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01.25.2010 | | Posted at 07:27 PM

Andrew Edwin Voss and Jason Waszak victims of a senseless act of violence.

By Russ Bickerstaff
Andrew Voss� phone goes straight to voicemail. With things being as busy as they had today, I hadn�t gotten word about the physical assault of the Youngblood Theatre co-founder until relatively late. As soon as I�d gotten word of the incident I�d attempted to call him. No answer. Then I saw the note in the press release. Earlier today, he was in critical condition. I�m at a loss. The latest info ...
01.24.2010 | | Posted at 05:29 PM

Upcoming Benefit Cocktail Party Features Reading of Ives’ All In The Timing

By Russ Bickerstaff
  Theatre group-in-transition Goats & Monkeys  has announced its next free evening. Something of a departure from its usual Shakespeare fare, the 8pm Goats & Monkeys get together on February 12th will feature readings from contemporary playwright David Ives’ All In The Timing. It’s a program of comic shorts by the Chicago-based author of Polish Joke. Some time ago, the Sunset Playhouse stag...
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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01.22.2010 | | Posted at 06:14 PM

Youngblood’s 2nd Season Opens With An interesting Drama

By Russ Bickerstaff
Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter is a provocative exploration into the nature of human intimacy and the emotional end of sexuality. Though the plot is remarkably well constructed and there are some really brilliant bits of dialogue, the play’s action and its allegorical nature are ultimately very, very unsatisfying. That being said, Youngblood’s production of the drama, running now through Fe...
01.21.2010 | | Posted at 04:05 PM

The Co-Star of Youngblood’s New Show Talks About Red Light Winter

By Russ Bickerstaff
Recent UWM Theatre graduate and Youngblood co-founder Andrew Edwin Voss has been fortunate enough to be quite a busy. In addition to helping form the fledgling theatre group, he’s made some memorable appearances onstage in Milwaukee Chamber’s production of Picnic and Youngblood’s own environmental production of Savage In Limbo at the Landmark. This month he appears alongside Tess Cinpinski a...
01.20.2010 | | Posted at 06:09 PM

The Co-Star of Youngblood’s New Show Talks About Red Light Winter

By Russ Bickerstaff
  Recent UWM Theatre graduate and Youngblood co-founder Andrew Edwin Voss has been fortunate enough to be quite a busy. In addition to helping form the fledgling theatre group, he’s made some memorable appearances onstage in Milwaukee Chamber’s production of Picnic and Youngblood’s own environmental production of Savage In Limbo at the Landmark. This month he appears alongside Tess C...
01.19.2010 | | Posted at 06:06 PM

Tennessee Williams’ Classic Hits the Tenth Street Theatre for One Night

By Russ Bickerstaff
It’s all too easy to get the impression that Tennessee Williams’ classic drama A Streetcar Named Desire is a bit overrated. Very few modern plays have the kind of longevity and high profile awarded the story of Stella, Stanley and Blanche. Having seen a staging of it in the past couple of years, its status as a classic is undeniable. If the 65 year-old play feels at all cliché it’s becau...
01.18.2010 | | Posted at 03:00 PM

Three Different Shakespeare Productions Open Next Month

By Russ Bickerstaff
As the local theatre season continues into 2010, the second month of the New Year sees an odd concentration of unrelated Shakespeare productions. All three are in small studio theatres, allowing local audiences an opportunity to ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELLOpening on February 10th, The Boulevard Theatre’s production of one of Shakespeare’s rarely-produced plays. In promotion of the play, the ...
01.17.2010 | | Posted at 01:54 PM

The Rep’s ALMOST, MAINE Cleverly Conjures Winter Romance

By Russ Bickerstaff
  As much as romance has been explored in drama and comedy onstage and screen over the years, it’s kind of surprising that there hasn’t been a prominent winter romance. Spring and summer, even autumn are often seen in romantic light. Winter gets the cold shoulder, which is odd considering the amount of interpersonal warmth people have to produce just to get through the season. It’s possi...
01.16.2010 | | Posted at 01:30 PM

Renaissance Theaterworks’ Blackbird Explores the Passion of Human Intimacy

By Russ Bickerstaff
Unseasonably Spring-like weather hung in the air. The Third Ward was alive with the strange energies of Gallery Night activity. In the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks was opening its new drama—David Harrower’s Blackbird.  My wife and I sat with a number of critics from other publications near the back of the studio theatre. The view of Scenic Designer Nath...

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