Ruth Pointer “was a struggling single mother trying to raise two children and living with my parents,” she says, when she joined her sisters’ singing group. “I realized how much money I could make in a short amount of time singing and said, ‘Wow! I can support my children doing this,’” says Pointer, now 66.
Theater has always been a political medium, and never more so than in a presidential election year. Madison’s Forward Theater plans to increase the political quotient this month by opening its 2012-2013 season with “44 Plays for 44 Presidents.” The production debuts Sept. 20 at The Playhouse at Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts.
Riding the new wave of angry young men in the mold of Elvis Costello, cranky, queer British musician Joe Jackson made his mark with two albums in 1979. His debut “Look Sharp,” containing the massive hit “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” and its successor “I’m the Man” established him as an international talent. Not only could he sneer in disgust with the best of them, but he also had no qualms about displaying a sensitive side, as on the track “It’s Different for Girls.”
On his third disc, 1980’s “Beat Crazy,” the prolific Jackson provided hints about his sexual orientation on songs such as “Pretty Boys” and “Biology.” Then he switched gears entirely on 1981’s big band blowout “Jumpin’ Jive,” an ambitious album of jazzy covers. This disc is significant as a reference point for his most recent work. It bridged Jackson’s musical evolution to 1982’s synthy “Night and Day,” featuring the gay-themed “Real Men,” 1984’s retro “Body and Soul” and 1987’s orchestral “Will Power.”
What could be funnier than watching the spirit of a departed socialite, mistakenly conjured by a séance gone wrong, torment her re-married husband? Noel Coward found the concept so funny that he wrote the play “Blithe Spirit” – possibly his best-known work – around it.
Two plays currently running in Spring Green invite questions about Shakespeare, the man and the playwright.
Playwright and poet Samuel Beckett believed that the less there is to say, the better it is said. What the Nobel Prize-winning Irish author had to say and how he said it, especially in the plays of his later period, were remarkable and jarring to actors and audiences alike.
Good theater makes a compelling statement, while great theater carries with it truths that stand the test of time. That’s the measuring rod that Mark Clements, artistic director for Milwaukee Repertory Theater, uses frequently.
Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins” – a musical revue featuring history’s most infamous U.S. presidential assassins – received mixed reviews when it first opened in 1990. But its characters’ search for sudden celebrity and the show’s celebration of the country’s growing gun culture has more relevance today than ever before, Clements says. The Rep opens its 2012-13 season Sept. 4 with the controversial work.