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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Theater Review

Sunset Playhouse rounds out its season with a fair amount of classy retro style in its production of the 1955 Broadway musical Damn Yankees. Robert Zimmerman plays baseball fan Joe Boyd—a man obsessed with seeing the Washington Senators beat the Yankees to win the pennant that he’s willing to risk losing his soul to the devil. William Jackson plays the devil here in a standout performance. A towering gentleman with a pencil-thin physique, Jackson cuts an almost surreal figure in the role of the impeccably dressed Satan. Jackson has impressive talent that’s been honed through many years onstage, giving the classic villain more than enough personality to drive the story’s central conflict.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Theater Review

One of two Insurgent Theatre shows to open at the Alchemist Theatre this past weekend, Rex Winsome’s Paint the Town plays out like some grim fairy tale of modern revolution. Winsome plays a radical known only as Big Red who lives in a converted space in a disused section of an urban subway system with co-revolutionary Nadia Mensche (played by Kate Pleuss). Nadia’s mother was a radical in Europe prior to settling down in the U.S., and Red sees potential in her to be very influential as well. Nadia is tied to the world through her family, present onstage in the form of her half-brother, Arthur (played by Jason Hames).
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Theater Review

On Friday night Acacia Theatre opened its production of Pride and Prejudice at Concordia University’s Todd Wehr Auditorium. Judging by the audience’s enthusiastic exclamations they were unreservedly appreciative of any opportunity to watch Jane Austen’s romantic comedy unfold. Had they been a more punishing group of dyed-in-the-wool Austen fanatics they would undoubtedly have found some fault in this production, adapted for the stage by Jon Jory and directed by Bradley Winkler. One would be that the novel has been considerably abridged to fit into its two and a half hour running time. It’s an understandable measure, but one that at times results in a curious asymmetry. While certain scenes, like the dance . . .
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Theater Review

There’s a new kid on our theater block. Lake Geneva Theatre Company premiered with Noel Coward’s Private Lives on July 4, offering its own celebratory bang. Bright, sophisticated comedies from the 1920s and ‘30s—such as Coward’s exemplary romps—took a nosedive into oblivion post-World War Two. “Realistic” replaced “Artificial” comedies. Using the memorable performances of Tallulah Bankhead and Donald Cook in Coward’s classic as a yardstick, the theater company measures up exceedingly well—which translates: “They mostly don’t make out like they’re doing Neil Simon.”
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Theater Preview

Even though sketch comedy can be perilously inconsistent, there’s something vibrant about its imperfection that can add depth to a city’s theater community. The all-female sketch group Broadminded, a recent addition to the Milwaukee scene, opened a promising, monthlong show at the Alchemist Theatre on Kinnickinnic Avenue this past March. The group returns to the Alchemist on June 20 with its new show, Broadminded: Now in 3-D . . .
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Theater Review

Casting an unwavering gaze at the darker side of human nature, Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane was a critical hit when it was first staged in London in 1964. Its original run only lasted a few performances, but it left enough of a mark to become an enduring work by a very short-lived playwright. The story of a young drifter’s interactions with his landlady, her brother and father presented contemporary middle-class society as remarkably ugly and dysfunctional. Running through June 1, Off The Wall’s presentation of the play is impressively uneven, but well worth a sidelong, prurient glance from the morbidly curious . . .
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Theater Reviews

Robb Smith plays an American college professor working overseas in Beirut who is captured by terrorists. Forced to take in the world around him through sound alone, the professor spends much of his time trying analyzing the social complexity of his situation. Smith has a firm grasp on the character’s intellectual side, rendering an intelligent performance that is solidly rooted in emotional reality.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Theater Reviews

In the intimate Alchemist Theatre located on Kinnickinnic Avenue in Bay View, Pink Banana Theatre Company finds a home—one that “encourages new and emerging artists to focus on their artistic crafts while given the opportunity to grow creativity.” This is the spirit that pervades their spring 2008 production Pink Banana One Acts: The Next Big Thing.”
Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Theater Reviews

William Finn’s New Brain is an interesting adventure into the contemporary American musical. It’s a somewhat feverish collection of songs loosely centered around a thinly veiled autobiographical plot about a composer who is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Windfall Theatre closes its season with a production of the musical now through May 17.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Theater Review

The Boulevard Theatre closes its season with the premiere of local playwright Chad M. Rossi’s Eureka!, a coming-of-age love story/buddy-comedy set in Milwaukee. Cesar Gamino and Jason Krukowski play Wayne and Clyde: a couple of guys in their late-20s sharing an apartment. Clyde’s a dreamer who wants to reform society. Wayne has a stable job and dates a dominant, conservative woman named Nancy (Rachael Lau). Clyde feels threatened by this until he finds his own love interest in the free-spirited Teri (Rachel Lewandowski).

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