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Performing Arts Weekly 1.15

Jan. 3, 2017
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Combat Boot Camp @ Waukesha Civic Theatre, Saturday, Jan. 7

As the WCT explains it, “for the uninitiated, Combat Boot Camp challenges high school-age playwrights, directors and actors to bring original scripts from initial concept to performance before a live audience” over only a four-day period (Jan. 4-7). There is “no advanced preparation, no warning, no mercy—just instinct, ability and raw talent on display.” Hence, it seems the event’s eponymous comparison to actual military-grade boot camp sounds most apropos.

The participants know not what they will be asked to write about, star in or direct until the first day of Camp. The budding playwrights’ subjects and locations are quite literally drawn from a hat; what they get is what they have to commit to paper. It’s only on the Friday before the public performance that the young actors and directors get to see the scripts that they will have, likewise randomly chosen. 

No matter what transpires over the period of preparation, the show must go on, doing so at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7. It’s certainly a unique way to experience several premieres by youngsters of the Academy at Civic Theatre (ACT) all in one evening. And who knows, you might see the next generation’s William Shakespeare, John Ford or Elizabeth Taylor and be able to say you saw them first. (John Jahn)


‘Real Time’ @ Urban Ecology Center, Riverside Park, Jan. 6 

That big room with the fireplace in the Urban Ecology Center should be a comforting place for Andrea and Daniel Burkholder’s first First Friday movement/music show of 2017. The couple’s work often focuses on environmental issues and will do so here. Their guests are terrific: choreographer Dawn Springer with Milwaukee Ballet dancer Janel Meindersee and composer Jon Mueller with musicians Erin Wolf and Shawn Stephany, will present a new installment in the working partnership Springer and Mueller began with Alverno Presents. The ticket price is up to you; cash only. (John Schneider)



SueMo: A Dance Experience @ Danceworks, Jan. 14-15 

The professional SueMo Dance Company and pre-professional SueMo II—a hardworking group of skilled youngsters who train with company members and dance on tours and in competitions—will unite for a signature concert of new works in SueMo’s range of no-holds-barred contemporary styles. Co-founders Melissa Sue Anderson and Morgan “Mo” Williams, Associate Artistic Director Krista Smutek and SueMo II Director Emily Landry have each choreographed a personal response to the meaning of the word “transcendence.” 

“I want to make it so everyone can come to our show,” Williams told me. “Kids can laugh. If someone likes really artistic work, their brains will get stimulated. Someone who likes athleticism will be entertained. Some of it might be cheesy but somebody likes that. Nothing’s limiting us. I value technique but I also value being entertaining. I believe you can merge both worlds. Personally I like music. I like to choreograph to the beat. I bring a lot to every sound. I don’t take my time. I hit you in the face.” 

A Chicagoan trained in ballet, modern and street dance styles, Williams was twice a candidate on “So You Think You Can Dance.” The first time around, an injury sidelined him; the second, he was cut at the final audition. He returned to professional dancing with Michigan’s Eisenhower Dance but a second injury convinced him to devote himself to teaching and choreography. He met Anderson, a commercial dancer from Los Angeles, at a national teaching convention. After she was hired by Brookfield Dance Academy and he by Studio One Dance Company in Wales, they founded SueMo, assembling skilled dancer friends from several states for festival performances and national residencies and building a local reputation for work distinguished by racial and gender equality as well as showmanship. (John Schneider)


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