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Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Dark, Dramatic ‘Roses’

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The post-World War II era is often viewed in a heavily romanticized light. But for many people living in the period right after WWII, civil rights remained decades away. And the wholesome image of America’s nuclear family, popularized by mid-20th-century TV and radio sitcoms, was grossly idealized, masking an emotional darkness behind closed doors. Frank D. Gilroy’s 1964 drama The Subject Was Roses was an early exploration of the American family beyond its wholesome faade. Milwaukee Chamber Theatre continues its season with a production of Gilroy’s drama in the intimate Studio Theatre of the Broadway Theatre Center.

Nicholas Harazin stars as Timmy Cleary, a young man returning to his Bronx home after the war. Timmy has been seeking the approval of his father for a very long time and may, in fact, have achieved it in serving his country overseas. Things are not at peace in the home, however. The relationship between Timmy’s parents is faltering for a variety of reasons.

The Subject Was Roses
deals with the darker end of Milwaukee Chamber’s theme for the year, “the games people play.” The story delves into alcoholism and the more sinister aspects of family life.

This dark drama features just three characters. Harazin has a really strong, sympathetic and charming stage presence that will make him relatable to audiences. Seasoned local actor and UW-Milwaukee acting instructor James Tasse plays Timmy’s father. Tasse’s stage experience should translate to added depth for his character. Timmy’s mother is played by talented local actress Tami Workentin, whose onstage versatility should aid the production as well.

This production should be even more dramatic within the confines of the studio-theater environment, though a talented cast under the direction of Milwaukee Chamber’s reliable C. Michael Wright should prevent the emotional confrontation from overpowering the audience.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s The Subject Was Roses runs Nov. 18-Dec. 12 at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre. For tickets, call 414-291-7800.

Theater Happenings


  • The Milwaukee Rep opens the U.S. premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith’s Bombshellson Nov. 22. Murray-Smith wrote the play specifically for star Caroline O’Connor. Rep Artistic Director Mark Clements directs the show, which runs Nov. 22-Dec. 19 at the Quadracci Powerhouse. For tickets, call 414-224-9490.

  • The Skylight Opera Theatre returns to a classic this weekend with a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore.The show, directed by Bill Theisen, runs Nov. 19-Dec. 19 at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre. For tickets, call 414-291-7800.
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