On Stage

Mojo Dojo’s improv aims to build long-form community

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 27 August 2015 07:15

More than anything else, Milwaukee’s improv scene has been dominated by ComedySportz, the now-national troupe that specializes in short-form improv — quick “games” where performers riff on audience suggestions in short bits before erasing everything and starting from scratch. 

But that approach to improv is not the only one. In many cities, short-form companies coexist with an alternative style: long-form improv. Neither is inherently better than the other, and many improvisers and comedians do both. But Milwaukee only having a training center and performance space for short-form has skewed popular opinion here as to what improv can be.

‘Guys & Dolls’ closes Four Seasons’ 10th year

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 13 August 2015 09:31

The Four Seasons presents Guys and Dolls. — PHOTO: Courtesy/Facebook/FourSeasons

Musical theater becomes more prevalent in the arts scene in every passing year, with even the most steadfastly disinclined companies adopting musicals as a component to their repertoire. At the head of the trend in Madison is Four Seasons Theatre. For 10 years, the company has played a major role in building up the genre in the capital, and they’ll wrap up a decade with one of the most iconic musicals of all: Guys and Dolls.

Edwin Booth play cycle seeks to redeem the name of America’s greatest actor

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 30 July 2015 01:37

Edwin Booth is considered by many the greatest American actor of the 19th century, but his brother’s assassination of President Abraham Lincoln would haunt him to his dying day.
—PHOTO: David S. Shields

Edwin Booth is arguably the most acclaimed, most beloved and most talented American actor to ever strut the boards, a tragedian who was a pioneer of naturalistic acting. Yet today that reputation is buried beneath the weight of his brother’s name: John Wilkes Booth.

APT’s ‘Streetcar’ belongs to Blanche

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 17 July 2015 19:36

If a dripping-wet Marlon Brando, clad in a torn T-shirt screaming “Stella!” is your first and last impression of A Streetcar Named Desire, it may be time to let American Players Theater enlighten you with the rest of the story.

The Spring Green company has mounted a powerful retelling of Tennessee Williams’ most famous work, sticking to the roots of the original stage version but updating the setting to a slightly more contemporary 1963 New Orleans. 

'Seeds of Banquo' is no dry history text

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Friday, 14 August 2015 09:39

Theater history lovers: Set your sights on St. Francis. There lies The Seeds of Banquo, a fascinating examination of both acclaimed 19th-century actor Edwin Booth and Shakespeare’s Macbeth that doesn’t bear the curse of its Scottish play origins.

Matt Kemple’s 10 reasons to see the 10th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 30 July 2015 09:42

Brian Posehn, known for playing Brian Spukowski on The Sarah Silverman Show, will close the Milwaukee Comedy Festival on Aug. 9th.
—PHOTO: David S. Shields

Ten years ago, no one would have thought of Milwaukee as a comedy hub. One of the reasons that’s slowly changing is the Milwaukee Comedy Festival.

Classic farce ‘Boeing Boeing’ kicks off MCT’s season

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Wednesday, 29 July 2015 23:32

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre takes a look back at the “swinging ‘60s” through the lens of classic French farce with Boeing Boeing, the opening production of its 2015–16 season.

‘Fugitive Songs’ cathartic for Karen Olivo

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 16 July 2015 11:29

The song cycle Fugitive Songs features eight characters at a crossroads in their lives.
— Photo: University Theatre

Experienced actors know creating a character is a discovery process. For some actors, understanding and ultimately embodying those characters can be cathartic.

New company Stagecloud offers theater, Netflix style

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 13 August 2015 09:39

The four plays of Hyperreality Show include Fairytale Ending, an after-happily-ever-after story.
—Photo: Ryan Blomquist

If you’re reading this, it isn’t too late to see theater company Stagecloud’s first production in Milwaukee, Hyperreality Show. It just looks like it is.

Off the Wall dares to stage a chaotic, less saccharine ‘Spring Awakening’

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 30 July 2015 06:27

The complex relationship between Wendla (Alexandra Bonesho) and Melchior (Claudio Parrone Jr.) drives the plot of Spring Awakening, Off the Wall’s summer musical.
—PHOTO: Off the wall theater

Spring Awakening has always been a challenging play to me. Its music is undeniably beautiful, but just about everything else leaves me uncertain — the book’s occasionally saccharine interpretation of its edgy, often-troubling source material (a early 20th-century play of the same name), the widely varying tone of its scenes, the presumably intentional uncertainty of whether the rebellious teens or restrained parents are right.

Musical ‘Parade’ sheds new light on an old injustice

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Saturday, 18 July 2015 19:51

In 1913, a young man named Leo Frank was accused of murdering a young girl he employed at his factory. But this was no everyday trial. Set amid the anxieties of a post-Reconstruction, early 20th century South, with a Jewish man originally from the North standing accused and the only other suspect a black man who becomes the key witness against his former employer, it could not be an everyday trial.

Phylicia Rashad encourages Ten Chimneys’ actors to soar

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 16 July 2015 11:22

Phylicia Rashad is the latest master teacher to work at Ten Chimneys, where she’ll train 10 regional theater artists.—
Photo: Ten Chimneys

When Phylicia Rashad was filming her first scenes as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show in 1984, she had no idea she was a few years away from Emmy nominations for the role. A decade away from an NAACP Image Award for her follow-up role as Ruth Lucas in Cosby. Twenty years from her first Tony Award for playing Lena Younger in the 2004 revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.