By Mary Boyle
After unveiling a brand new production last season, with record-breaking ticket sales, The Milwaukee Repertory Theater brings back many familiar faces, but also makes some important tweaks to this season's holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol at the Pabst Theater.
Now in its 42nd year, A Christmas Carol has undergone numerous changes over its lifetime, but perhaps none so dramatic as the amazing set design created by Todd Edwards Ivins, which was unveiled last season, and continues to inspire awe. The streets of Victorian England actually move from Scrooge's Counting House to his dark, cold home, and even from the past to the future. The costumes, by Alexander B. Tecoma, have also been given a beautiful update, and are more close to the time period and what is described in Charles Dickens' story. Music Director, Dan Kazemi, who directed several of The Rep's musicals, including Guys & Dolls, I Love a Piano, and Man of La Mancha, brings his magic to A Christmas Carol, as well.
Last season also saw a significant change in the way the story was told, involving quite a lot of audience participation; a British style of theatre known as "panto," which is quite common across the pond around the holiday season, but didn't go over quite as well here. Clearly Director Mark Clements headed the reviews and, while there is still some audience participation involved, it is much improved from last season. The dark parts of the story, such as the appearance of Marley, the Ghost of Christmas Future and Ignorance and Want, are still quite dark, scary, and sometimes loud, and may be a bit much for young children, though these parts were also toned down from last season. Then again, Charles Dickens, who makes his appearance and begins the tale himself, does warn us that it is, in fact, a ghost story.
Many of the actors from last year's production returned in their same roles this season: most notably, Jonathan Wainwright, who is wonderful as Dickens and Scrooge; the amazing Angela Iannone, as Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Dilber, and more; Reese Madigan as Bob Cratchit; the lovely Deborah Staples as the Ghost of Christmas Past; and, of course, the venerable Jonathan Smoots as the Ghost of Marley. Jesse Bhamrah, who was in the ensemble last season as an Emerging Professional Artist at The Rep, takes his turn as Scrooge's nephew, Fred, and Annelyse Ahmad, who is an ERP this season at The Rep, plays Fred's wife, Ellen. Milwaukee favorites, Rána Roman and Todd Denning, come on board as Mrs. Cratchit and a whole new Ghost of Christmas Present, and Michael J. Farina, who was recently Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys & Dolls, is a perfect Mr. Fezziwig.
New to The Rep are Arya Daire, as Belle, Brade Bradshaw as Dick Wilkins and the Ghost of Christmas Future, Kim Giddens as Alice, Kelsey Rodriguez as Nanny, Daniel Stock as Belle's Husband, and Christopher Peltier as a very believable Young Scrooge. Also new in the ensemble are Anthony Baldasare, Trachel Yvette Green, and Alex Morales.
There are a lot of children in A Christmas Carol who have also been in the cast before, including Ashley Bock, who returns for her third year and plays Tiny Tim this season; Teddy Anagnostopoulos as Sniffer, who returns for his third year; Amalia Cecsarini, who plays the Turkey Boy this season, but has played Tiny Tim twice; Gabe Smith as Young Scrooge, who returns for his seventh year; Tory Trettin as Fan, who returns for her fifth year; Jack Trettin as Boy Scrooge, who returns for his fifth year; Kai Liebenstein, ensemble, who returns for her third year; Liam Jeninga as Peter Cratchit, who returns for his second year; and Jack Burns, Tighe Leszczynski, and Ethan Sprague, who are all in the ensemble and return for their third, second, and second year, respectively. New to The Rep this season are Olivia Vitrano as Want, Eloise Bejma as Emily Cratchit and Ignorance, Taylor Shanel Barnes as Martha Cratchit, Anthony Wells as Mathew Cratchit, Juliana Garcia-Malacara as Belinda Cratchit, Jakobie Jackson as Thomas, and Makayla Campbell in the ensemble.
Dickens' story never gets old, and a bit of snow falling in the historic Pabst theatre accompanied by some beautifully sung Christmas Carols does wonders to put one in the holiday spirit. All in all, A Christmas Carol remains a memorable, magical holiday tradition.
A Christmas Carol runs through December 24th at the Pabst Theater, located at 108 E. Wells St. in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased online at www.milwaukeerep.com, by phone at (414) 224-9490. or at the Box Office at 108 E. Wells Street.
About The Rep
In its 64th Season, Milwaukee Repertory Theater is dedicated to providing the highest level of professional theater to Milwaukee and Wisconsin, in addition to offering a wide range of educational and community programs. Under the leadership of Artistic Director, Mark Clements, and Managing Director, Chad Bauman, Milwaukee Repertory Theater ignites positive change in the cultural, social, and economic vitality of its community by creating world-class theater experiences that entertain, provoke, and inspire meaningful dialogue among an audience representative of Milwaukee's rich diversity.
Halloween comes but once a year; a chance to be someone (or something) else, and a chance to get some free candy, of course. For those who feel the need to grumble or refuse candy to teenagers participating, please refrain from saying, "Aren't you a little old to be trick-or-treating?" Let them be young; it's better to be trick-or-treating than getting into trouble. Just smile and reward them with candy.
Here are the details for Trick-or-Treating in Oz:
There's nothing quite as Americana as the 4th of July in the small town communities of Oz. Looking for a celebration near you? Look no further!
Belgium The celebration begins early in Belgium, with fireworks at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, June 23rd at Heritage Park.
Thiensville Thiensville's Family Fun Before the 4th is a nearly all-day event, and a great day for the whole family! On Saturday, June 24th, the parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. Follow it to the Village Park, where free ice-cream, live music, and a variety of events await, followed by fireworks at dusk.
Grafton Grafton's Independence Day Celebration happens on Saturday, July 1st, in conjunction with the annual Grillin' in Grafton. The parade begins at Grafton High School at 11 a.m., and makes its way to Centennial Park. Fireworks will take place at dusk.
Rotary Music Festival in Cedarburg The Drum Corps International Tour will return to Cedarburg on Monday, July 3, for the 18th Annual Rotary Music Festival. Cedarburg High School Stadium is set to play host to a lineup of 7 World and Open Class corps during this event that will take place on the eve of Independence Day.
Friestadt It doesn't get any more Americana than Trinity Friestadt's 4th of July Parade and Picnic! Spend your day enjoying one of Ozaukee County's best kept secrets, beginning with an outdoor worship service at 10 a.m. (weather permitting), an 11 a.m. picnic (complete with root beer floats), a tour of the Trinity Historical Grounds, and a 1 p.m. parade, followed by a flag raising, and the very German music of the Alte Kameraden Band and dancing by the Pommersche Tanzdeel Dancers.
Port Washington Port's parade begins at 11 a.m. on the 4th; follow it to Veteran's Park on the lakefront for an old fashioned ice cream social, bicycle judging, a watermelon seed spitting contest, and music throughout the afternoon. The only fireworks over the lakefront in Oz begin at dusk, and are best seen from Rotary Park or Coal Dock Park.
Saukville Saukville's parade begins at 1 p.m., going through downtown and ending at Grady Park for a picnic from noon-5 and music from 2-4. There will be music and food from 5 p.m. until dusk, and fireworks are at dusk over Peninsula Park.
Cedarburg Cedarburg's 4th of July Hometown Celebration boasts the largest parade in Ozaukee (roughly 2 hours long!), which begins at Fireman's Park at 10 a.m., and heads south along Washington Ave., making its way to Cedar Creek Park, where a picnic, music, and activities can be found until 9:30 p.m. The Madison Scouts perform at 1 p.m., and Dante's Bop will play from 2-7:30 p.m. The Civic Band performs in the band shell at 8 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9:30.
Happy Independence Day, Ozaukee!
Memorial Day is a time to honor those who gave their lives in military service to our country, but it wasn't always that way. The tradition began after the Civil War, for honoring soldiers of both sides who had died. After World War I, the tradition was changed to honor all those Americans who died fighting in any war. It was officially made a holiday in 1971, giving us the three day weekend that has come to be associated with the beginning of summer, store sales, and barbecues. In recent years, communities have returned to the roots of this holiday, and it has regained some of the solemn feel of its origins. Oz has several parades and ceremonies to attend -- here are the details:
Fredonia The Warren Kane American Legion Post 410 will hold a ceremony at Veterans Park at 9 a.m., with a flag raising and the playing of taps by area students.
Belgium A mass and Memorial Day ceremony will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the Lake Church Chapel. The parade beings at 10:30 a.m. on Main Street, followed by a program at Community Park. A cookout will be held at the American Legion Melvin Wester Post 412, with free beverages, after the program.
Saukville The Landt-Thiel American Legion Post 470 will have a prayer service at the Union Cemetery on South Main St. in Saukville, and the parade begins at 9 a.m. from nearby Riverside Park and ends at Veterans Park on East Green Bay Ave. for a ceremony. Lunch will be served following the ceremony at the Legion Post at 601 S. Dekora St.
Port Washington The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at City Hall, and continues to Veterans Park on the lakefront for a program, where the Port Washington High School Band will play patriotic songs. The Van Ells-Schanen American Legion Post 82 will provide soft drinks and ice-cream to children following the program.
Grafton The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Grafton American Legion Rose Harms Post 335 and continue to Veteran's Memorial Park. A luncheon will be served at the Post following the parade.
Cedarburg The parade begins at 9 a.m. at Firemen's Park, followed by a ceremony and reception at the Peter Wollner Post 288 at 10 a.m., located at W57 N481 Hilbert Ave.
Mequon/Thiensville The parade begins at 10 a.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, and continues to Mequon City Hall for a ceremony. An observance and lunch will follow at the Howard J. Schroeder American Legion Post 457's Clubhouse located at 6050 W. Mequon Road.
Happy Memorial Day, everyone.
Over 100 years ago (in 1914, to be exact), President Woodrow Wilson made Mother's Day an official holiday. As one might guess, it didn't take long for restaurants, florists, and confectioners to get in on it. In fact, the woman who campaigned for the holiday, Anna Jarvis, was so disgusted by the commercialization of the holiday that she spent the rest of her life fighting to remove it from the calendar. Of course, Mother's Day is here to stay, so if you're going to spend your money, you may as well do it locally, and there are plenty of good restaurants, florists, and confectioners in Oz to choose from!
Twisted Willow is serving up a special brunch menu from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., featuring a build your own Bloody Marys and Mimosas, special dishes, and a dessert menu that any Mom would love. Eating gluten-free? There are good options on all of the menus! Reservations are suggested -- call (262) 268-7600.
Port Hotel serves brunch from 9:30-3:30 ($26.95 for adults and $8.95 for kids), featuring prime rib, and roasted turkey. Reservations are recommended at (262) 284-9473.
Newport Shores serves brunch from 9:30-2:30, with a special Mother's Day dinner Menu from 4-9 p.m. featuring lobster tail and prime rib. Brunch is $15.95 for adults, $7.95 for children under 12 and $4.95 for children under 6 (children under 2 are free).
Tello's has lunch and dinner specials, and all moms will receive a rose, with no reservations required.
Beanies will have a special Mexican Brunch menu from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., with free mimosas for mom. Call for reservations at (262) 284-7200.
If you're looking for chocolates in Port, Chocolate Chisel has fresh, chocolate covered strawberries available for the occasion, as well as a wide variety of milk and dark chocolates to choose from. You could also try CoCa LeNa for treats, cards and gifts. Jewelry can be found at Sharbuno Jewelers. Also, moms (and grandmothers) are free at the Port Exploreum!
Firehouse Restaurant has a Breakfast Buffet, featuring a made-to-order omelette bar and more, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $16.95/person (Children 10 and under are half price, and children 2 and under are free). Call for reservations at (262) 284-8886.
For flowers, try Lighthouse Florist.
A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.
Atlas BBQ will have their very first Mother's Day Brunch, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., featuring carved beef brisket, smoked ham and salmon, and more. The cost is $25.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids 12 and under. Reservations are recommended; call (262) 618-2181.
Flannery's at Fire Ridge in Grafton has Brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., featuring a free mimosa with the purchase of an adult buffet. Adults are $17.99, and kids 8 and under are $8.99, while children under 4 are free. Reservations are required; call (262) 375-2977.
The Bloomin Olive is where to go for flowers in the Grafton area, and Sweet Trio has all the sweet treats mom might want.
Joey Gerard’s has a Brunch Buffet from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for $36.95 adults, and $17.95 for kids 3-12 years old, as well as a Dinner Buffet from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., which is $39.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids 3-12 years old. Call (262) 518-5500 to make reservations.
Cafe 1505 is serving brunch beginning at 9 am, with a final seating at 1:30. Highlights Include breakfast tostadas, baileys mascarpone stuffed French toast, and chipotle lime wild Alaskan salmon lettuce cups, as well as homemade chocolate truffles. Reservations are required -- call (262)241-7076).
Nine's American Bistro will have a Mother's Day Brunch from 10:30 a.m. -2 p.m. featuring free mimosas for mom, as well as a chef-attended carving and omelette station, and a separate buffet for kids. The cost is $32.50, $13.50 for kids 12 and under, and free for children under 5. Call for reservations at (262) 518-0129.
A Floral Affair is the place to go for blooms and Get Happy is the place to get chocolate or candy.
Galioto's Twelve 21 will be serving brunch; the cost is $24.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids. For reservations, call (262) 377-8085.
There's always a special caramel apple from Amy's Candy Kitchen or classic candies from Ashley's Confectionery to make mom's day, and flowers from Rachel's Roses.
No No's has brunch from 11:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. For reservations, call (262)675-6960.
The The Islands at Waubeka Fire Hall offers a Mother's Day Buffet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring beef tips, ham, marinated pork chops, peel and eat shrimp, and more. Adults are $14.95, children 10 and under are $7.95, and children 3 and under are free. Call for reservations at (262) 692-5642.
If Mom is an outdoorsy type, she may prefer a hike at Lion's Den Gorge in Grafton, Sauk Creek Nature Preserve in Port, Harrington Beach in Belgium, or a special hike for Moms, such as the Wildflower Hike at Riveredge.
Happy Mother's Day to all from Ozaukee Living Local!
The first Earth Day was April 22nd, 1970, and it was the beginning of the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world, but you don't have to participate globally -- there are many ways to do it locally this Saturday, April 22nd!
In Newburg, there's the Earth Day Service Fest at Riveredge from 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. From preparing and planting cool garden beds in our children’s organic garden to conducing grounds clean-up and invasive species removal to trail maintenance, this fest will provide you an opportunity to get your hands dirty while keeping our sanctuary green. There’s awesome opportunities for groups, families, and individuals of all ages to get involved and make a difference. The day is free and as a special thank you, all volunteers will receive a free lunch at noon and a picnic style festival starting at 11:30am. Everyone is invited to make a nesting bag for birds, experience a composting demonstration, and play in the great outdoors. Our friends from the Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts will be joining us to lead everyone in their very own creation of a tin-can planter!
In Mequon, you can celebrate Earth Day at the Mequon Nature Preserve from 1-3 p.m. This is a free event for families and people of all ages. Kohl’s Wild Theater will perform Aldo Leopold and the Sand County Ghost, and guests can also participate in seed plantings and crafts. Please RSVP to this free event with Amy: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 262-242-8055.
Also in Mequon, the Unitarian Church North is hosting an Earth Day Family Festival from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. The Festival is free and all are welcome. The event activities will be both in the church and, weather permitting, on its naturally landscaped grounds. The church is located at 13800 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, in a building that replicates the Clausing barns built in the area in the late 1800s. The Festival includes children’s nature activities, live folk music, demonstrations by holistic caregivers, fresh organic juices and foods, and numerous 15-minute presentations on homeopathy, mediation, sound healing, and more.
Port Washington has a Community Clean Up in honor of Earth Day, from 8 a.m. - noon. Kickoff will start at 8:00am in Veterans’ Memorial Park. Call the Parks & Rec Office if you or a group you’re part of is interested in helping and would like more information.
262-284-5881. "Goodies" will be provided for those who help out, such as a water bottle, snack, free day at Pirates' Hollow Waterpark, and possibly a free pass to the Milwaukee Zoo!
Also in Port, the Port Washington High School PiraTech Team will host a Community Recycling from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Donations of building materials, tools, and home furnishings will go to Habitat for Humanity, while used bikes will go to DreamBike. Electronics and Appliances (some requiring a fee), as well as Textiles and Scrap Metal will also be accepted.
The Milwaukee Riverkeeper has their 22nd Annual Spring River Cleanup from 9- noon in locations all over southeastern Wisconsin, including Lime Kiln Park in Grafton. Milwaukee Riverkeeper provides the gloves, trash bags, and amazing FREE T-SHIRTS, and you provide the hands and energy to pick up the interesting and sometimes bizarre trash that finds its way into our beautiful river system. Afterwards, come to the Trash Bash, a free celebration in partnership with Rock the Green at Estabrook Park, Picnic Area #8. Music, food, and fun await volunteers!
Happy Earth Day, Oz!
This Tuesday is Valentine's Day and, though many consider it a "Hallmark" holiday, the celebration actually dates back to Roman times; a fertility festival called "Lupercalia."
Times have certainly changed. Today, Valentine's Day is celebrated by friends, family, and lovers, alike, and whether you need a treat for your kids or a romantic gift for your significant other, there are plenty of great, local choices in Oz.
Chocolate Chisel in Port Washington has fresh, chocolate covered strawberries available for the occasion, as well as a wide variety of milk and dark chocolates to choose from. Bring in your own bottle of wine, and they'll even help create a special gift basket for you. CoCa LeNa, also in Port, can help you send a special Valentine Box all over the country!
A beautiful caramel apple from Amy's Candy Kitchen in downtown Cedarburg makes a wonderful Valentine's gift and, while you're in town, make it a gift from Cedarburg with something from Ashley's Confectionery, too!
If you're in the Grafton area, stop into Sweet Trio for a delicious variety of chocolates, candy and caramel apples, or, if you're in the southern Ozaukee neck of the woods, Mequon has Leo and Lou's Children's Wear and Confectionery. and Get Happy.
It's hard to believe, but some people don't like chocolate and candy. If flowers are what you're looking for, you're in luck - there are plenty to choose from! In Saukville, try Lighthouse Florist; in Grafton, there's the Bloomin Olive. Cedarburg has Rachel's Roses, while Port Washington has La Tulipe. In Mequon, try A Floral Affair or Fantasy Flowers.
Perhaps the lovely lady in your life has jewelry in mind? You can't go wrong with Armbruster Jewelers in Cedarburg or Sharbuno Jewelers in Port Washington; both family businesses who have been in their community for many years.
Looking for a special dinner out? No No's in Newburg has a Prime Rib Special on Saturday, February 11th from 4-9, while Newport Shores in Port has specials from Saturday through Tuesday. The Port Hotel will offer a special Valentine's Day Chef's Dinner on the 14th, featuring a 6 course dinner with wine pairings.
However you share the love, put some Oz into it! Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.
Some people like to stay home on New Year's, but for those who are looking for a fun evening out, the land of Oz does not disappoint. This is Wisconsin, of course, so if you're doing the tavern scene, the Ozaukee Taxi will run for free from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. anywhere in Oz -- just call 284-TAXI (8294).
Here are the details, by community:
The Roadhouse Bar & Grill kicks off their New Year's party with live Country music by the Mantz Brothers at 10 p.m. Your $10 cover includes a buffet, champagne, party favors, and a discount on rooms at the Hampton Inn.
Easy Street Pub & Grill in downtown Cedarburg will have the Ozaukee County Jam Band starting at 9 p.m., as well as champagne and party favors to celebrate.
If you're looking for a special dinner for New Year's, look no further than Port's Twisted Willow restaurant, which features an incredible array of entrees and desserts just for this special evening. Newport Shores and Tellos also offer dinner specials for the evening.
No No's in Newburg features a special New Year's Eve dinner between 4 and 9 p.m.
The Firehouse Restaurant has live music by Jim Bathke, as well as a special menu for the evening. Make your reservations by calling 284-8886.
Celebrate the New Year at Joey Gerard's in Mequon. Call (262) 518-5500 to make your reservation!
If you're looking for a brisk way to start your New Year's Day, you can always take a dip in Lake Michigan with the Polar Bears at 2 p.m. in Port Washington's Harbor. You won't find me there, but have at it.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Ever since Michael Pink, the Artistic Director of the Milwaukee Ballet, arrived on the scene in 2002, I have been watching his version of The Nutcracker, which has been my family's well-loved holiday tradition, as it is for so many families in the area. Perhaps you've never been? Perhaps you feel that the ballet isn't "your thing?" I beg you to reconsider. When the lights go down, and the Milwaukee Ballet orchestra begins the opening notes of Tchaikovsky's famous music, you will be enchanted.
Based on E.T.A. Hoffman's 1816 Novella, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the ballet (possibly the world's best known) was written in 1892 by the famous Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, and two choreographers, Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, who used the version of the story by Alexandre Dumas, the well known French novelist, as their inspiration. Interestingly, the ballet was not an instant success, and took many years to be performed outside of Russia. By the 1950's, it became popular in the US, and now it is performed by nearly every ballet company, usually during the holiday season, around the world.
The Milwaukee Ballet has four different casts to accomodate the schedule, which means every performance is a bit different. While full of holiday magic and gorgeous costumes and scenery, Michael Pink's Nutcracker is hardly austere; in fact, keep your eye out for the three clowns, whose changing antics are one of the highlights of the performance. This Nutcracker is an introduction to the ballet that the whole family will enjoy.
New this year is a special Sensory-Friendly Performance on Wednesday, December 21st at 6:00 p.m. In partnership with Autism Speaks and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, this performance is designed for children and adults with ASD and other sensitivity issues or special needs. Recorded music will be softer, house lights will remain on and there will be a designated Quiet Zone where patrons can go if they need to take a break from the performance. Come early and meet the characters from The Nutcracker in the lobby. Call the Marcus Center at 414-273-7121 ext. 213 for tickets. You can also purchase online at marcuscenter.org/mcaccess using the group code AUTISMSPEAKS.
The Nutcracker runs through December 27th at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts in Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased at the Milwaukee Ballet Box Office, located at 504 W. National Ave., or by calling (414) 902-2103. Tickets can also be purchased at the Marcus Center Box Office, located at 929 N. Water St., or by calling (414) 273-7206, or online at ticketmaster.com.
Ozaukee County is the place to be for the holidays! From Thanksgiving through the New Year, there are festive events happening everywhere you turn. Here's the complete listing:
Saturday, November 26th
37th Annual Grafton Christmas Parade at 11 a.m.
Village of Fredonia Tree Lighting, beginning at 6 p.m.
Monday, November 28th
Cedarburg Tree Lighting beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Friday, December 2nd
Thiensville's Tree Lighting, beginning at 6 p.m.
Saturday, December 3rd
Christmas on the Corner in Port Washington, beginning at 3 p.m.
St. Nicholas Day Celebration in Belgium, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 4th
Mequon Winter Wonderland, beginning at 4 p.m.
Saukville Tree Lighting, beginning at 6 p.m.
Saturday, December 10th
Christmas Parade in Belgium, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 17th
Take your kids for a ride on the Polar Express, beginning at 8:45 a.m.
Don't forget the full listing of Cedarburg's holiday events here. Happy Holidays!