Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011

2010/2011 Year In Review: Part Three

A look back at the last theatre years from the edge of August

By Russ Bickerstaff
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With Soulstice Theatre opening the first show of the new season last week, Milwaukee Theatre rolls into New Year's . . . the Milwaukee Theatre year starting in August with the first new shows of the new theatre season and closes at the end of the following July with the last openings of the summer theatre season. Here then is part two of a look back at it all . . .

February 2011

The second month of the year opened with a sharply uneven adaptation of Alice In Wonderland at the Off The Wall Theatre that featured Liz Mistele in the title role. Soulstice Theatre staged one of its final shows at the Marian Center this month—a really remarkable Irish drama somewhat wistfully called Shining City. The drama featured really sharp performances by David Ferrie and Jordan Gwiazdowski among others. Next Act staged a drama with a briskly energizing mystery/thriller vibe to it . . .Mauritius featured clever casting with Drew Brhel as a shrewdly passionate stamp collector, carefully weighted supporting performances by Jonathan Wainwright and C. Michael Wright and something of a breakout performance for Sara Zientek, who I really, really want to see in another role as prominent as this as soon as possible.

 

March 2011

       

UWM Theatre opened this month with Rebecca Holderness' hugely ambitious production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot that was likely seen by the tiniest fraction of the people who would’ve really loved it. The amazing thing about those UWM shows is how much work goes into shiws that close after only a few performances . . . all in the name of  training and education, but this one was one of those that really could have done a big run at the Quadracci without any adjustments at all . . . a beautiful show. It ended up getting mirrored the same week by a production of Corpus Christi staged by Theatrical Tendencies in a strangely biblical week for local theatre.

Not content to take a glance at the new testament, Milwaukee Theatre also took some time to look in the mirror this month. Patrick Schmitz staged the premiere of his regional theatre comedy Back And Forth—a tribute to the theatre with some interesting glances at areas of the stage not necessary explored in other shows . . . and Renaissance Theaterworks brought James DeVita to town for a local staging of his take on In Acting Shakespeare. DeVita has an interesting effect over the course of the show—you KNOW you’ve seen a complete show, but for some reason, it’s inspiring enough that you also KNOW you could sit through an entire Shakespearian drama after DeVita makes his final bow.

April 2011

While The Milwaukee Rep managed to surprise with a very novel appearance by Lee Ernst as Willy Loman in Death of A Salesman,  there were a few other really good performances on a variety of different stages this past April. Samantha Paige put in an impressively complex performance (both dramatically and choreographically) in Carte Blanche’s Great American Trailer Park Musical. Michael Keiley and Liv Mueller managed the single most compelling romance of the season in a G.B. Shaw short A Village Wooing with Boulevard Theatre. Staged at the Alchemist Theatre, Vince Figueroa and Beth Lewinski’s Natalie Ryan and the Brain Thieves  was a hugely entertaining sci-fi show that wouldn’t’ve been nearly as entertaining without a ridiculously enjoyable performance by Anna Wolfe in the title role.

 

Next: The Year in Review Part Four: May through July

 

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