On Stage

‘Big Fish’ director and First Stage change lives through theater

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 08 May 2015 12:32

It didn’t take long for Jeff Whiting’s mother to realize sports were not his thing. In fact Whiting, a New York theater director and choreographer currently directing First Stage Children’s Theater’s production of "Big Fish," credits his mother for launching his career.

“My mom recalls watching me on the soccer field like my brothers, but unlike my brothers I was bored out of my mind,” says Whiting, who grew up in Salt Lake City. “Luckily, my intuitive mother said, ‘There must be something else out there for Jeff.’”

Uprooted ends, but a tradition of promoting diverse theater lives on

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 07 May 2015 10:28

Uprooted Theatre was born out of a simple realization: Over decades, Milwaukee had inadvertently developed a longstanding, unofficial tradition of actors, directors and designers of color training in the city only to leave and make their careers elsewhere. The company’s four founding artists — Marti Gobel, Dennis Johnson, Travis Knight and Tiffany Yvonne Cox — made it their job not just to break that tradition themselves, but make it easier for other artists of color to do the same.

Splinter Group revives Jim Farrell’s inner artist

Written by By Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 24 April 2015 04:29

Jim Farrell (left), Splinter Group’s founder and artistic director, will play a father who has a complicated relationship with his cloned sons (Joe Picchetti) in A Number.
— PHOTO: Ross Zentner

When it comes to theater — or any art form — there’s a big difference between an artist and an arts administrator. 

"Nightmares and Lullabies" more than just sweet fairytales

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing writer
Friday, 17 April 2015 09:02

With its tongue-twisting title, Nightmares and Lullabies: The Darker Side of Peter Pan sounds like a spoof. But the new work presented by Cooperative Performance Milwaukee in conjunction with Pink Banana Theatre Co. is far from a comedy.

Quasimondo explores itself with ‘Giraffe on Fire’

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 07 May 2015 12:57

Quasimondo’s Giraffe on Firetakes its name from the recurring image used by Salvador Dali in such paintings as Burning Giraffes and Telephones.
— Image: Courtesy

Think of the last dream you remember. Try to move your body the way it moved then, fluid and faster than your mind. Imagine the landscapes too strange to be real. Take stock of the images and motifs that mean nothing to any soul but you.

'Peter and the Starcatcher' takes flight at the Milwaukee Rep

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Monday, 27 April 2015 11:33

'Peter and the Starcatcher' tracks Peter Pan's adventures before becoming The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Peter and the Starcatcher is an adventurous, outlandish and occasionally revisionist tale of Peter Pan that just happens to take place before he’s properly Peter Pan. True, sometimes the Milwaukee Rep’s storytellers get excited and rush ahead of themselves, and the tomfoolery can get a bit out of hand too. But that’s just how kids are — and as tales of Peter Pan have always taught us, there’s a magic in childhood that should be cherished, not squashed.

Musical version of 'Duck Dynasty' opens in Las Vegas

Written by Kimberly Pierceall,
AP writer
Sunday, 19 April 2015 17:29

There is no shortage of beards, camo, hunting and God alongside a bit of recent real-life scandal in Duck Commander Musical.

‘Ten Questions’ asks us to balance science and faith

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Friday, 10 April 2015 11:41

Shawn Douglass will direct Stephen Massicote’s world premiere about a teen who challenges his teacher on evolution.
— Photo: Courtesy

It’s been almost a century since the Scopes “Monkey” Trial so famously fictionalized in "Inherit the Wind," yet the battle over teaching evolution and/or creationism in schools still rages on. But while the central question may have remained the same, the cultural landscape has changed since the 1925 trial that challenged a state law against the teaching of evolution, or that 1955 play that revived its themes and conflicts.

‘Suddenly Last Summer’ a fortuitous final bow that completes a Tennessee trilogy

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 07 May 2015 10:37

Neither Marti Gobel nor Dennis Johnson knew when they planned out their season that Tennessee Williams’ "Suddenly Last Summer" would be the final show Uprooted would produce. But there’s a certain serendipity to the choice. The play creates an accidental bookend to a Tennessee trilogy: Uprooted’s first production after debuting with "Beauty’s Daughter" was "A Streetcar Named Desire," and they also held a staged reading of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" in October 2012, about halfway through their six-year tenure.

But Johnson says "Suddenly Last Summer" goes back to Uprooted’s beginnings. “Other than 'Beauty’s Daughter,' it’s literally the first show that I pushed for and suggested. So, as far as that’s concerned it’s coming full circle,” Johnson says. He will direct the production, running May 14 to 24 at Next Act Theatre.

Florentine raises a glass to season-ending ‘Elixir’

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 24 April 2015 04:49

When William Florescu, general director of Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera, raises a glass on the opening night of Gaetano Donizetti’s "The Elixir of Love," he’ll toast the opera with the Florentine’s own wine.

The Florentine Reserve, produced by The Wine Foundry in Napa, California, is a classic Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and petite verdot, says marketing and communications director Richard Clark.

Milwaukee Chamber stages a supreme encore for "Jeeves"

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Saturday, 18 April 2015 15:06
Jeeves (Matt Daniels, right) counsels Ruby (Anna Cline), Knuckles (Stephen Koehler, left) and his employer Bertie (Chris Klopatek). Photo by Paul Ruffalo.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre has proven the success of playwright Margaret Raether’s Jeeves series twice now, with productions of both Jeeves Intervenes and Jeeves in Bloom that were wildly successful for the company. So it makes sense they’d go for the trifecta with Jeeves Takes A Bow, the third and final adaptation, which takes this brilliant valet and his dense employer to the Big Apple.

As MCT’s Jeeves, Matt Daniels takes a final ‘Bow’

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 10 April 2015 10:35

Few characters in 20th-century literature have quite as much intellectual and comic clout as Reginald Jeeves, better known as the personal valet, or “gentleman’s gentleman,” to hapless, dim-witted Bertram Wilberforce “Bertie” Wooster. As one of the last of the idle rich in England’s post-Edwardian era, Wooster has little to do other than get himself into trouble and then rely on Jeeves to get him out of it again.