On Stage

'Come Back' balances the tragedy of death with the comedy of life

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Saturday, 28 February 2015 11:30
In 'Come Back,' Sky (Sara Zientek, left) finds herself on a journey to scatter her best friend Erin's ashes, aided by friend Mel (T. Stacy Hicks, rear) and hampered by Erin's estranged mother Val (Carrie Hitchcock). Photo by Ross Zentner.

To write a play that looks grief in the face and laughs at it is a greater challenge than writing a drippy melodrama will ever be. Come Back nails it.

Something is drunk in the state of Denmark

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 26 February 2015 13:59

Milwaukee actor and assistant director Grace DeWolff has a favorite drunk story about actor John Barrymore. It goes something like this:

'The Amish Project' is a brilliant meditation on radical kindness

Written by Louis Weisberg,
Staff writer
Monday, 16 February 2015 13:13

Deborah Staples in 'The Amish Project.' -PHOTO: Michael Brosilow

In 2006, a delusional gunman entered a one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, home of an Old Order Amish community, with the intention of acting out his obsessive fantasy of molesting Amish girls. Although thwarted by the unexpected arrival of police, he shot 10 girls, ages 6 to 13, execution-style before killing himself. Five of the girls died.

‘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.

Skylight's 2015-16 season to focus on women

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Friday, 27 February 2015 09:06
Skylight_Logo

After a fairy tale season filled to the brim with strong female characters, Skylight Music Theatre will make women the centerpiece of its 2015-16 season.

MCT’s ‘Train Driver’ hits racial prejudice head-on

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 26 February 2015 13:48

Athol Fugard’s The Train Driver runs Feb. 25 to March 15 at the Studio Theatre in the Broadway Theater Center, 158 N. Broadway.
— PHOTO: Courtesy milwaukeechambertheatre.com

Roelf Visagie, a white Afrikaner who drives a train in his native South Africa, is haunted by the death of a black African woman and her child. One night, out of nowhere, the woman steps in front of his engine as a way of committing suicide.

Milwaukee Ballet spurs 'Genesis' of three fascinating new works

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Friday, 06 February 2015 11:18
GenesisImage

There are no bad performances when Milwaukee Ballet stages a Genesis concert. This year's choreographers are at the top of their game, and it shows.

'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.

Back to the fold
‘Elmer Gantry’ returns to the Florentine

Written by Kirstin Roble,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 26 February 2015 14:13

The recording of the Florentine’s original production of Elmer Gantry in 2010 won two Grammy awards.{break}— PHOTO: Rick Brodzeller

In March 2010, the Florentine Opera took a risk on a new work. The opera, Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein’s Elmer Gantry, which had received its world premiere performance three years prior, took the stage that month to high acclaim from Milwaukee audiences.

Milwaukee Rep's '15-'16 season features 'Dreamgirls,' recent Akhtar play

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Tuesday, 17 February 2015 09:23
MilwaukeeRepLogo

The Milwaukee Rep's 2015-16 season will include a play by Milwaukee native and Pulitzer-winner Ayad Akhtar, three world premieres, the return of Guys on Ice and their sixth musical, Dreamgirls.

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.