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Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010

New book explores ‘The Marriage of the Century’

Officials at 20th Century Fox didn’t know what was in store for them when they signed Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in a mammoth production intended to shore up the studio’s declining profits. At 29 she was acknowledged as one of the most beautiful women in the world...
Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

Theater Review

The beguiling appeal of pre-World War II decadence and the glamour of hedonistic abandon are indelibly captured in the ever-popular Cabaret. Audiences are inevitably delighted by a charm that so easily sets aside the impending juggernaut that will soon darken the horizon. Yet Cabaret is a fun show and its pleasure quotient...
Monday, Sept. 13, 2010

Jonathan Alter reflects on a busy 365 days

If it seems premature and injudicious to undertake a critical look at President Barack Obama’s daunting first year in office, journalist-historian Jonathan Alter, author of the Franklin Roosevelt biography The Defining Moment...
Off the Cuff
Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010

MSO cellist on leave in Toronto

The personable, good-looking Joe Johnson, principal cellist of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, is a relaxed, chatty conversationalist. Johnson recently won an audition with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and has taken a one-year leave of absence to check it out. Here’s hoping we don’t lose him...
Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Evan Thomas satirizes Roosevelt, Lodge and Hearst

The War Lovers (Little, Brown), Evan Thomas’ provocatively titled, satirical look at three colorful individuals who became prime movers in the birth of American imperialism...
A&E Feature
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Intense drama in Verdi’s first great opera

For many aficionados, Rigoletto serves as the blueprint for what a great opera is all about. It appeals equally to the most patrician and plebeian tastes, yet remains firmly rooted in the sultry, ribald warmth of Verdi’s Italian homeland, merging grassroots earnestness with blood-and-guts intensity. Its catchy melodies remain invulnerable to bad performances. Verdi is very much a man for those...
A&E Feature
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Piano prodigy to perform with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

New generations of concert prodigies appear with predictable regularity, receiving numerous honors at young persons’ international competitions, yet too often they wear out their early promise by having to compete with a pop-culture environment that treasures youth but whose musical sensitivities are pervasively undermined by the likes of the embarrassing “American Idol” and the flamboyant tackiness of “Dancing With the Stars...
Monday, April 12, 2010

From Hollywood royalty to princess of Monaco

According to Donald Spoto’s provocative new biography, High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly (Harmony Books), the actress was full of grace, a trait that defined her every movement on screen. No actress boasting such delicate patrician features had ever radiated such warmth. But the girl hovering over a sleeping James Stewart in Rear Window was every man’s fantasy...
Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Theater Review

Seven Keys to Slaughter Peak is Joseph Hanreddy’s original new take on the classic mystery comedy Seven Keys to Baldpate. The final production of Hanreddy’s 17-year tenure at Milwaukee Repertory Theater...
A&E Feature
Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Florentine Opera’s modern classic

Many contemporary composers fail to realize that opera is not a play with music or a score for a film, but a hybrid drama using the full potential of the human voice to ignite emotions within the musical score that would otherwise remain unrealized. On the other hand, a libretto unsubstantiated by a distinctive score, which ignores or minimizes its interdependence with the vocal line, is one of the many pitfalls...