’, this event will involve approximately 1,800 students competing in either the Salsa, Tango or Swing for Ballroom and Funk, Latin or Swing for Tap. This all-day event is free! 414.277.8480 or online.
Carl Strong, Giggles Comedy Pub in Brookfield, 5/7-5/9
This headlining comedian has been on the The Tonight Show, Comedy Central, BET, and CBS. Strong has a brand of high energy comedy, blended with his love of music and the Motown greats, impressions, singing and characters in his performance. Also featuring Jamey Stone. 262.437.5653 or see GCP website.
An improvisational extravaganza starring Lee Rowley and Rick Katschke. From a single word suggestion, Rowley and Katschke create a world of multiple characters and endless possibilities over the course of one hour. Having trained with some of the world’s finest improvisers, LeeRick promises to be a brand new wrinkle in the forehead that is Milwaukee’s comedy scene. 414.426.4169 or Alchemist Theatre website.
Mother’s Day Laugh-a-Thon, Riverside Theater, 5/10 at 8 p.m.
Stand-up comedy from the likes of Adele Givens, Guy Torry, and Lavar Walker. Hosted by funny man Tyler. Presented by V100.7 Jams. 414.286.3205 or visit the Pabst Theater’s event page.
Victoria Sitwell of It’s Me or the Dog, Pabst Theater, 5/12 at 7:30 p.m.
Best known for her role as host of the Animal Planet series, Sitwell will speak about her experiences, answering audience questions, as well as demonstrating her techniques with dogs from a local shelter. Bring your dog related questions, but please leave your dogs at home as this is a people only event. 414.286.3205 or Pabst Theater’s featured page.
Play Reading: Idiot’s Delight, Ten Chimneys, 5/4 at 7 p.m.
Yes, tonight! Go! A highly-acclaimed collaboration with Milwaukee Rep’s Artistic Internship Program, the 1936 Pulitzer Prize for playwright Robert E. Sherwood will be the final reading for the talented 2008-09 class of Milwaukee Rep Interns. See it brought back to life by this talented group of young artists, before embarking on their careers as the next generation of great American actors. 262.968.4110 or visit Ten Chimneys.
Children of a Lesser God, the Keith Tamsett Studio Theatre at the Marian Center, preview starts 5/7 at 7:30 p.m.
The not-for-profit Soulstice Theatre rounds out its season with the challenging and award-winning play by Mark Medoff. It details the passionate romance and stormy marriage of Sarah Norman, a sensitive and spirited young deaf woman, and James Leeds, an idealistic new teacher at the school for the deaf where she works. In preparation for the extraordinary demands of the script, veteran Soulstice actors Jillian Smith and Matthew Michaelis, last seen in this season’s opening production of It’s Only a Play, have been studying American Sign Language since February. The role of Sarah is performed entirely in sign language, which is interpreted for the audience by James, who responds in both sign language and speech.
Part of Soulstice’s mission is to give back to the community by donating a percentage of its box office to a charity chosen by the cast and production team during the rehearsal process. For Children of a Lesser God, Soulstice has chosen the Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in West Allis (http://www.cdhh.org). Previews start a pay-what-you can performance on Thursday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m. and opening night is Friday. 414.431.3187 or see Soulstice Theatre’s website.
Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Modjeska Theatre, starts 5/8.
Based on the Roald Dahl classic, the Modjeska Youth Theatre project brings back a golden ticket with the tale of a eccentric candy factory owner and five lucky children touring the facility. Special group rates will be available for school performances on May 13 and 14. 414.384.4550 or Modjeska’s website.
Pius XI High School’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Pabst Theatre, 5/8-5/10.
Although renting out this venerable hall for events is common, and Pius XI High has previously presented the spring musical there in 2006 and 2007, they appear to be the only Milwaukee high school to take on such a prestigious endeavor. This rendition will be Disney’s Broadway telling of their movie, which is based on a traditional French fairy tale. (Watch TCD for a full-length feature piece about this event coming soon) 414.290.8151 or through Pabst’s website.
42nd Street, Waukesha Civic Theatre, starts 5/8
Auditions for 1933’s newest show, Pretty Lady, are nearly over when Peggy Sawyer, fresh off the bus from Allentown, PA, arrives in New York. She meets the show’s director and is cast in the chorus line. A bad break for the leading lady gives Peggy her chance to play the role that could catapult her into stardom. Featuring songs like “We’re In The Money,” “About A Quarter To Nine,” “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me,” and “Lullaby Of Broadway.” 262.547.0708 or the WCC website.
The Great Divorce, Todd Wehr Auditorium at Concordia University, 5/8
The Acacia Theatre Company players take audiences on an unforgettable bus ride through both Heaven and Hell, with none other than renowned author and theologian C.S. Lewis as the tour guide. The play is an adaptation of the classic Lewis fantasy by Marquette University graduate George Drance, SJ and the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Magis Theatre Company. 414.744.5995 or at Acacia Theatre’s website.
Old-Time Radio: Wizard of Oz, Alchemist Theatre, 5/10 and 5/17 at 3 p.m.
Wisconsin Hybrid Theater and Alchemist Productions finish a series of Sunday “Old Time Radio” Matinees at the Alchemist. This familiar classic will be adapted for the imagination by the wacky cast and crew of the imagined Vintage Radio Station WHT. 414.426.4169 or Alchemist’s website.
Salute to American Jazz with Marvin Hamlisch and the Jazz Ambassadors, Uihlein Hall at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 5/9 at 8 p.m. and 5/10 at 2:30 p.m.
The premier touring group of the United States Army, the Jazz Ambassadors, join the MSO Pops and Marvin Hamlisch for a swingin’ night of entertainment. Concerts will feature 15-year-old music prodigy and Verve recording artist Nikki Yanofsky as vocalist. 414.291.7605 or MSO’s website.
Rare Masterworks for Violin and Piano, Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, 5/9 at 7:30 p.m.
The UWM Peck School of the Arts Department of Music presents the final faculty concert of the 2008-2009 season. Prof. Bernard Zinck, violin, will be joined by pianist Patrick Godon in a program featuring works by Karol Szymanowski, Felix Mendelssohn and Sergei Prokofiev. Prof. Zinck has chosen three rare works for violin and piano: the Sonata in D Minor, Op. 9 of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937); MendelssohnâTMs (1809-1847) Sonata in F Major, and Prokofiev’s (1891-1953) Violin Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 80. 414.229.4308 or the Peck School of the Arts page.
EnJ and Jim Pugh, Dawes Studio Theater in the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, 5/8 at 8:00 p.m.
Part of the Wilson Center Jazz Club. An exciting collaboration of the eastern and western trombone worlds, E’ n J takes a fresh look at the two-trombone fronted quintet made famous by JJ Johnson and Kai Winding. Pugh is a world-renowned trombonist and composer/arranger has contributed to over 4,000 jazz, film, soundtrack, and commercial recordings, played with Woody Herman Big Band and Chick Corea, and regularly records and tours with Steely Dan. 262.781.9520 or the Wilson Center’s calendar page.
James Taylor, The Milwaukee Theatre, 5/9 at 8 p.m.
(At press time, there are only a limited number of seats left) James Taylor and his band come to Milwaukee for one night only. The legendary Taylor has earned 40 gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards and 5 Grammy Awards for a catalog running from 1970’s Sweet Baby James to his Grammy Award-winning efforts on 1997’s Hourglass album and 2002’s October Road. His most recent 2008 recording, Covers, features Taylor’s full band and is his own musical interpretation of tunes from the 1950s to the 1970s. 414.908.6001 or Milwauke Theatre’s event page.
Bel Canto Chorus presents Rise Up, My Love, Kuttemperoor Auditorium at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, 5/9 at 7:30 p.m.
Milwaukee Symphony principal violist Robert Levine, vocal soloists, and the Bel Canto Chamber Orchestra join the Chorus to perform five passionate expressions of devotion set to music by five twentieth-century masters of composition. The offerings on this concert run from Eric Whitacre’s intimate musical postcards on Hebrew love poems written by his wife to Samuel Barber’s setting of selected prayers by Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard. Also featured is Flos Campi, in which Vaughan Williams uses solo viola, orchestra, and wordless chorus to express the gamut of emotions found in the love poetry of the Song of Songs. 414.481.8801 or the Wilson Center’s ticket page.
New Music Concert, Nancy Kendall Theater at Cardinal Stritch, 5/8 at 7:30 p.m.
The concert will feature instrumental music ensembles and soloists conducted by Scott Wenzel and Dan Maske. In addition, new works composed by Stritch composition majors will be featured. 414.410.4349 or visit Stritch’s website.
The Clarus Trio, Nancy Kendall Theater at Cardinal Stritch, 5/9 at 2 p.m.
A faculty recital featuring Timothy Klabunde on violin, Adrien Zitoun on cello, and Dr. Eun-Joo Kwak on piano. 414.410.4349 or visit Stritch’s website.
UWM Dept. of Visual Art BFA Exhibition II, Inova, 5/4
The senior thesis exhibit for students receiving their BFA from UWM opens today and runs until May 16. It’s free and open to the public, so pop in for a look.
MIAD 2009 Senior Exhibition, MIAD, 5/9
This is your last chance to see MIAD’s biggest show of the year and get acquainted with the work of a new class of local artists – MIAD grads have a long, proud history of sticking around and making arts in Milwaukee better.
Lovable Like Orphan Kitties and Bastard Children, Green Gallery East, 5/9
Los Angeles takes a break, packs some bags and jets to Milwaukee for a midwest vacation, bringing along 78 paintings — 11 x 11 inches and smaller — for a survey of the contemporary art scene at Green Gallery East. LA based artists Kristin Calabrese and Joshua Aster curate this show, which presents a wide range of aesthetics, styles and stages of development. Through 6/9.