Highlights from 9/9 to 9/15
As if our super handy fall season guide wasn’t enough, we continue to bring you excerpted highlights of shows and events of note happening in Milwaukee and beyond this stage week.
The fall theater season is officially in full swing with big openings at Next Act, The Rep, Alchemist, Racine Theater Guild, Present Music and more. I’ll mention Unruly Music Festival again here, but read our feature preview here for the best information. Finally, Present Music opens a twisted musical salvo with Gabriel Kahane and Gnarly Buttons.
Government Inspector, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, previews start 9/8
The Rep opens its season with a grand farce that started from a funny letter Nikolai Gogol sent Alexander Pushkin. Although it is touted by some for its Marx Brothers-like quality (which is enough for me, see you there), others look at this play as a supreme piece of art. In the story, “a provincial village is thrown into a … world of panic, greed and silliness when its bumbling elected officials learn that a government inspector is paying a visit.” Visit The Rep’s website for more information, or call the box office at 414-224-9490.
Invader? I Hardly Know Her!, Alchemist Theatre, previews begin 9/9
It’s a Science Fiction story, but it could also be called a Thriller. Or, a Romantic Comedy. In any case, as the story goes, “It’s the wedding day of James Rogers and Jennifer Kevlox – what should be the happiest day of their lives. But before they can walk down the aisle, they’re both swept up into a galaxy-spanning conspiracy that involves cold-hearted aliens, evil demons from another dimension, sexy ladies with secrets and an effeminate robot.” Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? See the Alchemist website for tickets and times, or call 414-426-4169.
Around the World in 80 Days, Peninsula Players, begins 9/9
Yes, it’s true — Milwaukee Chamber Theatre had a version of Mark Brown’s script that enjoyed a run last month, but now it’s our neighbors in Fish Creek that get a shot at the Phileas Fogg and Jean Passepartout globe trot with this production at the historic pavilion’s stage. If the local version’s inventive way of telling the tale was any indication, this full-scale setup in this latest version will be just as great of a romp. Make it a day by viewing the fall colors and unique shops in Wisconsin’s “thumb,” then enjoy dinner at the Cookery and make the show by 8 p.m. Visit the Peninsula Players website, or call 920-868-3287 for details.
Hotbed Hotel, Racine Theater Guild, opens 9/10
The venerable stage in Racine begins a 72nd season, starting with Michael Parker’s romp. A couple tries to sell a rundown hotel to a prospect by having the screwed-up staff appear to be enjoying it. Add a cast of nefarious characters, and chaos ensues. British-born Parker is known for that “Fawlty Towers” vibe, and previous comedies like The Nerd at this venue have proved that casts are capable of perfecting the difficult acting art. Visit the Racine Theatre Guild site for details, or call the box office at 262-633-4218.
Mary’s Wedding, Next Act Theater, previews start 9/10
It is advised to bring hankies. Stephen Massicotte’s complex tale of love and war doesn’t flinch, and while the story is set against the backdrop of World War I, there’s a lot of commentary about the separation and loss felt during recent overseas conflicts. The tale itself is pretty straightforward, leaving actors Braden Moran and Georgina McKee a lot of room to explore. Next Act Theatre starts off a 20th year with a resounding pound. Visit the website for details or call 414-278-0765 for ticketing info.
Auntie Mame, Sunset Playhouse, opens 9/11
The venerable stage in Waukesha that grew to be an auditorium and so much more is opening its 50th season with a mega-cast production of the musical that began the 1960 season there. Artistic Director Mark Salentine also directed this one. Don’t know the storyline? How could you not? Here it is: “When Patrick loses his father, it’s not off to the orphanage for this young lad. His Auntie Mame welcomes him with open arms and introduces him to a life he never imagined, full of madcap parties, silly high jinks and unbelievable surprises.” Call 262-782-3150 for tickets, or visit the website. Still not satisfied? Look here for stills from the production: Auntie Mame slideshow
For this last show in the lineup, APT officials were forced to add two shows (10/11 and 10/14) of James DeVita’s one-man show due to the demand. And, they’re rumored to be running out of tickets for those. Overall, these are all winning titles and performances, so choose accordingly. If you can’t choose one, APT has started to offer “immersion weekends” for September, in which a package deal includes up to six plays in the three-day period. For students, matinees on certain shows are specially priced. Consult APT’s website for details, or call the box office at 608-588-2361.
Dvorak Serenade, Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra at Calvary Presbyterian Church, 9/12
The music director of Bel Canto Chorus Richard Hynson also fills that role for the MCO, as they begin a three-piece season with the soothing (and haunting) sounds of Antonin Dvorak. There will also be music of Emile Bernard and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — including his most admired Symphony No. 40 in G minor. There will be a wine tasting and sale with The Wine Maniacs of Oconomowoc one hour prior, so it should be a party. For more information, visit theMCO.org website or call 414-443-8717. Or follow them on Twitter, Facebook, PortalArts Wisconsin. Pretty hip for classical music. Dvorak: Larghetto
Young composer and musician Kahane has been getting a lot of press in the past few years, especially after the zeitgeist release of 2008’s Craigslistlieder. He’s a perfect match for Present Music’s outlook. And, he was paired up as a first act to solo clarinetist Bill Helmers as he tackled composer John Adams’s piece called Gnarly Buttons (trivia fact: that piece was first commissioned by the London Sinfonietta and Present Music back in the mid-1990s). Kahane will also join the ensemble onstage, likely transcending genres and tearing the remaining paint off the walls at Turner Hall. Look for Tom Strini’s profile later in the week. For details, visit the Pabst-connected website or call 414-286-3205.
Chicago Afrobeat Project, Jazz in the Park at Cathedral Square, 9/10
Believe it or not, the East Town Association doesn’t know that summer is over. There are three concerts left at Milwaukee’s favorite former City Hall site, starting with this ants-in-your-pants danceable ensemble that “energizes the classic Afrobeat influences of juju, highlife, American funk, and Afro-Cuban music with a formative infusion of experimental jazz and rock elements that thrive in the Chicago music scene.” And, since the state legislature solved the sticky carry-in issue, you can enjoy the performance with a box of wine and a bag of kettle popcorn. For details on the series, visit the East Town website.
Soultime: At the Apollo, the Rep at the Stackner Cabaret, opens 9/11
James Brown — well, a talented actor emulating him — emcees this show celebrating the musical legacy of a venue where “stars are born and legends are made.” Visit The Rep’s website for ticketing and times, or call 414-224-9490.
Also, you still have time to make the highly experimental Unruly Festival, now taking place over three days at the Marcus Center’s Vogel Hall. From tonight’s fine soprano work of Susan Bender to music played by microchip during the MiLO performance and the original classical music of flautist Lisa Cella and cellist Franklin Cox — it sounds like it will shake the walls of the downtown performance center. Read the TCD article for more on this music event.
Finally, the Milwaukee Ballet is currently running a young children’s program called “Ballet Story Time” at area public libraries on Wednesday for eight dates. Ballet members will share stories and show various moves and positions to kids, up to age 5. Consult this PDF from MPL for details.