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Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012

Next Act Theatre Keeps 'Vigil'

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Vigil is a comedy about waiting for someone to die. OK, so it sounds pretty dark. And, really, there's no way to get around the basic premise of the play. Morris Panych's deeply human comedy debuted in 1995 and had the courage to address the aspect of life we like thinking about the least: death. It's a challenge to bring this subject to the stage in a way that's appealing to audiences, but Next Act Theatre has taken steps in the right direction with the talent of its cast and crew.

Mary MacDonald Kerr, who appeared in a Next Act show directed by Mark Ulrich, returns the favor by directing Ulrich in Vigil. Ulrich stars as a bank clerk waiting for his elderly aunt to die. When he comes to her side, he announces that he'd like her to go ahead and get it over with so he can collect his inheritance. Death is seldom cooperative in such circumstances, and neither is the aunt, played by Milwaukee icon Ruth Schudson. Death may not be a comfortable subject matter, but comedy can help to bring a serious topic into sharp focus.

Next Act's production of Vigil runs Feb. 2-26 at Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St. For ticket reservations, call 414-278-0765.

Theater Happenings

  • Fools for Tragedy presents Jordan Gwiazdowski's potentially unhinged deconstruction of Samuel Beckett in Waiting. Two actors wait in a theater for Waiting for Godot. An impressive young ensemble, including Michael Traynor and Kelly Doherty, rotates through different roles for each performance. Waiting runs Feb. 9-18 at the Alchemist Theatre. For ticket reservations, visit www.alchemisttheatre.com.
  • Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets offers a retro trip in Elm Grove with the new production Always in Style. Musical cabaret of the 1950s and '60s comes to the Sunset Playhouse Feb. 3-26. For ticket reservations, call 262-782-4430.