Maybe the May-December romance that develops between the two characters in Simon Stephens’s Heisenberg isn’t as odd as it seems at first. In Forward Theater’s current production, running through February 3 in Overture’s Playhouse Theater, the entire world of the play unfolds in a rush of conversations between Alex, a 70-something, taciturn and weathered Jim Pickering and Georgie, a 40-something, mop-topped, free spirited Colleen Madden. On the surface his silent reserve and her energetic entropy feel naturally incongruent. But maybe they have things in common that Georgie sees right away, but Alex has to slowly warm to. For instance. . .Read More
Presenting opera in new, vibrant and often surprising ways is Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s calling card and their exuberant aesthetic is on full display in their current production of “Zie Magic Flute,” at the Tripoli Shrine Center through January 27th. An expanded remount from two seasons ago, MOT is once again collaborating with members of the Quasimondo Physical Theater troupe and Cadance Collective, a small group of performers that combine music making and modern dance. The two-hour, new-and-improved production includes more songs and a few additional characters from Mozart’s classic opera, which has been seriously augmented with what MOT Artistic Director Jill Anna Ponasik calls “deliberate silliness.”Read More
These days architectural firms that specialize in state-of-the-art scientific labs don’t put tiny, dark offices in the basements of buildings. They consciously create collaboration spaces throughout the structure — gathering spots where researchers are likely to bump into each other and interact informally.
And while these buildings are undoubtedly more comfortable to work in than Rosalind Franklin’s damp, subterranean office at King’s College, as described in the play “Photograph 51,” currently onstage at Renaissance Theaterworks, today’s labs aren’t just designed to be more hospitable for scientists. By encouraging collaboration among researchers, these work spaces actually speed up the pace of discovery. It turns out more great minds working on a problem are much better — and faster — than one.Read More
“That’s not right.”
This is the refrain that the main character returns to again and again in First Stage’s exceptional production of the musical “Matilda.” The impossibly precocious five year-old English girl, who lives in the kind of dystopian world that author Roald Dahl is famous for, knows injustice when she sees it. But instead of throwing a tantrum, she calls out the crimes around her calmly and confidently, always more concerned about the wrongs done to others than any of the tragically unfair circumstances that she, herself, has to endure: Parents who didn’t want her to begin with and barely tolerate her presence, let alone her intellect. A father who is so disappointed in her gender that he insists on calling her “boy.” A mother who berates her for reading books instead of watching the “telly,” and advocates improving her appearance instead of her mind. A sadistic school headmistress who calls her a “maggot” and tries to crush her, physically and emotionally, along with the rest of the students — and teachers — at Matilda’s new school.Read More
I saw dozens of great theater productions in Milwaukee, Madison and Spring Green during 2018. Of course, as I reflect on the year there are a few performers and productions that really stand out. Here is my idiosyncratic list of “bests.” Feel free to add to this list with your own experiences throughout the year.Read More
I had the sincere pleasure of seeing a lot of theater in last year. Here are some of the highlights from Madison area performances in 2018.Read More
Midway through the second act of “Book of Mormon,” one of the young, squeaky clean teen missionaries who has been sent to Uganda to convert the natives to the ways of the Latter-Day Saints launches into one of the best songs in the show; “I Believe.” In it, Elder Price (Liam Tobin) recites the litany of things he is sure of with a renewed enthusiasm and faith, after a rough few days trying to bring new Mormons into the fold. He sings with wide-eyed fervor about ancient Jews sailing to America; the real Garden of Eden, located in Jackson County, Missouri; and the promise of receiving his own planet when he gets to heaven. Swaying back and forth like an evangelical at a revival meeting, he tries to infuse the local warlord, General Buttf*cking Naked, with the holy spirit of Mormon founder Joseph Smith. For his trouble, Elder Price has a copy of the Book of Mormon shoved very far into his digestive tract, which we see in a graphic x-ray in the next scene.Read More
There are a lot of performances to choose from in December, and that’s a spectacular way to end the year. Among them is Souvenir, a two-person musical based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins (Sarah Day)—an infamous opera singer with much more enthusiasm than talent — and her frustrated, but tender-hearted accompanist Cosme McMoon (Thomas Kasdorf). So why add Four Seasons Theatre’s Souvenir to your ticket wish list, when you could see Christmas ghosts and carolers, sway with dancing snowflakes and nutcrackers, or sing along with the brass section on “We Wish You a Merry Christmas?” Well. . .Read More
The ballet “The Nutcracker” was not a hit when it was first presented in Saint Petersburg in 1892. I can only speculate that its tepid reception was due to an unfortunate lack of glitter.
By contrast, the Milwaukee Ballet’s glitter-filled production of Tchaikovsky’s Christmas classic is holiday magic personified. Much of the mystery, enchantment and awe-inspiring tone of the show comes from its fanciful design, complete with a dazzling proscenium arch featuring many of the ballet’s characters in gold and lights and the nutcracker himself peering down on spectators from its apex. (Spectacular costumes and inventive scenic design by Zack Brown.)Read More
“Come on, Mary. Let’s see if you still got it.”
I don’t know if Joseph actually said that to his beloved, the Virgin Mary. I don’t remember that passage from any of the scriptures, but I’d like to think that soon after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, his earthly parents celebrated a little bit, maybe by singing and dancing together like they used to.Read More