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2014 Spring Arts Guide

Feb. 13, 2014
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With the coldest, quietest stretch of winter finally behind us, the 2014 arts calendar is now in full swing. The coming months bring with them a spate of gallery openings, theater productions, dance performances and classical programs. For our annual Spring Arts Guide, we’ve compiled an extensive list of the cultural events that should keep you plenty busy until summer arrives.

For the 2014 Comprehensive Spring Arts Guide Calendar, click here.


Every third Thursday of the month

T.I.M. (The Improvised Musical)

420 S. First St.    

“Lumberjacks in Love! Go!” You might hear similarly wild suggestions shouted from the crowd at T.I.M. (The Improvised Musical) at Milwaukee’s ComedySportz. The show’s seven-member cast then creates an entirely improvised musical theater-style production devising lyrics, dance numbers and plot twists on the spot, aided by new songs improvised by the show’s four-piece band. Though the show has run now for more than two years, each performance is entirely new and unpredictable. This fun take on long-form improv is a great night out with tickets costing only $5 and a show that never gets old. (Erin Heffernan)


Dance Revolution


MKE Follies

Dance Revolution invites performers of all kinds to partake in their bi-monthly variety show, MKE Follies. Dancers, musicians, poets, comedians and the like can polish their talents without the pressures of a big stage. Part of the purpose of MKE Follies is to foster networking within the local arts scene and to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations. Become a performer or connect with Milwaukee’s aspiring artists. Keep an eye out for proposal deadlines and scheduled performances. (Brandon Miller)


Haggerty Museum of Art

Jan. 22-May 18

Brian Ulrich: Copia—Retail, Thrift, and Dark Stores, 2001-2011

Marquette University, 530 N. 13th St.

Photographer Brian Ulrich went on a pilgrimage of American consumer culture. In this decade-long, three-phase project Ulrich captured three stages of American stores in light of the Great Recession. The first chapter, Retail, captures candid scenes of bustling malls and shoppers in big box stores early in the decade. Then, in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, Ulrich switches focus to shoppers navigating thrift stores’ wares to cut costs. The third chapter includes photos of abandoned stores and “dark malls” that speak of the lasting effects of the plummeting economy. The photographs create a vivid narrative of American culture, consumerism and change, showing our recent economic strain in a new and visceral way. (E.H.)


Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre

Feb. 5-16

Shooting Star

2252 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

A couple of old college lovers find themselves snowed-in at an airport overnight. Naturally, they’re going to have kind of a deep conversation about the past in this romantic comedy by Steven Dietz (perhaps best known recently for Yankee Tavern, which Milwaukee Repertory Theater staged some time ago). On one of the smallest stages in town, the intimacy of the emotional comedy playing out between two actors is capable of being strikingly vivid, as the Boulevard has proven in the past. (Russ Bickerstaff)

Off the Wall Theatre

Feb. 6-16

Glengarry Glen Ross

127 E. Wells St.

David Mamet’s signature sharp (and often expletive-laced) dialogue won Glengarry Glen Ross the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. Inspired by Mamet’s time in a real estate office in Chicago in the ’60s, the story follows four increasingly desperate salesmen as they jockey to keep their jobs and their livelihood, becoming obsessed with getting the right “leads” and “closing.” As they fight to retain their dignity in a cutthroat office, the desperation leads to bribery, lies, backstabbing and a lot of great argumentative banter. It will be interesting to see what Off the Wall does with such a tense and stirring classic. (E.H.)


Alchemist Theatre

Feb. 7-22

The Chairs

2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Some time ago, a certain theater company made the announcement that they were looking for a couple of actors and a whole bunch of chairs. A man and a woman just might be rearranging chairs at the end of the world as Eugène Ionesco’s The Chairs shuffles about the stage of the Alchemist Theatre this February. Leda Hoffman, who recently helmed King Lear for the Alchemist, directs this strikingly clever drama. (R.B.)


Walker’s Point Center for the Arts

Feb. 7-March 22

“The Price of Freedom”

839 S. Fifth St.

In conjunction with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts’ 48th Annual Conference, WPCA presents a multi-artist ceramics exhibition centered on the topics of guns and gun control. Membership/Exhibitions Coordinator Mary Overman notes, “This issue has swept our society with heated discussions and passionate cries for new regulations. We are more than ever at a crossroads about the role of the gun in our society.” Visit WPCA March 19-22 for events linked to the conference. (Selena Milewski)


The Quasimondo, Milwaukee Physical Theatre 

Feb. 13-March 1

Love and Cthulhu

The Milwaukee Fortress, 100 A E. Pleasant St. 

The imagination of H.P. Lovecraft spawned a world inhabited by titanic horrors. Ancient deities that lurk beneath the Earth cause those who catch an unfortunate glimpse to become mad with terror. In Love and Cthulhu The Quasimondo re-imagines the mythos with a theatrical take. Artistic Director Brian Rott is directing this original production by The Quasimondo’s distinguished core ensemble. Weaving together a few of Lovecraft’s classic tales, the company will embellish with music, dance, puppetry and full body casts. Follow your curiosity (for the occult) and behold the pure and unspeakable horrors that await. (B.M.)


Marquette Theatre

Feb. 13-23

Almost, Maine

Helfaer Theatre

525 N. 13th St.

Almost, Maine has become an increasingly popular production for companies, high schools and colleges across the country in recent years. The 2004 play makes a good fit for Wisconsin in February. The romantic stories of nine couples are fitting for Valentine’s Day and snowmobiles and a cold setting in a fictional Maine town will likely match a snowy Milwaukee. Originally written for just two actors, each scene features a couple in the same moment just before the Northern Lights play across the sky. The production will enlist six student actors who take on multiple roles to bring this sweet romantic comedy to life. (E.H.)


Windfall Theatre

Feb. 14-March 1

The Petrified Forest

Village Church Arts, 130 E. Juneau Ave.

Windfall Theatre presents a drama set in the 1930s, the story of a restless alcoholic drifter who wanders into a roadside diner in the Petrified Forest of Arizona. The drifter in question was inspired by famed bank robber John Dillinger (and the story became a movie starring Humphrey Bogart). The rest of the diner is populated by emotionally sophisticated portrayals of people engaging in an intricately rendered interpersonal dynamic. Windfall’s studio theater should be a welcome home for just such an intricate story. (R.B.)


Charlie’s Chocolate Cabaret

Feb. 14

The Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Alice Wilson-Stuart’s variety theater outfit welcomes Valentine’s Day with a burlesque and variety show inspired by Roald Dahl’s sweetly bizarre children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Acts perform in costume and style inspired by Dahl with a loose overarching narrative to set them solidly in the motif. Charlie’s all grown up and audiences are invited to join him. No golden ticket required. It’s a sweet theatrical confection that arrives at just the right time of year. (R.B.)

In Tandem Theatre

Feb. 21-March 16


Tenth Street Theatre, 628 N. 10th St

We’ve all had political frustrations, but Matt Daniel’s one-man performance in Chesapeake goes beyond the typical disgruntled citizen. In this show a liberal performance artist, angered by a conservative senator’s attempts to cut public funds, decides to seek revenge and capture his beloved dog. As the story spins into chaos, the two thoroughly different figures confront each other for interesting and unexpected results. (E.H.)


Schauer Arts and Activities Center

Feb. 21-April 13

“Spring Exhibition 2014: Wisconsin Watercolor Society Exhibit”

147 N. Rural St., Hartford

“Watercolor is a very versatile medium,” says Robyn Wilkinson, director of marketing at Schauer Arts. “Every artist is painting with watercolor, but they each have their own subjects, techniques and viewpoints.” Come take part in this magnificent journey of watercolors created by gifted member artists of the Wisconsin Watercolor Society. A few of the fine exhibitors include David Bielot, Everett Powell and Connie Glowacki. The opening reception takes place Friday, March 28. (Amanda Sullivan)


Racine Art Museum        

Feb. 23-June 8

“Collection Focus: Sergei Isupov”

441 Main St.

RAM invites you into a world of provocative, symbol-rich porcelain with its mid-career retrospective of the internationally acclaimed Sergei Isupov. In conjunction with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, RAM features more than 20 pieces, including a selection of his renowned painted porcelain sculptures as well as works on paper. Drawing on themes of relationship, gender, identity and the natural world, the artist creates striking human-animal composite forms, as unforgettable as they are provocative. (S.M.)


Wisconsin Philharmonic

Feb. 23

“Viva Verdi, Viva Vivaldi”

Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, 19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield

The Wisconsin Philharmonic showcases some of the most beloved Baroque music that most classical music lovers probably have on CD but should hear live in concert. These are Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons violin concertos, his best known and most characteristic work. Also on the program is a rarely performed gem, the orchestral version of the String Quartet in E minor by Vivaldi’s countryman, Giuseppe Verdi. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond leads the orchestra. (John Jahn)


Acacia Theatre

Feb. 28-March 9

Searching for David’s Heart

Concordia University’s Todd Wehr Auditorium, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive, Mequon

Based on the young adult novel from 1998, Cherie Bennett’s comic drama follows 12-year-old Darcy on her search for the recipient of her late brother’s heart. She strives to understand the meaning of her brother’s accidental death as she journeys across the country in her quest. The spacious stage of the Todd Wehr auditorium should bring a feeling of vastness and depth to the story of one girl’s travels. (R.B.)

Latino Arts

Feb. 28-June 6

“Martín Soto: Boricua Fame & Bomba Negra”

1028 S. Ninth St.

Latino Arts presents works by Chicago-based and internationally acclaimed artist Martín Soto. The exhibition includes approximately 30 works in oil, acrylic and mixed media, all focused on the traditional Puerto Rican dance Bomba Negra—an intimate style involving call and response between drummer and dancer. It is Soto’s hope that “viewers connect with the paintings energetically, physically, kinetically—that in viewing the paintings, their bodies mimic the movement of the paintings to understand the stories and situations depicted.” (S.M.)


Broadway at the Marcus Center

March 4-9

Flashdance—The Musical

Uihlein Hall, 929 N. Water St.

She’s just a steel town girl on a Saturday night looking for the fight of her life. She has danced into the danger zone where the dancer actually becomes the dance. She’s a maniac…and so on. A popular musical based on a film of the same name by the somewhat acceptably sleazy Joe Eszterhas, Flashdance is really more of a tribute to that specific pop feeling of the ‘80s. What a feeling. (And, y’know…bein’ is believin’.)  (R.B.)


Danceworks Performance Company and Present Music

March 6-9

Temptation’s Snare

Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St.

Danceworks and Present Music team up to revive The Soldier’s Tale, a Stravinsky classic with new choreography by Dani Kuepper and additional scoring from Sleeping Giant composers collective. Jason Powell (Fortuna creator) will also guest narrate. Stravinsky’s teeming theatrical work “to be read, played and danced” is based on a Russian folktale about a soldier’s encounter with the devil. After succumbing to avaricious temptation, the soldier tries desperately to escape the devil’s antics. Get caught in Temptation’s Snare with two of Milwaukee’s highly respected companies. (B.M.)


Charles Allis Art Museum

March 7-June 29

“Forward: A Survey of Wisconsin Art Now”

1801 N. Prospect Ave.

The Charles Allis’ biennial, juried “Forward” exhibit provides a vibrant cross section of our state’s art community. Registrar and Curatorial Assistant Jenille Junco describes this year’s juror, Laurie Winters, as “an ideal candidate to select the artwork included in the exhibition” because of her 15 years at the Milwaukee Art Museum and new directorship of the Museum of Wisconsin Art. Attend the opening on Friday, March 7, from 6-8:30 p.m., to vote on the Viewers’ Choice Award. (S.M.)


Racine Symphony Orchestra

March 9

“Afternoon Introductions”

First Presbyterian Church, 716 College Ave., Racine

This delightful program reads like a primer on classical music history. Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 7 in C Major, “Le Midi,” is less about the afternoon of a day (as its name would imply) than about the operatic and symphonic styles of the late-Baroque era. Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor displays the composer’s idiomatic and highly personal piano writing with its lovely, lyrical, ornamented melodies. Finally, Gabriel Fauré’s “Masques et Bergamasques” Suite, Op. 112, is an elegant, nostalgic balm for the shell-shocked survivors of the recently concluded World War I. (J.J.)


Frankly Music/Miró Quartet

March 11

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 914 E. Knapp St.

The Miró Quartet has captivated both audiences and critics alike since its 1995 inception at the Oberlin Conservatory. Founded by violinist Daniel Ching, the dynamic group is rounded out by violinist William Fedkenheuer, violist John Largess and cellist Joshua Gindele. The string quartet has won several international chamber competitions along with prestigious awards and has toured worldwide, performing at historical concert halls and numerous festivals. As a part of the Frankly Music series, these suave gentlemen will perform the quartets of Haydn, Schubert and Philip Glass in what is guaranteed to be a stunning concert. (B.M.)


South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center

March 13

“ACME Songs Still Sung”

901 15th Ave., South Milwaukee 

The American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) is comprised of the most versatile players on the New York scene. Its members cross-pollinate a number of projects, performing in different styles (and even different roles) with other contemporary ensembles like the Wordless Music Orchestra, while also collaborating with indie artists like Grizzly Bear. They come together in ACME to perform the works of notable contemporary composers. In “Songs Still Sung,” the chamber group will honor overlooked Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg with a performance of his Piano Quintet Op. 18. Also featured is Olivier Messiaen’s unsettling Quartet for the End of Time. (B.M.)


Skylight Music Theatre  

March 14-30

Hydrogen Jukebox

Cabot Theatre, 158 N. Broadway

It was during the 1988 presidential election when Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg befriended each other at a New York bookshop. The two artists discussed how the candidates (George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis) ignored certain social topics and wrote a chamber opera depicting American life from the ’50s through the ’80s, Hydrogen Jukebox. Sex, war, drugs, philosophy and environmentalism, the foundations of the counter-culture movement, will be brought to song in a story that follows the lives of characters from the Beat era. (B.M.)


Alverno Presents

March 15

“LeeSaar The Company: Grass and Jackals”

Pitman Theatre, 3400 S. 43rd St.

LeeSaar creates world-class dance in more ways than one. First, the NYC-based contemporary dance troupe is critically acclaimed in all corners of the dance world, known for unpredictable choreography that fluctuates between the beautiful and the grotesque. But the company also draws from influences far across the globe. Founded in Israel by Lee Sher and Saar Harari in 2000, LeeSaar’s take on the innovative “Gaga” style of movement draws dancers from Taiwan, Korea, the United States, Malaysia, Canada and Israel. This March, Alverno Presents will bring this international act to town for one night, giving Milwaukee’s dance enthusiasts the chance to see LeeSaar’s latest, thoroughly original work. (E.H.)


Festival City Symphony

March 16

“Timeless Romance”

Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St.

This concert follows the standard “overture-concerto-symphony” pattern, but focuses entirely upon the beautifully polished oeuvre of Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn’s most enduring works overflow with energy, drama, invention and ebullience, as will become apparent to concertgoers. First comes the elfin magic of his “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Overture, Op. 21; then the pillar of the concerto repertoire, the Violin Concerto in E Minor; and finally, Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56, the “Scottish” symphony he was inspired to compose following a trip to the British isles. (J.J.)


Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

March 19-May 25

“Species and Specimens”

2220 N. Terrace Ave.

In this exhibition, 11 diverse UW-Milwaukee Ceramics program faculty and alumni artists will present multiple perspectives on human interaction with the natural environment, all aptly counterpointed by Villa’s unique interface. As Curator Karen Gunderman says in her gallery guide statement, “Species and Specimens turns to contemporary ceramic artists who deploy the medium to present both timely and timeless viewpoints on the complex interplay among humans, animals and the world we share.” Coinciding with this exhibition is the 48th Annual Conference of the National Council on Education in Ceramic Arts (March 19-22), during which the museum will be part of the kick-off exhibition bus tour. (A.S.)


We Six

March 20

“All Our Own”

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave.

Every season the jazz faculty at the Wisconsin Conservatory plans concerts revolving around various themes. The most cherished is the night when they feature new compositions written by their own. We Six will cover a variety of styles from hard bop to Latin, demonstrating their skills as composers while creating fresh new vehicles for improvisation. We Six’s supreme musicianship makes this feature a must as it exposes the extemporaneous performers’ lyrical side. (B.M.)


Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

March 21-23

“Beethoven: Symphony No. 9”

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

Beethoven’s musical stories are replete with surprises, beauty, wonder and revelation—never more so than in his final symphony wherein he upped the ante by introducing vocal soloists and a full chorus. The MSO under Edo de Waart performs Beethoven’s immortal Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, a work of visionary scope and proportions that represented the apogee of technical difficulty in its day. Later in the season, the MSO also takes up Beethoven’s third and seventh symphonies. (J.J.)


John Michael Kohler Arts Center

March 23-Aug. 31

“Arts/Industry: Collaboration and Revelation”

608 New York Ave., Sheboygan

Art and industry intermingle in the innovative residency program Ruth DeYoung Kohler founded at Kohler Arts in 1974. To celebrate the program’s 40th anniversary, DeYoung Kohler curates a grand retrospective titled “Collaboration and Revelation.” More than 300 artworks culled from hundreds of artists who participated in the residencies will be on display, all of them designed in the Kohler Company foundry, pottery and enamel shops. Included are pieces by Clayton Bailey, Phoebe Cummings, Michael Dinges, Molly Hatch, Beth Lipman and Arnie Zimmerman. (Peggy Sue Dunigan)


Unruly Music

March 27-29

“Spring 2014 Festival”

UW-Milwaukee, Music Recital Hall, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.

Unruly Music leads the way in cutting-edge programing, enlisting top contemporary performers as envisioned by UWM faculty member Chris Burns. The upcoming “Spring 2014 Festival” features three nights of new music performed by Zeitgeist, The Bent Frequency Duo and Wrack. Included are compositions written by students and faculty members as well as a Thomas Pynchon-inspired “free jazz phantasmagoria” from Wrack frontman Kyle Bruckmann. Entice your ears with some of the innovative sounds progressing today’s contemporaries. (B.M.)


Florentine Opera

March 28 and 30

Julius Caesar

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

This brand-new production of Handel’s timeless Italian opera tells one of history’s most intriguing love stories. The production will feature soprano Ava Pine (Pamina in the Florentine Opera’s The Magic Flute in 2009 and Blanca in Río de Sangre in 2010) as the beguiling Cleopatra opposite new Florentine performer Deanne Meek as Julius Caesar. The production promises all the spectacle of the romance with added power provided by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Handel’s masterful work. (E.H.)


Catey Ott Dance Collective


March 29-30

Danceworks Studio Theatre, 1661 N. Water St.

After 12 years of living and teaching in New York City, Catey Ott has brought her Dance Company home. “LIVING IT UP (and dOWN)” is her first full concert since returning to Milwaukee. Bits and pieces have been previewed in recent showcases. One part was made for MKE Follies, another for Danceworks’ “Art2Art” and a third with Marquette University’s Pure Dance company. All parts will come together with new material in March in a fusion of dance and theater inspired by “The Incomparable” Hildegarde, the internationally celebrated cabaret performer from Wisconsin, Liberace’s muse and Ott’s distant relative. (Ciera Mckissick)


Next Act Theatre

April 3-27

Three Views of the Same Object

255 S. Water St.

Northwestern University’s Shawn Douglass will direct this thoughtful play depicting three iterations of the same retired couple who have made an end-of-life suicide pact. Artistic Director David Cecsarini notes how the playwright’s structure is the show’s most interesting element, serving to amplify the subject matter through contrast. Of the stirring production’s six fine performers (including John Kishline, Flora Coker and Jenny Wanasek), Cecsarini says, “It will be a treat to have all this ‘pro power’ in one place at one time, and at Next Act.” For ticket information, visit nextact.org. (A.S.)


Soulstice Theatre

April 3-19

Still Life

3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave. #2, St. Francis

This spring, Soulstice presents the Milwaukee premiere of Still Life by acclaimed Broadway playwright Alexander Dinelaris. Funny and poignant, this love story explores the age-old phenomenon of creative block by following Carrie Ann, a promising photographer who abruptly focuses all her efforts on creating portraits of chickens. Soulstice’s new Artistic Director Jillian Smith describes the production as “a powerful piece of theater” and the “kind of story that Milwaukee audiences are clamoring to see.” (S.M.)


Racine Theatre Guild

April 4-13

The Miracle Worker

2519 Northwestern Ave., Racine

Racine Theatre Guild is bringing to its main-stage series the inspirational story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, with The Miracle Worker, directed by Shawn Britten. General Manager Beth Jurgaitis is excited to share this true story and encourages young people, especially those feeling as though the obstacles in their paths to success are insurmountable, to see the show. In addition to two weekends of public performances, the company is also staging four weekday performances for middle-school student groups. (A.S.)



April 4-May 18

“American Cypher”

2155 N. Prospect Ave.

Incorporating five American stories—ranging from Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings to the genetic code of President Obama—Mendi and Keith Obadike’s multimedia installation interrogates race and DNA as factors in identity. At the heart of their work, the artists say, are the questions: “How do we represent ourselves through images, sounds, language (and other codes)? What is gained or lost though those representations?” On Thursday, April 3, at 7 p.m. join the Obadikes for the accompanying performance piece, “BodyLock.” (S.M.)


Renaissance Theaterworks

April 4-27

Skin Tight

158 N. Broadway

Renaissance Theaterworks concludes its literary-themed 21st season with a revival of its 2004 hit Skin Tight. Gary Henderson’s play is the passionate, sometimes violent account of a marriage and, as Director Laura Gordon puts it, “remarkably effective at evoking the images and feelings of an enduring love affair.” Of returning actors, Braden Moran and Leah Dutchin, she remarks, “They’ll be bringing these last ten years with them… Those experiences will change their perspective on the play in wonderful ways.” (S.M.)     


Cardinal Stritch University Theatre

April 4-13

The Spitfire Grill

Nancy Kendall Theater, 6801 N. Yates Road

Cardinal Stritch closes its theater season with James Valcq and Fred Alley’s musical adaptation of the 1996 indie film The Spitfire Grill. A woman seeks to redefine herself having been released from prison. She moves to small town Wisconsin and starts working at a troubled restaurant. She suggests raffling off the restaurant to the most deserving individual in a heartwarming musical drama that continues to make impressions several years after its debut. (R.B.)


Woodland Pattern Book Center

April 7

Seventh Annual Edible Books Show

720 E. Locust St.

Woodland Pattern is known to satisfy literary appetites but its edible book shows go further to fulfill your literal appetite. Authors submit works in the edible genre, interpretations on literary works manifested in culinary art. Now in its seventh iteration, the show continues to spark friendships and build a stronger community, finding a common ground between those with a passion for literature and a love of food. Talk about one way to digest a text. (B.M.)


Milwaukee Repertory Theater

April 8-May 4

The History of Invulnerability

108 E. Wells St.

For many, Superman means simple optimism. Good always trumps evil; honor is clear and unyielding. Few know the hero’s real-life origins. But now the Milwaukee Rep is bringing the story of Superman’s creator, Jerry Siegel, to the stage. According to the show’s director, Mark Clements, Siegel’s struggles amid the turmoil of World War II create a captivating look at comic book heroes emerging in “a much more personal place, ultimately manifesting the most altruistic fantasies of their creators.” Clements promises an ambitious production with a small cast taking on more than 100 characters and the most expansive use of video projection in Rep history. (E.H.)


Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

April 10-27

Lend Me a Tenor

158 N. Broadway

Lend Me a Tenor follows a temperamental opera star who threatens to cancel a sold-out performance at the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. The play is set in a hotel suite as the theater’s general manager, an ardent fan and the star’s disgruntled wife, all are spun into the story. “It’s such a well-written and well-constructed farce—with six designated doors to slam!” the show’s director, C. Michael Wright, said. “It’s a perfect fit for the beautiful Cabot Theatre, which was modeled after an 18th-century European opera house. So the entire venue will be a reflection of the opera world being depicted onstage.” The production is in partnership with Marquette University’s theater program with current students and alumni working to help create the comedy both onstage and behind the scenes. (E.H.)


Sunset Playhouse

April 10-13

A Gershwin Songbook

800 Elm Grove Road

The charm and power of George Gershwin’s music is undeniable. The opening notes of “Rhapsody in Blue” are alone enough to evoke a scene of a smoky street in New York’s glamorous Jazz Age. This spring, that world comes to the Sunset Playhouse in a production set at a ritzy party at the home of Gershwin in none other than the city his music so well encapsulated, New York. Audiences follow a young couple eavesdropping on the party, hearing performances of classics like “Summertime” and “I Got Rhythm” and then traveling to Harlem for yet more performances from Gershwin contemporaries Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and Harold Arlen. (E.H.)



April 11-12

Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, 19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield

Pilobolus dance company has astonished audiences worldwide with inventive choreography that turns dancers into shape-shifters executing movements that seem beyond the human body’s possibilities. The company’s dancers interact and contort into positions that require incredible strength, athleticism and superhuman flexibility. Pilobolus has appeared on national television performing at the Academy Awards and on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” They’ve performed in more than 64 countries and continue to receive awards year after year. Come and witness this spectacle in modern dance that sparks an awe similar to that of Pilobolus’ airborne compeers Cirque du Soleil. (B.M.)


Over Our Head Players

April 11-27

Becky’s New Car

318 Sixth St., Racine

Becky is in her late 40s. She’s been married to the same roofer for 28 years. So she’s interested in a change. Naturally, she goes to an auto dealership. As luck would have it, she runs into a millionaire who was there to buy a few cars as gifts for his employees. Things get interesting from there. There’s an affair and a second life in this romantic comedy that’s not afraid to play with the fourth wall. (R.B.)


Early Music Now/Four Nations Ensemble

April 12

“The Paris of LeClair and Rameau”

UW-Milwaukee, Zelazo Center, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd.

Early Music Now invites the critically acclaimed Four Nations Ensemble to bring 17th-century Paris to life with works from the city’s most prominent Baroque-era composers. The ensemble, led by harpsichordist Andrew Appel, features cellist Loretta O’Sullivan and violinist Tatiana Chulochnikova, along with special guests soprano Dominique Labelle and flutist Colin St. Martin. Performing the works of LeClair, Rameau, Couperin and Clérambault, the Four Nations Ensemble will illuminate a significant period with authentic score interpretations and a pre-show talk to complete the context surrounding these influential composers. (B.M.)


Lynden Sculpture Garden

April 13-June 29

“Women, Nature, Science—Kyoung Ae Cho: One at a Time”

2145 W. Brown Deer Road

Part three of Lynden’s well-received series “Women, Nature, Science” features 24 works by Korean artist and UW-Milwaukee professor Kyoung Ae Cho. Describing her art as “environmental processing,” she works mainly in fiber and mixed media, here including elements ranging from artificial flowers to natural detritus to her own hair. As in the natural world, Cho’s work hinges on gradual accumulation, metamorphosis and recycling. The show opens with a reception from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, April 13. (S.M.)      


Uprooted Theatre

April 14

My Red Hand, My Black Hand

Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St.

Dennis F. Johnson directs a single staged reading performance of Dael Orlandersmith’s drama about one girl’s search for belonging and acceptance between African American and Native American cultures. The protagonist speaks of the fusion of Lakota and black rural Virginian cultures that have come to make her what she is. She relates the story of her parents meeting at a dance and falling in love amid the prejudices of their families. (R.B.)


Wisconsin Regional Artists Association

Mid-April through May 17

“Oconomowoc/Waukesha Wisconsin Regional Arts Program (WRAP) Exhibition”

Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 E. Forest St.

Seeking an art experience beyond the Third Ward? Look no further than the “Oconomowoc/Waukesha WRAP Exhibition” at the Oconomowoc Arts Center. Sponsored by the Waukesha Creative Arts League, this show will feature artworks by non-professional artists aspiring to reach their greatest potential. WRAA’s juried regional exhibitions are held throughout Wisconsin and culminate with an annual State Art Exhibition and Conference (Sept. 27 at Wausau’s Center for the Visual Arts). The entry blank for the Oconomowoc/Waukesha exhibition is due March 26. Visit wisconsinregionalarts.org to learn more. (A.S.)


UW-Milwaukee Union Art Gallery

April 17-May 16

“41st Annual Juried Show”

2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.

Join UW-Milwaukee in celebrating more than four decades of supporting student artists. The Annual Juried Show welcomes submissions from students enrolled in a variety of Metro Milwaukee-area institutions of higher education. All major media are welcome and cash prizes ensure a consistently high level of work. Attend the opening reception on Thursday, April 17, from 5-8 p.m. to take in the work of our city’s next generation of artists and designers. (S.M.)


Jewish Museum of Milwaukee

April 20-July 27

“Jews Who Rock: A Musical History Tour”

1360 N. Prospect Ave.

Without producer Milt Gabler, Bill Haley & His Comets would have remained nothing more than second-rate R&B impersonators. With Gabler’s sharp ear, they helped midwife the birth of rock ’n’ roll. Gabler was Jewish, as were many behind-the-scenes figures in the music industry from the 1920s onward. By the ’60s and ’70s, Jews slipped into the rock spotlight through artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and Joey Ramone. “Jews Who Rock” includes sound recordings, concert posters and photographs illustrating the influence of Jews on the development of popular music in the late-20th century. (David Luhrssen)


Danceworks Performance Company

“Plugged In”

April 24-May 10

Danceworks Studio Theatre, 1661 N. Water St.

“A party” is how artistic director Dani Kuepper describes this mix of dance, song, comedy and an interactive DJ. Comedian-composer Jason Powell will construct an original pop band set with DPC dancers as backup. The talented hip-hop artists who’ve formed a deepening relationship with DPC’s modern dance artists will join them in dance improvisations devised by choreographer Joelle Worm. To a remix of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Kuepper will remix a somber Martha Graham-esque dance-drama she made some years ago, turning it upside down to make it funny. “Funny,” she adds, “is always serious to me.” (John Schneider)


UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts

April 25-27

Cinderella: The First 30,000 Years

Kenilworth Studio 508, 1925 E. Kenilworth Place

Cinderella: hero or victim? Director Robin Mello and a cast drawn from the UWM theater program explore the question in a promising new piece that explores the myth as extrapolated throughout human history. We start with a woman named Strabo from 800 B.C.E. and move on through Cinderella analogs from a number of points in human history. The production uses improv and creative story theatre to explore a persistent cultural archetype. (R.B.)


Prometheus Trio

April 28-29

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave.

The Prometheus Trio performs the works of some of history’s most accomplished composers. The critically acclaimed trio is a fixture of the Wisconsin Conservatory, comprised of violinist Timothy Klabunde, cellist Scott Tisdel and pianist Stefanie Jacob. For two back-to-back performances in April, the Prometheus Trio will elate classical lovers with renditions of Hadyn’s Trio, Brahms’ Trio in B Major, Op. 8 and an arrangement (by Steuermann) of Schoenberg’s highly dramatic Verklarte Nacht. Two guest musicians, violist Matthew Michelic and vocalist Nathan Wesselowski, will join them. (B.M.)


UWM Peck School of the Arts/Mainstage Theatre

April 30-May 4


2400 E. Kenwood Blvd.

After a water shortage restricts bathroom activities to public facilities, the Urine Good Company sees it as a business opportunity. Having a firm grasp as a mega-company, UGC imposes a strict pay-to-pee policy. Violators who fail to abide are sent to the “penal colony,” Urinetown, never to be heard from again. Bladders will burst, but with the help of an unlikely hero, Bobby Strong, their vision of urinary bliss has a chance to become reality. The UWM Inter-Arts program presents Greg Kotis’ funny, satirical musical that doesn’t seem all too farfetched in today’s capitalistic world. Lucky for you, they won’t be charging to use their amenities. (B.M.)


Wild Space Dance Company

“All About Life”

May 1-3

Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Stiemke Studio, 108 E. Wells St.

Founder/Director Debra Loewen remembers her old subscription to Life magazine. “The world came into my house,” she says, “with brilliant journalism and photographs.” This concert of new works, one each by Loewen and three next-generation Wild Space dancer/choreographers, is about Life and life today. Daniel Schuchart’s theme is order versus messiness and how each can transform into the other. Monica Rodero will draw on the personalities and interpersonal dynamics of the company’s powerful women dancers. Mauriah Kraker, one such dancer, will choreograph her first work for the full company. Loewen will draw on a lifetime of dance stories. (J.S.)


First Stage

May 2-June 1

Nancy Drew and Her Biggest Case Ever

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

Milwaukee’s premier children’s theater is bringing everyone’s favorite teenage sleuth to the stage. The promising new show draws from two of Carolyn Keene’s beloved novels, adding new twists and turns along the way. Accompanied by music from Wisconsin singer-songwriter Willy Porter, car chases, exploding boats, judo fights, coded clues and a haunted cabin are thrown at the enterprising young detective. But despite the intrigue, the show’s biggest draw is Nancy Drew herself, according to First Stage Associate Director John Maclay, who co-wrote the show with Artistic Director Jeff Frank. “She’s smart, courageous, noble, industrious, creative, independent, tenacious,” Maclay said. “Just a fantastic character to introduce to the next generation of audience members.” (E.H.)


Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

May 3

“Creative Fusion-Made by MIAD”

273 E. Erie St.

“Milwaukee’s signature charitable event” to raise money for MIAD scholarships generated more than $300,000 last year and the 2014 gala is sure to be posh as well. For their $300 ticket, Chairs Jessica and David Jubelirer and presenting sponsor Harley-Davidson welcome patrons to a gala including dinner, cocktails and a live auction of student artworks “in the heart of MIAD’s creative studios.” MIAD’s Director of Communications Vivian Rothschild promises, “New and ‘colorful’ experiences surprise guests every year.” (S.M.)


UW-Washington County

May 4

Moraine Symphonic Band & Washington County Youth Orchestra Concert

400 University Drive, West Bend

The Moraine Symphonic Band, made up of UW-Washington County students and community adults, and the Washington County Youth Orchestra, comprised of high school and extremely talented middle school students from throughout southeastern Wisconsin, are joining forces to present an exciting performance that all ages can appreciate. Directed by Daniel Ackley, WCYO will perform a Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King suite, “Video Games Live” and a few other compositions, and MSB will take on the entirety of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” (A.S.)


Philomusica Quartet with Rene Izquerido

May 5

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave.

The Wisconsin Conservatory’s own Philomusica Quartet has accrued a loyal following of admirers over the years. With high-profile artistry contributed by versatile performers and educators, they continue to share the string quartet repertoire with undeniable passion. For their May 5 performance, the Philomusica Quartet features internationally renowned classical guitarist Rene Izquierdo (UW-Milwaukee faculty member) in Boccherini’s guitar quintet, “Fandango.” Other works for the evening include Amy Beach’s Quartet for Strings, Op. 89 and Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135. (B.M.)


Milwaukee Opera Theatre

May 7-24

Fortuna the Time Bender vs. The Schoolgirls of Doom!

The Alchemist Theatre, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Time-bending superhero Fortuna will take on the Headmaster and his three naughty schoolgirls once again at Alchemist Theatre. Commissioned by the Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Jason Powell’s Fortuna the Time Bender vs. The Schoolgirls of Doom! was a smash hit at its premiere in 2012. The exuberant opera is animated with clever wordplay and a hilarious songbook, drawn from Powell’s interests in comic books, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and rock musicals. Back by poplar demand, the comic opera’s comeback will be a repeat treat for Fortuna fans and hopefully intrigue those who missed out the first time around. (B.M.)


Theatre Gigante

Midsummer in Midwinter

May 9-17

UW-Milwaukee, Kenilworth Studio 508, 1925 E. Kenilworth Place

As they did so well in recent seasons for Three Sisters, King Lear and Electra, Milwaukee’s seasoned avant gardists Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson will reconstruct Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The team’s original comedy will employ a characteristic balanced blend of music, dance and dialogue. The cast includes longtime collaborators John Kishline and Deborah Clifton from Theatre X, the powerful Pilobolus dancer Edwin Olvera and many of the compelling young dance theater artists who worked on Electra year. The Gigante take on Shakespeare’s magical romance? At this point, who knows? Perhaps, as the title suggests, it will touch on climate change. (J.S.)


Ensemble Musical Offering

May 10

Cathedral Church of All Saints, 818 E. Juneau Ave.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the most idiosyncratic and innovative member of the storied Bach family. A proto-Romantic, his music represents a deeply personal response to the musical conventions of his time. Indeed, C.P.E. Bach’s mastery of intimate expressiveness will be well represented as 2013 Grammy nominee Jory Vinikour performs Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto in D Minor and Baroque flautist Linda Perekstra performs his Flute Concerto in G Major. There will be a pre-concert presentation on “The Sons of Bach.” (J.J.)


Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra 

May 10

“Rhythm and Blues”

Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, 325 W. Walnut St.

The MYSO Jazz Combos will take the stage at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center to show off their developing chops. MYSO has been educating young people about jazz, its history and techniques since 2004. Milwaukee was once a prominent harbor for historic jazz figures; now numerous educational programs inspire a new generation of jazz musicians. “Rhythm and Blues” will show the hard work these youngsters put into learning a difficult music. The concert will also feature the Bronzeville Jazz Ensemble and MYSO’s Calypso and Soca steel bands. (B.M.)


Milwaukee Ballet

Mirror Mirror

May 15-18

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

Six months after the world premiere of The Picture of Dorian Gray, his adaptation of the Oscar Wilde novel for Ballet Augsburg in Germany, Michael Pink gives birth to another darkly magical ballet. Snow White is the inspiration. In this reconstruction, the tale’s malevolent queen is a more modern gal obsessed with a demonic mirror that reflects subjectively. Snow White’s flight for life to a woodland community involves no dwarves, but the poison apple plays its old role. Pink’s longtime collaborator Philip Feeney (Peter Pan, Dracula) composed the symphonic score. The first-rate designers are Todd Ivins and David Grill. (J.S.)


Bel Canto Chorus

May 21

Carmina Burana

Milwaukee Theatre Grand Rotunda, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave.

Rock ’n’ roll was unheard of when Carmina Burana debuted in 1937, yet of all the classical compositions in the concert repertoire, none rock as hard. Composer Carl Orff also wrote music to accompany gymnastics, a possible influence on Carmina Burana’s savage, incessant rhythms (along with a nod to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring). The Latin verse of this cantata has become a familiar tongue twister for choral groups around the world, including Milwaukee’s venerable Bel Canto Chorus. (D.L.)


Pink Banana Theatre

June 2014 (TBA)

The Honeymoon Is Over

The Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Pink Banana Theatre celebrates its 10th annual short plays festival with a program dedicated to the end of the honeymoon. The carefree time of vacationing and fun is over and now it’s time to get into the comfortably boring part of the relationship. (Or words to that effect. It’s still early.) A Pink Banana shorts program takes some time to materialize, but they tend to be very dynamic, testing new energies onstage in a tradition that now goes back a full decade. (R.B.)


Milwaukee Children’s Choir

June 1

“20th Anniversary Celebration Concert”

Cooley Auditorium, Milwaukee Area Technical College

1015 N. Sixth St.

This exciting anniversary concert showcases all of MCC’s performing choirs, featuring music composed for treble voices from throughout the centuries. To bring the celebration full circle, MCC invites any and all alumni to join the choirs in song for “Come and Sing!” and “We Rise Again.” MCC is currently reaching out to alumni in hopes of including an alumni performance and is also welcoming new children ages 4-18 for the 2014-15 season. Visit milwaukeechildrenschoir.org to learn more. (A.S.)


Memories Dinner Theatre

June 3-18

Fox On the Fairway

1077 Lake Drive, Port Washington

Just as the weather begins to turn really nice (hopefully) Memories Dinner Theatre stages a very recent comedy by the author of Lend Me a Tenor. Ken Ludwig’s The Fox on the Fairway is a contemporary comedy done as a tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and ’40s. Love and scheming at the Tap Room of the fictitious Quail Valley Country Club takes place over dinner in Port Washington. (R.B.)


Milwaukee Art Museum

June 5-Sept. 1

“Kandinsky: A Retrospective”

700 N. Art Museum Drive

Wassily Kandinsky’s exposure to the decorative richness of Russian folk art inspired him to abandon law and take up painting. He moved to Western Europe but the influence of his homeland remained subliminal in paintings that transcended realism in their search for the essence behind appearances. The Milwaukee Art Museum will augment its splendid permanent collection of work from Kandinsky’s Blaue Reiter period (Munich, early 20th century) with pieces from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the artist’s final home. (D.L.)


Waukesha Civic Theatre

June 6-22

A View From The Bridge

264 W. Main St., Waukesha

Playwright Arthur Miller was talking to a lawyer who worked with longshoremen. The lawyer related to him certain events that gradually evolved into a script. A View From the Bridge is the story of a working-class guy living in New York in the 1950s with his wife, Beatrice, and orphaned niece, Catherine, for whom he harbors an unhealthy love and obsession. Waukesha Civic Theatre stages a production of the tragedy in the twilight between the regular season and the summer season for theater in Milwaukee. (R.B.)


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