Monday, June 25, 2012

The Bathhouse by the Pabst

Off The Wall stages THE RITZ

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The theatre district of downtown Milwaukee houses some relatively big stages. Huddled between a bar and a restaurant right across from the Pabst Theatre rests a much smaller one. Hidden there in plain sight is The Off The Wall Theatre--a quaint little studio theatre on 127 East Wells Street that has been home to quite a few different shows over the years. The show there sometimes reach for a kind of depth not necessarily found in bigger commercial productions just down the street Such is not necessarily the case with its next show, which opens later this month. 

 

Something of a crazy comic relic from the mid-1970s, The Ritz is a farce set in a gay bathhouse in Manhattan. A heterosexual businessman from Cleveland finds himself on the run from his mobster brother-in-law. The unsuspecting gentleman hides in the bathhouse. Things get complicated. Not exactly the high point of mid-'70s comedy, this type of show has an energy about it that can positively thrive in a tiny studio theater space under the right circumstances. No stranger to working in that kind of space, show's director Dale Gutzman wouldn't be doing this type of show if he didn't know how to stage it intense amounts of fun. More often than not, he finds a way to pack the space with the right kind of comic precision. 

 

Off The Wall Theatre's production of The Ritz runs July 26th through August 5th. For ticket reservations, call 414-327-3552. 

 

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