Friday, March 27, 2009

Marcus Center Announces 2009/2010 Broadway Season

By Russ Bickerstaff
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I found myself at Marquette last night seeing what must’ve been my second production of The Spitfire Grill. (I’d first seen it at Acacia some time ago.) I was sitting waiting for the show to start when I overheard that there was a girl in the row behind me who was seeing the performance for a class on he history of the American Musical . . . and I always find it vaguely odd going to university shows knowing that there are people there who will be required to write far lengthier papers about these shows than I am . . . as a print review is only allowed some 300 words or so . . . the student said she wanted to go straight home and write the paper, which I wouldn’t have the luxury of doing. Having seen another production of the musical, I was pretty familiar with it. Actually, as musicals go, The Spitfire Grill is really good. It’s a musical for people who aren’t particularly fond of musicals. It’s not cloyingly stagy. The music comes as a strikingly natural outgrowth of actual emotion and . . . well . . . a full review of the show appears in next week’s Shepherd-Express. Marquette’s The Spitfire Grill runs through April 5th.

For people who DO like traditional musicals, The Marcus Center has announced its upcoming season . . . here’s what’s coming to town next season:

SPRING AWAKENING


 The new rock musical that won a lot of awards for being a catchy, pop exploration of the nature of sexuality and such comes to Milwaukee October 6 – 11. Not exactly as edgy as Sharman and O'Brien's Shock Treatment, but this IS Broadway . . . and the tunes are actually much less offensively bad than most of what comes out of Broadway, so this one might have a crossover audience . . .

DREAMGIRLS

With renewed popularity following the blockbuster 2006 film adaptation, this 1981 Broadway R&B musical hits the road with renewed energy. It comes to Milwaukee January 5 – 10 of 2010.

GREASE

Grease: 2010 sounds kind of like the title of a weird sci-fi film from the early ‘80’s, but the classic musical comes to Milwaukee directly from the ‘80’s by way of a recent Broadway revival featuring reality TV star/recording puppet Taylor Hicks. February 23 -28, 2010.

LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL

Uhh, yes . . . the 2001 comedy starring Reese Witherspoon made a huge profit at the box office for a film that only cost some $20 million, but it comes across as something of a strange choice for the Broadway musical treatment. The Broadway hit makes it to Milwaukee April 13 – 18 . . . of next year (not next month.)

WICKED

The big hit musical based on the best-selling book . . . finally makes its southeastern Wisconsin debut July 14 – August 8 2010. Guaranteed to be a big sell-out once the tickets go on sale.

Right now they’re promoting the subscription series, which have kind of an impressive price tag . . . without getting into specifics, the equation ends up looking like this:  

One season of the best seats for the Broadway season 09/10

IS EQUAL TO

a full season of Next Act tickets

AND

a full season of Renaissance Theaterworks tickets

AND

a full season of In Tandem tickets

AND

a full season with the Skylight

OR

every DIY show in town for at least the next 5 years

AND

a sizable donation to each DIY company . . .

 

True, this is only a rough estimate (and probably a bit of an exaggeration,) but it IS frustrating seeing this kind of money spent on touring shows. Pop theatre IS pop theatre, however, and there’s a good chance that the people who go to touring Broadway shows probably wouldn’t be going to theatre at all otherwise . . . still . . . it was a bit disconcerting standing by the merchandise table for CATS when it came through town. Just about every sale there could’ve sold-out a performance of any kind at the Alchemist . . . and that’s just merchandise . . . there’s got to be some way to get these people into the idea of seeing local stuff . . . that’s the only way that the local scene is going to expand . . . if there’s a concerted local interest in it . . .

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