Friday, Nov. 27, 2009

The Milwaukee Theatre Holidays Begin

The Rep and First Stage open the Holiday Season

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The Milwaukee stage holidays begin tonight with a pair of big, iconic openings downtown.  Two shows opening about a block apart from each other is far from being the insane flurry of openings next week. The two shows opening this week are however noteworthy in that they’re both probably the biggest, best funded local theatrical Holiday shows this side of the Milwaukee Ballet’s annual Nutcracker .

First off, just a couple of hours from the moment I am writing this sentence, the curtain will raise on the Milwaukee Rep’s first matinee performance of its annual production of A Christmas Carol  at the Pabst Theatre. The Joseph Hanreddy/Ed Morgan adaptation of the Dickens classic. James Pickering returns as the Rep’s distinctive Scrooge on a supernatural  journey into the heart of the holiday. This year’s production also includes Rep  actors Lee Ernst, Torrey Hanson, Gerard Neugent and more. The Rep’s website features links to a video of an appropriately dramatic James Pickering Dickens video project and behind the scenes photos taken by Hanson.

The Rep’s A Christmas Carol runs through December 27th at the Pabst Theatre.

And opening just down the block from the Pabst at 7pm tonight is the First Stage Children’s Theater production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The popular 1980’s Christmas show may not have the kind of recognition of Dickens’ classic, but Barbara Robinson’s contemporary look at an unflinchingly flawed American Christmas is probably only a decade or so away from a holiday classic status of its own. The story of the irreverent Herdman kids’ involvement in the title Pageant has enough longevity to take its place alongside A Christmas Story as one of the ‘80’s most enduring contributions to Holiday pop culture.  With a high standard of professional, quality productions the First Stage adaptation of the story show be a great deal of fun.

First Stage’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever runs through December 24th at the Marcus Center.  

 

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