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Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012

Coming of Age on the Small Stage

Off the Wall’s intimate ‘Gigi’

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A young girl trains to be a courtesan in France at the turn of the 20th century. She falls in love and gets married. A thoroughly unremarkable story—it's probably the type of thing that happened quite a lot back then. There's something about the way French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette framed the story that made it interesting to readers in the 1940s. Some time later, her novel, Gigi, was adapted into a movie musical by Lerner and Loewe. Some time later it was adapted for the stage.

Since its original Broadway run, the stage adaptation of Gigi has been mounted numerous times in numerous places. The story of a young woman's transformation lives on. Dale Gutzman's Off the Wall Theatre brings the story to life this month with a production in its intimate studio theater space. The challenge here is to bring an authentic characterization to the musical that can withstand the kind of intimacy afforded by one of Milwaukee's smallest stages. Off the Wall is quite familiar with this kind of challenge and is meeting it with Liz Mistele in the title role. A charming talent who can deliver an energetic kind of youth to any production is quite at home with this kind of space. It'll be a pleasure to see her in so central a role.

Off the Wall Theatre's production of Gigi runs Dec. 14-31 at Off the Wall, 127 E. Wells St. For ticket reservations, call 414-327-3552.

Theater Happenings

The Sunset Playhouse presents a tribute to Christmas in classic cinema as it presents Hollywood Holidays. Susan Loveridge and Bob Hirschi narrate an evening of music featuring roughly half a dozen performers, Dec. 17-18. For ticket reservations, call 262-782-4430.

■ In what might be the most offbeat departure from its signature style this season, Milwaukee Rep welcomes stage magician and "mentalist" Marc Salem. Get ready to have fun feeling like an idiot at the Stackner Cabaret in “Mind Over Milwaukee,” Dec. 28-Feb. 24, 2013. For ticket reservations, call 414-224-9490.

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