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Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

James Kaplan covers first 40 years of iconic singer’s life

Frank: The Voice (Doubleday), James Kaplan’s terrific new look at the most iconic singer of the 20th century, is a refreshing example of how an upscale celebrity biography can remain stylishly objective—reading like good fiction while capturing the vernacular pungency that humanizes...
A&E Feature
Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011

MSO visits Wagner’s classic

If Die Walküre weren’t the centerpiece of Wagner’s great four-part cycle, “The Ring of the Nibelung,” it would still hold its own. One of the world’s great operas, Die Walküre is unsurpassed for the lyrical tenderness imbedded within an eloquent musical fabric that underscores Wagner’s conception of redemption through the healing power of love. As the second of the “Ring” cycle, Walküre departs from the...
Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010

Theater Review

Liberace is an empress among the queens of gay icons. Yet his talent as entertainer and pianist outranked them all. Liberace did not view himself as a campy performer. His famously glitzy accoutrements were intended only as self-parody. With Liberace, the Milwaukee Rep’s remarkable world premiere at the Stackner Cabaret, Artistic...
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...