On Stage

Soulstice turns to comedy with 'Blithe Spirit'

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 01 November 2012 09:37

Actress Kay Hammond portrayed Elvira in the 1945 Technicolor British film version of “Blithe Spirit,” also starring Rex Harrison and directed by David Lean. - Photo: dvdbeaver.com

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.

Lovers battle for their man in In Tandem Theatre's season opener

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 21 September 2012 12:51

In theater, as in life, love triangles can be messy affairs – especially when they involve a vengeful spouse, a soundproof cell and a bottle of poison.

On the town: Events on our calendar

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Sunday, 09 September 2012 09:01

Events coming up of interest to WiG readers:

American Players Theatre exposes the Bard in new ways

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 25 August 2012 10:03
Screen_shot_2012-08-25_at_11.02.11_AM

Travis A. Knight and Nate Burger in “Troilus and Cressida.” – Photo: Carissa Dixon

Two plays currently running in Spring Green invite questions about Shakespeare, the man and the playwright.

Beckett's minimalism a maximum challenge

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 18 October 2012 10:01

Chris Damen and Kailen Fleck in “Ohio Impromptu,” part of UW-Madison University Theatre’s “I Can’t Go On. I’ll Go On,” playing Oct. 18-Nov 4. - PHOTO:Brent Nicastro

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.

Family dynamics at the heart of Chamber Theatre season opener

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 21 September 2012 10:01

Madison playwright Kurt McGinnis Brown, like most authors, was originally counseled to write about what he knew. One of the results of that advice is “Broken and Entered,” a play with roots in his figurative as well literal experiences.

In ‘Avenue Q,’ puppets help test audience boundaries

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Sunday, 09 September 2012 08:48

Are you part of the generation that grew up watching “Sesame Street”? Do you wish the long-running PBS show had grown up with you? If you do, you’re ready for “Avenue Q,” the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that opens Milwaukee’s Skylight Music Theatre’s 2012-13 season.

The Reps' 'Assassins' aims to make a statement

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 23 August 2012 20:54

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.

‘Titanic: The Musical’ surfaces at Milwaukee Theatre

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 05 October 2012 13:30

One of the early 20th century’s greatest tragedies may seem an unlikely subject for a musical, but that didn’t stop the producers of “Titanic: The Musical” from setting sail on Broadway in 1997. The show, which won five Tony Awards, docks at the Milwaukee Theatre Oct. 13-14 for two performances.

Forward Theater's '44 Plays' takes on nation's chief execs

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Tuesday, 11 September 2012 07:13

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.

Joe Jackson brings Duke Ellington to Milwaukee

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 22:11

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.”