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Performing Arts Weekly 11.17

Nov. 15, 2016
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‘Monks Singing Pagans’

Early Music Now featuring Sequentia @ Wisconsin Lutheran College, Nov. 19

Early Music Now describes Sequentia—Benjamin Bagby, Hanna Marti and Norbert Rodenkirchen—as an “innovative ensemble [that] explores monastic manuscripts from the 9th to 12th centuries, revealing that many monks were singing not just Gregorian chant, but also songs that were sometimes anything but Christian!” Concert attendees will be treated to ancient sounds: “Medieval songs of heroes, gods and strong women” going back more than a thousand years, drawn from songbooks, chants, odes and the like. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a concert featuring such as “Wenne, wenne, wen-chichenne,” an Anglo-Saxon charm against boils and cysts? Who knows? Might come in handy someday. (John Jahn)

 

‘Festive Boroque’

Kettle Moraine Symphony @ Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Nov. 19

This Saturday afternoon concert in West Bend truly lives up to its online description; there is just a “bit of Baroque” on the program, but what a bit it is! The Baroque work is J.S. Bach’s immortal and lovely “Sheep May Safely Graze” from Cantata No. 208 (1713). Other works stemming from the Romantic Era include Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 and gentle “Ave Maria,” Georges Bizet’s Farandole and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Christmas Eve Suite. Carols of the holiday season round out the program. (John Jahn)

 

‘Fireworks for Two Harpsichords’

Great Lakes Baroque @ North Shore Congregational Church, Nov. 18

Great Lakes Baroque begins its second season with jewels for that hallmark of the Baroque, the harpsichord. The harpsichord is the most full-toned of plucked-string keyboard instruments—one that held sway over chamber music for almost three centuries. As Great Lakes Baroque’s Artistic Director Jory Vinikour describes it, this concert is to “celebrate the release of [our] recording of the Six Concerti for Two Harpsichords by Padre Antonio Soler” on the Delos International label. Both Vinikour and Philippe LeRoy play works not only by Soler, but also Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Johann Christian Bach and others. (John Jahn)

 

‘Thanksgiving’

Present Music @ Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Nov. 20

On the Sunday before the Thanksgiving holiday, Present Music serves up its annual musical meditation on gratitude, which it has been so doing for more than a decade now. True to its highly successful history, this will be a joint effort involving multiple musical disciplines. The Bucks Native American Singing and Drumming Group perform traditional Wisconsin Native American music, while both the Hearing Voices Ensemble and Arrowhead High School Choir open their throats for such works as Henry Brant’s Mass in Gregorian Chant and Book of Hours, a brand-new piece by Robert Honstein. (John Jahn)

 

THEATRE:

 

UnSilent Night

Next Act Theatre, Nov. 17-Dec. 11

Next Act’s Producing Artistic Director David Cecsarini describes UnSilent Night as “a winter fable set in a small Milwaukee radio studio on Christmas Eve, 1953.” It was, he explains, an era in which “the modern miracle of radio brought thousands of people a magical connection to other worlds; a lifeline that told them they weren’t alone.” As for its general plot, Cecsarini shares that, “what begins as a business-as-usual holiday evening with idle talk of Santa, sugar plums and Usinger’s sausage gradually brings us close to a few damaged people in need, with the possibility that help will be rendered, a lifeline tossed.” UnSilent Night is a Next Act original and is receiving its world premiere. It’s a collaborative effort by John Kishline and Edward Morgan—the latter also serving as director of the production. UnSilent Night stars David Cecsarini, Doug Jarecki, Andrew Muwonge and Molly Rhode. Next Act promises its audiences “an ingenious tale of broadcast suspense, trimmed with the season’s music, stories, nostalgia and the possibility of redemption.” (John Jahn)

 

Lobby Hero

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre @ The Broadway Theatre Center, Nov. 23-Dec. 18

As this production’s director, C. Michael Wright, explains, “Lobby Hero is one of my favorite plays of all time. I love the issues it explores; I love the complexity of the characters; I love the frankness of the humor. I even love the title!” Indeed, Lobby Hero has a great pedigree; its author is Kenneth Lonergan, the acclaimed writer whose best-known work, the film You Can Count On Me (which he both wrote and directed), won the 2000 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Drama. “Ultimately, this play is about everyone’s burning need to find a role model,” Wright sums up. “Aren’t we all looking for a ‘hero’—someone fearless and virtuous that we can believe in and attempt to emulate?” (John Jahn)

 

ELF The Musical

@ The Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall, Nov. 22-27

If the title sounds familiar, it should; ELF was a 2003 New Line Cinema hit film starring Will Ferrell in the eponymous role: an orphan who is unexpectedly transported via Santa’s bag of presents to the latter’s North Pole headquarters. Elf The Musical features songs by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin and book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin—a creative team that has received many Tony Award nominations and victories. The Marcus Center hosts a nationally touring troupe; the production is directed by Sam Scalamoni and choreographed by Connor Gallagher. (John Jahn)

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