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Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014

Boris and Doris On the Town

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Optimistic About Shakespeare: The Optimist Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park held a jocular fundraiser called “Unsphere the Stars” at Turner Hall to raise money for the Bard’s The Winter’s Tale at Kadish Park in June. The event met a challenge grant by BMO Harris, represented by Community Affairs VP Anna Benton.   

Paddy’s Irish Pub Jam Band—led by T.J. Hull, the Optimist’s board president—jammed during cocktails. At a brisk silent auction, the Pabst’s Chris Segedy had a bead on silver pieces donated by the Optimist’s Susan Scot Fry. Other items included a Stephanie Draus Adventure Queen Tutu and a modernistic painting rendered by a talented zoo elephant. 

Actor Peter Lawlor was the delightful emcee, with a running gag about noted local thespian Jim Pickering being a luge contestant at the Sochi Olympics. The variety show included vocals by Anita Stemper, accompanied by keyboardist Mark Thierfelder. The Bard himself was cloned by Ron Scot Fry, the company’s artistic director, who enticed audience members to the stage. Among them was Jill Schwartz, to whom he read a love poem. Schwartz was there with her husband, Donald, and program sponsors Connie and Gary Gasper. Peg Rauschenberger and actor David Bohn, there with his girlfriend, Heather Vitale, partook in pretend verbal sparring in a Winter’s Tale-inspired sketch. Rauschenberger attended with her daughter, Meg, and Brian Koceja

Also on the roster were the Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Jonathan Stewart and Melissa Kelly Cardamone, with songs from Jason Powell’s superhero opera, Fortuna the Time Bender vs. The Schoolgirls of Doom!. Optimist Theatre favorite Phil Johnson performed his hilarious physical and musical comedy schtick.   

Circulating were volunteers Christie Manussier and Jill Krimmer; Jeff Holub from Custom Puppets; Milwaukee Public Theatre’s Barbara Leigh, one of the Milwaukee Arts Board’s Artists of the Year; Patrick Schley, with First Stage Theatre Academy; and Optimist board VP Michelle Owczarski

Several of the Winter’s Tale cast were brought up front for applause, including David Bohn, David Franz, Jeffrey James Ircink, Beth Monhollen, Emmit Morgan, Tom Reed, Cassondra Gresl, plus Susan Scot Fry, who will play the role of the bear. 

Duck Lovers: The Milwaukee Art Museum hosted its first Duck Decoy Day in Windhover Hall. Bluegrass music by Pike Creek and carving demos by Mike Trudel were among the highlights. Chainsaw artist Bob Younger from Younger’s Woodery, along with pals Lee Wegner, Kai McNulty and Shawn Krueger, discussed their craft. Herb Desch of the Midwest Decoy Collector’s Association shared the history of vintage decoy making and collecting. 

The Schlitz Audubon Center’s Jonathan Boettcher judged a duck-calling contest, won by Bill Wiedner, with 7-year-old Eve Lazarski taking second and MAM’s Meghan Walsh snaring third.

MAM fun was enjoyed by Raejean Kanter from the Falk Group, there with C.J. Davis; MAM docents/trainees Brenda Richardson, with her husband, Tom, Rose Balistreri and Roseann Lyons, there with her husband, Kevin. Program organizer Marcie Hoffman was appropriately dressed in camo and jeans. 

Talent Galore: On the first Wednesday of each month, the Blueburg Café at the Cedarburg Cultural Center has a delightful open mic night where performers of all ages can test their chops. On a recent frosty eve, more than 15 singers and poets took to the proscenium. The regular emcee, singer/songwriter Stephanie Erin Brill, had a conflict, so her father, Steve Brill, and buddy John Higgins filled in. The center’s Interim Executive Director Mary McCann offered shout-outs to the two, sound guy John Mueller and sponsors Sprecher and the Cornerstone Bank.

The performance led off with Meghan Blickle singing “The A Team.” Next was Pip Blank performing an intriguing original song; UW-Milwaukee professor/guitarist Ichiro Suzuki with a wonderful rendition of Disney’s “My Neighbor Totoro”; and Aaron Baykov reciting an amazing spoken-word piece. Jason Youngwirth presented a clever comedy standup; guitarist Norb Studelska and saxophonist Mike Haupt were another hit as were The String Flings, the four fiddling children of the Cornerstone Bank’s Erik Stanton. Eleven-year-old Elizabeth Kashinn offered a lilting rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” and was cheered on by the crowd, including her mom, Laurel. Chris Pope and Mike Besaw were among the many volunteers who helped things run smoothly.

Vive le Cinema: An interesting component of the 17th Annual Festival of Films in French at the UWM Union were screenings sponsored by the university’s Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies. Its director, Joel Berkowitz, hosted Le Fils de L’autre (The Other Son) about an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy accidentally switched at birth. Berkowitz thanked the staff, including Karen Dredge and Professor Tami Williams, who moderated the talkback, as well as festival sponsor Dr. Richard Stone. Enjoying the festival were Genevieve Leplae and her daughter, Anne Leplae, Alliance Francaise’s executive director; Charlotte Eyraud; Daniel Feinstein; and foodie Elizabeth Crawford, soon heading to Israel.

If you have any tips for Boris and Doris, contact them at borisanddorisott@aol.com. Their next column will appear in the March 6 issue of the Shepherd.

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