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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Skylight's Surreal, Musical 'Adding Machine'

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Elmer Rice's 1923 play The Adding Machine would appear to be ahead of its time. The story of a man named Zero working in an office for a large, faceless corporation certainly sounds more contemporary than one might expect for a story that pre-dates the push-button telephone.

Zero finds out that he has been fired and replaced by an adding machine. He kills his boss, is put to death and ends up in the afterlife. And then things get a bit weird. It's not exactly material one would immediately think of turning into a musical, but that's exactly what Milwaukee native Joshua Schmidt did while in Chicago. The musical later debuted Off-Broadway. A local production makes it to the stage this week courtesy of the Skylight Opera Theatre.

The Skylight's production features Ray Jivoff as Zero and Liz Pazik as his wife, Mrs. Zero. Early in the proceedings, the Zeros have a party with their friends Mr. and Mrs. One and Mr. and Mrs. Two.  At some point, the police show up to arrest Mr. Zero for murdering his boss. He ends up on death row next to a man (played by Rick Pendzich) who murdered his mother, before moving on to the afterlife. As one can see from the synopsis, this play is darker and more surreal than the standard American musical.

The Skylight Opera Theatre's Adding Machine runs May 20-June 12 at the Broadway Theatre Center's Cabot Theatre. To reserve tickets, call 414-291-7800.

Theater Happenings


  • Off the Wall Theatre presents Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot May 19-29. The delicately woven plot will be brought to Off the Wall's intimate studio theater with a cast including Eric Nelson, Jeremy Welter, Stephanie Staszak and Jacqueline Roush. To reserve tickets, call 414-327-3552.
  • Milwaukee theater icon John McGivern performs a one-man show in Wauwatosa at the Wauwatosa Avenue United Methodist Church on May 21 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.waumc.org.

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