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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Boris and Doris On the Town

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Haiti Help: The annual concert for Youthaiti featured the always-mellifluous Harvey Taylor, Holly Wake, Jahmes Finlayson and KT Rusch. Percussionist Dena Aronson and Jessica Vega Gonzalez also joined in. The latter is with the Universal Love Band, just back from performing in schools in India with Rusch.  

The show was held at the venerable Coffee House, with a new Wisconsin Avenue entrance and space in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Gigi Pomerantz, the force behind Youthaiti, presented a video of her efforts in rural Haiti to encourage sanitation, sustainable agriculture and hygiene.  

Original songs included one by Taylor called “Poop,” used to create awareness of the need for cleanliness, and the beautiful “It’s Okay” by Wake. In the audience were Taylor’s partner, Susie Krause, and Coffee House volunteers Sandy Weisto, Paul Anderson and Brett Kemnitz, who recently hosted his “New Song” concert there. Videographer Herb Johnson taped the event.  

Lending support were Youthaiti board members Jeanette Tries and Racine’s Susan Azor, there with her Haitian husband, Nislet Azor, who is from Duchity, a town aided by Youthaiti. Also enjoying the music were MIAD librarian Nancy M. Blank-Bahr, Mary Harrison and Joan Janus. Pomerantz is getting ready for Youthaiti’s gala in May.  

Still Rockin’: Age was no issue at a packed Turner Hall for the Siegel-Schwall Band, which started performing in the ’70s, took a hiatus and is now back on track. Blues harpist Corky Siegel and guitarist Jim Schwall are both in their 70s; drummer Sam Lay celebrated his 79th birthday that night. Bassist Rollo Radford, at 60, was the baby of the core group.

Just about everyone there, such as longtime fans Barbara Burton and Amy Quinlan, seemed to have a history with the band. Ted and Pam Schaar enjoyed C-S as UW-Whitewater students. Mollie Lazear brought daughters Bekah Lazear and Naomi Duffy. The family has followed C-S for as long as they could remember. 

Dancing was a group from the Jumpin’ Jive Club, including Marcia Morrison, Tim Christianson and Billie Spring. Jack (The Cookie Master) Cheeks and Marguerite McGill, plus jewelry designer Robert Peter with Kimberly Bunker, were also spotted in the crowd. Holly Siegel, Corky’s wife, did a brisk business at the CD table.

No Ageism: The often-zany Off the Wall Theatre presented a straightforward version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, albeit with a few twists. The cast was “age blind,” with Artistic Director Dale Gutzman and Marilyn White, both in their 60s, as the ill-fated couple. Robert Preston was Paris, truly a younger-than-springtime suitor of Juliet.

The play was set in an Italian nursing home, where serious and believable swordplay took place. The audience was treated as guests, with cookies served by Sandy Lewis.

Donna Welter held down the fort. Other staffers were Jeremy Welter, who played Friar Lawrence, and Larry Lukasavage, who portrayed the droll servant Peter. In the 35-seat sold-out theater were scribes Mike Fischer, Dave Begel and Matthew Reddin; Laurie Morse and blues musician Jim Liban; actor Brian Miracle and his father, David; subscriber Louis Horvath; and choreographers Pam Kriger and Nancy Visintainer-Armstrong.  

More Theater: The Rep presented Rep Lab, its fourth annual short-play festival, in the sold-out Stiemke Theater, featuring a 12-member acting intern ensemble, along with directing, former directing and stage manager interns. All contributed to a delightful evening of 10 short plays. Host JC Clementz, the Rep’s artistic intern company director, gave a shout-out to sponsors Gordana and Milan Racic. Jonathan Josephson, who wrote 27 Ways I Didn’t Say “Hi” to Laurence Fishburne, flew in from L.A. to play the role of the noted actor.

Enjoying the production were Leda Hoffmann, the event’s literary coordinator and director of Hamlet in Hiding and L.A. 8 A.M.; artistic associate Michael Kroeker, who directed Title; Don Russell; Abby and Dr. David Nash; and Rebecca and Joe Spasiano.

Latest Hot Spot: The Pitch Project, a 20,000-square-foot space on South Fifth Street, showcased its renovated studios and art gallery, with the Brenner Brewing Co. down the hall. Greeting well-wishers were the center’s co-directors, master brewer Mike Brenner and artists Sonja Thomsen, Will Pergl and Jason S. Yi. Helping out were several of the 20 artists in the facility, including Eddie Villanueva, photographer Tara Bogart, Beth Miller, Steven Burnham, and MIAD grads Monica Miller and Miguel Ramirez. Stopping by were Isabelle Kralj, Mark Anderson and Therese Philipp from Theatre Gigante, which also has a space there.

Opening exhibits included the mural “Green Go Home,” based on the pejorative gringo. The collaboration was by New York-based artists Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tomas Vu. The music video Zwischen Raum Zeit is the work of 24 international artists with the Brooklyn-based German pop duo DAS.

Guests drawing their own artistic protest statements on a wall included talented tykes Freddy (4) and Lucy (5) Klassen. Their parents, artists Mark Klassen and Kathleen Kennedy-Klassen, will soon open Riverwest’s Ski Club gallery. Checking the scene were landlord/restaurateur Jose Zarate, gallery owner Tory Folliard, MAM’s Brady Roberts and Lisa Sutcliffe, and artists Michael Kautzer and Eddee Daniel.

If you have any tips for Boris and Doris, contact them at borisanddorisott@aol.com. Their next column will appear in the April 17 issue of the Shepherd.