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Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010

Big Shows Kick Off New Season of Theater

‘Cabaret,’ ‘Dames at Sea’ headline Milwaukee offerings

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The 2010-2011 theater season gets into full swing this weekend as two equally flashy but drastically different musicals open on two prominent stages.

On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Rep opened its much-hyped production of the 1966 hit Broadway musical drama Cabaret.With a substantial cast, the direction of the Rep’s Mark Clements and choreography by Milwaukee Ballet’s Michael Pink, Cabaret is being billed as the first full-scale musical to fill the Quadracci Powerhouse.

The Quadracci’s cozy thrust stage, with its multiple entrances and exits, will be an interesting home to one of the best musicals of all time. Lee Ernst plays the master of ceremonies at the Kit Kat Club, a seedy performance space in Berlin in 1931—the dawn of the Third Reich. Two Rep newcomers form the central romance of the drama, as Kelley Faulkner plays dancer Sally Bowles and Geoffrey Hemingway portrays American writer Cliff Bradshaw.

The Milwaukee Rep’s production of Cabaret runs Sept. 14-Oct. 24 at the Quadracci Powerhouse.

The Skylight Opera Theatre also kicks off its season this week, albeit with an altogether different ’60s musical set in the ’30s: Dames at Sea. In a parody of the large movie musicals of the 1930s, Dames tells the story of Ruby (Meghan Deese), a young chorus girl who longs to be a leading lady on Broadway. Her dreams are jeopardized when her show is nearly canceled due to the lack of a venue. Ruby’s budding love for a sailor named Dick (Skylight newcomer Chad Broskey) helps matters considerably, as Dick is willing to let the performers use his boat for the show.

Dames at Sea is much lighter than Cabaret—a purposeful choice by Skylight management. “I thought it would be nice to begin this season with a musical that was charming, funny and tuneful,” says Skylight Artistic Director Bill Theisen, “a purely joyous way to kick off the 2010/2011 season.”

Skylight Opera Theatre’s production of Dames at Sea runs Sept. 17-Oct. 3 at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre.

  • Next Act Theatre opens its season with Flora Coker, Laura Gray, Mary MacDonald Kerr and Mark Ulrich in Joel Drake Johnson’s Four Places. The stellar cast, under the direction of David Cecsarini, performs the darkly comedic family drama at the Tenth Street Theatre Sept. 16-Oct. 10.

  • Liv Mueller and Michael Keiley star as Katherine and Petruchio in Carte Blanche’s production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.The classic comedy runs Sept. 23-Oct. 10 at Carte Blanche Studios (1024 S. Fifth St.).

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