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Performing Arts Week 10.13

Oct. 11, 2016
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Photo by David Skidmore Photography


Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium

First Stage @ Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, Oct. 14-Nov. 13

“R.L. Stine grabs readers and takes them on a rollercoaster ride that is equal parts scary and funny, says First Stage’s Artistic Director Jeff Frank. “You don’t sell 400 million books by accident.” Certainly, a book series that follows young characters who encounter monsters and ghosts and other such scary musings of childhood sounds likely to succeed, if well-written.

R.L. Stine proved up to the task: Over a six-year period in the ’90s, he published 62 Goosebumps books, which quickly became worldwide bestsellers—available in 32 languages. They’re so universally relatable because we’ve all gone through childhood and have had similar experiences; as Stine once explained, “Luckily, I have a great memory. As I write a story, I can remember what it feels like to be afraid and panicky.”

All this seems like fertile ground for transformation and adaptation into other media, and that is precisely what happened to Stine’s Goosebumps books. There have been numerous spin-off books, audio books, a TV series that ran for four seasons and aired in more than 100 countries, a feature film starring Jack Black, videogames and, of course, clothes, toys and games. What’s been missing, however, is a somewhat obvious adaptation: A live staged musical. Now, thanks to First Stage’s Associate Artistic Director John Maclay, that box can be checked off, too.

First Stage opens its 30th season with the world premiere of Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater, doing so in collaboration with the Oregon Children’s Theatre. The production will be directed and choreographed by Niffer Clarke, a teacher and Off-Broadway actor who’s appeared locally with Skylight Music Theatre, Off the Wall, Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Renaissance Theaterworks. (John Jahn) 

David Seebach’s Illusions In The Night

@ Waukesha Civic Theatre, Oct. 14-16

“My clients—both in Milwaukee and out of the area—don’t hire me to ‘do’ magic tricks,” Milwaukee Magician David Seebach observes. “They hire me to present a show that is filled with entertainment: drama, humor, surprise and mystery. That’s why I have fans who don’t care at all about magic; they enjoy the comedy and theatrical experience.” For more than four decades now, Seebach, a graduate of UW-Milwaukee’s Theatre Department, has been presenting his engaging suitable-for-all-ages shows. His Halloween-themed Illusions In The Night magically appears in Waukesha’s Margaret Brate Bryant Civic Theatre Building. (John Jahn)

Fiddler on the Roof

Sunset Playhouse, Oct. 13-Nov. 6

Sunset Playhouse’s Furlan Auditorium is the site for one of the most enduring and beloved musicals of all time. With book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof won nine Tony Awards when it debuted in 1964. Indeed, it was the first staged musical to run for more than 3,000 performances (a record that wasn’t broken until the premiere of Grease years later). Featuring memorable and touching tunes such as “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” Fiddler is the story of a small Jewish community in tsarist Russia and, in particular, Tevye and his five young daughters—who seek to break free from their father’s beloved Jewish traditions and cultural norms. (John Jahn) 

Blue Bullets

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre @ Broadway Theatre Center, Oct. 17

Blue Bullets is a play that takes on additional gravitas given the events of this year—in our community and across the nation—between police officers and the urban communities they police. Set in Houston in the late-’70s and written by Wisconsin author Alvaro Saar Rios (One Hot Texican Summer, The Crazy Mexican Show), Blue Bullets is a thought-provoking and timely drama involving citizens gathering at a bakery shop who respond in their own unique ways as protesters organize themselves to call for there to be “No More Blue Bullets” after several incidents of police brutality. As part of their Montgomery Davis Play Development Series, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presents a staged reading of this apropos play at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Skylight Bar & Bistro. (John Jahn)


Kariné Poghosyan

@ Sienna Retreat Center, Oct. 14

Classical pianist Kariné Poghosyan made her Carnegie Hall debut at age 23. Now an instructor at the Manhattan School of Music, Poghosyan will perform a recital of music by Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian at the Siena Center, 5635 Erie St., Racine. A free will donation will be collected. (David Luhrssen)

Beethoven, Brahms, Boulanger and Ysaÿe

Prometheus Trio @ Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Oct. 17 & 18

The Prometheus Trio—Margot Schwartz, Scott Tisdel and Stefanie Jacob—has filled the Helen Bader Recital Hall of the McIntosh-Goodrich Mansion year after year with diverse chamber music. Ludwig van Beethoven’s oeuvre is often thought of as difficult, but even he occasionally wrote pieces intended for fairly easy public consumption. One such piece is the accessible and appealing Kakadu Variations, Op. 121a—based on a song in a contemporaneous singspiel. Other works on the program are Johannes Brahms’ Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 101, Lili Boulanger’s Pièces en Trio and the Poème Nocturne, Op. 29 by Belgian composer (and one of the greatest violinists of all time) Eugène Ysaÿe. (John Jahn)


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