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Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010

Holiday Productions Hit Milwaukee Stages

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In the theater world, the holiday season looks much the same all over the nation. Seasonal favorites take the stage year after year, along with a few independent offerings that add variety.

The Milwaukee Rep returns to the Pabst Theater with its annual production of A Christmas Carol, the city’s longest-running holiday theater tradition. The lush, classy show stars James Pickering as Scrooge from Dec. 3-26. (Call 414-224-9490 for tickets.) In Tandem Theatre, better known for its comedy A Cudahy Caroler Christmas, looks to repeat the success of last year’s holiday offering Dec. 4-Jan. 3, 2011, with Scrooge in Rouge, a vaudeville-style spoof of Dickens’ classic. Troubles in a fictitious theater troupe require three actors to take on the roles written for 23 actors in a stylish comedy with tasteful lowbrow humor. (Call 414-271-1371 for tickets.)

One of the more consistently successful independent holiday shows in town is Patrick Schmitz’s long-running, non-family-oriented holiday comedy Rudolph the Pissed-Off Reindeer. The Rankin/Bass spoof returns to the intimate Alchemist Theatre Dec. 3-18 in what is fast becoming anothersold-out run. (Call 414-426-4169 for tickets.) Another independent holiday show makes it to the stage in Elm Grove as Jonathan West stages his production of David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries at the Sunset Playhouse Dec. 2-18. The show stars Tom Klubertanz in the role that was such a success for West and company with the late Bialystock & Bloom theater company. Santaland Diaries takes place in the Sunset Playhouse’s studio theater space, as the main stage is occupied by the production of the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life through Dec. 19. Directed by beloved exiting Artistic Director Mark Salentine, the production stars the talented Randall T. Anderson as George Bailey and the equally talented Ruth Arnell as Mary Hatch. (Call 262-782-4430 for tickets.)

Elsewhere in the suburbs, Acacia Theatre Company stages An L.M. Montgomery Christmas, a musical based on short stories by the author of Anne of Green Gables.The spacious Todd Wehr Auditorium in Mequon plays host to the warmth of a musical narrative woven from Montgomery’s stories “Christmas at Red Butte” and “Aunt Cyrilla’s Christmas Basket” Dec. 4-12. (Call 414-744-5995 for tickets.)

Theater Happenings


  • The UW-Milwaukee Theatre Department’s Mainstage Series continues with next week’s production of Moliere’s verse play Lovers’ Quarrels. This 17th-century Parisian adventure, complete with deception, misunderstandings and mistaken identities, runs Dec. 8-12 at the Peck School of the Arts’ Mainstage Theatre. Call 414-229-4308 for tickets.

  • Off the Wall Theatre presents one of the few non-holiday shows to open next month with Frank Loesser’s classic musical Guys and Dolls Dec. 15-31. Once again, Off the Wall Artistic Director Dale Gutzman packs one of the smallest stages in town with a big, voluminous musical. Call 414-327-3552 for tickets.

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