Home / Tag: First Stage
Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011

Theater Preview

The first bicycle, a wooden-framed contraption introduced in Europe in 1817, bears little resemblance to today’s super-sleek, lightweight, carbon-fiber designs. But as far as bicycle technology has come over the years, no manufacturer has been able to develop one that could travel...
Thursday, March 11, 2010

Theater Review

The Wiz had the children in the audience at First Stage Children’s Theater enthralled throughout the show, from the moment Dorothy took to the stage with a real-live Toto in her arms to the finale 90 minutes later when her long, strange trip through Oz brought her full circle...
Monday, Jan. 25, 2010

Theater Review

Milwaukee’s top-notch children’s theater, First Stage, recently opened a world premiere production of The Thief Lord. The show, based on the best-selling novel by Cornelia Funke, continues through Feb. 14. The book is ripe for a stage version, as it contains magic, mystery, adventure...
01.23.2010 | | Posted at 07:15 PM

Refreshingly Complex Children’s Play Makes Its World Premiere

By Russ Bickerstaff
First Stage Children’s Theatre continues its season with an accessibly complex show. The play opens with a chase. A pair of orphan brothers—Prosper and Bonafice are on the run from the police. Directed by Jeff Frank, the action takes the audience straight into the play, rushing through the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theatre—in and around a beautifully iconic set by designer Sarah Hunt-Frank. The overall feel of the opening action sets the stage for the rest of the play—it’s stylishly shadowy without actually developing the kind of darkness that would be frightening to children. Prosper and Bonafice are quickly taken-in from the chase by a group of orphan thieves led by the title character—a kid with more than a few secrets. As the play opens, we are introduced to a particularly well-realized wardrobe by costume designer Pamela Rehberg. The costume design is sharp and simple without looking stagy. The Thief Lord’s birdlike mask and flowing robe could’ve had more detail, but it would’ve taken away from the costume’s overall impact. His friends were all classily dressed as well—most notably the look Rehberg designed for the girl who calls herself Hornet. Adapted from a book by Cornelia Funke, The Thief Lord is a relatively fast-paced adventure adapted for the stage by actor/playwright James DeVita. The story follows the two orphan brothers as they get caught-up in potentially dangerous events with a group of kids who work for the thief lord. Funke’s plot allows for a refreshing amount of dramatic complexity in the show. The Thief Lord are only stealing for practical reasons. Prosper and Boniface are only working with them because it keeps them fed and protected. They are only on the run from the police because their mother has passed away and only one of them is being adopted. They have run away in the interest of staying together as a family. Every questionable, evidently immoral decision in the story is part of a larger, more complex situation. DeVtia’s script does a brilliant job of crystallizing this complexity for the stage in such a way that makes it ultimately quite accessible, even for the younger kids in the audience. The clever balance of this, developed by Funke and brilliantly framed for the stage by DeVita As a whole, the play is almost sophisticated enough to entertain adults as much as it does children, which is the real measure of classic children’s fare. The story is interesting enough for everyone and there are quite a few twists in the plot, but it all ultimately heads in a very predictable direction. The Thief Lord’s failure to completely entertain adult audiences isn’t a huge problem. Performances are, by and large, very entertaining. The production rotates between two different children’s casts. Opening night’s “Guardian Angel“ cast put in a really dynamic performance that interacted well with the professional adult actors in the cast. Joe Foust is charming as Victor Getz

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Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010

Theater Preview

Cornelia Funke’s novel The Thief Lord is hardly the type of book one would expect to be adapted for children’s theater. Indeed, the story of two brothers who run away to Venice, Italy, and join a band of juvenile thieves breaks from the popular impression of children’s theater as the stuff of wholesome, harmless fairy tales...
12.31.1969 | | Posted at 06:00 PM

James DeVita’s Latest Adaptation Opens This Month With First Stage

By Russ Bickerstaff
German author Cornelia Funke isn’t nearly as well known internationally as more successful children’s authors like J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. The author of the Inkheart trilogy is far better known in Europe than she is in the rest of the world. Far from being any kind of fantasy visionary, Funke has a love of storytelling not all that visible in the work of Meyer and a literate sense o...
12.31.1969 | | Posted at 06:00 PM

The Rep and First Stage open the Holiday Season

By Russ Bickerstaff
The Milwaukee stage holidays begin tonight with a pair of big, iconic openings downtown.  Two shows opening about a block apart from each other is far from being the insane flurry of openings next week. The two shows opening this week are however noteworthy in that they’re both probably the biggest, best funded local theatrical Holiday shows this side of the Milwaukee Ballet’s annual Nutcrack...
08.10.2009 | | Posted at 12:00 AM
By Russ Bickerstaff
The 4th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival closed yesterday. By all accounts, it was a successful fest . . . it continues to grow in prominence year after year . . . things change from year to year as well, which is always welcome. The last day of this year’s festival feature three full programs of Teen comedy. The all teen comedy day is kind of an interesting way to end the festival, as it displa...
01.27.2009 | | Posted at 12:00 AM
By Russ Bickerstaff
SHORTENED RUN FOR THE NEXT THEATRE GIGANTE SHOW Isabelle and Mark at Theatre Gigante (formerly Milwaukee Dance Theatre) have just announced that their March show, an update on the 18th century social satire A Beggar’s Opera has been reduced from two weekends to one. What was originally scheduled to run March 5 – 21 at the Off-Broadway Theatre is now scheduled for only 3performances. P...
Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008

Today @ the Marcus Center - 1 p.m. & 3:20 p.m.

First Stage's adaptation of Lois Lowry's Gossamer begins with a waif-like girl engaged in a battle of wills with her unyielding mentor, her unquenchable curiosity gently butting against her elder's limited reserve of patience. It's an appropriate beginning for a play that is essentially all about the battle of wills between the spirited...

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