Out at the Theater
Skylight Music Theatre and Milwaukee Rep host events this season
With the shadows growing longer and the temps feeling fallish, it may be time to consider indoor entertainment options. Two of Cream City’s venerable stage venues schedule OUT nights around performances of particular appeal to our community. Thanks to major LGBT sponsors, both The Skylight Music Theatre and The Milwaukee Repertory Theater offer discounted tickets and refreshments on select Wednesdays throughout the season. Both theaters’ “Out” events have become staple night-out options for organizations like Milwaukee GAMMA, LGBT couples out on a date or anyone wanting to take in a show among birds of a feather.
The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre’s Out-n-About Nights kick off with the award-winning musical Man of La Mancha on Sept. 28 in the Quadracci Powerhouse. The popular Broadway smash features the familiar anthem “The Impossible Dream” that, along with the theme of tilting with windmills, should touch the heartstrings of LGBT audiences. Two weeks later, at the Stackner Cabaret on Oct. 12, it’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, a re-creation of a performance by jazz icon Billie Holiday (the reputed lesbian lover of Tallulah Bankhead); on Jan. 25, also at the Quadracci and just days after Hillary’s inauguration, Disgraced, a play about the explosive nature of identity politics. The season concludes with a March 15 performance of gay playwright Tennessee Williams’ classic drama, The Glass Menagerie, that classic study of our fragile lives.
Meanwhile, at the Skylight Music Theatre, its BeOUT Nights include, on Feb. 8 (well timed for Valentine’s Day), a musical comedy about love and relationships, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; and later, with spring in full swing, gay composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s musical recipe of revenge, Sweeney Todd on May 31.
Speaking of birds, as if there weren’t enough drag queens in town, or, perhaps, in celebration of them, the Skylight’s big holiday show is La Cage Aux Folles. The acclaimed, Tony Award-winning musical about drag family values is based on the 1973 French play that begat the charming 1978 French film adaptation that begat the musical version in 1983. That, in turn, begat The Bird Cage, the American film reprise featuring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. The Skylight production provides a local take with stars Ray Jivoff as Georges, the drag nightclub owner, and Norman Moses as Georges’ lover Albin, the club’s star attraction.
I tried to press my Skylight insiders for details of special events planned around La Cage but they’ve remained mum. I can only imagine they’ll pull out all the stops with pre- and post-show drag shows on the Skylight Bar & Bistro stage and drag queen ushers. I’m sure the Dec. 7 BeOUT affair will be a night to remember—or at least one that will live in infamy. I can already see the Salon decorated in gay holiday array with a huge, extravagantly trimmed tree and garlands draped everywhere (the Christmas kind, not Judys…well, maybe those, too). And, if there’s anyone on the Skylight staff I’d rather see in drag, it’s its executive director Jack Lemmon. If he doesn’t give his ever-effervescent curtain speech in taffeta, darlings, I shall be sorely disappointed.