Welcome to Postscript: Performing Arts! Be sure to scroll down to read about great regional art, dance, dining theater and the visual arts. Postscript Performing Arts will be changing the site's focus to all the arts, as each genre focuses on performing throughout life while enriching cutlural experieince. Culture thrives when particpants learm more about the human condition, day to day existence, releasing a forum for comtemplation, discussion, laughter, entertainment or an opportunity to share human existence with others. Please click into the link at left for Broadway World.com for dance and theater reviews in the Milwaukee Area.. Or link in at the left to doorcountytoday.com for details on all the arts, including theater, visual arts and dining, including two blogs, PS Arts and Behind the Kitchen Door. To easily reach any website, please click the link to the left of this page.
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Please find time to contact psperformingarts@gmail.com. Let us know what you think and what you wish to know about Milwaukee's performing arts scene in any of these genres by posting your eloquent words below. Thanks to all of you for supporting the arts and stay in touch. There's plenty of performance events to anticipate and small companies to provide immense quantities of entertainment, while living local and sustainable take precedent in the 2ist century. Take advantage of the city's vibrant marekts, museums, restaurants, and perfroming arts by attending one or several venues while the lights shine in Cathedral Square and throughout the Historic Third Ward, shining on a plethora of events in and about Milwaukee.   
Friday
Dec062013

 

 

 

 Tears Of Laughter Flow at The Rep's Noises Off!

What an evening!....On stage. flapping doors are paired with movng plates of sardines through a hilarious night at the theater that brings tears of laughter to those in the seats. To continue The Milwaukee Rep’s 60th season, the company presents the classical farce Noises Off! to end 2013 at the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater. The hilarious production features numerous members of the current Rep’s Associate Artists working with accomplished debuting actors that left one audience member leaving the theater saying, “I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes---and from laughing!”

If there might be a healthful antidote for acute holiday stress, the renowned Michael Frayn’s acclaimed 1982 play within a play Noises Off! would be a splendid solution. Frayn's story centers around a theater whose dress rehearsal and an evening performance go terribly amiss for a small British acting company. Three theatrical events, the rehearsal and two perfromances, unravel first on stage, and then behind the scenes, while the actors’ personal lives often conflict with their on set personas during a play titled Nothing On.

Whether seeing Noises Off! or Nothing On, the audience delights in actors who capture a perfect comic timing to carry this very difficult genre to joyous heights. Faryn employs multiple physical mishaps ably directed with split second accuracy by the returning KJ Sanchez. A director who knows how to stage the complex comedy when heightened by Don Conway’s nostalgic two story scenic design. Where the entire cast accomplishes the feat of making seemingly bad acting by the characters in the play incredibly easy while they alternately slide down stage posts or trip over footstools. All the phyiscal stunts endured without harming themselves or anything else on stage, except for a plate of sardines.

Gerard Neugent fearlessly stumbles and tumbles playing Garry Lejeune with amazing resiliency, even with his shoelaces tied together, while Laura Gordon endears Dotty Otley to her audience with the character’s sincere ineptness. Deborah Staples’ Belinda Blair lovingly cares for fellow actors behind the stage doors until she thinks someone else may be stealing her “man.” And playing the often drunken Seldson Mowbray, Jonathan Gillard Daly chases a bottle of beer from scene to scene, often miscuing his entrance through a broken window as the resident burglar.

Newcomer Joe Boersma acting as Tom Allgood runs through the Quadracci Theater aisles directing this motley cast until his romantic endeavors crisscross behind the scenes in the second act. Allgood simultaneously woos a very charming stage technician, Poppy Norton-Taylor played by Sara Zientek and the most attractive ingénue Brooke in the guise of Kelley Faulkner. Joe Demsepy clothed as Lloyd Dallas and Aaron Christensen, white sheeted as an Arab sheik and Frederick Fellowes, round out an outstanding cast. Where the longer one watches the performance unfold, the better the Rep’s Noises Off! production plays while the Nothing On production can humorously be called “left standing on its last legs" when the audience laughs out loud the entire third act. 

While the Rep produces a less serious approach to the season in Noises Off!, holiday gatherings can often resemble these behind the stage antics. How much effort do families use trying to plan the outwardly perfect celebration, similar to producing a play? And then suddenly they have the tables turned to reveal these behind the stage door personal misunderstandings and mishaps that reduce the festivities to a "humbug" moment? 

So wherever one is at this busy time of year, whether reveling in the Rep’s superb performance of Noises Off! or celebrating with family and friends at a seasonal get-together, whenever possible find time to chortle and smile. Let eyes bright with holiday cheer flow with real tears of joy and laughter.  

For more reviews of The Rep productions, including A Christmas Carol, please visit www.broadwayworld.com. Otherwise,.The Milwaukee Rep presents Noises Off! in the Quadracci Powerhouse Theatre at the Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex through December 22. For further information or tickets, please call 414.224.9490 or click the link to the left for www.MilwaukeeRep.com  

Wednesday
Aug282013

Stackner Cabaret Sings Six Decades of Tony Bennett Romance

Tony Bennett’s successful career spans six, yes, six decades, with his first number one hit “Because of You” arriving in 1951. At age 87, Bennett scheduled concerts through February 2014, so his “Old Black Magic,” continually conjures new fans. The Milwaukee Rep celebrates the legendary performer, the winner of 17 Grammy Awards, Two Emmy Awards and the NEA Jazz Master, in the musical revue “If Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett.”

A trio of male singers give Bennett’s immense musical oeuvre a sensual croon: the younger, Andrew McMath, a handsome version recalling Canadian Michael Buble, the soulful Rob Tucker, and a primal Eric John Mahlum, all debuting with the The Rep’s Stackner.  Accompanying the magnetic trio was Milwaukee’s renowned Richard Carsey, who mastered the center stage baby grand piano keys with debonair flair as Muscial Director. And sometimes Carsey adds his versatile style to the production with a piano solo, or by participating in the light-hearted, yet timeless melodies.

On opening night, those first moments proved to be tentative in several numbers while everyone enjoyed the intimacy of the Cabaret, reliving memories from the music the audience could mouth the lyrics to. Individual songs are interspersed with notations and remembrances from Bennett’s life, interesting while incidental to the production created by David Grapes and Todd Olson, with Olson directing the Rep’s performances in Milwaukee.

While the revue’s sets are themed, the first act’s Crazy Rhythm collection proved highly entertaining with McMath tap dancing his way into the audience’s heart during “Lullaby of Broadway.” In this particular set, each performer on stage surrounded the piano playing percussion, along with Carsey slamming the keyboard cover, to intensify the energy inherent in the beat so the audience could sway in their seats. Or sing silently along.

“I Left My Heart” reminds people that Bennett performs as “A Singer in Love with Singing,” an entertainer who believes, “the harder you work, the luckier you get.” In the second act, the foursome rolled up their sleeves and hit their stride, singing their hearts out in tribute to Tony Bennett. The Quiet Set proved to be poignant, with the poetic “You Must Believe in Spring,” and Tucker showcased in the tender “A Child Is Born.”

In the romantic “Rags to Riches,” the three used a castanet, wooden sticks and bongo drums in a mariachi flavored number before performing Bennett’s signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” A song he performed when he rediscovered the music in an old drawer and stuck into his suitcase, the lyrics an alltime classic toast to the city by the bay.

And while the performance ends with the encore “Make Someone Happy,” the audience was indeed ecstatic, they could have applauded and listened all night. Thinking of Bennett as the proverbial forever “Young at Heart,’ with his additional success exhibiting under the name of the painter Bendetto, as founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, and a tireless charity performer christened with the nickname Tony Benefit. 

Whether Bennett bases his music in Broadway, film, jazz, pop culture, or the American songbook, these lyrics and music remain fresh, revisiting the eternal glory of love and romance, emotions harder to discern in the 21st century, although continually longed for. The Rep’s engaging, energetic and polished production will move the heart to rediscover that essence, the excitement of romance, because Tony Bennett will only be more beloved as he might sing, “As Time Goes By.”

The Milwaukee Rep performs "A Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett" to begin their 60th Anniversary season in the Stackner Cabaret at the Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex through October 20. For information and tickets please call 414.224.9490 or click the link to the left.  by Peggy Sue Dunigan

 

 

 

 

Friday
May102013

JOPLIN: A ROCK AND ROLL NIGHT TO REMEMBER AT THE REP

Only one night and what an incredible night to spend with Janis Joplin A single evening in May when the Milwaukee Rep opened One Night With Janis Joplin, created, written and directed by Randy Johnson, in the Quadrracci Powerhouse Theater. People in the audience spoke about the unequaled spirit of Joplin: her soul, her gutsy voice, what she accomplished in such a short time. She was beat up, knocked down and Janis sang about how life really is, a spectacular original, yet to be matched. And The Rep delivered a sensational concert that captured the incomparable essence of Janis Joplin, a scene rarely experienced sitting in those plush seats.

On the stage, the queen of blues, rock and roll and soul were reincarnated for this mesmerizing concert. Where the audience reveled in the music, alternating between performances by Joplin’s muses Bessie Smith, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin in the guise of blues singer Sabrina Elayne Carten. Her commanding figure and powerful voice embodying the uniquely American musical genre.

As an equally stellar performer, Mary Bridget Davies donned those bell bottoms, velvet vests and studded boots in a complete personification of Joplin. Staring at photographs from other publications, and then the playbill, revealed even the production’s costumes designed by Jeff Cone were stitched with a remarkable resemblance to Joplin’s real life concert moments. When Davies represented an uncanny duplicate of the legendary personality.  

To respond to these lifelike performances, to which three back up singers appeared as a Greek chorus of those famous 50's and 60's girl groups, the audience danced in their seats, echoed those gritty blues, especially to all the favorites “Stay With Me” and “Mercedes Benz,” or waved their fluorescent glo sticks. Where the emotion was immediate and spontaneous, passionate for the rock star the audience had locked in their memory, reliving what Janis knew all along, when she said; “The blues is just a bad woman feeling good.”

While Joplin defined that bad girl image, her “yet to be matched or rivaled” talent was unconventional in a time, the 60'’s, where mainstream culture decided the beatniks were farther out in their ideas than placing a man on the moon (accomplished by Neil Armstrong in July 1969). Acclaimed as one of the first female rock stars, Joplin was unbelievably insecure as a person and a performer her entire career, only until her accidental death at the age 27 in 1970. However, in these few years she carved out an outrageous life so her fans would admire her even more, clearing another outrageous path for future stars such as Madonna, Pink and Lady Gaga. Celebrities that followed glitzier versions of Joplin’s bohemian chic, even though Janis later adorned herself in satin and sequins. 

The production relives these moments of Joplin’s insecurities and how she craved adulation from an audience, told through Davies’ narration and songs, alternating with her famous muses singing the blues. A double dose of amazing performances accompanied by a marvelous eight-piece band with set and lighting designs based on originals by Justin Townsend. Joplin also drew and painted to ease her restless spirit and so her art, placed larger than life as janis lived, appears on the screened backdrop behind her. A tender portrait of her younger sister Laura, which the performance speaks to her creating, displays Joplin's innate gift and sensitivity, her other persona. 

Joplin's iconic wire rimmed rose glasses and feather boas dotted the Rep audience in tribute to the star, almost everyone completely immersed in the memory of the blues, Janis and those hippie days of the 1960’s. If anyone missed Joplin the first time around, in those previous decades, come to catch Davies recreate her phenomenal presence this spring. One audience member could be heard when they were on their feet in the final minutes of this one evening saying, "Please, please give me another night with Joplin. So I can rock all the way to heaven with Janis."

The Milwaukee Rep presents One Night With Janis Joplin at the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater in the Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex through June 2. To see this mesmerizing production, please call for tickets and performance times at 414.224.9490 or click the Rep link to the left of the page.         by Peggy Sue Dunigan

 

 

Monday
Mar182013

THE REP’S COMPELLING RAISIN IN THE SUN RESTORES A DREAM

in the 1950's, at a small apartment located in a South Side Chicago tenement, one window opens to the street. An older African American  woman named Lena Younger, also called Mama, places her tiny flower pot in that lone sunshine brightening the dismal setting. Playing Mama, the award-winning actor Greta Oglesby creates a stunning stage presence that guides her family to the dream of owning a home in Lorraine Hansbury’s play A Raisin in the Sun. The Rep revives the classic 1959 drama that forever influenced American theater on the Quadracci Powerhouse stage this spring, and presents an award winning play written by an African American woman, a great achievement for any woman in the 1950's. 

Hanberry’s play loosely reflects a semi-autobiographical experience of her own Chicago family when they moved into a house in an “all white” neighborhood more than 50 years ago. In her play A Raisin in the Sun, the Younger family uses the insurance money received when Lena’s husband died, money his son Walter says “he earned brick by brick” as a hard working laborer to finance dreams for his own children.

This is a dream Mama keeps alive by searching for her own place, somewhere she could plant a garden, with plenty of sunlight, and “a home where you walk on the floors that you can call your own.”  A dream still consistent with those of many Americans, and those in the far reaches of the world.

In staging an outstanding revival of Hansberry’s play, The Rep’s production captures dramatic performances revealing soulful depth to the Younger family’s simple conversations. The words spoken by the characters relate to the desperation of a family, even outside the African American context, struggling to survive in a cold, uncaring world. Direct and honest, the dialogue could represent “any family’s” desire to wish for that better life and how to achieve that dream.  

Mama’s only son Walter and his wife Lena, played by Chiké Johnson and Ericka Ratcliff develop their relationship with palpable chemistry and the resulting stress. Braylen Stevens, playing their only son Travis in a Rep debut, offers another example of First Stage Children’s Theater immense influence on the Milwaukee Theater community in this cameo performance.

Playing Beneatha Younger, Mildred Marie Langford presents a perfect feminine rebel, a college age woman exploring her African heritage and her aspirations to become a doctor---A black women doctor in an era when any woman was only expected to marry well and be content as an appendage to her husband’s career. Beneatha’s two beaus, the American George (Gavin Lawrence) and Nigerian born Joseph (Christophé Abiel) beautifully represent the two sides of a cross cultural experience, where one assimilates into the dominant society or defends with pride the former homeland, the diverse perspectives often causing conflict. 

Hansberry’s riveting play, approximately three hours with intermission, powerfully connects to modern day audiences of any culture by presenting these complex discussions. Director Ron OJ Parson hones the play for the contemporary meaning enhanced through convincing costumes by Janice Pytel and scenic designs by Jack Magaw. Today, almost anyone would anxiously await a monetary windfall that could considerably transform their life. Or would try discovering a way to change living from paycheck to paycheck. Think about how another expected child would be a burden the family could not afford. Or how do you pay for a child’s college education with limited resources? 

The play’s conversations, questions, transcend any one specific culture, revisiting an individual’s hopes and dreams for life. Hansberry prophetically confronted issues that society eventually tackled during the turbulent 60’s and 70’s, yet still exist today. In a life cut tragically short, Hanberry’s real family, and the one she wrote for the stage, fought for their dreams to secure a house in a safe and sunny neighborhood. While contemporary audiences and cultures wrestle with these relevant questions, that have taken decades to show significant progress, the answers remain in transition. The Rep’s compelling Raisin in the Sun provides one solution, one Hansberry wrote with conviction about in her play from personal experience: “I live the answers.” 

The Milwaukee Rep presents Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun at the Quadracci Powerhouse Stage in the Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex through April 14. For further information and tickets, please call 414.224.9490 or click the The Rep link to the left.            by Peggy Sue Dunigan

Thursday
Mar072013

CASH LEGACY LIGHTS UP RING OF FIRE

America’s legendary Johnny Cash was inducted into three musical Halls of Fame: Country, Gospel and Rock and Roll. At The Rep, the Stackner Cabaret’s award winning musical collection revisits Cash’s genius for melody and mood in their current production Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash. The musical revue strikes like lightening on the intimate stage while this outstanding five-member cast ignites a brief overview of the beloved musician’s life. Cash changed the course of 20th century American music with talent for writing and then singing his songs in his gravelly, bass-baritone voice.

Adapted, created and directed from the 2006 Ring of Fire Broadway production by Robert Maltby, Jr. and Assistant Director, Jason Edwards, who also performs, adds high professional class to the production. Their adaptation of the show loosely gives a story line to embody Cash as the repentant rebel he was known to be, a mix of angel and devil in his charismatic personality. Singing as the older Cash, Edwards profoundly resembles the “Man In Black” persona on stage. 

Newcomer to the Stackner Cabaret Trenna Barnes also reprises her role from other Ring of Fire productions as the women in Cash’s life: his mother, Vivian, his first wife, and then later June Carter, another legend in her own right. Barnes sparkled in these stage moments, as does her wardrobe by Costume Designer Holly Payne. Glittering rhinestones on her often ruby red dresses provide the feminine appeal. Cash and Carter finally married later on in Cash’s career, 13 years after they met at the Grand Ole Opry.

A trio of musicians represent “The Tennessee Three,” Cash’s famous back up band and were positively dynamite on the set, each one carrying impressive individual performing and recording credentials. Mark W. Winchester's fingers pounded and stroked his bass or in another number when he beat on a solitary wood chair in two superb percussion solos. Eddie Clendening, who performed the Elvis role in the Broadway hit Million Dollar Quartet, gave the younger Cash a brash irreverence with a James Dean edge while David Miles Keenan rounded out the backup band with mojo style. 

In this production, one song led into another, as the evening intoxicated the crowd. Cash’s musical contributions stand the test of time and cross all generations. The audience tried to refrain from tapping their feet to the humorous “Straight A’s In Love,” the solemn “In The Sweet Bye and Bye,” a bluegrass “Egg Suckin’ Dog,” or the sexy “All Over Again,” melodies from a tantalizing mix of musical genres.  The Carter and Cash famous Grammy winning duet, “Jackson,” combined with “I Walk the Line,” and the title “Ring of Fire,” hit their stage mark with equal impact. 

After June Carter died in May 2003, Cash continued to complete more than 60 songs until he passed away in September 2003. The couple that set the music world on fire for several decades died within four months of each other, and challenged the recording industry to equal their dedication and success, even when dealing with Cash’s recurrent struggle through addiction. In the Stackner’s electric Ring of Fire, this accomplished cast generated powerful performances visibly moving the audience in remembering the gifted yet very human Cash, Carter, and their incredibly irrepressible music. 

The Milwaukee Rep presents Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash at the Stackner Cabaret through May 5. For information or tickets, please call 414.224.9490 or click the link to the left.          by Peggy Sue Dunigan