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Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013

Jenny Wanasek as Emily Dickinson

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Emily Dickinson lived to age 56. After her death, she became an extremely influential figure in American literary circles. During her lifetime, however, she had less than a dozen poems published and never really knew what kind of a mark she would make on the literary world. One wonders what she might have been thinking about on her way to immortality. Such is the continuing fascination with The Belle of Amherst, a single-actor drama that debuted well over three decades ago. The latest local production comes to the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre courtesy of Renaissance Theaterworks.

Seasoned stage talent Jenny Wanasek plays the role of the legendary poet for the production, which is directed by Suzan Fete. As presented in William Luce’s script, the role requires a complex and intricate portrayal of a number of different dichotomies—a sense of dark inner turmoil contrasted against a vivid, spirited, intellectual lust for life. Wanasek has to live up to the legend of Dickinson while making her seem human and vulnerable in a rather intimate studio theater environment. An experienced actress who also lectures at UW-Milwaukee, Wanasek has precisely the kind of skill and stage rapport to be able to bring it off quite effectively.

Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of The Belle of Amherst runs Oct. 18-Nov. 10 at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre, 158 N. Broadway. For tickets, call 414-291-7800 or visit r-t-w.com.

 

Theatre Happenings

Waukesha Civic Theatre (264 W. Main St., Waukesha) presents its staging of the classic Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman comedy You Can’t Take It With You, Oct. 18-Nov. 3. For tickets, call 262-547-0708 or visit waukeshacivictheatre.org.

 

JC Clementz directs the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s (108 E. Wells St.) production of the irrepressible musical Forever Plaid, Oct. 25-Dec. 29. For tickets, call 414-224-9490 or visit milwaukeerep.com.