The Rep brings world-class theatre to Milwaukee

By - Nov 28th, 2010 08:00 am
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Caroline O’Connor, in one of six personae in Bombshells. Milwaukee Repertory Theater photo.

Milwaukeeans have come to expect theatrical tours de force from The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. In the interest of living up such expectations, The Rep officially premieres the internationally acclaimed Bombshells to Milwaukee audiences this evening. Performed on reputable stages around the world, Bombshells has not yet been seen in the States, but has captured the hearts of worldwide audiences without missing a beat.

The show was written by Melbourne-based playwright Joanna Murray-Smith and features award-winning actress Caroline O’Connor. The performance, which will be held in the Rep’s Quadracci Powerhouse, tells the tale of six women at pivotal life points. Equal parts comedy and commentary, the one-woman show  brings to life the tales of a busy mother, abandoned wife, Catholic schoolgirl, bride-to-be, widow and disenchanted musician. O’Connor commands all six roles under the Rep’s Artistic Director Mark Clements.

Caroline O’Connor in Bombshells. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

While new to the city, Clements is no stranger to O’Connor’s work. She has played the roles of some of Hollywood’s finest leading ladies, including Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, and Ethel Merman, also starring in film and Broadway versions of the hit musical Chicago.

“I’m excited to introduce Caroline to Milwaukee,” he says.  Clements has been eager to work with O’Connor, one of theatre’s exquisite triple-threat gems: her singing, dancing, and acting have played equal parts in her rise to stardom. “I can’t see any other actor pulling Bombshells off,” said Clements. “The audiences are in for a real treat.”

O’Connor’s Milwaukee performance is much-anticipated, as she has graced some of the world’s finest stages. Her multi-disciplinary training has earned her many prestigious awards as well as international recognition.

Playwright Joanna Murray-Smith created the one-woman performance as a means of showcasing O’Connor’s abilities. Written in 2004, Bombshells has become a theatrical sensation, showing sold-out runs in Australia, Canada, England and Scotland.

Caroline O’Connor in Bombshells. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Both Murray-Smith and O’Connor have felt the impact of the piece on their lives. Since its sold-out world premiere in Sydney, Australia, the show has been praised by crowds and critics alike. O’Connor has been honored with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe First Award in 2004; Murray-Smith received the London Theatergoers Choice Award in 2005.

In addition to a successful series of theatre runs, Bombshells has also been filmed for a television adaptation for ABC.

O’Connor believes the show’s success is in part due to the fact that it offers something for women in all stages of life.

“Some people have said, “Here we go again – widows, mothers, abandoned wives. . . .” said O’Connor. Yet, something familiar in the story catches the audience off guard. “One moment they’re really laughing, slapping their thighs and exclaiming ‘That’s me! How does she know?’ and the next, they’re in tears.”

Theatre-goers will have the opportunity to experience more than a few tears. In addition to hosting stellar performances, The Rep has become known for providing supplemental interactive opportunities. Prior to each performance, audience members can engage Rukhumani K. Desi and Stephanie Lambourn, Artistic Intern Ensemble members in a Q & A format called “The Rep in Depth.” On December 15, there will be a pre-show matinee luncheon buffet at the Intercontinental Hotel.  There will also be talkbacks after selected performances.

Bombshells runs from November 26th to December 19th. All performances will be held at The Rep’s Quadracci Powerhouse Theater located in the Milwaukee Center at 108 E. Wells Street. For more information on performances, special events, or ticket purchases, call The Rep’s Ticket Office at 414-224-9490.

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