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Since their eponymous sketch comedy show ended in 1995, all five members of the Kids in the Hall have stayed visible, albeit TV personality-visible, not major-star visible. Mark McKinney spent a few years on “Saturday Night Live;” Scott Thompson became the host of “My Fabulous Gay Wedding;” Kevin McDonald guest starred in over a dozen sitcoms and Bruce McCulloch made the oc...

Larry Widen checks out the scene at Boswell

Did you know that on the same weekend that Woodstock took place, Milwaukee played host to its own concert featuring Jeff Beck, Blind Faith and other rockers at the Wisconsin State Fair Park? Rock ’n’ roll’s history in Milwaukee goes back decades, starting with post-World War II nightclubs...

Novelist Chloe Benjamin at Boswell

When Sylvia and Gabe meet and fall in love at boarding school in Northern California in 1998, they never in their wildest dreams could have imagined the path their lives would take. The spirited duo becomes the central characters in Chloe Benjamin’s debut novel The Anatomy of Dreams...

Steven Conn on anti-urbanism in the U.S.

This June, Census Bureau data revealed that the average size of a new home built in the United States set a record during 2013. At approximately 2,600 square feet, the...

Emily St. John Mandel tours Milwaukee bookstores

Without a doubt, Station Eleven is not your archetypal YA dystopian novel, despite its post-apocalyptic plot involving a 99% annihilation of the world’s population. Canadian-born New York-based author Emily St. John Mandel’s fourth novel is a deeply...

Biography of indie director Edgar G. Ulmer

Full disclosure: I’m co-authoring, with David Luhrssen, a book of our own about the subject of Noah Isenberg’s cogent, comprehensive biography Edgar G. Ulmer: A Filmmaker at the Margins (University of California Press). This fact could have predisposed me to find fault where there’s little...
The raw and brutal experiences of war undoubtedly change people, and for Desa Jovanovic, the lead character in Miki Knezevic’s gripping historical novel Behind God’s Back, it is the decision to become a healer that forever changes the course of her life. Growing up in the shadows of...

Finding fresh ideas in Rossini’s ‘La Cenerentola’

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” That often-quoted quip applies as much to opera as to theater, and nothing is harder in operatic comedy than Gioachino Rossini. Not only are there vocal challenges in the bel canto style, but the often repeated lines and many numbers seem to scheme...

Turning Schlitz Stock-House into a performance space

The Schlitz Stock-House occupies a long stretch on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from Cherry to Galena streets. On the fifth floor of this monumental warehouse, audience members strolled past tall windows,...

Music, dance and variety

Popular variety show MKE Follies returns for its eighth installment at The Box, a brand-new performance space Downtown. The show will feature performances by violinist Liisa Church, who will sing, dance and play original fiddle tunes. Tara Wrobel will premiere a modern dance piece. Fellow dancer Katharina Abderholden...

Wild Space premieres new piece in brewery setting

“You’ll never see this space like this again—ever,” Debra Loewen said as we toured the raw fifth floor of the historic Schlitz Brewing Company Stock-House, a cement-floored...
Present Music will open its 33rd season Aug. 30 with Ince by Ince, a program of five recent works by Turkish American composer Kamran Ince, including three American premieres. These pieces cover great ground stylistically, says Ince, who will conduct the concert, but they are united by a...
I have always admired the continuing exploration of literature that is a fundamental aspect of the Prometheus Trio. Over the years I have heard quite a bit of music on their concerts never before encountered. Such was the case with Frank Bridge’s Trio......
I knew violinist Ilana Setapen was good. I had heard her in recital and in chamber music. But I didn’t realize how wonderfully and exceptionally good she is until hearing her play Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Milwaukee Symphony last Saturday night. Setapen is associate concertmaster of the orchestra. I would guess that there are few......

Present Music with Margaret Leng Tan

Margaret Leng Tan, the world’s first toy piano virtuoso, was the star of Present Music’s concert “Toys!” She was perfectly accompanied by the Present Music string ensemble......

Classical Review

“Shining Stars” was the appropriate title of the Wisconsin Philharmonic's May 2 concert. In addition to the orchestra's usual instrumentalists there appeared the winners of its youth concerto competition as well as a smattering of youth orchestra members. Another “shining star” was Joseph Schwantner, the American composer of the first work, Chasing Light. This four-movemen...
There was an exciting revelation at Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra last weekend: the bandoneon featured in a concerto by the Argentinian master of the tango, Astor Piazzolla (1921- 1992). Piazzolla's tangos show up regularly in diverse contexts....
Two seasons ago Vladimir Feltsman commented negatively about the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Steinway and urged its replacement on a live local public television broadcast. That concert was re-broadcast, and apparently eventually led to the donors' gift of a new piano. The old MSO Steinway has a resonant ring, but also a loose rattle and unevenness. It was time to move on....

Classical Review

The snowstorm last week forced a cancelled rehearsal of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and prevented the arrival of the guest soloist, pianist Andreas Haefliger. Conductor Andreas Delfs quickly revised the plans to something the orchestra could do with just one rehearsal. William Schuman’s Symphony No. 5, which the MSO has never before played, and a Mozart piano concerto were scrapped. In...

Classical Review

The ludicrous production of La Traviata that opened at Skylight Opera last weekend proved that a great Verdi melody is indestructible. This unbelievably misguided venture only works in the final scene, when all its incompetence, bad direction and quarter-baked ideas mercifully recede enough for focus on the bare . . ....

Classical Preview

American composer John Adams (b. 1947) once stood under the same Minimalist umbrella as Steve Reich and Philip Glass, but as the ’90s wore on, he developed into something of a “post-post-modernist,” as demonstrated by such works as The Death of Klinghoffer (1991) and the Violin Concerto (1993)....

Classical Review

It is irresistibly interesting to speculate what goes on in guest conductor rehearsals with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Were ideas persuasively delivered, spoken or unspoken?...

Wild Space opens its season with ‘Milwaukee 360’

You are apt to be quite taken with the beauty of Downtown Milwaukee and its environs as they appear in a wraparound panorama from atop the eight-story parking structure of the former Pabst Brewery, set high on......

Dance Review

Three was the straightforward title of the Milwaukee Ballet's spring program of three dances in three styles by three choreographers. More than anything, it demonstrated artistic director Michael Pink's devotion to his dancers, showcasing them individually......
All artists need the opportunity to fail. Risk-taking is indispensable. What serious opportunities for trial and error exist for artists in Milwaukee after they leave the relative safety of a college program? This is not an idle question. Danceworks recognizes that it is a community’s job to provide laboratories for artists and they have accepted their share of the responsibility. Liz Hilde...

Dance Preview

One would be hard-pressed to conjure up a name more closely associated with the Milwaukee dance scene than Ed Burgess. Burgess, currently marking his 20th year on the UW-Milwaukee dance faculty, has directed, choreographed or performed with just about every arts group in town, including the Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Wild Space Dance......
We thought that was fun and decided to make these evenings combinations of environmental work and traditional theater work. The range of the work that our choreographers were bringing to the process demand ed that we present the performances in this way.” The theater’s lobby, courtyard and stage are of equal importance for performances created specifical ly for these spaces. A piece by...

DANCE PREVIEW

Lately it seems that everything from window displays to theater bills are heavily doused in Christmas spirit....

Boulevard Theatre makes its next move

“It’s so much like the old Boulevard space, it’s incredible,” says Artistic Director Mark Bucher about the new Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 839 S. Fifth St. The art gallery will be the site of Gideon’s Knot, Boulevard Theatre’s second production as a company on the road. Bucher saw the play in a...

The bullies (and ‘after all the terrible things I do’)

No better way to celebrate a new season than with a new play. The Milwaukee Repertory Theater is christening 2014-2015 in their intimate Stiemke Studio with the world premiere of after all the terrible things I do...

Deliciously moody comic drama

Next Act Theatre plays host to a tender portrayal of a family of emotionally fractured people with Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter. Directed by Deborah Staples, Julie Marie Myatt’s script is a deliciously moody comedic shuffle across a small stage. Chelsea D. Harrison dances with shadows and subtlety in her portrayal of the title...
Off The Wall Theatre opens its season with a dark, sensual reimagining of Kander and Ebb’s Broadway classic, Cabaret. In the theater’s limited space, director Dale Gutzman stages a haunting spectacle of glitz, glamour and gall with a clever and sardonic spin that forces his audience deep into the deliciously sinful netherworld...

MPT celebrates 40 years, steampunk style

Milwaukee Public Theatre celebrated its 40th anniversary with the “Steampunk Circus of Metamorphosis.” The event transformed the company’s space in the Shops of Grand Avenue into a 19th-century carnival with wandering...

Ghouls onstage at Theatre Unchained

Charles Addams never could have imagined the franchise he was creating when he first began sketching a tight-knit family of ghoulish eccentrics for The New Yorker. Since those earliest comics...

Addressing contemporary issues in a lighthearted way

Longtime Milwaukee Repertory Theater resident company member Deborah Staples makes her directorial debut at Next Act Theatre, bringing to the stage Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter by Julie Marie Myatt. “This play took me over. I wanted to tell this story; I needed to tell this story,” says...

Alchemist features Jason Powell and Doug Jarecki

The Alchemist’s latest offering features seven one-acts by Milwaukee comedy gurus Jason Powell and Doug Jarecki written for Bunny Gumbo’s Combat Theatre and Patrick Schmitz Presents Sketch 22. Each script was based on a randomly paired setting and subject and was written (and...