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Performing Arts Weekly 10.27

Oct. 25, 2016
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MUSIC:

Victory for Victoria, Milwaukee Opera Theatre @Wauwatosa Woman’s Club, Oct. 27-30

When it came time for fall programming, Milwaukee Opera Theatre couldn’t resist a world premiere musical by Milwaukee writers on a woman running for president—Victoria Woodhull, who tossed her bonnet into the 1872 race. Her chances were nil, given that women wouldn’t have voting rights for nearly 50 years. 

Although overshadowed by Susan B. Anthony, Woodhull was a leader among the suffragettes, the movement that finally won women the vote in 1920. “She was deeply interested in social freedom,” says MOT Director Jill Anna Ponasik. “This meant the ability for women to choose their husbands, to have custody of their children, to own property.”

Susan Peterson Holmes and Peggy Peterson Ryan wrote the words to Victory for Victoria in an echo of 19th-century American English. Ponasik describes Alissa Rhode’s music as “deeply rooted in American musical theater with an Americana feel.” The cast of 10 present the musical as if they were an itinerant theater troupe from the early 20th century, desperate to tell Woodhull’s story at a time when woman’s suffrage was drawing closer to reality. 

Ponasik takes satisfaction in the venue, a period-appropriate Georgian ballroom. “The Wauwatosa Woman’s Club is my polling place,” she says. “I found the venue for Victory for Victoria by voting—as a woman!” (David Luhrssen) 

Folk Songs, Tales and Legends

Master Singers of Milwaukee, Oct. 29 & 30

Several folk songs comprise the program of the next concert by the fine choristers of the Master Singers of Milwaukee. One of the more well-known composers featured is Benjamin Britten; the men of the MSM performing his World War II-era “Ballad of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard.” The women perform “Les Sirènes,” a piece written by French composer Marie-Juliette “Lili” Boulanger. Other works by lesser-known composers include Jack Halloran’s “Nelly Bly,” and an elegant and beautiful setting of the traditional Christian hymn “Shall We Gather at the River” by Matthew Culloton. Sure to be of interest will be the unique Latvian folk song “Kalejs kala debesis” and the Halloween-ready “That Old House is Ha’nted” by Jester Hairston. The Oct. 29 concert takes place at North Shore Congregational Church in Fox Point; the Oct. 30 performance is at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Brookfield. (John Jahn) 

DANCE:

Cambrian

Cooperative Performance Milwaukee @ Cooperativa Gallery, Oct. 28-30; Nov. 4-6

Earth’s Cambrian period—starting some 545 million years ago and lasting for around 50 million years—witnessed the onset of a rapid proliferation of life—a phenomenon often called the “Cambrian Explosion.” Cambrian, a modern Homo sapiens’ artistic view of that period, is devised by Brennen Steines, choreographed by Liz Faraglia, composed by Olivia Valenza and starring Kelly Radermacher and Don Russell. Cambrian is described as “a sound and movement-based performance [exploring] themes of life, evolution and physical form.” (John Jahn) 

THEATRE:

To Kill a Mockingbird @ Waukesha Civic Theatre, Oct. 28-Nov. 13

Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird hit the literary world like an earthquake—a book taking a dramatic and troublingly insightful look at issues of race, gender roles and class that arrived right at the beginning of the culturally tumultuous ’60s. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and, in 1962, was the subject of an Oscar-winning feature film starring Gregory Peck in the pivotal role of lawyer Atticus Finch. It has been widely taught in literature classes throughout the country ever since its publication—and not without controversy. Waukesha Civic Theatre, under director Rhonda Schmidt, presents a fairly faithful staged production of To Kill a Mockingbird originally adapted by Iowa City-born playwright Christopher Sergel. (John Jahn)

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

UW-Milwaukee Theatre Department @ Kenilworth Five-0-Eight, Nov. 2-9

Raeleen McMillion directs a staged production of the classic film by Spanish director, producer and writer Pedro Almodóvar. The 1988 film starred Antonio Banderas and won quick acclaim for Almodóvar; it went on to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is best described as a black comedic-drama that focuses a sharp, observant eye upon the lives of men and women in a modern-day urban setting. (John Jahn)

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