On Stage

'Henson Alternative' gives puppets adult voices in improv performance

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 04 April 2013 15:07

A performance of “Stuffed and Unstrung,” featuring Brian Henson, right, the son of Muppet creator Jim Henson. The show last appeared at the Pabst in November 2011. -Photo: Courtesy

Improvisational performers know when to get out of their own way and let their characters respond to situations suggested by an audience.

After 27 years, Boulevard Studio's artistic director Mark Bucher is ready for his third act

Written by Louis Weisberg,
Staff writer
Thursday, 21 February 2013 16:51

Mark Bucher. -Photo: Troy Freund

After 27 years as the Boulevard Ensemble Studio’s founder, artistic director, box office manager, janitor and just about everything else, Mark Bucher says he’s ready for his life’s third act.

Bettering Broadway topic of TED conference

Written by The Associated Press Wednesday, 30 January 2013 10:35

A conference on how to make the Broadway experience better for theatergoers has come up with some prescriptions: Be brave in the stories that are told onstage and embrace youth and technology.

“Broadway, I don’t think, has boldly gone where it needs to,” said openly gay “Star Trek” actor George Takei, riffing off his old TV show’s motto. “I have a sense that Broadway hasn’t entered into the 21st century.”

Life is the lesson in 'Educating Rita'

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Tuesday, 15 January 2013 19:32

Life is an educational experience, and everyone we meet is part of a series of lessons through which we learn about others and ourselves. That’s the premise driving “Educating Rita,” which continues Milwaukee’s Renaissance Theaterworks’ 2012-13 season starting Jan. 18.

The 1980 play by British author Willy Russell concerns the relationship that develops between Liverpool hairdresser Rita (Cristina Panfilio) and her tutor Dr. Frank Bryant (Jonathan Smoots) after Rita enrolls in the U.K.’s Open University, the nontraditional school in which Frank teaches.

Musical revue reheats the phenomenal talent of singer/songwriter Sam Cooke

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 21 March 2013 13:27

Darrian Ford performs the music of Sam Cooke. -Photo: Sam Ciardi

Singer/songwriter Sam Cooke was shot to death in a cheap motel in South Central Los Angeles on Dec. 11, 1964. No identification was found on his body, and it took police three days to identify him.

'Underneath the Lintel' is a journey of self-discovery

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 21 February 2013 16:35

Life is – or should be – a journey of self-discovery. Those of us who fail to initiate that quest are often prodded by life’s circumstances down roads they wouldn’t otherwise have chosen.

Such is the case of the protagonist in “Underneath the Lintel,” the latest production by the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre.

Conference asks: What is the best Broadway can be?

Written by MARK KENNEDY,
AP writer
Friday, 25 January 2013 18:07

Before long plane flights, Thomas Schumacher likes to download talks from some of the world’s brightest and creative minds speaking at TED conferences, watching them on his iPad while thousands of feet in the air. 

“I marvel at the range of stuff. I like the passion of the speakers and love the content,” says the president of the Disney Theatrical Group about the various conferences dedicated to technology, entertainment and design. “I am a giant TED freak.”

Top 10 theater moments of 2012

Written by MARK KENNEDY,
AP writer
Monday, 31 December 2012 05:42

Al Pacino came back again and Jessica Chastain showed up for the first time. “Annie” returned and so did “Evita” and “Elf.” Katie Holmes made a second appearance and that old stalwart “The Lion King” celebrated its 15th anniversary. Yes, 2012 was a year of old and new, theatrically speaking.

It also was a year in which the theater community tried to keep the show going despite several disasters – a natural one in Superstorm Sandy and two man-made ones in misleading monologist Mike Daisey and the phantom investors of “Rebecca.” None of those, of course, made our Top 10 list of the best moments in 2012:

Chronicling Cash at Stackner Cabaret

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 08 March 2013 17:14

Eddie Clendening is in “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.” -PHOTO: Michael Brosilow

Richard Maltby Jr. has a lot to say about Broadway musical revues, and not all of it is positive. He has composed multiple revues and won the only Tony Awards ever given to musical revues for two of them – “Ain’t Misbehavin’” in 1978 and “Fosse” in 1999. By his own estimation, he is the king of musical revues.

‘Cabaret’ celebrates 41st birthday with a party

Written by MARK KENNEDY,
AP writer
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 18:21

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome – to middle age.

The landmark film “Cabaret” – starring Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York – has turned 41, but that’s not going to stop a party: All three actors will be attending an anniversary celebration screening planned Thursday at the Ziegfeld Theatre, where the movie premiered in 1972.

Leslie Fitzwater returns to Skylight as Edith Piaf

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 24 January 2013 17:14

The legendary singer Edith Piaf, whose voice was called the “soul of Paris.” -Photo: musicadalpianetaterra.ne

Milwaukee actor and singer Leslie Fitzwater did not know who Edith Piaf was when she was asked to perform one of the French chanteuse’s songs during the Bastille Days celebration in 1987. Twenty-five years later, no area performer has a stronger connection to “The Waif Sparrow” than Fitzwater.

‘Memphis’ dancer says his life imitates the play’s heart

Contributing writer
Thursday, 27 December 2012 13:41

Kyle Leland.

For every loss, there is equal gain, and for every gain equal loss, according to Kyle Leland. That life philosophy has helped the out dancer and choreographer through difficult times, but his current role as dance captain for the traveling production of “Memphis” is most definitely a time of gain and increased self-awareness.