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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Theater Review

Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire depicts the wanton dismantling of an elaborately woven ideal and the erection of a hard-boiled, pressing reality in its place. Blanche DuBois, a faded and delusional Southern belle, represents a dying gentility. Her voracious brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski, represents the archetypal male—the obnoxious leader of a beer-swilling pack, the prize cock who woos, marries and impregnates Blanche’s sister, Stella. He secures his future through the fruit of his loins while ensuring that Blanche remains eternally incarcerated within her tragic illusions.
Monday, April 7, 2008

Sonido Amazonico (Barbes Records)

Recently an anthology was released in the United States of chicha, the mildly psychedelic music of 1960s Peru. Perhaps it’s no surprise that one of the world’s leading contemporary chicha groups is working out of multicultural Brooklyn, N.Y. Chicha Libre draws from old songs in the genre and original material, pulling the vocal and instrumental repertoire together into a playfully rhythmic yet often melodically
Friday, March 28, 2008

edited by Chris Woodstra, John Bush and Stephen Thomas Erlewine

As a late boomer, I strained to read the tiny type of the 1,000 album reviews crammed into the Classic Rock guide. An early boomer might go blind. But with magnifying glass in hand, the effort of reading this handbook on the recent past is worthwhile.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

(University of Wisconsin Press), edited by Jerry Hembd, Jody Pad

The next time you wish you lived anywhere but here, pick up Renewing the Countryside-Wisconsin, read a few pages and change your mind in a hurry. These 39 short pieces, written by several different authors and complemented by stunning fullcolor photography, profile hardworking individuals, organizations and businesses in the state that are blazing trails in sustainable and organic agriculture, environmentally responsible business practices and homegrown . . .
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Book Preview

School shootings, date rape, kidnapping, modern-day witch hunts for alleged sexual predators: These are just a few of the thorny issues Jodi Picoult has dealt with in the numerous novels she’s written to date. And in each of them she offers readers a vantage point from which hasty moral judgments are impossible. In her new book, Change of Heart, she tackles capital punishment, using it as a vehicle to examine religious dogma and the crippling loss of a loved one, as well as the fallacy of sentencing a man to death without fully understanding his crime.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Theater Reviews

Far from the visiting Broadway puppet shows of the Downtown theater district, Andrew Edwin Ross and Daniel Koester spoke an old familiar dialogue from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men as the tragic story was brought to the stage by the UW-Milwaukee Department of Theatre and director Rebecca Holderness . . .
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Theater Preview

The Milwaukee Rep closes its season at the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater with a pair of world premieres. Next week, The Rep stages the world premiere of Charles Randolph-Wright’s The Night is a Child. And next month, The Rep opens its production of Armadale, Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of the 19th-century Wilkie Collins novel of the same name. Randolph-Wright, a man of many talents, enjoyed one of his biggest successes as a playwright with Blue, which opened Off-Broadway in 2001. The Night is a Child is a story of personal transformation through vacation, perhaps inadvertently paralleling the theme touched on in the Rep’s production of Enchanted April last month. Elizabeth Norment stars as Harriet, a mother who lost her son to a senseless act of violence.
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Local Music

The Rusty Ps don’t talk much about scoring a major record deal these days. “We gave up those pipe dreams long ago,” says Adam Haupt, who raps with the group under the nom de plume Phantom Channel. “Once you actually start dealing with the music industry, you see how crazy it is. So we’re not making music to try to blow up anymore; we’re making music just for the love of making it.” But Haupt admits the band once had lofty dreams of breakthrough success. “When you put your first real album out and it gets picked up for distribution by the first label you send it to, that gets your hopes up,” Haupt says. In 2000, during a time of high interest in independent hip-hop—but before inexpensive software enabled every laptop owner to cut their own rap records—the Rusty Ps released “Tread Water,” a 12-inch featuring some fortunate friends the band made while touring: The Pharcyde’s Imani and Minneapolis’ then-burgeoning Atmosphere. The single had reach far beyond just the merch table. Thanks to the emergence of Napster and file sharing, any college student hunting down Pharcyde and Atmosphere rarities discovered the Rusty Ps.
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Theater Reviews

Ida, Lucille and Doris are three women who have something in common: they’re widows who’ve lost their respective husbands within a few years of one another. As members of “The Cemetery Club” they visit their husbands’ graves once a month. There’s clean-up to do around the headstones, news to tell of weddings and grandchildren and memories rekindled along with the pain and grief that resurfaces in the remembering. Sunset Playhouse has created a warm greeting card of a production out of Ivan Menchells’ play The Cemetery Club that opened last week. And as good friends as they are, Menchell has created three very different women, setting the stage for conflict, comedic and otherwise.
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008

Classical Review

The ludicrous production of La Traviata that opened at Skylight Opera last weekend proved that a great Verdi melody is indestructible. This unbelievably misguided venture only works in the final scene, when all its incompetence, bad direction and quarter-baked ideas mercifully recede enough for focus on the bare . . .

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