On Stage

Christopher Durang blends Chekhov’s style with autobiography in ‘Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike’

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Monday, 30 March 2015 15:22

Playwright Christopher Durang’s most famous work, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," may be strongly influenced by the plays of 19th-century Russian writer Anton Chekhov. But it’s the contemporary elements he’s woven in, including quasi-autobiographical details pulled from his life and that of friends like Yale Drama School classmate Sigourney Weaver, that gives its characters the energy, vitality and pathos needed to rise above stereotypes and give the play its lasting comedic appeal.

Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for best play, Durang’s classic/contemporary mashup will conclude Forward Theater’s 2014–15 season, running April 9-26 at the Overture Center.

Skylight’s 'Snow Dragon' succeeds at illuminating uncomfortable subject

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing writer
Tuesday, 17 March 2015 12:38

Based on The Fallen Country, a 1986 young adult novel, The Snow Dragon takes on the difficult subject of family abuse. The world premiere opera, currently playing at Skylight Music Theatre, is set partially in an abused boy’s fantasy world and partly in his grim reality.

Skylight’s ‘Snow Dragon’ takes its first flight

Written by Kirstin Roble,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 12 March 2015 18:13

The Snow Dragon.

Skylight Music Theatre will take a bold step this month, staging its first world premiere opera since artistic director Viswa Subbaraman took over the company in 2013. The Snow Dragon, by Thai-American composer Somtow Sucharitkul, is a fantasy epic about a boy who can travel between his world and a realm of eternal cold — and also a real-world drama illuminating the sensitive issue of domestic abuse.

Danceworks' 'Breathe' remembers Ed Burgess while looking to the future

Written by Julie Steinbach,
contributing writer
Monday, 09 March 2015 18:04

Danceworks’ latest show Breathe reflected on the life and legacy of the great dancer/choreographer Ed Burgess, an undeniable force in the Milwaukee community who has been sorely missed after his unexpected passing in 2011.

The Rep’s short play series celebrates its 5th year

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Sunday, 29 March 2015 15:19

While it’s one of the newest additions to the Rep interns’ duties, the annual Rep Lab short play festival has been delighting audiences since its debut in 2011. Now in its fifth year, the festival provides acting, directing and design interns an opportunity to show what they’ve learned in a season.

Milwaukee Rep's 'Five Presidents' successfully campaigns for the votes of politics lovers

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Sunday, 15 March 2015 15:06
Photo by Tim Fuller.

Five Presidents is an exemplary — perhaps even near-perfect — play for its intended audience, even if there are no surprises in the wings that make it a strong American play in its own right.

MOT’s Mikado marches to the beat of its own drum

Written by Julie Steinbach,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 12 March 2015 13:17

In its history as a company, Milwaukee Opera Theatre has gained a reputation for high-energy, imaginative productions. Their latest undertaking may be one of the most traditional in the opera canon — Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado — but when MOT stages the classic, it comes with a twist: a complete reinterpretation of the score and story that sets it in a “percussion playground” where rhythm rules.

MCT's 'The Train Driver' offers a bleak, complex look at post-apartheid South Africa

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Sunday, 01 March 2015 13:21

Athol Fugard's play about a railway conductor haunted by a woman who killed herself with his train receives an exemplary Midwest premiere at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre.

At 50, Milwaukee Rep's internship has evolved into one of the nation’s best
WiGOUT Cover Story

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 26 March 2015 15:07

Alumni from prior years of the Rep internship program gather at the company’s 2014 gala. Interns are a vital element of each season — and increasingly, regional theaters nationwide.
— PHOTO: Courtesy Milwaukee Rep

There’s a saying around the Milwaukee Rep that “the company is built on the backs of interns.” That sentiment might come off as a joke if the people saying it weren’t so appreciative, or acutely aware that it’s true. 

The Rep goes behind closed White House doors

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Friday, 13 March 2015 13:09

The five presidents alive at the time of Richard Nixon’s funeral swap stories and grievances in Rick Cleveland’s world premiere play.
— Photo: Tim Fuller

It’s rare when every living U.S. president gets together in a room. In the nation’s history, it’s only happened a handful of times, when either political obligation or tragedy summons the country’s current and former commanders in chief to the same physical location. 

Alchemist goes punk with NY Stories Trilogy

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 12 March 2015 13:03

Izzy (April Paul, left), Eddie (David Sapiro) and Rose (Shannon Nettesheim) in the New York Stories Trilogy.”
— Photo: Aaron Kopec

The Alchemist Theatre has always had a sort of devil-may-care attitude, with co-owner Aaron Kopec writing or commissioning whatever strikes his fancy — whether horror story, classic Shakespeare or zany comedy.

'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.