On Stage

For Brian Firkus, a childhood slur became the springboard for success as Trixie Mattel

Written by Kerrie Kennedy,
contributing writer
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 10:24

Local drag queen Trixie Mattel recently achieved A-list status when she was invited to join Season 7 of RuPaul's Drag Race, and quickly became a fan-favorite for her often-polarizing brand of drag. Out of drag, Trixie is Milwaukee native Brian Firkus, a former makeup artist and UWM student who's excited to see how far Trixie can truly go.

New Broom Street musical aims for emotional impact

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 21 May 2015 08:16

Meghan Rose (left) and Kelly Maxwell are collaborators on Broom Street’s Held.
— PHOTO: Courtesy

Madison’s Broom Street Theater is celebrating the end of its 45th season with an original musical by two veteran Madison artists taking their first few steps into theater. 

‘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.

'Book of Mormon' is worthy of all its hype — and then some

Written by Louis Weisberg,
Staff writer
Saturday, 23 May 2015 11:51

Skylight journeys ‘Into the Woods’ to end its season

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 21 May 2015 08:06

For an entire season, Skylight Music Theatre has been building a strong foundation of fairy tales, where Cinderellas and Dorothys can set out on an adventure with pure hearts and return having unequivocally vanquished the evil in their midst.

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.

'Into the Woods' an enchanting conclusion to Skylight's season

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Saturday, 23 May 2015 11:10

Married bakers (Jonathan Altman and Karen Estrada) must fulfill the wishes of a witch (Susan Spencer) to have a child in 'Into the Woods.' Photo by Mark Frohna.

For its final show of the season, Into the Woods, Skylight has assembled a cast of mostly local actors and designers with practically no weak links. They serve as a guide into one of musical theater’s most enchanting plays, never letting the cynical realism the fractured fairy tale is known for overwhelm the warmth and emotion at its core.

'Beaches' the musical washing ashore in Chicago

Written by The AP Thursday, 14 May 2015 08:32

Get out your hankies — a stage musical of "Beaches" is coming.

The show, based on Iris Rainer Dart's 1985 novel about two best girlfriends, will begin previews in June at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. It made its world premiere last year at Virginia's Signature Theatre.

‘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.