Matthew Reddin
On Stage 12/6

Carols, classics and a family in crisis

By - Dec 6th, 2011 04:00 am

Photo courtesy Milwaukee Rep.


This weekend, the Milwaukee Rep opens the second-ever musical at their Quadracci Powerhouse: Next to Normal. The Tony- and Pulitzer-winning show about a family coping with bipolar disorder will make its regional premiere in Milwaukee, one of the first cities to stage a production since the musical closed on Broadway in January. The production also reunites the creative team from last year’s successful Cabaret. The show runs Dec. 9 through Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. weeknights, 8 p.m. Fridays, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Tickets range from $10 to $65; call (414) 224-9490 or order online at the Rep’s website.



Dancer Valerie Harmon performs as Marie in one of the casts of The Nutcracker, running through Dec. 26. Photo credit Jessica Kaminski.

The Milwaukee Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker, opening this weekend, is one of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions. Michael Pink’s singular take on Petipa’s famous ballet, with music by Tchaikovsky, has been interpreted in innumerable ways over more than a century. Pink’s version is especially lively and has held up well over the years. The performance features rotating casts from the primary company as well as the Milwaukee Ballet II and young dancers from the Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy. The Nutcracker runs Dec. 10 to 26, with evening shows at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 1:30. Tickets start at $27; order at (414) 902-2103 or the Milwaukee Ballet’s website.

In New Dancemakers: Iconoclasts, 15 of the UWM dance department’s young choreographers explore the nature and meaning of dance and performance. Work by these students is split into two distinct, alternating programs at 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12, $10 for seniors, faculty, staff and alumni, $8 for students; call (414) 229-4308 or visit UWM’s website to order.



John Tesh’s 14-piece big band comes to the Milwaukee Theatre this Friday. Photo credit Mike Buscher.

Longtime entertainer John Tesh brings a 14-piece orchestra to the Milwaukee Theatre this week for the John Tesh Big Band Christmas. Tesh, currently best known for his nationally syndicated radio show, will lead the orchestra in versions of classic holiday tunes. The concert is Friday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45, $35 or $25, and can be purchased at (800) 745-3000 or via Ticketmaster.

Want big band sound with a more local flair? Then drop by the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts Wednesday, Dec. 7, for a Wilson Center Big Band concert featuring vocalist Jenny Thiel. The concert starts at 1 p.m., and tickets are $20 for orchestra seating, $15 for balcony.


Danu hails from Ireland, and performs a mix of traditional and contemporary Irish music. Photo credit Colm Henry.

Danú, a traditional ensemble from Ireland, also visits the Wilson Center this week. The band performs ancient and contemporary Irish works. They’ve sold out two St. Patrick’s Day shows at the Wilson Center before, but this time they’re offering Christmas in Ireland. Concerts are Saturday, Dec. 10 at 3 and 8 p.m., and tickets are $61 prime orchestra, $51 orchestra and $31 balcony. Call (262) 781-9520 or visit the Wilson Center website to order for either concert.

The Basilica of St. Josaphat is a prime venue for many Milwaukee music groups. This weekend, Bel Canto Chorus makes it their own for a Christmas in the Basilica concert. The chorus will be joined by their Boy Choirs and the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble for evenings of carols on Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$30; order at their online box office.

Early Music Now hosts British ensemble Stile Antico Saturday for Puer Natus Est (A Boy is Born), a concert comprising a 16th-century mass and other seasonal Tudor music, performed conductor-free and a cappella. The concert is Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 812 N. Jackson St. Tickets are $25 and $10 for students, or $40 and $20 for preferred seating; call (414) 225-3113 or visit the online box office to order.

The Wisconsin Philharmonic continues their “Tour de France”-themed season with Joyeux Noel: Christmas in Paris. The Philharmonic, joined by high school choirs from Arrowhead and University Lake School, will play Faure’s Sanctus, Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Debussy’s Clair de Lune, among other works. The concert is tonight (Tuesday, Dec. 6) at 7:30 p.m. at Carroll University. Tickets are $15 to $35, and can be ordered online.

Milwaukee chanteuse Robin Pluer leads the Wisconsin Conservatory’s Festive Soiree with Robin Pluer & Friends at Turner Hall Ballroom this Thursday. The cabaret show includes French ballads, Edith Piaf numbers and jazz. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, and tickets are $18, $25 for premium seating. Order at (414) 286-3663 or the Turner Hall box office.

The Waukesha Choral Union offers A Collage of Carols twice this week, at St. Luke’s Church in Waukesha on Friday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. and at St. Catherine’s Church in Oconomowoc on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. Both concerts include selections of holiday tunes and audience sing-alongs. Tickets are $15, $13 for students/seniors and $4 for children 11 and under; call (414) 297-9310 or visit the Choral Union’s website to order.

UWM’s revitalized Collegium Musicum, an early music performance group, will present Gaudete!a holiday concert at All Saints’ Cathedral, 818 E. Juneau Ave., on Monday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. Works include Sarum chants, Renaissance lute songs and some 15th century Christmas motets. The concert is free; donations are requested.

Visual Art


Silversmith Ndidi Ekubia’s “Connection Vase” is one of the 16 works in “The Tool at Hand.” Photo credit Stephen Brayne.

Thursday, the Milwaukee Art Museum opens The Tool at Hand, an exhibition of pieces unified by the challenge to their creators: Make a work of art using only one traditional tool. The 16 resulting works (an increase of two from the original number, and now including Madison artist Hongtao Zhou) will be on display, with the tools used to make them, in the museum’s Decorative Arts Gallery from Dec. 8 to April 1. The exhibit is included in museum admission: $15, $12 for seniors, students and military, and free for kids under 12, as well as all patrons on the first Thursday of every month.

UWM’s Inova gallery opens the first installment of its new Input/Output exhibition series this week. The series collects works that cross the disciplines of film, performance, video and digitally based works from the university’s Film, Video, Animation and New Genres MFA program. Bruce Charlesworth co-curated with Inova. The exhibit runs Dec. 9 to 18, with a free opening reception Friday night from 5 to 8 p.m.

Special Events

The latest installment of the Urban Garage Sale opens up shop in Turner Hall Ballroom Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The regular event, presented by Heavy Rotation, offers an opportunity for local merchants to show their wares, just in time for the holiday season. Over 25 stores and artists will be present, including Rishi Tea, hot*pop and Fred Boutique.


Alchemist Theatre: Who Killed the Ghost of Christmas Past?, through Dec. 17

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre: Heroes, through Dec. 18

Skylight Opera Theatre: The Music Man, through Dec. 18

Next Act Theatre: Sylvia, through Dec. 18

American Players Theatre: The Gift of the Magi, through Dec. 18

Fireside Theatre: A Fireside Christmas, through Dec. 22

Milwaukee Rep: A Christmas Carol, through Dec. 24

First Stage: Junie B in Jingle Bells Batman Smells, through Dec. 29 (RUN EXTENDED)

In Tandem Theatre: Scrooge in Rouge, through Dec. 31

Sunset Playhouse: Annie, through Dec. 31

Marcus Center: A Kodachrome Christmas starring John McGivern, through Dec. 31

Milwaukee RepSong Man Dance Man, through Jan. 8

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us