On Stage

Madison Opera’s John DeMain: ‘Sweeney Todd’ cuts to the quick

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 29 January 2015 22:38

Madison Opera conductor John DeMain. — Photo: Prasad Photography

When Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opened on Broadway in 1979, its murderous themes caught the attention of audiences and critics alike and helped them sharpen their appreciation for less cheery musicals. 

Death Blues re-meditates on mortality at Alverno

Written by Julie Steinbach,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 17 January 2015 13:12

Percussionist Jon Mueller. — PHOTO: Courtesy

Jon Mueller and William Ryan Fritch used to be complete strangers. 

Soulstice Theatre stages a ladies’ ‘Macbeth’

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 15 January 2015 12:27

Starring in Soulstice Theatre's Macbeth.

Of all Shakespeare’s plays, Macbeth is among the most gendered, its characters struggling with the ways their society expects them to act like men or women.

National view: Top 10 theater of 2014

Written by MARK KENNEDY,
AP Drama Writer
Friday, 26 December 2014 12:13

This year’s best-in-theater list includes a musical with multiple murders, another with a cross-dressing German, one that’s set in a decadent Berlin nightclub, the revival of an America masterpiece and we celebrate someone who broke an important barrier. Our Top 10 list of the best in theater in 2014:

1. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”: The cult story about a transgender East German rock star seemed just to be waiting for its time to shine on Broadway and Neil Patrick Harris turned out to be a perfect fit for her high heels.

‘Once On This Island’s’ story pits love vs. death

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 29 January 2015 12:45

Kanova Johnson in Skylight’s Once on this Island.
— Photo: Mark Frohna

Former artistic director Bill Theisen is back at the Skylight, and boy, does he have a story to tell.

‘Kreutzer Sonata’ a duet of lust and obsession

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 15 January 2015 22:51

— Photo: Courtesy

A performance of Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata requires two artists: one on violin, one on piano. A performance of Nancy Harris’ Kreutzer Sonata, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s novella of the same name, requires a third: a gifted actor who can stand within the gaps of that sonata and tell a tale of a man driven to obsession by the passions such a work of art can evoke in its performers and listeners.

‘Anything Goes’ is a cruise to show-tune paradise

Written by Louis Weisberg,
Staff writer
Thursday, 08 January 2015 15:27

Emma Stratton, center, in 'Anything Goes.' -PHOTO: Jeremy Daniel

Anything Goes is an emblematic musical, a chunky yarn in the fabric of American culture that has warmed audiences for 80 years. Nearly every song in the first act is a cherished part of the Great American Songbook. Whether you’re 30 or 70, you’ll find yourself singing along (in your head at least) and tapping your toes to Cole Porter’s clever lyrics and familiar tunes — including “I Get a Kick out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “Easy to Love,” “Friendship,” “It’s De-lovely,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” and of course, “Anything Goes.”

‘Guys on Ice’ is quintessential Wisconsin theater

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:20

Steve Koehler, left, Lee Becker and Doug Mancheski in 2011. — Photo: Len Villano

If you’ve ever cheered the Green Bay Packers, sipped a cold one — or a cold six-pack — in subzero temperatures or worn a Styrofoam cheese wedge on your head, then Guys on Ice is the holiday show for you.

'Good People'? More like 'Great People'

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Saturday, 24 January 2015 10:55

The Rep's Good People is at the Quadracci Powerhouse.
— Photo: Michael Brosilow

There’s a funny contrast at the heart of Good People. Its heroine is Margie, a South Boston mother working paycheck to paycheck who runs out of paychecks. She earns our sympathy almost immediately, with a can-do spirit and relentless drive. But most of us in the audience aren’t Margies.

‘Ghost Hunters’ will haunt Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 15 January 2015 19:22

From Ghost Hunters. — PHOTO: Courtesy

When Steve Gonsalves first saw Ghostbusters, the 1984 Bill Murray comedy about four hapless souls who chase paranormal specters and save New York City from the powers of darkness and a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, his life’s course became clear.

Milwaukee critic picks city's Top Five productions of 2014

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing write
Saturday, 03 January 2015 21:13

Real-life couple Jonathan Wainwright and Laura Gray starred in Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s production of “The Good Father.”

With a nod to New York theater critic Charles Isherwood, the older you get, the sooner it seems you are faced with the prospect of listing the best productions of the year.

Broadway for the holidays: Critic’s choices

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:15

Kinky Boots is on Broadway. — Photo: Sean Williams

The lights of Broadway glow brighter during the holiday season. For proof, look no further than the third week in November: It was the highest-grossing and best-attended Thanksgiving week in Broadway history. Ticket buyers shelled out $34.1 million.