In the opening of her Netflix special, I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine), comedian, author and podcaster Jen Kirkman tells a story about overhearing someone ordering a drink and slowly realizing that person cannot tell the difference between a lemon and a lime. It’s like she’s a dear friend venting her frustrations with the world already, and it’s only been a few minutes.
Ten years ago, no one would have thought of Milwaukee as a comedy hub. One of the reasons that’s slowly changing is the Milwaukee Comedy Festival.
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so, William Shakespeare famously wrote in Hamlet. That same ethos is even better demonstrated in his later work Othello, where the Bard weaves a tale of evil intent, with all the expected consequences.
If you’re reading this, it isn’t too late to see theater company Stagecloud’s first production in Milwaukee, Hyperreality Show. It just looks like it is.
Spring Awakening has always been a challenging play to me. Its music is undeniably beautiful, but just about everything else leaves me uncertain — the book’s occasionally saccharine interpretation of its edgy, often-troubling source material (a early 20th-century play of the same name), the widely varying tone of its scenes, the presumably intentional uncertainty of whether the rebellious teens or restrained parents are right.
In 1913, a young man named Leo Frank was accused of murdering a young girl he employed at his factory. But this was no everyday trial. Set amid the anxieties of a post-Reconstruction, early 20th century South, with a Jewish man originally from the North standing accused and the only other suspect a black man who becomes the key witness against his former employer, it could not be an everyday trial.
More than anything else, Milwaukee’s improv scene has been dominated by ComedySportz, the now-national troupe that specializes in short-form improv — quick “games” where performers riff on audience suggestions in short bits before erasing everything and starting from scratch.
But that approach to improv is not the only one. In many cities, short-form companies coexist with an alternative style: long-form improv. Neither is inherently better than the other, and many improvisers and comedians do both. But Milwaukee only having a training center and performance space for short-form has skewed popular opinion here as to what improv can be.
Musical theater becomes more prevalent in the arts scene in every passing year, with even the most steadfastly disinclined companies adopting musicals as a component to their repertoire. At the head of the trend in Madison is Four Seasons Theatre. For 10 years, the company has played a major role in building up the genre in the capital, and they’ll wrap up a decade with one of the most iconic musicals of all: Guys and Dolls.
Edwin Booth is arguably the most acclaimed, most beloved and most talented American actor to ever strut the boards, a tragedian who was a pioneer of naturalistic acting. Yet today that reputation is buried beneath the weight of his brother’s name: John Wilkes Booth.
If a dripping-wet Marlon Brando, clad in a torn T-shirt screaming “Stella!” is your first and last impression of A Streetcar Named Desire, it may be time to let American Players Theater enlighten you with the rest of the story.
The Spring Green company has mounted a powerful retelling of Tennessee Williams’ most famous work, sticking to the roots of the original stage version but updating the setting to a slightly more contemporary 1963 New Orleans.