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The Milwaukee Theatre: 100 & Fabulous

Sep. 23, 2009
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The Milwaukee Theatre marks a formidable birthday this month with 100 years of touching lives in the city through countless engaging performances. The theater can entertain an audience of 4,100 in pristine velvet chairs, all the while providing a comfy home for performers with a convenient backstage area, spacious dressing rooms and a stage generous enough to accommodate the Rockettes with those never-ending legs.

Born in 1909 as the Milwaukee Auditorium, the venerable space has hosted political rallies, sporting events, concerts, bike races, even circuses. It was reinvented as a state-of-the-art theater in 2003, complete with a new name. Over the last six years, Milwaukeeans have laughed with Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld, rocked out with David Bowie and Prince, enjoyed the song and dance of Chicago and Fosse, and revisited their childhood innocence with The Wizard of Oz and The Lion King.

If these walls could talk, we would be consumed by the most incredible stories. Even a fresh bullet wound from an assassination attempt couldn’t stop Teddy Roosevelt from delivering a campaign speech here in 1912. As his thick manuscript provided enough armor to save his life, he stubbornly spoke his words, shocking the audience by announcing, “I have just been shot, but it will take more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”

In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to an eager crowd ready for change. His voice bellowed strongly against the walls, “Time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively… We must help time and we must realize that the time is always right to do right.”

The Milwaukee Theatre continues to make the right moves in the world of performing arts, with artists and productions that remind audiences to live, laugh and love. During the fall season, patrons will have the opportunity to take a cheerful stroll with George Burns in the Tony-winning Broadway hit Say Goodnight Gracie, surrender to illusion with David Copperfield, belt it out with Kelly Clarkson, embrace their inner dancing queens with ABBA Mania, indulge in rhythmic combustion with Stomp and forget their hard-knock lives with Annie.

 It’s no wonder that thousands have walked through the Milwaukee Theatre’s grand doors, seeing and being seen, for the past century, ready to have their worries whisked away by the venue’s golden warmth and majestic history.

According to Richard Geyer, president of Wisconsin Center District, which is also responsible for the Midwest Airlines Center and the U.S. Cellular Arena, “The Milwaukee Theatre is so much more than an entertainment venue—it’s a gathering place for community events, business meetings, as well as a showcase for today’s outstanding performers. We’ve hosted the best over the years, and we look forward to continuing this rich tradition in the future.”



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