On Stage

National view: Top 10 theater of 2014

Written by MARK KENNEDY,
AP Drama Writer
Friday, 26 December 2014 12:13

This year’s best-in-theater list includes a musical with multiple murders, another with a cross-dressing German, one that’s set in a decadent Berlin nightclub, the revival of an America masterpiece and we celebrate someone who broke an important barrier. Our Top 10 list of the best in theater in 2014:

1. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”: The cult story about a transgender East German rock star seemed just to be waiting for its time to shine on Broadway and Neil Patrick Harris turned out to be a perfect fit for her high heels.

Hugh Jackman talks fish, blood and his new show

Written by MARK KENNEDY,
AP Drama Writer
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 19:24

Before Hugh Jackman could appear in his current Broadway play, “The River,” he had to learn his lines, dig deep into his character and do something he’s never done before: gut a fish.

His character is a fisherman who in one scene pulls out a real 3-pound sea trout, cuts it open with a fearsome-looking knife, removes the internal organs, chops a fennel bulb, slips lemon slices into the skin and seasons the flesh before popping the dish in a fake oven.

'Harvey's' charms appear slowly but surely

Written by Matthew Reddin,
staff writer
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 17:16

Harvey has all the ingredients of a great Milwaukee Rep holiday show. Which makes it all the more puzzling that it takes half the play for this production to go from good to great.

With the help of First Stage, ‘Rudolph’ takes flight

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 13 November 2014 14:23

Young actors in Rudolph. — Photo: Mark Frohna

Turning successful film and television programming into stage productions is the way the entertainment industry operates these days, and the classic holiday special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer isn’t exempt from the trend. Fifty years after the original TV special first aired, a stage version of the beloved holiday tale is currently being produced at theaters across the United States, and a national touring production is crisscrossing North America. 

‘Guys on Ice’ is quintessential Wisconsin theater

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:20

Steve Koehler, left, Lee Becker and Doug Mancheski in 2011. — Photo: Len Villano

If you’ve ever cheered the Green Bay Packers, sipped a cold one — or a cold six-pack — in subzero temperatures or worn a Styrofoam cheese wedge on your head, then Guys on Ice is the holiday show for you.

Skylight’s ‘Oz’ is a perfect holiday show

Written by Louis Weisberg,
Staff writer
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 12:29

Doug Clemons, Susan Wiedmeyer, Ryan Cappleman and Andrew Varela in Skylight Music Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz.” - Photo: Mark Frohna

The yellow brick road at Skylight Music Theatre leads to a refreshing evening of holiday entertainment that provides all the cheerful sentimentality you need for the season without overdosing you on Santas, snowflakes and carols.

John Oliver says the joke’s the thing

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 12:03

John Oliver. — Photo: HBO

No one was more surprised than John Oliver at the world’s reaction to his takedown of the Miss America Pageant, specifically its claim of providing millions in academic scholarships for women. Women’s scholarship funds such as the Society of Women Engineers received a major bump in both donations and website visits thanks to Oliver’s satirical treatment of the pageant.

Madison hosts Broadway star Karen Olivo’s next act

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 13 November 2014 14:14

Karen Olivo. — Photo: AP/Charles Sykes

Karen Olivo’s next performance will be far from the glittering lights of Broadway, where she won a Tony Award for her performance as Anita in the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story. She’ll appear in the city she now calls home — Madison.

Broadway for the holidays: Critic’s choices

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:15

Kinky Boots is on Broadway. — Photo: Sean Williams

The lights of Broadway glow brighter during the holiday season. For proof, look no further than the third week in November: It was the highest-grossing and best-attended Thanksgiving week in Broadway history. Ticket buyers shelled out $34.1 million.

Shakespeare: In 120 minutes or less

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 27 November 2014 12:15

Marcus Truschinski, Chase Stoeger, Chris Klopatek and Rick Pendzich
— Photo: Mark Frohna

Alas, poor Shakespeare! You thought you knew him well … and then came a merry band of pranksters to ruffle your refined sensibilities. That’s what happens in the uproarious The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised].

Jonathan Smoots finally gets Scrooged at the Rep

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 10:00

Jonathan Smoots, right foreground, plays Mr. Fezziwig.
— Photo: Michael Brosilow

It’s common for Milwaukee Rep actors to shuffle through various roles in the company’s annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but Jonathan Smoots has taken it to a new level.

The Rep resurrects ‘Mr. Showmanship’

Written by Matthew Reddin,
Staff writer
Thursday, 13 November 2014 14:10

Jack Forbes Wilson in Liberace! — Photo: Michael Brosilow

Given that the legendary pianist Liberace was a Milwaukee native, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater had reason to believe local audiences would embrace its 2010 biographical cabaret performance starring local musician Jack Forbes Wilson as Mr. Showmanship himself. But Liberace! more than earned its explanation point.