Brian Jacobson
On Stage with TCD

Highlights from 9/22 to 9/28

By - Sep 21st, 2009 10:20 pm

If each week of the fall arts season was a contest, then fine music would be this week’s winner. While the stage openings this late week of September are great bits of community theater, they can’t hold a candle to the volume and depth being mined by chamber, choral and instrumental groups. And then there’s the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. This weekend starts the era of Edo de Waart at the helm for a two-night premiere, followed by Yo-Yo Ma with the MSO on Sept. 30. So, hold on to your bowstrings everybody — and watch for coverage by TCD’s performing arts writers on these stories and more in the future.


Don’t Dress for Dinner, Carte Blanche Studios, 9/24 – 10/4
dontdressIt’s a two-act farce from playwright Marc Camoletti this time around at Milwaukee’s South 5th St. boutique theater/gallery/lounge. In this story, a man wants to send his wife away so he can get busy with his mistress. He sets up an alibi by inviting a famous cook and another friend to dinner. Turns out this friend and the man’s wife are also lovers. As in all great farces, chaos ensues. Jimmy Dragolovich directs this one himself, and it features a cast of local actors. For tickets, call 262-716-4689 or visit the Carte Blanche site.

Tuesdays with Morrie, Soulstice Theatre at the Marian Center, 9/24 – 10/10
The fourth floor Academy Studio stage is used this time, playing host to the now-famous autobiographical book by Mitch Albom and translated for the stage. In this story, Albom is an accomplished journalist driven solely by his career. Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor, is dying. Albom makes a trip to reconnect with him, and it turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a last class in the meaning of life. Thursday is a “Pay What You Can Preview” night. Visit the Soulstice website or call 414-431-3187.

Noises Off!, Bay Players in Whitefish Bay, 9/25 – 10/3
For almost 27 years, it’s been the go-to play for theater companies. Now, it’s ably handled by Milwaukee’s community theater group to the north. The farce uses the concept of a play within a play, in this case a dreadful comedy titled Nothing On. Act One is set at the dress rehearsal the night before the opening. So, there are intentional missed cues, lines and entrances. As time continues, it’s a performance one month later as seen from backstage. “Personal relationships combine with the dreadful happenings on stage as the performance deteriorates.” In the third act, chaos ensues. For more information, visit the Bay Players website or call 414-299-9040 for ticket sales locations and hours.

The Receptionist, Windfall Theatre at Village Church Arts, 9/25 – 10/10
“It’s just another routine day at the Northeast Office — Beverly deals effortlessly with ringing phones and her colleague’s romantic troubles. But the surprise visit from a charming rep from the Central Office disrupts the friendly routine. And as the true nature of the company’s business comes to light, The Receptionist is a comic mix of ‘The Office’ sprinkled with ‘The Sopranos.'” Visit the Windfall blogspot page or call the box office at 414-332-3963.


Don McArt as George Burns in Say Goodnight Gracie

Say Goodnight Gracie, Milwaukee Theatre in downtown Milwaukee, 9/26
This is the national tour of the hit, long-running solo performance Broadway play featuring Don McArt as George Burns. It was nominated for a 2003 Tony Award for “Best Play” and won the 2003-04 National Broadway Theatre Award for “Best Play.” In the show, George is in limbo between this world and the next, unable to join his wife and partner Gracie Allen (voiced here by Didi Conn) until he gives the command performance of his lifetime for God. It’s both an autobiography speaking event and multimedia presentation that features music and moving images from George’s long life and good times. For more information, visit the Milwaukee Theatre website or call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 for seats and pricing.


High School Honor Choral Festival, Helen Bader Concert Hall at UWM, 9/22
Normally, we don’t find this kind of thing on our radar, but the combination of the recent popularity of Glee on Fox along with the fact that this is a regional event makes us think it could be a good time. High school choirs from the region gather for a day of non-competitive choral music clinics with the UWM choral faculty and guest clinician Dr. Janet Galván, professor of music at Ithaca College. Join them for a free, informal concert at 4 p.m. at the Zelazo Center. For information, please look at UWM’s calendar listing.

Let’s Meet the Orchestra, Festival City Symphony at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 9/23
The pajama jamboree returns to Vogel Hall on Wednesday evening for a great little event series aimed at children. Two selling points: one, your kids can wear their pajamas, bring a teddy bear and blanket, whatever. Two, it’s free. FCS will “take apart the orchestra and put it back together again.”  The concert will feature Chase’s It’s a Small World; Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man; Offenbach’s Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld and more. Visit the website for details or call 414-963-9067.

Dougie McClean, Turner Hall Ballroom in downtown Milwaukee, 9/23

Dougie MacLean is known as “one of Scotland’s most successful, respected and popular musicians. A singer-songwriter, composer and ‘magical’ performer, he is also a fine guitarist and fiddle player.” MacLean tours the world with a unique blend of lyrical, ‘roots-based’ songwriting and instrumental composition. His compositions have been used in films like Last of the Mohicans. MacLean has appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York and been awarded gold discs. Visit the musician’s Turner Hall page or call 414-286-3663 for ticketing information.

Reinecke Retrograde, Chamber Music Milwaukee at Helen Bader Concert Hall, 9/24
It’s the UWM Department of Music and guests “for a series that takes a fresh look at familiar works and explores rarely performed music in a wide range of instrumental combinations. Series directors Gregory Flint and Todd Levy begin their tenure with a concert that traces a musical line from Samuel Scheidt’s 16th-century “Battle Suite” through arias by Scarlatti and Handel, and the Handel-Halverson Theme and Variations for Violin and Cello, to Carl Reinecke’s Trio in B-flat, Op. 274.”  To make an afternoon of it, we recommend attending soprano Melanie Helton‘s master class (free, call 414-229-5162 for attendance details) at the UWM Recital Hall from 4 – 6 p.m., a quick dinner at Sala da Pranzo, and then up to Kenwood Blvd. and the Zelazo Center for this event. Check the UWM Peck School of the Arts calendar, or call the UWM Box Office at 414-229-4308 for tickets. Can’t get tickets? Hang around the Recital Hall for a 7:30 concert by Steve Nelson-Raney, in celebration of his latest book, The Core/Strata Theory of Harmonic Extensions.

Perpetual Motion, Galileo’s Daughter for Early Music Now, 9/26
galileosDava Sobel will “appear to be perpetual motion.” The author of the award-winning Galileo’s Daughter, The Planets and Longitude will be in town to add her charm and wit with several appearances celebrating the International Year of Astronomy — including an appearance at the 23rd season opener for Early Music Now. Sobel will be a guest of the so-titled musical ensemble soprano made up of Sarah Pillow, viola da gambist Mary Anne Ballard and Grammy-nominated lutenist Ronn McFarlane. Music by Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, Galilei and Purcell and a special program of video projections will envelope the audience as Sobel provides narration describing the impact of concurrent discoveries in science and music at the time of Galileo. For more information, visit Early Music Now or call 414.225.3113 (Also, the UWM Box Office at 414.229.4308). Sobel’s whirlwind of activity before this culminating concert will take her to the Daniel F. Soref Planetarium at the Milwaukee Public Museum on Thursday night and Friday afternoon, the UWM Planetarium at 8:30 p.m. Friday, and Boswell Book Company at 2 p.m. Saturday. The soprano, gambist and lutenist will present a workshop relating similarities in ornamentation techniques in early music and jazz for guitar and voice for jazz students at the UWM Recital Hall at 2 p.m.

The de Waart Era Begins!, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at Uihlein Hall, 9/26 – 9/27
waartThe orchestra tunes. Edo de Waart raises his baton, and a new era begins at the Milwaukee Symphony. The new music director leads the orchestra in Mahler’s blazing “Symphony No. 5.” There will be a Behind the Notes before the concert in Anello Atrium. If you really want to make it a swank night, for a package amount you can attend the Season Opener Gala. See the MSO website for details on that, plus, regular ticketing and subscribing information. Or, call 414.291.7605. Watch TCD for Tom Strini’s complete coverage of this events.


virtueJust when we thought we might go a week without having something new from American Players Theatre, we hear about a last-minute showcase for the Apprentice Program called Virtue. It will take place on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. on the Spring Green, WI grounds.  Scenes are chosen and crafted by this year’s company, consisting of Leia Espericueta, Travis A. Knight and Nicholas Harazin. The theme comes from classical literature and ‘V’ notions of Villiany, Voluptuousness and Virtue. Special guest appearances include Sarah Day, Tiffany Scott, Andrew Truschinski, Carrie Coon and Steve Wojtas. The show is managed by Donna Larsen. For details, see the Facebook webpage. While we’re at it, you can bid a “fond farewell to a great outdoor season with a hot and happening chili feast from our friends at The Spring Green General Store” on Oct. 4, starting at 4 p.m. before the final shows. You’ll pay $9.75 for dinner, or $41.50 for chili and the show.

A note for those who enjoy tripping the light fantastic. On the day before the Oct. 1 national tour stop of Forever Tango at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, there is an opportunity for five young dance couples connected to Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap program to tryout and perform onstage with the dancers. Think of it as “Dancing with the Stars” auditions for the Nickelodeon set. It’s free and open to the public, Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to noon. The mini-competition will be followed by a cultural demonstration by the musicians and Luis Bravo, director of Forever Tango.

Speaking of Danceworks (sponsoring party of MHBT), when you order tickets for the show you can get it as a great package deal as a friend to the local dance outfit. This includes special box seats, a pre-show ballroom dance lesson, plus, Argentinean wine and empanadas at intermission. A portion of the ticket cost will be donated to Danceworks. For more information, call 414-277-8480 or order tickets online at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts website.


freenight09Several of Wisconsin’s professional theater companies are participating in Theatre Communications Group’s (TCG) annual FREE NIGHT OF THEATER program. First Stage Children’s Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater and Peninsula Players Theatre are offering free tickets for select performances Oct. 15 – 20. Ticket reservations can be made online starting Oct. 1 at noon. Visit the Theatre Communications Group website to make a reservation.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre has started an intensive blog with a lot of behind the scenes promised leading up to the staging of William Inge’s Picnic starting Oct. 15 at the Broadway Center. Given its collaboration with UWM on this one, it’s a promising development for theater junkies everywhere.

jensenLate word on Wednesday is that Amy S. Jensen is returning to Skylight Opera to become the new Managing Director after a tenure as the VP and CFO at Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She will be taking over for interim Managing Director Joan Lounsbery, who stepped into the role after Eric Dillner resigned during the debacle at Skylight this past summer.

She states in a press release, “I am so proud of the Skylight for beginning its 50th Anniversary Season with such a spectacular production of The Barber of Seville. It is the shining example of everything there is to love about the Skylight and I am excited to be returning to the company in this new role at this time. I look forward to working with everyone who is a part of the Skylight family to solve the current challenges and build toward an exciting future.”

Audition notice:
Sunset Playhouse announces open auditions for the holiday comedy Inspecting Carol on Monday, Oct. 5, and Tuesday, Oct. 6. Callbacks may take place on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Each audition night is from 7 – 10 p.m. at the Playhouse , located at 800 Elm Grove Road. Guest Director Bryce Lord will direct. Please call 262-782-4431, x 302 to express interest, although walk-ins are welcome. Roles are available for four women and seven men (ages 20 and up) and one 11-year-old boy. Scripts can be checked out at the Box Office Tuesdays through Fridays, 1 – 5 p.m.; and Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. with a $10 deposit. Rehearsals run Nov. 2 – Dec. 3. Show dates are Dec. 4 – 31, Thursdays through Sundays.


You can read more about the local performing arts scene, find ticketing information, locations and even news about the stage across the midwest at

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