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Performing Arts Weekly 3.2.17

Feb. 28, 2017
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Photo Credit: Troy Freund


Taking Shakespeare @ Boulevard Theatre, March 2-26

Milwaukee’s Boulevard Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of American-born Canadian playwright John Murrell’s dramatic comedy Taking Shakespeare. As the Boulevard’s Artistic Director Mark Bucher explains, “This affecting script scores high marks for its amusing banter, delightful characters and witty indictment of academia. In just 90 minutes, it slyly examines the process of education, and the result is a thoughtful comedy that illuminates Oscar Hammerstein II’s musical phrase: ‘It’s a very ancient saying, but a true and honest thought, that if you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught!’” Eschewing overweening set designs and costumes, the Boulevard presents actors Amy Callahan and Jake Konrath “in a clean, simple style that showcases Murrell’s luxurious language and delicious dialogue.”

All performances of Taking Shakespeare will be in Plymouth Church’s second-floor Graham Chapel on Milwaukee’s East Side—a site utilized in the previous Boulevard productions of The Bald Soprano and Where the Streetcar Bends the Corner (Down by the Zoo). “Graham Chapel’s warm, cozy environment enhances an intimate connection between performer and patron and…fosters a sense of community for all participants,” Bucher says. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com (search for “Boulevard Theatre”) and at the door (cash only). (John Jahn)

Shakespeare Raw: Romeo and Juliet @ Historic Pabst Brewery, March 6-8

Boozy Bard Productions presents a nontraditional take on Shakespeare’s classic tale, Romeo and Juliet. This unique performance involves a group of actors who are assigned to their roles on the night of the show by pulling a character name out of a bucket. They then have five minutes to get into character and prepare for the first scene, which consists of reading the script and grabbing a drink. As the performance goes on, so does the drinking, leading to a very unpredictable yet highly entertaining experience. (Joe Micholic)

The Glass Menagerie @ Milwaukee Repertory Theater, March 7-April 9

Milwaukee Rep Artistic Director Mark Clements leads this production of American playwright Tennessee Williams’ classic, five-character memory play, The Glass Menagerie. The Rep describes it as “a beautiful story of family, dreams and disappointments—things absolutely everyone can relate to,” adding, “you’ll feel deeply about each of these characters, which creates an excellent night of theater.” In this new production, director Clements will be reunited with 10-time Joseph Jefferson Award-winner Hollis Resnik, who formerly starred as Judy Garland in a Rep production of End of the Rainbow. All performances of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie take place in the Quadracci Powerhouse. (John Jahn) 

Anon(ymous) @ UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, March 8-12

Rebecca Holderness directs this UWM Mainstage Theatre production of Naomi Iizuka’s 2006 retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey, Anon(ymous). In this play, Anon, a young refugee from a war-ravaged country, finds himself alone in the U.S., where he recounts (to anyone who will listen) epic tales of ghosts, goddesses and monsters. Playwright Iizuka (b. 1965) is described in The Encyclopedia of Asian-American Literature as “one of the most-commissioned playwrights in contemporary American theater.” Her world-travelling upbringing is obvious in her works, which center on multiculturalism and social issues. She’s also fond of ancient Greek literature and its relevance to our modern world: not only evinced in Anon(ymous) but an earlier work, Polaroid Stories, a modern adaptation of the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus. (John Jahn)


“20th Century Classics” @ Our Savior Lutheran Church, West Bend, March 5

The Kettle Moraine Symphony, lead by its new maestro, Lindsay Riemer, sticks largely to the more tonal and traditional—yet still evocative and relevant—classical music of the tumultuous 20th century in its next concert. “The music [on our program] represents the 20th century at a ‘sweet spot’ era,” Riemer explains. “It was the beginning of the Golden Age of musical theater in America.” To this end, works on the program include Aaron Copland’s Hoe-Down, Quiet City and Fanfare for the Common Man, as well as themes from Leonard Bernstein’s tuneful West Side Story. There’s also British composer Benjamin Britten’s good-humored, energetic Simple Symphony, and a performance of the finale of Robert Schumann’s A Minor Piano Concerto that features Callie Olinkski—senior division winner of the recent Washington County Youth Concerto Auditions. (John Jahn)


Stories From a Life @ Danceworks Studio Theatre, March 3-5 & 10-12

Guest choreographer Daniel Burkholder (UWM, Real Time, The Playground) fashioned two interwoven works with Danceworks Performance Company from interviews he conducted with his 97 year old grandmother. “I realized that the stories she was telling were the memories she kept close to define, frame and give clarity to the life she had lived,” Burkholder said. He’s set the two performances in separate rooms at Danceworks Studio, 1661 N. Water St. One room holds live dance. The other is multimedia: videos of the storyteller accompanied by a live feed of the dancing next door, spoken memories and music. Audiences switch rooms at intermission. Shows start at 7:30pm. (John Schneider)


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