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.
In 2006, a delusional gunman entered a one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, home of an Old Order Amish community, with the intention of acting out his obsessive fantasy of molesting Amish girls. Although thwarted by the unexpected arrival of police, he shot 10 girls, ages 6 to 13, execution-style before killing himself. Five of the girls died.
Roelf Visagie, a white Afrikaner who drives a train in his native South Africa, is haunted by the death of a black African woman and her child. One night, out of nowhere, the woman steps in front of his engine as a way of committing suicide.
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.
In March 2010, the Florentine Opera took a risk on a new work. The opera, Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein’s Elmer Gantry, which had received its world premiere performance three years prior, took the stage that month to high acclaim from Milwaukee audiences.
When Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opened on Broadway in 1979, its murderous themes caught the attention of audiences and critics alike and helped them sharpen their appreciation for less cheery musicals.