It turns out it’s really hard to be the bard. At least that’s what the rock-n-roll superstar playwright from the Renaissance wants us to believe, in the touring production of “Something Rotten!” which opened at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts on October 16 and runs through Sunday, the 21st. In this indulgently wacky, pointedly irreverent, produced-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life musical extravaganza, Shakespeare’s star is shining so brightly that other dramatists — like our heroes Nick and Nigel Bottom — simply can’t compete. What’s a struggling pair of thespians to do?Read More
When Milwaukee Opera Theatre Artistic Director Jill Anna Ponasik introduced “Antiology” to the small but warm crowd at Boswell’s Book Company on Friday night, she tried to prepare us for what we were about to see; part literary reading by New York author Dana Spiotta, part acoustically influenced tribute to ’70s pop music, and part original opera, performed by a chill group of local vocalists and musicians. But that’s just the beginning of the story behind the story. Ponasik explained that the 75-minute show was orginally inspired by the seemingly disparate elements of admiration for Spiotta’s novel “Eat the Document,” interest in exploring catastrophic data loss, and addressing the general lack of hootenannies in the lives of the creative team. These impulses are mixed with the other de facto features of an MOT show, including musical experimentation, new opera composition, and the use of unorthodox performance spaces to create something challenging and unique.Read More
Holy purple pancakes! There’s a brand new mystery afoot at First Stage, a very colorful musical that’s sure to charm young audiences. It’s “Nate the Great,” adapted by John Maclay, the company’s director of artistic development, and Brett Ryback a composer and lyricist with a long affiliation with First Stage. This pair, who also penned the “Just a Little Critter Musical,” has crafted a delightful, tuneful tale that mixes the suspense of a few neighborhood mysteries with messages about the importance of art, quality breakfast food (pancakes, specifically) and accepting others. Onstage at the Todd Wehr Theater in the Marcus Center through November 11th, it’s a great addition to the children’s theater canon, and a show that will hopefully find its place on stages throughout the country.Read More
When I was in college I wrote a play that used Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance somewhere over the Pacific as a central metaphor. The week it opened, a story was splashed all over the newspapers that researchers had uncovered new findings about exactly where her plane crashed. That’s just bad luck. And bad timing.
Madison Theatre Guild opened its first show of the season, Born Yesterday, on Oct. 5. The political comedy from the 1940s declaring that education and true democracy will always trump government corruption opened on the same day that the Senate voted on the contentious and controversial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court. The dissonance created by the conflation of the two narratives was impossible to avoid. That’s also bad luck. And bad timing.Read More
In 2016 the Wellesley Centers for Women partnered with American Conservatory Theater to study gender equity in leadership opportunities in hundreds of nonprofit American theater companies. Their findings concluded that women have never held more than 27% of leadership positions.
The League of Professional Theatre Women released a similar study assessing female representation in regional theater. The report, Women Count: Women Hired Off-Broadway, was based on nearly 700 productions from 2010 to 2017. It found that women were underrepresented in all areas, except for costume design and stage management.
According to a survey by “American Theatre” magazine, just 21% of plays presented by regional theater companies in the 2015-16 season had female authors. In the magazine’s 2017 survey, they reported that number of plays produced by women playwrights had increased to 26%.Read More
That’s the excited cry that rings through the Zuckerman family’s barn when Wilbur the pig wakes up one morning and finds a special message written in the spider web above his pen. And the audience gets equally excited about the young pig’s journey, thanks to Children’s Theater of Madison’s beautiful production of Charlotte’s Web, running in The Playhouse at Overture through October 5. Directed by CTM associate artistic director Mike Lawler, the classic book by E.B. White is translated to the stage by an able, racially diverse cast, portraying both human and barnyard characters. But predictably, it’s Charlotte the caring spider who steals the show.Read More
There are not many things I’ll claim to fangirl status for, but improvisational comic geniuses completely knock me out. In college I got hooked on the British import show “Whose Line Is it Anyway?” a short-form improv program that featured English and American players such as John Sessions, Paul Merton, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Josie Lawrence, Greg Proops, Mike McShane and Brad Sherwood, among others. Incorporating suggestions from the audience, the comedians played theater games; explaining bizarre uses for odd props, making up songs; presenting scenes in a range of theatrical styles; and generally thinking and acting and rhyming faster than any other humans on the planet.Read More
When Brian Cowing was seven years old he started taking tap dancing lessons. As his passion for performing and musical theater grew, he continued perfecting his time steps, shuffles, and hops throughout high school. He even took tap classes in college at Oklahoma City University. He’s known in Madison as an accomplished director and choreographer, working extensively with Edgewood High School, Children’s Theater of Madison, Four Seasons Theatre, and Capital City Theater. But it was Cowing’s tap dancing ability that probably landed him a part in the national tour of the musical Something Rotten, which will come to Madison’s Overture Hall, October 9-14.Read More
As the home to Irish Fest, the largest celebration Celtic arts and culture in North America, it’s not that surprising Milwaukee would have two leading theaters producing Irish-themed love stories at the same time. Currently Milwaukee Chamber Theatre has “Chapatti,” and Next Act has “Outside Mullingar,” which runs through October 21. Starring real-life couple David Cecsarini and Deborah Staples as reluctant but destined lovers, “Mullingar” features outstanding performances by a top-notch cast and surprising moments of tension between the extremes of loneliness and connection; arguments and silence; old ways and new; resentment and forgiveness; action and inaction. Unfortunately that tension is sometimes overwhelmed by a sentimentality that is too easily assigned to tales from the emerald isle.Read More
A friend of the famous poet Carl Sandburg once commented that trying to write about him briefly was like trying to picture the Grand Canyon in one black and white snapshot. And judging from all the material squeezed into the production “The Eagle In Me: An Evening with Carl Sandburg,” at In Tandem Theatre through October 21, well-known Milwaukee actor Jonathan Gillard Daly feels much the same way.Read More