On Stage

‘La Traviata’ soars on big emotions and Verdi’s intricate coloratura

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 01 November 2013 12:40

Soprano Elizabeth Cabellaro singing the role of Valéry in Madison Opera’s production of La Traviata, a role she’s reprising in a new production for Florentine Opera. -Photo: James Gill/Madison Opera

Opera has never excelled on the merits of plot, but composer Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata benefits more than most from the timeless, tragic tale at its heart.

Madison Opera brings the fiery ‘Tosca’ to Overture Center

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 17 October 2013 14:03

Murder, mayhem and a few leitmotifs come together in Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, which opens Madison Opera’s 2013–14 season at the city’s Overture Center for the Arts. 

‘Chicago’ jazzes up Madison’s Overture Center

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 04 October 2013 14:38

John O'Hurley, who played Peterman in TV's

Murder, mayhem and all that jazz has returned to Madison this month in the Tony Award-winning musical “Chicago.”  Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly and the incomparable Billy Flynn have taken over the Overture Center for the Arts stage Oct. 1–6 as part of the Broadway at Overture series.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre's 'Detective's Wife' rivets with suspense

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing writer
Tuesday, 24 September 2013 09:18

Veteran Milwaukee stage actor Mary MacDonald Kerr fills the intimate Studio Theatre with suspense in the one-woman show “The Detective’s Wife.”

The play, by Chicago playwright Keith Huff, is a humdinger of a mystery. At intermission, audiences might think they’ve got the ending figured out. But when the lights finally fade to black, they’ll discover that more questions have been raised than answered.

New musical by 'Chicago' composer and nephew of star David Hyde Pierce is 'lovely, quirky'

Written by Jennifer Farrar,
AP writer
Saturday, 26 October 2013 08:04

A good musical keeps you enthralled and stays with you afterward, as you find yourself humming refrains of new songs.

The Landing, a lovely, quirky new musical theater work by John Kander and Greg Pierce, has enchanting moments and leaves you wanting more, in the Vineyard Theatre’s world-premiere production that opened Oct. 23. Pierce is the nephew of David Hyde Pierce, who stars in the show. The elder Pierce, who is openly gay, is best-known for his role as Niles on the long-running TV sitcom Frasier.

The Rep’s ‘Venus in Fur’ is a sexy, dazzling delight

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing writer
Friday, 11 October 2013 13:06

Reese Madigan and Greta Wohlrabe in Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of Venus in Fur, playing through through Nov. 3 at the Stiemke Studio. –Photo: Michael Brosilow

Reese Madigan and Greta Wohlrabe in Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of Venus in Fur, playing through through Nov. 3 at the Stiemke Studio. –Photo: Michael Brosilow

The 'Boys' gay mentors

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 04 October 2013 10:26

‘JERSEY BOYS’ RETURNS: Nick Cosgrove, Jason Kappus, Nicolas Dromard and Brandon Andrussing performing “Walk Like a Man” in “Jersey Boys,” which plays Oct. 16–27 at Milwaukee’s Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. -Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Out production designer Richard Hester has worked on “Jersey Boys” since its inception eight years ago. Still, he didn’t know what to expect on the show’s opening night in Amsterdam. How would audiences in the Venice of the North respond to the distinctly American musical about the lives and careers of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons?

In Tandem Theatre opens season with Milwaukee premiere of 'Burying the Bones'

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 20 September 2013 12:08

Some of the most frightening ghosts are not ectoplasms floating through haunted houses, but the spirits of dark ideas that return to threaten continued harm. It’s the ghost of South African apartheid that haunts the characters in M.E.H. Lewis’ “Burying the Bones,” which opens the 2013–14 season of Milwaukee’s In Tandem Theatre Co.

At the center of the play, a Wisconsin premiere, is the character Mae (Malkia Stampley), who seeks the truth behind the disappearance of her husband James (Di’Monte Henning), a member of the African National Congress.

Sally Struthers says hello to Milwaukee in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ gig

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 17 October 2013 14:23

For baby boomers, Sally Struthers’ name conjures a host of memories from the groundbreaking 1970s television series All in the Family. Struthers played Gloria Stivic, the wholesome, idealistic wife of “meathead” Mike (Rob Reiner) and the daughter of armchair bigot Archie (Carroll O’Connor) and dingbat Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton). Caught between a sitcom marriage and the emerging feminism of her day, Struthers gave the nation its first liberated version of Miss American Pie, cheerfully speaking out against sexism, racism and homophobia as she helped set the dinner table. 

Dee Dee Bridgewater returns to stage as Billie Holiday

Written by The Associated Press Tuesday, 08 October 2013 03:56

Dee Dee Bridgewater might have been a Broadway star were she not so successful as a jazz singer. She won a Tony Award in her Broadway debut as Glinda the Good Witch in "The Wiz." But she later rededicated herself to her jazz career, touring the world, winning three Grammys Awards and hosting NPR's nationally syndicated "Jazz Set."

Now the 63-year-old Bridgewater has put her jazz career on hold to return to the New York stage for the first time since 1979 in the off-Broadway musical play, "Lady Day," about legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday. The role not only involves more than 25 musical production numbers but also 16 monologues, or "regressions," that look at the brilliant singer's troubled life.

From Jersey Boys to Midtown Men

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 04 October 2013 10:17

Michael Longoria -Photo: Courtesy

Unable to attend the Milwaukee production of “Jersey Boys”? Need a little more doo-wop? Fuhgedaboutit! The Midtown Men are making two stops in Wisconsin during their current 77-city tour.

Pinter's 'Betrayal' bares the soul of deception

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 20 September 2013 11:07

English playwright Harold Pinter is the master of stripping characters to the nerve with disarmingly spare but astringent dialogue. The result can be a soul-cauterizing experience for the audience – an effect that’s made Pinter’s 1978 work “Betrayal” one of his most critically acclaimed.

“Betrayal,” which uses reverse chronology to tell a story inspired by one of the playwright’s extramarital affairs, was made into a 1983 film starring Jeremy Iron. It’s scheduled for a revival starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz that opens on Broadway on Oct. 27.