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Critics' Choice

Aug. 29, 2012
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Charles Allis Art Museum

Through Oct. 7

“Our Gardens Inside and Out”

1801 N. Prospect Ave.

Guest curator Jane Brite returns to the Allis and brings her wealth of experience to bear on this striking exhibition. Seventy-three artists ranging in age from 20s to 70s have contributed work. Viewers can expect to encounter everything from the first “Beastie” ever created to Audubon-esque watercolors and a giant bronze spider. Brite certainly hits the nail on the head when she tells us that this is “not just a pretty garden show,” but rather a stimulating collection with “something for everyone.” (Selena Milewski)

Haggerty Museum of Art

Through Dec. 22

“Thenceforward, and Forever Free”

530 N. 13th St.

As part of Marquette University's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Haggerty Museum of Art presents “Thenceforward, and Forever Free.” This exhibit will feature the work of seven contemporary artists working in a variety of media, including painting, chalk and collage. Curator Lynne Shumow says that the installations will “offer a broad range of perspectives in very diverse media—there truly should be something for everyone to enjoy.” (S.M.)

John Michael Kohler Arts Center

Through January 2013

“The Kids Are All Right”

“The Kids Are All Right” is a photography exhibit that brings to mind the question: What defines the family unit? That question is especially pertinent today, when love defines a family more than convention, law or even blood. This exhibition will feature photographs and time-based media developed over the past 10 years by established and emerging artists. Together, they will shed light on the idea of family. (Samantha Stanford)

Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Sept. 4-Oct. 7


Quadracci Powerhouse

108 E. Wells St.

Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth and others sing show tunes written by Stephen Sondheim. It sounds odd, but given that presidential assassinations are so big in pop culture, it's kind of surprising this topic didn't get turned into a Broadway musical earlier. Milwaukee Rep Artistic Director Mark Clements directs a main stage production of a musical that takes a look at assassins (or would-be assassins) of U.S. presidents. It hasn't been one of Sondheim's big hits, but if things work out here, perhaps one day we can look forward to Warren Commission: The Musical! (Russ Bickerstaff)

The World's Stage Theatre Company

Sept. 6-15


Cream City Collectives/Bucketworks

732 E. Clarke St./706 S. Fifth St.

Fly Steffens directs Gregory S. Moss' tribute to '80s DIY punk in two locations. Opening its run at the Cream City Collectives and closing at Bucketworks, the play stars Liz Leighton and Emily Rindt as a couple of boys trying to break free from an oppressive society through punk music. Girls on roller skates play boys in the '80s. Anger explodes in an intimate space. One of the season's more idiosyncratic productions, this show is likely to have wider appeal than the seating capacity might allow. (R.B.)

Soulstice Theatre

Sept. 6-22

Rocket Man

Keith Tamsett Theatre

3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave.

Since moving into its own space, Soulstice Theatre has strengthened into a theater destination in St. Francis. Events include productions by groups like Theatrical Tendencies and Angry Young Men Ltd. Soulstice opens its season with Steven Dietz's comedy about a man on a quest to find the places where all the roads not taken converge. He moves all of his worldly possessions onto his front lawn with a sign that reads, "Here's my life. Make an offer." (R.B.)

Milwaukee Art Museum

Sept. 6-Jan. 1, 2013

“Grete Marks: When Modern Was Degenerate”

700 N. Art Museum Drive

Nowadays, politics and ceramics seldom brush into each other, but for the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century, art and politics were inseparable and the personal truly was political. Witness Grete Marks, the German-Jewish ceramist whose Bauhaus aesthetics, along with her ethnicity, forced her to flee to England. “When Modern Was Degenerate” is a rare opportunity to study the work of one of Europe's many underappreciated modern artists of the last century. (David Luhrssen)

First Stage Children's Theater

Milwaukee Ballet Academy

Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra

Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

Sept. 7-16

Peter and the Wolf

325 W. Walnut St.

Sergei Prokofiev's charming Peter and the Wolf helps young people identify the different instruments of a symphony orchestra by treating them as characters in a narrated adventure. For this completely unique event at Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, the narration will be expanded to three trios of young actors performing in English, Spanish and American Sign Language under the direction of First Stage Children's Theater's John Maclay. Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra Artistic Director Carter Simmons will conduct the youth orchestra, and the adventure will be brought to life by the dancers of Milwaukee Ballet Academy in choreography by Milwaukee Ballet's artistic director, Michael Pink. (John Schneider)

Fine Arts Quartet

Sept. 9

Helene Zelazo Center for the Arts, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd.

The Fine Arts Quartet has been among UW-Milwaukee's most traveled ambassadors, performing classical music on tour around the world. The venerable ensemble opens its new season with works by a trio of composers spanning three centuries, Haydn's String Quartet in F Major, Debussy's String Quartet in G Minor and Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 1. (D.L.)

Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts

Sept. 14-16

Hidden River Art Festival

19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield

Brookfield's Wilson Center for the Arts sponsors juried Wisconsin artists in the prestigious Hidden River Art Festival. Works are presented inside the arts center and outside on the serene Mitchell Park grounds. The weekend will feature family art activities, a regional art gallery showcase and an exhibition of 10 emerging artists. The new Art by Design tent will host special events and lectures on artisan cheese, beer and wine (Sept. 15) and the automobile (Sept. 16). (Peggy Sue Dunigan)

Woodland Pattern Book Center

Sept. 16-Oct. 31

“Paradise in the Smallest Thing”

720 E. Locust St.

Woodland Pattern Book Center opens “Paradise in the Smallest Thing,” an exhibition by acclaimed book artist Caren Heft. The exhibit features Heft's collaborative letterpress book La Benedicion, with text by Max Yela, UWM's Special Collections librarian, and glass covers by artist Julie Sittler. Woodland Pattern, a cultural gem located in Riverwest, will also host a book art workshop by Heft. (P.S.D.)

Hansberry-Sands Theatre

Sept. 17-30

Ceremonies in Dark Old Men

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

929 N. Water St.

For more than 30 years, Hansberry-Sands has been staging professional African-American theater in Milwaukee. This September, the company stages Lonne Elder III's late-1960s drama about African-American men who hang out in a barber shop in Harlem. In this show, one generation has passed its prime far too quickly and another is determined to hold onto its strength; a barber dreams of memories of a life in vaudeville, while others develop different dreams that are a bit darker. (R.B.)

Wild Space Dance Company

Sept. 20-22

Milwaukee 360

Pabst Brewery Complex Parking Structure

910 W. Juneau Ave.

“Cinematic” is the word choreographer Debra Loewen uses to describe the possibilities offered by the former Pabst Brewery for a new site-specific performance to open her company's 26th season. Indeed, the entire complex is astonishing. The parking structure's ground floor has a two-level concrete interior with floor-to-ceiling windows like giant movie screens that will feature incidental street life and dancers moving by design. The 360-degree view of Downtown from the top level is unequalled in my experience. Parking structures bring film noir to mind, Loewen says, so look for that flavor. (J.S.)

Off the Wall Theatre

Sept. 20-30

A Man Like Hong Kong

127 E. Wells St.

Dale Gutzman stages the world premiere of his own A Man Like Hong Kong, an espionage thriller on a small, shadowy stage just a few paces from the spy bar International Exports Ltd. Off the Wall's David Roper and longtime talent Marilyn White star in the story of a double agent in Hong Kong who has been ordered to arrange his own death. This premise in a space that shares a block with a famous Milwaukee spy-themed bar should make for a fun evening. (R.B.)

Landmarks Gallery

Sept. 21-Oct. 5

Derk Hansen

231 N. 76th St.

The mythology of the American West has tugged at the imagination of Germans from at least as far back as the 19th century and the novels of German pulp writer Karl May. Artist Derk Hansen fell in love with the mythology of the American West and immigrated to the United States, where he has drawn such historical scenes as the James Gang's raid on Northfield, Minn., as well as painted landscapes of American wilderness and wildlife. Hansen will be at Landmarks Gallery for the opening of an exhibit of his accomplished oil paintings Sept. 21-22. (D.L.)

Skylight Music Theatre

Sept. 21-Oct. 14

Avenue Q

Broadway Theatre Centre

158 N. Broadway

Talented actor Rick Pendzich stars alongside humans and puppets in Skylight Music Theatre's production of Avenue Q, an adult musical mutation of “Sesame Street.” Skylight continues to reach for a younger demographic with this musical that has struck a chord with Generation X. Granted, it's hard not to like a musical with songs like "It Sucks to Be Me," "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "The Internet Is for Porn." Music Director Jamie Johns has a witty sense of musical comedy, which should make this production a lot of fun. (R.B.)

Ensemble Musical Offering

Sept. 22

“Great Concertos”

Cathedral Church of All Saints

818 E. Juneau Ave.

What J.S. Bach's biographer J.N. Forkel said of the Baroque master's Violin Concerto No. 2 could easily be said of all his works in this genre: Forkel described it as being “full of an unconquerable joy of life.” Likewise, this applies to Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, featuring prominent instrumental soloists for violin, recorder, oboe and trumpet, and following the virtuosic Italian concerto grosso pattern. The Harpsichord Concerto No. 5, with its flowing, vigorous finale, is another case in point. Ensemble Musical Offering performs all three of these works in a concert appropriately titled “Great Concertos.” (John Jahn)

Milwaukee Opera Theatre

Sept. 26-Oct. 6


UWM, UW-Parkside, Carroll University and others

I doubt there's a lovelier musical theater score than the one Leonard Bernstein composed for this adaptation of Voltaire's famous satire of the school of unreasonable optimism. I'm jealous of Matthew Ecclestone, who gets to sing the title role. Thank goodness it's being done by a company whose recent productions have been musically outstanding and theatrically inventive. Performances will be staged in real classrooms at area universities, with audiences seated at desks and action played in every open space. This is the revised, tightened, widely favored 1973 version performed without intermission. The MOT website (www.milwaukeeoperatheatre.org) tells where and when. (J.S.)

Theatre Gigante

Sept. 27-29

To Resume …

UWM Kenilworth Studio 508, 1925 E. Kenilworth Place

Co-artistic director Mark Anderson began his career as a nationally acclaimed solo performer—a combination memoirist, movement artist, poet and comedian. He's written much since, but this will be his first full-length solo in more than 15 years. “This is the way I like to do the things I like to do,” he says, “which, at best, is what I should be doing, in the way that we should all be doing some specific and particular thing. I'm writing about art—acknowledging how I value what that word can refer to—and about my desire to revisit parts of my past.” (J.S.)

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

Sept. 27-Oct. 14

Broken and Entered

Broadway Theatre Center

158 N. Broadway

It's always nice when an established theater company tries something new. This season, Milwaukee Chamber stages the world premiere of a work by Kurt McGinnis Brown. In this story, two men move back into their childhood home in the inner city. They make ends meet by stealing from wealthy homes in nearby upscale neighborhoods. When one of them falls for a wealthy woman, things get complicated. The calm intensity of actor Jonathan Wainwright should aid the production. The show also stars Uprooted Theatre co-founder Marti Gobel and Youngblood Theatre co-founder Andrew Edwin Voss. (R.B.)

Next Act Theatre

Sept. 27-Oct. 21


255 S. Water St.

Edward Morgan directs a very promising comedy, the Milwaukee premiere of young playwright Mike Lew's Microcrisis. This show about the twisted nature of modern economics takes a satirical look at the next global economic crisis. The script attempts a challenging mix of accessible office comedy and contemporary satire, which could make it very relevant and endlessly irreverent. Morgan is a proven talent when it comes to working the intricate complexities of a script into a well-balanced production. (R.B.)

Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

Sept. 27-Jan. 13, 2013

“Garden of Curious Delights”

2220 N. Terrace Ave.

In the tradition of 16th-century cabinets of curiosities, “Garden of Curious Delights” uses the notion of a garden as an item full of specimens. The exhibition features works by seven artists. As Villa Terrace's website puts it, “this exhibition metaphorically expands the notion and boundaries of the garden, for which the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum is renowned, into the interiors of the villa, making it, in itself, a garden of curious delights.” (S.S.)

Carte Blanche Studios

Sept. 28-Oct. 27

The Masque of the Red Death

1024 S. Fifth St.

Carte Blanche Studios opens its season with a tribute to a vivid, haunting story by Edgar Allan Poe. The visuals in Poe's tale of virulent disease amid masquerade decadence are some of the most memorable in American literature. It's a tale told quite literally by a fool, with embellishments taken from various other short stories by Poe, in what should prove to be an interesting script by Bill Jackson. (R.B.)

Danceworks Performance Company

Sept. 28-Oct. 13

What's So Funny?

1661 N. Water St.

Perhaps because they spend a lot of time with children, a love for the absurd combined with surprising choreographic twists is a kind of Danceworks specialty. Artistic Director Dani Kuepper and the company of dancer-choreographers (Melissa Anderson, in particular) have made the funniest dances I've ever seen. For this new show, they're working with The Show, a collective of local improv and sketch comedy actors (including Karen Estrada, Matthew Huebsch, Doug Jarecki, Andrea Moser and Jason Powell) to discover more ways in which movement is funny. Dancers will act and actors will dance. It's meant for adults. (J.S.)

In Tandem Theatre

Oct. 5-21

The Nightmare Room

Tenth Street Theatre

628 N. 10th St.

Chris and Jane Flieller's studio theater is consistently captivating. They open their 2012-13 season with a murder-mystery inspired by one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short works. The John Goodrum drama is a psychological thriller involving two women locked in a room with a bottle of poison. They both desire a handsome movie star. This game of Russian roulette with the poison may be more complicated than it first appears. (R.B.)

Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre


This Verse Business

The Boulevard Theatre is a perfect venue for small, intimate performances—and there's nothing smaller or more intimate than a one-person show. The Boulevard Theatre continues its season with a production of This Verse Business, a show about legendary poet Robert Frost. Written by A.M. Dolan, the witty script visits Frost near the end of his life, when he is still animated by the muse within. (R.B.)


Oct. 5-Dec. 9

Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individual Artists

Kenilworth Square East, 2155 N. Prospect Ave.

For the ninth consecutive year, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has issued Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships to seven individual artists. The artists carry a particularly great distinction, as they were chosen from a field of 143 applicants. An exhibition of their work will be displayed in UWM's Inova/Kenilworth facility as part of the Peck School of the Arts' fall offering. This show is sure to testify to the high quality of art promoted by the Milwaukee community. (S.M.)

Harley-Davidson Museum/MIAD

Oct. 5-7

“Fine Furnishings Show”

400 W. Canal St.

The seventh annual “Fine Furnishings Show” presents a wide range of handcrafted furniture and accessories. It's also an opportunity to buy or commission unique pieces and watch demonstrations on furniture building. “The demos are fun, interesting, but most important they educate people on how the furniture is designed or reproduced,” says Karla Little, who organizes the annual event. Most of the work is from master builders, but MIAD students have floor space, too. “It gives students experience showing and selling their work, and there are some collectors who like to see who is up and coming,” Little explains. (Tea Krulos)

Festival City Symphony

Oct. 7

“From the New World”

Pabst Theater

144 E. Wells St.

Cultural exchange between the New World and the Old World has been going on for centuries. Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) was inspired in part by the African-American music he heard while visiting the United States in 1893. Earlier that century, a New Orleans composer of Creole heritage, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, composed from a gumbo of European and American influences. Dvorak and Gottschalk make a great pair on a concert bill, and Festival City, as always, is keen to make great music accessible to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. (D.L.)

Wisconsin Philharmonic

Oct. 9

“Corigliano and Elgar”

Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc

Canadian violinist Lara St. John deserves the often-misused title of “prodigy.” What else can you call someone who gave her first public performance as soloist with an orchestra by age 4? She's the guest star at the Wisconsin Philharmonic's season opener, a program featuring the world premiere of John Corigliano's Sonata for Violin and Orchestra along with familiar works by Verdi and Elgar. (D.L.)

Walker's Point Center for the Arts

Oct. 11-Nov. 17

“20th Annual Dia de los Muertos Exhibition”

839 S. Fifth St.

The Walker's Point Center for the Arts marks two decades of its “Dia de los Muertos” celebration. The opening reception includes a bilingual presentation by curator Jose Chavez, a workshop on making sugar skulls and the third-annual costumed sidewalk parade. The exhibition itself features ofrendas (altars) created by local artists to honor deceased loved ones with colorful displays and personal effects. As always, this traditional art form is sure to inspire and uplift viewers, while simultaneously challenging them to rethink the negative assumptions about death so often endorsed by mainstream American culture. (S.M.)

Frankly Music

Oct. 15-16

“Musicians of the MSO”

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

1584 N. Prospect Ave.

MSO concertmaster Frank Almond gathers together symphony colleagues to perform three chamber pieces—with special emphasis on clarinetist Todd Levy. The primary piece is Johannes Brahms' Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, of which lifelong friend Clara Schumann said: “It is a really marvelous work, the wailing clarinet takes hold of one; it is most moving. And what interesting music, deep and full of meaning!” Two 20th-century works fill out the program: A Soviet composer of Polish-Jewish origin, Mieczyslaw Weinberg, provides the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, and Hungary's Bela Bartok the three movement Contrasts for Clarinet, Violin and Piano. (J.J.)

Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts

Oct. 17

Tom Wopat

19805 W. Capitol Drive

The Wilson Center offers much to recommend, but I've picked Tom Wopat's concert because the actor-singer made a cabaret show and album of songs by Harold Arlen, and because the other half of the “Dukes of Hazzard” shares my name—John Schneider. Born and raised in Lodi, Wis., a graduate of UW-Madison, television's Luke Duke, a 1999 Tony nominee, a hit with Barbara Cook in 2010 in “Sondheim on Sondheim” at Studio 54 in New York, this is a man who can open a show with a flawless a capella rendition of the difficult chromatics of Arlen's “Last Night When We Were Young.” (J.S.)

Milwaukee Ballet

Oct. 18-21

La Boheme

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

929 N. Water St.

This is a new contemporary ballet by Michael Pink and the remarkable dancers he's assembled for his 10th season as Milwaukee Ballet's artistic director. Many operas have had ballet adaptations, but Puccini's 1896 masterpiece about the cost of poverty is rarely touched except in radical revisions like the musical Rent. Music director Andrews Sill will add the vocal melodies to the orchestral score. Pink will move the story to the 1950s but faithfully interpret the libretto. Dance transcends words. With Puccini's magnificent music and the company's artistic abilities, this show could be almost unbearably moving. (J.S.)

Renaissance Theaterworks

Oct. 19-Nov. 11

Enfrascada: A Jarring Comedy of Hoodoo Proportions

158 N. Broadway

Renaissance Theaterworks was founded to give women in theater a chance to gain professional experience, as well as to focus on plays specifically about women. True to this mission, the upcoming production Enfrascada tells the story of Alicia, a Latina, and her friends. Recently jilted by her boyfriend, Alicia tries to regain love with the help of three witches. As unforeseen events unfold, this play presents a humorous depiction of the Latino community, delves into the minds of women and addresses the human need for love. (Elaine Zautke)

First Stage

Oct. 19-Nov. 11

Big: The Musical

929 N. Water St.

First Stage celebrates its 25th anniversary with Big: The Musical. The character of Josh Baskin, a 12-year-old boy who wishes to be “big,” was first introduced by Tom Hanks in a movie of the same title. The story follows Josh as his wish comes true and he finds himself navigating the complicated world of adulthood and ultimately learning to embrace his old life. The creation of a musical version of this timeless movie ensures that the next generation will enjoy the story, and parents will be sure to love an updated version of an old favorite. (E.Z.)

Bel Canto Chorus

Oct. 21

Prayers for Mankind

Basilica of St. Josaphat, 2333 S. Sixth St.

Nationally respected choral conductor and music director Richard Hynson will open Bel Canto's season with the American premiere of Alexander Levine's eloquent, unaccompanied Prayers for Mankind. Hynson, marking his 25th year with the chorus, is incorporating the Bel Canto Boy Choirs, directed by Ellen Shuler, throughout Levine's resonating six-movement piece. A Londoner, Levine comes from a Russian Orthodox tradition. His rich English translations of Father Alexander Men's prayers are powerfully set and wonderfully expressive. Visual components will be integrated into the concert, and artwork by Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky will be showcased at this must-hear event. (Amanda Sullivan)

Cedarburg Cultural Center

Oct. 21-Nov. 25

“Wisconsin Watercolor Society: 2012 Fall Exhibition”

W62 N546 Washington Ave., Cedarburg

The Cedarburg Cultural Center presents “Wisconsin Watercolor Society: 2012 Fall Exhibition,” a biannual show that provides an opportunity for Wisconsin Watercolor Society's members to display their works. This year's show recognizes the 60th anniversary of the Wisconsin Watercolor Society. An opening reception on Oct. 21 runs from noon-3 p.m. (P.S.D.)

UWM Peck School of the Arts Theatre Department

Oct. 24-28

Lear's Daughters

UWM Mainstage Theatre

2400 E. Kenwood Blvd.

Elaine Feinstein imagines the lives of King Lear's daughters prior to the events of Shakespeare's classic drama. The back stories of Goneril, Regan and Cordelia help to explain why they become such a dysfunctional family in Shakespeare's story. The production works as a prequel, which will be good timing for an unrelated Milwaukee production of Lear at the Alchemist Theatre next summer. (R.B.)

Sunset Playhouse

Oct. 25-Nov. 11

Twelve Angry Men

800 Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove

Sunset Playhouse presents Sherman Segal's adaptation of Reginald Rose's classic teleplay, Twelve Angry Men. The play tells the story of a 1950s jury deciding the fate of a young man accused of murdering his father. Returning director Matt Daniels describes the piece as “a fantastic story that is just as gripping now as it was then” and an expression of the enduring need for, and difficulty of, seeing through another's eyes when judgment is clouded by everything from bigotry and class sentiments to family trouble. Provocative and ultimately uplifting, this production is sure to hit close to home. (S.M.)

Present Music

Oct. 26


Helene Zelazo Center for the Arts, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd.

Milwaukee's long-running contemporary music ensemble, Present Music (PM), has often collaborated with artists from other disciplines. Its concerts almost always have a theme. For “FALL(ing),” PM joins with UW-Milwaukee dance instructors Simone Ferro and Dani Kuepper and the Milwaukee Ballet's Tim O'Donnell and Petr Zahradnicek, who will create choreography performances. The music has not been chosen at press time. “I sent Simone a gazillion recordings to choose from,” explains Present Music's artistic director, Kevin Stalheim. “Her concept is like an architectural puzzle, which deconstructs—or falls apart—and the dancers will put it back together again.” (D.L.)

Florentine Opera

Oct. 26 & 28


Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 929 N. Water St.

Despite the nearly unanimous animus with which the Paris press initially greeted Carmen, audiences had a decidedly different opinion, intrigued as they were by its “shocking” sex and violence. Mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock, who appeared in the Florentine's production of Rigoletto (2010), returns as the fiery titular figure. Meanwhile, rising international star Noah Stewart will make his Florentine debut as Carmen's obsessed lover, Don Jose. In Carmen, Georges Bizet spun the perfect opera-ready tale of love, lust, emotional turmoil, tragedy, jealousy and revenge. (J.J.)

Cardinal Stritch University

Oct. 26-Nov. 4

Irena's Vow

6801 N. Yates Road

Based on a true story, Irena's Vow recounts the harrowing tale of Irena Gut Opdyke, a woman living in Nazi-occupied Poland. A devout Catholic, Irena is forced to work as a housekeeper for a Nazi officer for more than two years after being discovered as a member of the Polish underground resistance. Despite her dangerous circumstances, during this time Irena risks her life to save 12 Jewish refugees. Bringing this Broadway show to the small stage, Cardinal Stritch University presents a touching play about one woman's strength and bravery. (E.Z.)

Waukesha Civic Theatre

Oct. 26-Nov. 11

Our Town

264 W. Main St., Waukesha

Our Town is a seemingly simple play depicting the mundane lives of the inhabitants of a small town. But as with all good stories, this play offers more than it first appears, representing the fragility of life and the need for companionship. The lack of props highlights that the set is not important and that the everyday lives and actions of the characters are what matter. Flashbacks and miming are used to weave a tale of simple people with big dreams. Our Town is one of those precious plays that will leave you reflecting on your own life. (E.Z.)

South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center

Oct. 27-28

Milwaukee Ballet II featuring George Balanchine's Who Cares?

901 15th Ave., South Milwaukee

South Milwaukee has a modest-sized performing arts center with carefully ambitious programming. Milwaukee Ballet has a second company—an international cast of dancers at the brink of their careers—with its own repertoire. Milwaukee Ballet II's first-rate performance at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center last season won them the rights to give two public performances of Who Cares?, a jaunty, optimistic ballet set to George Gershwin's jazzy, heart-lifting melodies by choreographer George Balanchine, whose influence on American ballet is unparalleled. With previews and talkbacks with the artists, here's a chance to get close to the dancers. (J.S.)

Philomusica Quartet

Oct. 29

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

1584 N. Prospect Ave.

Mozart's String Quartet No. 6 dates from his third trip to Italy and takes its inspiration from various Italian models. The three-movement quartet was one of a set of six composed by Mozart during his sojourn. C major was the key Beethoven used to invest his music with a certain emotional depth. This is particularly evident in the Allegro ma non tanto first movement of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 4 in C Minor. The Philomusica Quartet performs both of these famous works and is joined by guest pianist Winston Choi for the Piano Quintet in C Major by Hungary's Bela Bartok. (J.J.)

Pink Banana Theatre Company

Nov. 1-17

The Hothouse

The Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level

This excellent comedy by the British playwright Harold Pinter, a Nobel Prize winner and outspoken critic of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is the most political of his early plays. This is Pink Banana's first major production in its new theater in the basement of Grand Avenue's Plankinton Building. The raw space still has an anonymous backroom quality perfect for a waterboarding or this freaky play about cold-blooded abusiveness and ineptitude on the part of authority. The company's mission is to provide professional opportunities to emerging artists. Comedian James Boland directs. (J.S.)

Latino Arts

Nov. 2-16

Day of the Dead Ofrendas and Opening Reception/Parade

1028 S. Ninth St.

Latino Arts and the Walker's Point Center for the Arts team up to bring you a memorable Day of the Dead parade on Nov. 2 as part of the opening reception for the ofrendas display at Latino Arts' gallery. The parade, which is routed between the two establishments, will include stilt-walkers, costumed paraders, live music and dance. A performance by Mexican folk band A Flor de Piel is to follow, and viewers are invited to explore the center's display of ofrendas created by local, regional and international artists. The altars commemorate the artists' deceased loved ones and often incorporate keepsakes, flowers and photos. (S.M.)

Marquette University Theatre

Nov. 8-18

The Women of Lockerbie

Helfaer Theatre

525 N. 13th St.

Contemporary drama bleeds into ancient Greek tragedy as Marquette University stages Deborah Brevoort's The Women of Lockerbie. After a bomb brings down Pan Am 103, an American woman roams the Scottish countryside looking for her son's remains. In her journey, she meets the women of the town now synonymous with the tragedy, women who are looking to wash the clothes of the victims and return them to their families. The emotional ruins of a brutal act of terrorism should prove dynamic in the hands of these young actors. (R.B.)

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Nov. 9-10

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

929 N. Water St.

One of Franz Schubert's most famous works is his Symphony in B Minor, more commonly called his “Unfinished Symphony.” Yet most people don't know why it was never completed. Schubert began writing the monumental piece in 1822, when he was at the apex of his career. He finished the first two movements, but became too ill to continue, setting the work aside, never to return to it even though he lived another six years. Nevertheless, the two extant movements have entered the standard repertoire, owing to their ominous, melodious, intense, solemn and tranquil turns. Conductor Christoph Konig leads the MSO in a performance of the “Unfinished,” as well as Weber's Overture to “Der Freischutz,” Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra and Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in D Minor. (J.J.)

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 13-18

Rock of Ages

929 N. Water St.

Nominated for five Tony awards, Rock of Ages is an arena-rock love story told through the hits of the '80s. In 1987 on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip, a small-town girl meets a big-city rocker in the city's most famous rock club, falling in love to the signature songs of Journey, Night Ranger, Styx, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Asia, Whitesnake and many more. (S.S.)

Alchemist Theatre

Dec. 6-22

Flights of Angels

2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Jason Powell (creator of the musical Invader? I Hardly Know Her!) and Aaron Kopec (playwright of Help Wanted and Murder Castle) provide a welcome alternative to traditional holiday fare as they present a "Shakespearean vaudeville-style cabaret show." Comedy, drama, sword fights and songs will warm the winter in Bay View's Alchemist Theatre. Original music mixes with contemporary sketches and "filler material" from Shakespeare. (R.B.)

Early Music Now

Dec. 8

A Medieval Christmas

St. Joseph Center Chapel, 1501 S. Layton Blvd.

The internationally acclaimed Boston Camerata will again collaborate with the Milwaukee Choral Artists to perform “A Medieval Christmas,” previously programmed by Early Music Now in 2005. This popular holiday program presents lovely medieval tunes and practices that have intermingled and survived in our modern-day Christmas merrymaking. Says Early Music Now Artistic Director Charles Sullivan: “This concert really quiets people's spirits in all the hustle and bustle of the season.” Both groups will showcase impeccable vocals, and the Boston Camerata will incorporate period instruments such as lute, vielle and a hurdy gurdy. (A.S.)

Dance Alive National Ballet

Dec. 21-22

The Nutcracker

Schauer Arts & Activities Center

147 N. Rural St., Hartford

Based in Gainesville, Fla., Dance Alive has earned prestige as an international touring company with a repertoire that ranges from the classics through Cirque du Soleil. Just in time for the holidays, Dance Alive brings Tchaikovsky's classic Christmas fantasy, The Nutcracker, to the Schauer stage. Expect a lovely production with swirling snowflakes, armies of toy soldiers, striking costumes and gorgeous music from the height of Russian Romanticism. (D.L.)


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