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Performing Arts Weekly 2.16

Feb. 14, 2017
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Ars Longa de La Habana @ Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, Feb. 18

Ars Longa de La Habana, founded in Cuba in 1994, has performed Afro-Cuban music throughout Latin America and Europe but has never appeared in the U.S.—until now. Early Music Now brings this fine ensemble to Milwaukee for a public concert highlighting the African presence in 17th and 18th-century music of Latin America, which fairly resonates with echoes of the songs of the African slaves and their descendants. In addition to the concert at UW-Milwaukee’s Zelazo Center, Ars Longa’s residency includes several free events on Friday, Feb. 17, including a program for Milwaukee middle school students, UWM faculty and students and a program at Ronald Reagan High School. The 16-member Ars Longa de La Habana consists of vocalists and musicians, the latter utilizing such unique and seldom-encountered instruments as the viola da gamba, bajón, flautas dulces, sacabuche and chirimías. (John Jahn)


Robin Hood @ Todd Wehr Theater, Feb. 17-Mar. 12

A combination of professional adult actors—including Dominique Worsley as Robin Hood, James Fletcher as Little John and Allie Babich as Marian/Sir Malcolm—are joined by young up-and-coming thespians of First Stage for a production of Joe Foust and John Maclay’s Robin Hood. This will be First Stage’s 60th world premiere for young audiences. As director Jeff Frank says, this work is “full of adventure and laughs,” and, in a retake and reimagining of the original English folkloric tale, “it falls to Marian and the Merry Men-in-training to come to the rescue after Robin, Little John and Friar Tuck are captured.”

Joe Foust—writer, actor, director and fight director—penned Robin Hood with John Maclay (who portrays the Sheriff of Nottingham in this production). Foust once certainly made an impression upon American actor, producer, author, musician and humorist Nick Offerman. On an episode of “Late Night With David Letterman,” Offerman opined that, when he first encountered Foust, he thought, “I wanna hang with this guy. He knows just the kind of trouble I want to get into.” He must have made quite an impression! Find out why at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts’ Todd Wehr Theater. (John Jahn)

The Metromaniacs @ Village Church Arts, Feb. 17-Mar. 4

Windfall Theatre presents the Milwaukee premiere of David Ives’ clever adaptation of French epigrammatist and dramatist Alexis Piron’s La Métromanie in their intimate performance space located at 130 E. Juneau Ave. Ives’ version premiered at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., two years ago. It retains the original’s 18th-century Paris setting and farcical plot involving mistaken identities, misplaced affections and a mysterious poetess whose works have swept through the city like a firestorm. The Washington Post called The Metromaniacs “[an] ingenious resurrection of an obscure 18th-century French comedy” that is “almost criminally enjoyable,” and lauded Ives as “the master adapter and cutup artist…plainly turned on by Piron’s frisky, competitive wordplay and high-octane mix-ups.” (John Jahn)

A Month in the Country @ Kenilworth Five-O-Eight, Feb. 22-26

Ivan Turgenev was a Russian short story author, playwright and novelist whose works began in Romanticism and ended in Realism. His name may not be quite as household as, say, Leo Tolstoy or Fyodor Dostoyevsky, but he was one of their contemporaries, and his novel Fathers and Sons is still regarded as one of the major of fiction from the 19th century. His A Month in the Country, a tale of love and its interwoven stands of comedy and tragedy, will be directed by Jim Tasse and acted by members of UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts Theatre Department. The version of A Month in the Country they’ll be performing is an adaptation of Turgenev’s original by Irish dramatist Brian Friel. (John Jahn)

Broadway’s Next H!t Musical @ South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, Feb. 17

Musical theater improv comes to South Milwaukee’s PAC for one performance. It could run for 20 shows and each would be unique, for Broadway’s Next H!t Musical is purposefully unscripted—completely improvised by a cast of six musical theater professionals who turn to the audience for song suggestions. The audience also votes for its favorite numbers and beholds these inventive performers, somehow, put it all together to form a musical play that is, by its very nature, utterly unpredictable. (John Jahn)

Escanaba in Love @ Memories Dinner Theater, Feb. 17-26

Port Washington’s Memories Dinner Theater is the venue for this comedic prequel to Escanaba in da Moonlight, also penned by Jeff Daniels. Escanaba in Love’s setting is World War II, but far, far from any front line; we’re in a deer camp during hunting season, and this is where we encounter the Soady family. The focus falls mainly upon 18-year-old Albert, who’s determined to make the most of this trip before he goes off to war with the U.S. Army. Deer are certainly on young Albert’s wish list, but what about falling unexpectedly in love? As Chicago critic Tom Williams once opined, “zany characters and raw, small-town humor” make for “a wacky, well-timed and very funny show.” (John Jahn) 

The Few @ Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Feb. 22-Mar. 19

Samuel D. Hunter’s touching drama about loneliness and a search for basic—yet at times quite elusive—humanity receives its Milwaukee premiere in this C. Michael Wright-directed, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre production. MCT partners here once again with talented members of UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. Professor and voice coach Raeleen McMillion and sound designer Chris Guse worked with Wright in creating a fine roster of instructors, students and alumni to portray members of The Few’s chorus. “I relish any opportunity to collaborate with an area university on a production,” Wright states, adding that this play offered “a perfect fit.” The Few’s cast consists of Mitch Bultman (Matthew), Mary MacDonald Kerr (QZ) and James Ridge (Bryan). (John Jahn) 

The Skin of Our Teeth @ Marquette Theatre, Feb. 16-26

MU’s Helfaer Theatre is the venue for this classic play mixing satire, burlesque and farce by American playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder. The acclaimed Wisconsin-born Wilder won three Pulitzer Prizes—for The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Our Town and, yes, The Skin of Our Teeth. This play takes something of the long view of human life on Earth, one could say, for, as Marquette describes it, The Skin of Our Teeth “follows Wilder’s ‘first family,’ the Antrobuses, from Ice Age straight up to present day.” Survival is the key, as the play’s title suggests. (John Jahn)


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