On Stage

'It Gets Better' brings message of hope to Marcus Center

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 14 February 2014 11:30

The cast on stage for

The simplest message often strikes the most profound chord and rings with the greatest truth. Out author and columnist Dan Savage came upon such a message in 2010 and found a way to spread the word that “it gets better” around the world.

‘Whipping Man’ takes rare look at Confederate Jews

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Contributing writer
Sunday, 09 February 2014 14:34

Josh Landay and Ro Boddie in Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s 2013/14 Stiemke Studio production of

The Whipping Man begins like a lot of other fictional works set in the post-Civil War South: The scion of a slave-holding family returns home, wounded in defeat, to find that two of his family’s former slaves are the only remaining residents of the plantation. The three spend the next few days pondering their futures in a radically altered world.

Next Act takes on race relations with Mamet’s ‘Race’

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Contributing writer
Friday, 24 January 2014 14:26

Lee Palmer in Next Act Theater's production of David Mamet's 'Race'

Next Act Theatre doesn’t normally shy away from controversial subject matter, but staging a play about race relations that’s literally titled Race is a bit blunt, even for this group.

Forward Theater's 'Red' probes the psyche behind Rothko's art

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 18 January 2014 15:57

Nate Burger and Jim DeVita in Forward Theater's 'Red'

Few plays announce their intention as clearly and quickly as John Logan’s Red, which kicks off the New Year for Madison’s Forward Theater Co.

'Shooting Star' dredges up former lovers' memories

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Contributing writer
Sunday, 09 February 2014 15:37

We’ve all done it: You’re minding your own business, walking down the street, and then you see that person from your past — ex-lover, former best friend, old neighbor who hated you — whom you’d do anything to avoid. And because you’re free, just walking down the street, you can brush right past, pretending not to see, avoiding the terrifying prospect of having to dredge up all those old memories.

The characters of Shooting Star, onstage at the Boulevard Theatre, don’t have that luxury. They’re two former college sweethearts, decades past their messy breakup, and they’re trapped together in a small airport bar by a cruel, inconvenient snowstorm that’s grounded their respective flights home. And so they’re forced to dredge up those old memories — possibly, as it turns out, for the better.

Skylight's 'In the Heights' is rousing, if sometimes faltering

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Contributing writer
Sunday, 02 February 2014 15:19

The Skylight Music Theatre has embarked on the second leg of its season-long journey exploring the concepts of freedom and revolution with In the Heights, a Latin-infused journey set in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. The music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda — infused with salsa, rap, hip hop and other Latin genres — broke new ground for the Broadway musical and earned 13 Tony Award nominations in 2009.

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'Woody Sez' brings Guthrie's iconic folk music to life with authenticity

Written by Tom Strini,
Friday, 24 January 2014 13:04

David Finch, left, Leenya Rideout, Helen Jean Russell and David M. Lutken in Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie. -PHOTO: Roger Mastroianni

Music direct to your ears from the singers’ lips and from plucked strings — without electrical intervention — is crucial to the aura of naturalness that permeates Woody Sez. Amplification, if there is any for this Milwaukee Rep Stackner Cabaret revue, is so subtle as to be undetectable.

‘End of the Rainbow’ chronicles final days of Garland’s stormy career

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 11 January 2014 19:50

Photo: Courtesy Judy Garland with her new husband Mickey Dean in 1968, the year in which 'End of the Rainbow' is set. -PHOTO: Mickey Dean

In the winter of 1968, Judy Garland was on the ropes personally and professionally. Plagued by addictions, drowning in debt and just entering her fifth marriage, she desperately hoped that a six-week engagement at London’s Talk of the Town would revive her dying career. She planned to recapture the energy of her 1961 Carnegie Hall comeback performance, which had catapulted the former star from obscurity back into the limelight.

Florentine Studio artists 23 enchant in ‘Opera’s Greatest Hits’ program

Written by Tom Strini,
Special to WiG
Sunday, 09 February 2014 15:02

The Florentine Studio Artists. - PHOTO: KAYLA BRUSS/FLORENTINE OPERA

Before Julie Tabash, Erin Gonzalez, Aaron Short and Pablo Siqueiros even sang a note the evening of Feb. 1, happiness filled the Florentine Opera Center.

‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ is Mamet at his very best

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 24 January 2014 14:38

HOLLYWOOD’S VERSION: Alec Baldwin was typecast as the smug, smarmy sales manager in the film version of playwright David Mamet’s 'Glengarry Glen Ross.' Milwaukee’s Off the Wall Theatre presents the Pulitzer Prize-winning play on which the 1992 movie was based.

Milwaukee theatergoers have the rare opportunity to see two plays by one of America’s foremost living playwrights in February, including one local premiere. On Jan. 30, Next Act Theatre presents the Milwaukee premiere of David Mamet’s Race (click here to read preview).

Playwright Peter Quilter finds the pot of gold at the end of Garland's gay rainbow

Written by Louis Weisberg,
Staff writer
Friday, 24 January 2014 12:14

Hollis Resnik as Judy Garland and Thomas J. Cox as Anthony in The Rep’s production of 'End of the Rainbow.' –PHOTO: Michael Brosilow

In 1975, I had dinner with Judy Garland’s fourth husband Mark Herron at the sagging Hollywood bungalow he shared with his partner — veteran character actor Henry Brandon. The invitation came via my boyfriend du jour, who’d appeared with Herron in a summer stock production.

Hollis Resnik faces her greatest challenge as Judy Garland in ‘End of the Rainbow’

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 11 January 2014 19:33

Actor/singer Hollis Resnik portrays the legendary Judy Garland in The Milwaukee Rep’s 'End of the Rainbow.'

Acclaimed Chicago actress Hollis Resnik resurrects Judy Garland at the Milwaukee Rep through Feb. 9 in the Tony-nominated play End of the Rainbow. Taking a leave of absence from the national tour of Sister Act (in which she portrays the Mother Superior), Resnik adds Garland to the long list of real people she has portrayed onstage over the years, including Edie Beale (in Grey Gardens), Patsy Cline (in Always Patsy Cline) and Eva Peron (in Evita). A familiar face to theatergoers from her many national tours, as well as the recipient of multiple acting awards, Resnik spoke with me about Garland, her career and gay fans in November 2013.