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Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010

Marquette, Broadminded Aim for Laughs

Updated ‘Stratagem,’ zombies show off Milwaukee’s comedic flair

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The details may shift as cultures evolve, but the basics of comedy have remained much the same over the march of time. Irish playwright George Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem debuted shortly before his death in 1707, and updated versions continue to draw in audiences.

The Beaux’ Stratagem
is a comedy about two upper-class men who, having fallen on hard times, start looking to woo wealthy heiresses. This lighthearted comedy—written by a man suffering from a life-ending illness—proved to be a success.

With the roles of women having changed a great deal over the centuries, updates are necessary for many plays. It would have been interesting to see 20th-century playwright Thornton Wilder’s updated script for The Beaux’ Stratagem had he completed it. With that in mind, in recent years Wilder’s estate approached playwright Ken Ludwig to finish the update. This very well could have been in response to Ludwig’s Leading Ladies, a production of which was recently staged at the Sunset Playhouse.

Leading Ladies
, the story of two down-on-their-luck actors looking to make money off of heiresses in 1950s America, has more than a little in common with Farquhar’s Stratagem. In both cases, plans to get rich while preying on women are complicated by actual love entering the picture. Far from being flat depictions of female beauty, the women in Ludwig’s Ladies added a complexity that kept the comedy from being two-dimensional.

That perspective of strong female characters informs the updated Beaux’ Stratagem, which makes a local appearance this month in a Marquette University Theatre production directed by Maureen Kilmurry.

Marquette’s production of The Beaux’ Stratagemruns Nov. 11-21 at the university’s Helfaer Theatre. For tickets, call 414-288-7504.

Alchemist Theatre
hosts modern, progressive, locally written comedy this week as the all-woman sketch comedy group Broadminded opens its latest show, Lions and Tigers and … Zombies?

Broadminded has delivered satire of considerable depth in a variety of light comic packages that offer some of the most intelligent sketch comedy around. Broadminded’s Megan McGee describes the group’s latest show as possessing “all the intelligence and sass of a normal Broadminded show, but with an extra dose of pop-culture references.”

Scheduled to include sketches about zombies, The Wizard of Oz, bachelorette parties and more zombies, Broadminded’s Lions and Tigers and … Zombies? runs Nov. 12-21 at the Alchemist Theatre.

Theater Happenings

  • Pius XI High School’s production of The Crucible has been selected to take part in The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2011. Local performances of the production run Nov. 11-14 in the school’s Black Box Theater. For tickets, call 414-290-8151.

  • In advance of its Dec. 10-11 trip to the Milwaukee Theatre, the touring production of Monty Python’s Spamalotmakes it to the stage of UW-Whitewater’s Young Auditorium for a one-night-onlyengagement Nov. 15. For tickets, call 262-472-2222.
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