Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Milwaukee Rep's Season Announcement

Some initial reactions to 2011-2012 with The Rep

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The Milwaukee Rep announced its 2011-2012 season a couple of days ago. Here are a few quick reactions with a little bit of background-- 

Ten Chimneys by Jeffrey Hatcher (the Midwest premiere)—Former Milwukee Rep Artistic Director and current UWM faculty member Joseph Hanreddy directs a new comedy set in the Genesee Depot home of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, which should be an interesting challenge for set designers to bring to the Quadracci Powerhouse Theatre. The plot involves a love triangle offstage that threatens to eclipse the drama onstage. Not something that would’ve sounded particularly impressive to me were it not for the playwright. Hatcher’s work has appeared on a number of local stages over the years—Kopper Bear productions did a production of his series of interconnected monologues Three Viewings. More recently, Next Act did another show withthat format in Hatcher’s Murderers. Both were brilliantly written. Hatcher’s dialogue is witty, concise and cleverly off-center. Rep audiences will likely be familiar with the playwright’s adaptation of the Wilkie Collins novel Armadale that made the stage of the Quadracci a few years back. Ten Chimneys opens the Quadracci season August 30th-September 25th.

From My Hometown—The Stackner Cabaret opens its season with a musical about three strangers arriving in New York with dreams of performing at the Apollo. Songs include Chain Gang and On the Dock of the Bay. September 9th – October 30th.

Yellowman—This one has had a great deal of critical success. Written by actress, poet and playwright Dael Orlandersmith, (who also wrote Beauty’s Daughter) it tells the story of a fair-skinned black man and a large, dark-skinned woman-- a couple of lovers trying to rise above prejudices of the past. September 28th – November 3rd at the Stiemke Studio Theatre.

To Be Announced—All we really know about the second show next year at the Quadracci is that it’ll run October 11th – November 13th, that it’s an American play and that it’ll be announced in mid-May. There’s also a to-be-announced new American Musical that will be running at the Quadracci directed by Marc Clements December 6th – January 15th. (When I talked to Mark Clements a little while back, he had just gotten back from New York and absolutely loved American Idiot, but this is no more than wild speculation . . .)

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)—This Reduced Shakespear Company show. It’s been produced a couple of times in the recent past, including once with Soulstice Theatre in the intimate space now known as the Vox Box—there was also a charming production staged by The World’s Stage Theatre Company at Tenth Street Theatre. By far the most impressive Reduced Shakespeare show in recent memory had to be In Tandem’s All The Great Books (Abridged)—a brilliantly executed show. With the script itself being only being passably funny in and of itself, a production of Complete Works really gets its charm from the level of performance itself . . . an energy that involves finding the right cast . . . January 13th – March 11th at the Stackner Cabaret.

To Kill A Mockingbird—Harper Lee’s classic American novel appears in an Aaron Posner adaptation directed by Christopher Sergel. This, of course, is a Quadracci Powerhouse show. The near-universal appeal of this story should draw in quite a crowd. January 31st-March 4th.

In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play—Splendidly overrated playwright Sarah Ruhl’s comedy about life in the early days of the vibrator is likely destined to be disliked by Rep audiences for all the wrong reasons. Yes, it explores the sex lives of the wealthy in the repressed Victorian era and some of the subject matter is likely to offend those who get offended by that sort of thing, but the real reason this play is likely to be awful is its playwright. And while it’s true that her domestic comedy The Clean House was at least pleasantly forgettable, her Euridyce was stultifying, dull and on the whole, quite boring. The good news: with the proper lowering of standards that a Ruhl script deserves, The Vibrator Play could be quite unexpectedly enjoyable. Hey--it's about sex, so it can't be that bad, right? . . . right? . . . March 7th – April 2nd.

Always…Patsy Cline—Another bio musical—the likes of which the Rep is so fond of staging at the Stackner Cabaret. Directed by Sandy Ernst. March 16th- May 6th.

Othello—The Shakespearian tragedy has kind of a intermittent recent history. It was originally slated to be on the late Milwaukee Shakespeare’s ill-fated final season.When thatproduction fell through, The group formerly known as Milwaukee Shakespeare Goats & Monkeys did a staged reading fotheplay starring Wayne T. Carr in the title role. With any luck, Carr will be playing Othello here as well. He held quite a presence in the role at the reading. April 3rd – May 6th.

In addition to everything above, the Rep returns to A Christmas Carol again this year in a production once again directed by Joseph Hanreddy from a script he wrote with Ed Morgan. That runs December 1st – 24th. The Rep also has plans to do another Replab short play program next January 12th-16th.

For tickets to next season’s Rep call 414-224-9490 or visit the Rep online.

 

 

  

  

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