Home / Tag: first stage
04.09.2012 | | Posted at 10:57 AM

First Stage presents four consecutive hours of Shakespeare's monologues

By Russ Bickerstaff
  Sit down to watch the Milwaukee Rep's Othello and you're in for three straight hours of drama. First Stage  looks to do a little fundraising towards the end of the month with a program of monologues that is one hour longer than that . . .    Sunday, April 21st First Stage Theatre Academy will participate in its second annual Bard-O-Thon. It's four straight hours of Shakespearian monologues...
02.27.2012 | | Posted at 01:40 PM


By Russ Bickerstaff
It’s all those little details that make for a memorable production. I remember a staging of The Diary of Anne Frank in the basement of the Brumder Mansion that had the family actually eating a meal of real food. Seeing actual sustenance onstage added something potent to the experience of the show. First Stage is opening its production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this coming weekend. M...
02.17.2012 | | Posted at 11:58 PM

The Young Company presents Shakespeare’s WINTER’S TALE

By Russ Bickerstaff
I distinctly seem to remember a certain local critic who used to write for the daily suggesting at one point that Shakespeare should only be done by trained Shakespearian actors. Utter rubbish. And people let him know it . . . theoretically, Shakespeare’s work, being a distillation of some of the more potent end of human emotion and interaction, should be able to be done by anyone . . . each s...
11.15.2011 | | Posted at 07:38 AM

First Stage moves into the holidays with Junie B. Jones Christmas show.

By Russ Bickerstaff
“…this play ultimately explores what it means to give, when all you really want to do is take.” That’s Jeff Frank. He’s talking about a show he’s directing with First Stage. It’s a children’s play for ages 3 and up. We are entering a season which has historically really been much more about the importance of giving than it is about anything else. In the current economic climate, ...
07.02.2011 | | Posted at 07:05 AM

Free kids shows at the Peck Pavillion

By Russ Bickerstaff
By this point in the summer, there’s a kind of restlessness that starts to emerge in kids and adults alike. Being a father of a newborn daughter, I am beginning to see those days on the horizon where at some point in July or August of say . . . 2017 or so, my  daughter will start to feel kind of bored with all the time away from school. Having already read through and written comprehensive cr...
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...