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Performing Arts Weekly 11.10

Nov. 8, 2016
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THEATRE: 

The Foreigner

Milwaukee Rep @ Quadracci Powerhouse, Nov. 15-Dec. 18

Have you ever sought out solitude just to get away from people? A mental health break from the daily grind? But then, as seems to happen regularly, that solitude, once found, quickly evaporates. That’s exactly what Charlie Baker experiences in Larry Shue’s comedy, The Foreigner. Charlie just wants to get away from it all in rural Georgia—only to discover that his scheme to go virtually unnoticed completely backfires.

The Rep’s production will be directed by Laura Gordon, with sets by Bill Clarke and costumes by Rachel Laritz, and star the inimitable James Pickering (in his 43rd season with the company), Linda Stephens, Brendan Meyer, Christina Panfilio and Eric Parks. The Foreigner is no stranger to the Milwaukee Rep. In fact, it received its world premiere with the company in 1983 when Shue was playwright-in-residence. Along with The Nerd (1981), The Foreigner would become a major part of Shue’s artistic legacy and go on to garner two Obies along with other awards. (John Jahn)

A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas

Acacia Theatre Company @ Concordia University, Nov. 11-13 & Nov. 17-20

If the Ingalls Family rings a bell, you’ve likely read at least one of the Little House books or watched episodes of the highly successful TV series based thereupon, “Little House on the Prairie.” If so, you know the wholesomeness of the beloved story. In A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, two “missing” years from the book series have been written into the wider story to connect the dots. Taking place in Burr Oak, Iowa, during the holiday season of 1876, three Ingalls family daughters (Mary, Carrie and Laura) strive to assist their parents in overcoming the pain suffered through recent loss. (John Jahn)

Two Rooms

Marquette Theatre @ Helfaer Theatre, Nov. 10-20

Marquette Theatre describes Two Rooms as their “social justice play” of the current season and Time Magazine dubbed it the “Best Play of the Year” upon its arrival in 1988. The plot revolves around a couple separated by many miles and wildly different situations. Husband Michael Wells is being held hostage by a terrorist group while his wife, Lainie, is at home here in the U.S. Their perilous situation is further complicated by the involvement of the government and media. Though it premiered nearly three decades ago, alas, we still find such a story poignant. (John Jahn) 

The Big Blue Ball

Sunset Playhouse @ Furlan Auditorium, Nov. 9-12

The Big Blue Ball is part of Sunset Playhouse’s Children’s Theater Series; hence, Sunset asserts, it’s suitable for all ages and is especially apropos as “a casual and fun introduction to the performing arts for children.” The eponymous “Blue Ball” is our very own oblate spheroid. Or, as Sunset describes their upcoming production: “We all live on this fascinating planet called Earth. From all over the world come tales of its beauty. This original musical takes you inside that folklore, with an interactive focus on the environment and embracing diversity.” (John Jahn)

Translations

@ UWM Peck School of the Arts Theatre Building, Nov. 16-20

Brian Friel (1929-2015) was a first-rate Irish dramatist who, in 1980, founded the Field Day Theatre Company with actor Stephen Rea. Their first production was Friel’s very human and quite heartrending three-act play Translations. Set in an early 19th-century Donegal, Ireland, agricultural village, Translations deals with Irish-English relations on a very personal and viscerally emotional level. (John Jahn)

MUSIC:

An Evening of Gilbert & Sullivan II

Florentine Opera Company @ Wayne & Kristine Lueders Florentine Opera Center, Nov. 10-12

What could be better than a concert revue of vocal excerpts from the delightful operettas of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan to warm a mid-November heart? The Florentine Opera’s wonderful At the Center Series provides the perfect venue for displaying the vocal talents of its Studio Artists and members of its chorus—accompanied by the acclaimed pianism of Ruben Piirainen—on such G&S classics as The Pirates of Penzance, Princess Ida, The Mikado, Ruddigore, The Gondoliers and Patience. (John Jahn)

Boccherini, Dvořák and Ravel String Quartets

Philomusica Quartet @ Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Nov. 14

Normally ensconced in Wisconsin Lutheran College’s Schwann Hall, the Philomusica Quartet ventures east to the Wisconsin Conservatory once per season; that’s where they’ll be for their next concert featuring three quartets from three different musical eras. The classical period is represented by Luigi Boccherini’s String Quartet Op. 2, No. 2. The Romantic era sees Antonín Dvořák’s American Quartet, Op. 96, composed when he was in Iowa in 1893. Finally, the post-Romantic era offers us Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major, a work he adroitly infused with his inimitable orchestral colors and textures. (John Jahn)

LOOKING AHEAD:

Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell

Theatre Gigante @ Whitefish Bay Library, Nov. 17

Spalding Gray pioneered a style of solo performance that presents incisive, funny self-examination as entertainment. An important voice in the experimental theater world of the late 20th century, he inspired the art of Theatre Gigante co-founder Mark Anderson and they were friends. Gigante was the first company given rights to perform this show after its New York premiere in 2007 and it did so immediately. It’s a collection of excerpts from Gray’s monologues, private journals and letters carefully assembled by his wife Kathleen Russo as a celebration of her husband’s art following his death in 2004. The performance is free. (John Schneider)

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