Even though the state of our economy has been heading downward, the state of performing arts in Milwaukee is going skyward. Indeed, the city abounds with venues and activities.
Milwaukee's theater scene provides programming for tastes that run from classic to eclectic. The Milwaukee Rep features it all within its three spaces-the Quadracci Powerhouse, the more intimate Stiemke Theater and the Stackner Cabaret (featuring musical revues). Next Act Theatre and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre focus on character-driven plays. Then there's Boulevard Theatre, always giving a break to local talent thanks to Artistic Director/resident funny guy Mark Bucher. When it comes to children's theater, First Stage provides a wide variety of entertainment. Milwaukee is also fortunate to have its own women-run company in Renaissance Theaterworks.
Adding to the richness of the local theater community is a variety of smaller and newer companies such as In Tandem Theatre, Bunny Gumbo's Combat Theatre, Alchemist Theatre and Dramatists Theatre. Community stages have always thrived in this area, with Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove at the lead. And for those who want their fix of Broadway, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts features its M&I Bank Broadway Across America-Milwaukee Series.
"Just Dance" is more than a hit song in these parts. The city is filled with a number of dance companies ranging the depth and breadth of our own Milwaukee Ballet to the Ko-Thi Dance Company, which is celebrating 40 years of showcasing the music and dance of Africa. Wild Space Dance Company specializes in site-specific works and artistic collaborations, while DanceCircus focuses on the artistic blend of music, theater, dance and poetry. Danceworks offers experimental work in various locations, as well as its Summer Creative Arts Camps and studio classes.
2009 is a special year for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO), as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. In addition, the MSO welcomes a new music director, Edo de Waart, who debuts in the 2009/2010 season. The MSO Chorus provides the vocal prowess, featuring 150 volunteers from all walks of life. The Bel Canto Chorus also features volunteers and performs in a variety of settings, from orchestras to a cappella. Classical music in Milwaukee is made all the more contemporary by Present Music, founded in 1982 and devoted to performing works of new composers. Recently, Present Music held the premiere of Sound Brain, by Wisconsin's own Ryan Carter, which mixed music and technology in the appropriately named venue for this experiment: Discovery World.
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