Performing Arts Weekly: May 11-17, 2017
First Stage’s Timely, Barebones ‘Animal Farm’
There were many on the far left who thought that Soviet Russia might offer a new way to live in peace and brotherhood. What a crashing disappointment it became, however, when it devolved into a ruthless personality cult built around the mass murderer, Joseph Stalin. Among those thoroughly disenchanted and disillusioned was British author George Orwell, whose allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) eviscerated Stalinist Russia.
“Animal Farm affords some great training opportunities for the Young Company,” says First Stage Director Matt Daniels. Such opportunities present themselves through actors “physicalizing animal behaviors” and as they “devise innovative solutions to theatrical puzzles” that arise when confronted with barebones, scripted stage directions such as “The revolution takes place.” First Stage’s production of Animal Farm is a version that was adapted for the stage by Ian Wooldridge.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
With a cast of more than 40 and crew of 25, this production’s a major undertaking by Racine Theatre Guild. The first of many collaborative works by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice that have become worldwide successes, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, loosely based on Bible stories, premiered in 1970. (Interestingly, its own genesis was as a cantata recorded for a Decca Records concept album in ’69.) This family friendly musical, much like its successor, Jesus Christ Superstar, combines many music genres into a thoroughly enjoyable whole.
May 12-June 3, Racine Theatre Guild, 2519 Northwestern Ave. For tickets call 262-633-4218 or visit racinetheatre.org.
The Power of Love
Love is the common sentiment that runs through this Concord Chamber Orchestra concert—especially the tragic kind. Three different composers’ takes on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet are on the program: Piotr Tchaikovsky’s late-Romantic fantasy-overture, Romeo and Juliet, the lovely interlude Walk to Paradise Garden from Frederick Delius’ opera, A Village Romeo and Juliet and excerpts from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Finally, the Concord Chamber Orchestra plays three pieces from John Williams’ touching score to the film Schindler’s List.
7 p.m., May 13, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1615 N. Wauwatosa Ave., Saturday, May 13. For tickets visit concordorchestra.org.
Music for the Last Queen
Harpsichordist, fortepianist and Great Lakes Baroque founder Philippe LeRoy, violinist Allison Edberg Nyquist and cellist Craig Trompeter invite us to Marie Antoinette’s court for music she would have heard (maybe even while eating cake). Some rarely heard 18th-centrury works are on the program including music by Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet-Charpentier, Nicolas Séjan and other rarely heard French masters of the late 18th century
7 p.m., Friday, May 12, North Shore Congregational Church, 7330 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Friday, May 12. For tickets visit greatlakesbaroque.org.
Bel Canto Chorus presents the Wisconsin premiere of a new work by Kile Smith: Canticle, a piece for chorus, cellos and percussion. Smith, whose works tend toward the religious in both ambiance and inspiration, is composer-in-residence at Philadelphia’s Church of the Holy Trinity. Bel Canto also performs three short pieces arranged by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds: O Salutaris Hostia, Only in Sleep and the traditional and beloved Amazing Grace.
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 17, Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall, 929 N. Water St. For tickets call 414-273-7206.
Requiem for the Living
As Chant Claire’s Tim Backes says of the choral ensemble’s next concert: “Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living puts a twist on the traditional requiem structure. The intent with his piece is to pray for the living as well as the dead. The themes…focus on the struggles of life and the pains of mortality while also celebrating everything our earthly lives hold for us.” Surely no hints of gloomy and alarmist “judgment day” concerns in that. Other pieces by Max Reger, Ralph Vaughan Williams and others round out the uplifting program.
7 p.m., May 13, St. Sebastian Catholic Church, 5400 W. Washington Blvd. General admission seating is free, but a $10 donation is suggested.
The 13th performance of the dance group Hyperlocal MKE is called Easement, a completely improvised dance and music show. Co-directors Tim Russell and Maria Gillespie formed the group three year ago to be a very experimental and improvisational troupe that would perform at all sorts of venues throughout our area; in Easement’s case, the performance will be in a Milwaukee sculpture garden.
3 p.m., May 14, Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W. Brown Deer Road. Admission is free to members or with admission to the garden.