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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Theater Review

Racine-based comedy troupe 1000 Channels comes to Milwaukee for a series of shows beginning this month. The group consists of roughly seven people from just outside Milwaukee who exhibit varying degrees of talent and potential while performing the standard sort of fare one would expect of a local sketch comedy group. Some of it’s quite bad.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Theater Reviews

Perched on an elevated platform, the “mad gothic organist” Jack Forbes Wilson could barely be seen playing the comically florid opening music for Next Act’s The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful. Next Act closes its season with the absurdist comedy featuring two actors playing eight different characters. The two in question are John McGivern and Christopher Tarjan—talented comic actors playing multiple roles in full costume with the aid of backstage talents Marsha Kuligowski (who designed the costumes), Properties Master Meghan Savagian
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Theater Reviews

The Off The Wall Theatre continues its season with a stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. Karl Miller stars as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot on a cruise down the Nile River. As such things usually go for Poirot, someone is killed on the cruise and he must discover who the murderer is before the boat can return to shore. Miller brings an entertainingly dichotomous energy to the role of Agatha Christie’s beloved character. He’s both earnestly humble and slyly arrogant, with a dramatic edge driven by comic timing. In Miller’s hands Poirot is every bit as interesting as he should be, but there are a number of other characters who aren’t nearly as interesting
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Theater Reviews

In Tandem Theatre opens the penultimate play of its season with Bill C. Davis’ early ’80s drama Mass Appeal. The story focuses on an idealistic young seminarian who finds himself under the tutelage of an older, established priest. The two face the usual sorts of intergenerational problems as one tries everything in his power to help the other become a fully ordained priest. In the role of Father Tim Farley, longtime Milwaukee actor Michael Duncan adds quite a bit of nuance into a character that could’ve read as a stereotype of an Irish Catholic priest. The character’s weakness comes across with a subtle strength.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Theater Reviews

You’re on Earth, there’s no cure for that,” bellows Michael Corkins, playing Hamm in Milwaukee Rep’s production of Endgame. His outburst marks one of many instances when his rich stentorian voice erupts into violent disdain for the futility and wretchedness of human existence. Despite the comic patter consistent throughout the play, this expression of despair for the irremediable suffering of mankind clings to the characters like the fog one imagines inhabits the world outside their decaying cocoon. Prolonged disease and decrepitude remain within; “Outside of here it’s death.”
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Theater Reviews

As if to celebrate Black History Month and this November’s electoral process at once, Acacia Theatre premiered Laddy Sartin’s Blessed Assurance last Friday at Concordia University’s Todd Wehr Auditorium. The play casts the struggle to secure voting rights for African-Americans during the Freedom Summer of 1964 in fictionalized, localized and intensely personal terms. A black waitress at a white-owned diner in a small Mississippi town makes a one-woman revolution out of her demand to cast a ballot.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Theater Reviews

Awhole generation has grown-up since “Sesame Street” first aired in 1969. The savvy educational public television show that mixes muppets, animation and live actors has become highly iconic. The premise of using the “Sesame Street” format to deliver comically satirical lessons to those who have grown up watching the show is brimming with brilliant possibilities.
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

Theater Reviews

It is in the opening moments of the staged musical version of The Lion King that the visual spectacle of puppetry and theater creates its own magic and literally takes flight. Birds soar above the audience while giraffes amble along amid lumbering elephants, graceful gazelles and other African creatures, all making their way toward Pride Rock. There, they pay homage to their lion king, Mufasa, on the birth of his son, Simba, while the strains of “Circle of Life” play on. Those familiar with the 75-minute Disney movie will be dazzled by the feats of daring design within this two hour, 40 minute production that opened last Thursday night at the Milwaukee Theatre (Wednesday’s snowstorm cancelled the planned opening). Now entering its 11th year as a stage musical, The Lion King departs from other Disney musicals transported to the stage, note for note, scene for scene. Director Julie Taymor has created spectacular images of actors integrated into the shapes and forms of animals through the use of multidimensional large scale puppets, African masks and shadow puppetry. The effects are dazzling . . .

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