By Mary Boyle
Most of the area theatre companies take a break over the summer months, when everyone would rather be outdoors and soaking up the sun, but there are a few whose season only coincides with Wisconsin's warmest months, and they bring their performances outdoors, with an almost exclusive focus on the most famous of playwrights: William Shakespeare.
Now entering their fifth season, the Summit Players are a group of mainly Marquette Alumni who are determined to make Shakespeare accessible to families by performing for free at State Parks throughout Wisconsin. This year, the production is the Bard’s best-known tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Their plays use the original language, but they are edited for time and to be as family-friendly as possible, while still retaining the brilliance that the Bard intended – they even offer a pre-show workshop that is perfect for school-aged kids. The Players will be just north of Oz at Kohler-Andrae State Park on Saturday, August 3rd, with a workshop is at 5:30 p.m. and the show at 7. You will need a vehicle admission sticker to get into the park, which you may purchase at entry. To see the Summit Players full schedule and learn more, go to: www.summitplayerstheatre.com/
Optimist Theatre has been doing Shakespeare in the Park in Milwaukee since 2010, and they return for their third season at the Marcus Center’s Peck Pavilion with A Comedy of Errors. Milwaukee’s James Pickering and Robert Spencer, who were brilliant in last season’s production of King Lear, will grace the OT stage again this summer. The production opens for a preview the evening of Wednesday, June 26th at 8 p.m., with Opening Night the following evening at 8 p.m., and runs through Saturday, July 13th. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m., with Sunday performances at 7:30 p.m. There is one noon matinee on Tuesday, July 9th. Performances are free, and it is recommended to arrive no later than a half hour before the performance to claim your seats. To see the full schedule and learn more about Optimist Theatre, please visit: http://www.optimisttheatre.org
Door Shakespeare has been doing Shakespearean productions, as well as works by Moliere and Oscar Wilde, in the Garden of Björklunden’s 405-acre estate on Lake Michigan in Baileys Harbor for over 20 years. This season they will perform the Bard's Henry V, Directed by Matt Daniels, and Merry Wives of Windsor, Directed by Marcella Kearns, from June 18th through August 24th. Both Directors are well-known to Milwaukee audiences, both for directing and on the stage, but are making their Door debuts, and join a cast of several other Milwaukee favorites, including Elyse Edelman, James Carrington, Carrie Hitchcock, and Mark Corkins, who were all on the Door’s stage last summer. To learn more about Door Shakespeare, their play schedule, and their other programs, visit http://www.doorshakespeare.com.
For those willing to travel just a bit further, one of the best outdoor theatre experiences in Wisconsin is just outside of Spring Green at the American Players Theatre, the country’s second largest outdoor theater devoted to the classics. Celebrating their 40th year this season, APT has multiple productions, both modern and classic, throughout the summer on two different stages, one outdoor and one indoor, but they never fail to perform at least one of Shakespeare's plays. This year, APT has selected two by the Bard: Twelfth Night and Macbeth. The APT season opens Friday, June 15th, and runs through Sunday, October 6th at the outdoor theater and into November for the indoor. To learn more about APT's complete season, including free concerts, go to: https://americanplayers.org/
There is a reason that Shakespeare in the Park can be found in outdoor spaces throughout the country: in William Shakespeare's time, his plays were mainly performed in open-air theaters, so it feels right to recreate those conditions for today's audiences. The outdoor theatre experience, much like an outdoor concert, has an energy all its own that must be experienced to be understood. While every live theatre performance is unique, the weather and nature are crucial and unpredictable parts of the outdoor theatre production that give an entirely different, and highly individual, dimension to a play, and make for an unforgettable performance. Add to the itinerary of your camping trip, or go just for the show, but make sure you add one of these performances to your summer calendar!
Hames Nature Preserve is a 7 acre property in Waubeka along the Milwaukee River. This Ozaukee Washington Land Trust property is new to Treasures of Oz and features artist-in-resident Hal Rammel, who is using pinhole photography and field recordings during ARTservancy. Visitors at the Eco Tour will learn about water safety with Kettle Moraine YMCA and check out the kayak and canoe launch
Treasures of Oztreasuresofoz.org
Fine art in nature, hiking, birding, raptors, getting in the water, just being there - however you like to connect to nature, you will find it at Treasures.
Treasures of Oz celebrates its tenth year with another wonderful eco-tour filled with six
treasures sites, some new and some favorites - all with an infusion of art. This free, family-friendly event happens on June 15th. All sites are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Celebration headquarters at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve stays open until 4:30p.m.
The art infusion comes from an artist-in-residence program between the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust and Gallery 224 in Port Washington. Called ARTservancy, the program places artists in land trust preserves for a year to create work that evolves from their interaction with nature. Virmond Park, an Ozaukee County site, has its own art installation, the largest in Ozaukee parks and preserves, created by artist Sally Duback with many of Ozaukee’s school children.
New sites to the tour include the Hames Preserve on the Milwaukee River in Waubeka and Birchwood Hills Nature Preserve in the City of Port Washington. One of the favorites is the Cedarburg Environmental Study Area, which boasts an amazing ant village. Well-known and well-loved naturalists Kate Redmond and Tom Kroeger will once again
teach and showcase the inter-workings of nature. This team is both brilliant and totally
delightful to hear.
Another favorite, Sauk Creek Nature Preserve, with its stunning trails along an iconic creek, will feature artist-in-residence Risé Andersen, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, OWLT, two former Port mayors who are devoted to this preserve, and KleenTest Products, the neighbor across the street. Visitors will learn how this local manufacturing company utilizes company-wide sustainability efforts to make a positive difference in our community.
Forest Beach will have multiple exhibits to see. There are trail walks the through multiple bird habitat areas, music, and an always-fun, always unique silent auction. The Raptors of Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation will do a live raptor talk at 1:00 and Randy Hetzel with be there all day with his array of wild critters. Butterfly lovers will enjoy learning to raise monarch butterflies at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve; the Monarch Workshop is the second in a series of three that culminates with a butterfly release party in August.
Attendees can find a map, directions and download a passport after May 1st at
treasuresofoz.org and get their passport stamped at each location. Passport stamps can be traded for free raffle tickets at Forest Beach at the end of their tour.
Treasures of Oz is sponsored by Sweet Water, the Junior Woman’s Club of Mequon Thiensville and the WeEnergies Foundation. It is a collaboration between the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, Ozaukee County Parks and the many organizations in the Ozaukee Treasures Network.
Food: it's something we all have in common, seeing as everyone needs to eat. Luckily, we have a plethora of Farmers Markets to get fresh, local food all over Ozaukee County; and, if you do it right, you can hit one almost every day of the week! Here are the details:
Port Washington Port's Farmers Market will be the first to open for the season on Saturday, June 2nd, during the Port Family Pirate Daze. Main Street is closed between Franklin and Wisconsin Streets from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday from June 2nd through October 27th, except July 14th (because of Fish Day), with fresh produce, honey, soaps, bakery, live music, and more.
Saukville Located at Veterans Park in the center of downtown, Saukville's Farmers Market happens every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., beginning on June 24th and going through October (except September 3rd), with fresh produce, flowers, and arts and crafts.
Thiensville Thiensville's Village Market opens Tuesday, June 12th at Village Park, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will continue every Tuesday through October 16th. Live music and The Best "Dam" Chef Competition are some of the highlights of this market, aside from fresh food, flowers, and more.
Cedarburg The Cedarburg Makers & Growers Market, which features a variety of artisans and locally grown produce, happening every Friday from June 8th through October 26th from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. in the Cedarburg Cultural Center parking lot. located at the corner of Washington Ave. and Mill St.
Grafton Grafton's Farmers Market happens Thursdays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. at Veteran's Park beginning July 12th and through September.Vendors include many varieties of farm-fresh, home grown produce, flowers, honey, fresh-baked breads, Seasonings, Cheese Curds, Hand-made soaps, Balms, and sprays, popcorn, gourmet chocolates and more. Mel's Charities will be serving pulled pork sammys, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, brats and hot dogs, as well as food trucks selling cupcakes, crepes, tacos and more. In addition, the Grafton Public Library will be joining the Market each Thursday for Story Time with songs, rhymes and stories for young children and their families, and Riveredge Nature Center will be doing Kayaking and Tree Climbing on certain dates.
Fredonia A relative newbie on the Farmers Market scene, the Fredonia Farmers Market takes place at the Fredonia Government Center from 2-6 p.m. every Wednesday from June 13th through October 31st.
If you just can't make it to the market, there are other ways to get your local food! Outpost in Mequon is committed to local and regional produce and products, with several of their items coming from producers within 100 miles of the co-op. There are also a number of farms in Oz that sell directly to consumers, including Witte's Vegetable Farm and Kay's Home Farm (which has pasture-raised beef) in Cedarburg, Rare Earth Farm in Belgium (which is a CSA, but also has an online store), Polzin Farms in Grafton (which has pick your own strawberries, and more!), The Victory Garden Farm (which is hoping to add CSA shares soon), Willoway Farm CSA (which even has flower shares) in Fredonia, and Wellspring CSA in Newburg.
Do you see something we've missed? Contact us, and we'll add it to the article! Mary@OzaukeeLivingLocal.com
By Mary Boyle
The music of Cole Porter is part of the fabric of American culture. From Broadway musicals to film, even if you don't recognize his name, I can almost guarantee you've heard his music: "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Anything Goes," "It's De-Lovely," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Let's Do It," and "Don't Fence Me In," to name a few. His most popular musical took Broadway by storm in 1948 and won the very first Tony Award for Best Musical. Now, Milwaukee audiences have their chance to see Porter's gem, Kiss Me, Kate, with Skylight Music Theatre through June 16th.
Skylight's season finale, and the final show for longtime Artistic Director Ray Jivoff, Kiss Me, Kate was based on the infamous bickering of the famous husband and wife actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne during their 1935 production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Fun fact: Lunt was a Wisconsin native, and the couple owned Ten Chimneys, which is now a popular tourist attraction and museum in Genesee Depot.
Inspired by Shakespeare's frequent use of plays within plays, Kiss Me, Kate is a musical within a musical. Set in the 1930's, actors Fred Graham (Andrew Varela) and Lilli Vanessi (Rána Roman) are a divorced couple who find themselves working together again in a musical production of The Taming of the Shrew. Sparks still fly between them, but they turn to fury when Lilli finds out the flowers she received from Fred on opening night were really meant for their beautiful co-star, Lois Lane (Kaylee Annable). Meanwhile, Lois's gambling-addicted boyfriend, Bill Calhoun (Joe Capstick), is in trouble with the Mob and, to save himself, tells them his name is Fred Graham so, besides having to deal with his furious ex-wife who announced she was leaving mid-show, Fred also has a couple of gangsters show up in his dressing room threatening him. To save the show, Fred tells the gangsters that he can only pay back the money if the show goes on, but the show can't go on without Ms. Vanessi who, much like the Shrew, must be forced to cooperate.
With exceptional Music Direction and Choreography by Kurt Cowling and Amy Brinkman, respectively, Kiss Me, Kate, has the bold and brassy jazz vibe of the 1930's, along with the rampant sexism that came with it; but, as long as you can chalk that up to the time period, this musical is still witty and lots of fun. As Jivoff says, "Here's hoping we can learn from the past and appreciate that things have changed a lot since Shakespeare and Porter's time!"
Roman and Varela, both Skylight regulars, have incredible chemistry together and deliver brilliant performances among a very talented cast, including Milwaukee's Jonathan Gillard Daly, who is well-cast as Howell and Baptista. One of the highlights of the show, however, are the antics of the two gangsters, played by Doug Jarecki and Kelly Doherty (who recently played Miss Trunchbull in Matilda with First Stage); their performance of "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" is absolutely fabulous. Besides being a musical with great historical significance, Skylight's production of Kiss Me, Kate is a perfect end to an excellent season and a smashing farewell to Ray Jivoff, whose leadership at Skylight has been an asset to Milwaukee theatre. This show is not to be missed.
Kiss Me, Kate runs through June 16th at the Broadway Theatre Center's beautiful Cabot Theatre, located at 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. Tickets may be purchased at the Box Office, online at www.SkylightMusicTheatre.org, or by calling (414) 291-7811.
About Skylight Music Theatre
Skylight Music Theatre's mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience, in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight presents productions "Skylight Style" –bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage, but with the audience, as well.
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. This year's guest speaker will be Russ Saueressig, a member of Post 410, and the program will also include a performance by Matthew Baughman, NOSD bands, and other youth organizations.
Belgium Memorial Day will begin with Mass at 8 a.m. at St. Mark's Lutheran Church at 200 Park St. The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. on Main St. at East Lane, followed by a program at Community Park at 11 a.m., located at 106 Beech St. A cookout will be held afterwards by the American Legion Melvin Wester Post 412, with free beer, soda and water.
Saukville The Landt-Thiel American Legion Post 470 will have a prayer service at the Union Cemetery on South Main St. in Saukville at 8 a.m., 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. near 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 for a ceremony. A free luncheon will be served at the Legion Hall following the ceremony.
Cedarburg The parade begins at 9 a.m. at the corner of Bridge St. and Washington Ave, 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 free will lunch will follow at the Howard J. Schroeder American Legion Post 457's Clubhouse located at 6050 W. Mequon Road.
Happy Memorial Day, everyone.
By Mary Boyle
Bard & Bourbon Theatre Company has been bringing drunk Shakespeare to Milwaukee's audiences since 2015 and, if you're a fan of the Bard, it's really an interesting way to experience his work. While the production is as fully staged as any other company's work, one actor takes a turn each show to do their part while taking shots of bourbon, given by their fellow cast members, throughout the performance. While every performance is always unique, even across the normal run of a show, the drunk factor adds a tremendous variable, as well as a great element of fun, to these performances. Many of Shakespeare's works contain at least one drunk character, including The Tempest, which B&B will perform at the Tenth Street Theatre through May 27th but, just to make it more interesting, it rarely the drunk that is the drunk!
The Tempest is the story of Prospero (Joel Kopischke) who, along with his infant daughter, Miranda (Rayne Kleinofen), were banished to sea when Prospero's brother, Antonio (Maggie Marks), stole the Dukedom with the help of the Alonso, the King of Naples (Victoria Hudziak) and the King's brother, Sebastian (Gabriella Ashlin). Prospero and Miranda land on an island inhabited only by the spirit, Ariel (Grace DeWolff) and a human-like creature named Caliban (Ashley Retzlaff), who become servants to the now wizard-like Prospero. Many years have passed when Prospero senses his enemies are near to the island and, plotting revenge, he whips up a storm that tosses them unto his shore, separating the King's son, Ferdinand (Rick Bingen), from his father, Sebastian, Antonio, and the gentle old Gonzalo (Ashley Retzlaff), and sending the drunkard, Stephano (Ro Spice-Kopischke), and the fool, Trinculo (Madeline Wakley) into Caliban's path, thus setting the stage for Prospero's revenge.
Even without added drunkenness, The Tempest is a play full of humor, so it works very well with the addition of a random drunk. Directed by Samantha Martinson, who has also been an actor with B&B, the production is well-cast, with B&B favorites Joel Kopsichke, Grace DeWolff, and Ashley Retzlaff delivering strong performances, and newbies Rayne Kleinofen, Victoria Hudziak, Gabriella Ashlin, and Ro Spice-Kopischke making valiant debut performances. Rick Bingen is particularly fun as Ferdinand, even sober - I'd love to see him as the drunk! The Tenth Street Theatre is the perfect place for this type of production: casual and intimate. This show has a limited run; if you're looking for a fun time, run out and see it while you can!
The Tempest runs through May 27th at the Tenth Street Theatre, located at 628 N. 10th St. in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets are only $18 ($15 for Students, Seniors, Military or Artists) and may be purchased at www.BardAndBourbon.com or at the door. To keep on top of their season, follow Bard & Bourbon on Facebook:
The Saukville Area Historical Society will once again host the 2nd Annual Crossroads Rendezvous Historical Reenactment at Peninsula Park May 17-19, where reenactors from across the Midwest, representing various people of the Fur Trade Era in Wisconsin from 1750-1840, will create a “Living History Experience” for all ages.
The popular event, which the SAHS ran from 1991 – 2006, returned in 2018 thanks to new organizers, and fellow historical reenactors, Mary Boyle and Sara Dahmen of Port Washington, who were wishing for an event to attend closer to home.
“We wanted an event in our own community, and we thought it would be easier to work with something that people were already familiar with, rather than reinvent the wheel,” Boyle said. “Several of the original organizers were still with the Historical Society, and they were so welcoming and instrumental in getting the event restarted.”
Last year, over 500 area students participated in the School Day and over 2,000 visitors attended throughout the weekend, making for a very successful inaugural event that raised over $2,600 for the Saukville Area Historical Society, as well as money for Boy Scout Troop 840, which served food for the event. Organizers expect the camp to double in size this year, and hope that the visitor count will double, as well.
“With an outdoor event, you’re always subject to the weather, and we had a very cold and rainy Saturday and Sunday morning last year,” said Dahmen. “Not only that, we had very little time to put the event together, and a tiny budget. The budget didn’t improve much for this year, but we had time on our side to reach more people. With a little luck, the weather will be better for us, too.”
Friday, May 17, is the School Day from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. While the public is allowed, the day is geared towards area students and homeschoolers. Stations are scattered throughout the camp where children can try their hand at 18th Century Games, join the French Marines or British Militia, speak with a voyageur, look at actual 18th Century artifacts, and observe tradesmen such as blacksmiths, tinsmiths, silversmiths and woodworkers, as well as other activities. New this year, and just for the School Day, is Wisconsin Folk Singer David HB Drake, who will perform a variation of his “Gather by the Waters” presentation at 11 a.m., noon, and 1 p.m., and Riveredge Nature Center, who will offer canoe paddling lessons (on land), as well as a look through a microscope at what resides in the Milwaukee River, which runs around the park.
The weekend is open to the public, and visitors are encouraged to park at U-Haul Moving & Storage, located at 835 E. Green Bay Rd. in Saukville, and take the shuttle to the event, as there is only limited disabled and motorcycle parking on site. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with Opening Colors at 10 a.m., Mini-Militia and Marine Drills for kids at 11 a.m., a Kid’s Tactical at 2:30 p.m., 1776 Drilling with Lauzun’s Legion at 4 p.m., and more. Sunday hours are 10 a.m – 4 p.m., with Opening Colors at 11 a.m., an F&I Tactical at 1 p.m., a Cannon Demo at 2 p.m., and more.
Also new this year is a collaboration with the Ozaukee County Historical Society and their 5th Annual WWII Event, Metz: The City That Wouldn't Surrender, at Pioneer Village in Saukville, which takes place the same weekend as the Crossroads Rendezvous. Programs for each event will offer $1 off an adult entry to the other event, so hang on to those programs!
The Crossroads Rendezvous is hosted by the Saukville Area Historical Society, a 501(c)(3) organization, and made possible through a Tourism Grant from the Saukville Chamber of Commerce, as well as the generous sponsorship of these local businesses: Port Washington State Bank, Charter Steel, FPZ, Inc., Backwoods Tin & Copper, U-Haul Moving & Storage, Riversedge Restaurant, The Paperie, Mueller Heating & Cooling, and Saukville Feed Supply.
By Mary Boyle
Helen Keller was born almost 140 years ago in Alabama. At the age of 18 months, she was stricken with an illness that took away both her sight and her hearing, thrusting her into a world of complete darkness. While there were schools for the blind, and braille had been invented 56 years before Helen was born, there was little known about how to help a person who was both deaf and blind. Luckily, Helen's parents were people of means, and they were able to find for a teacher for Helen when she was just 6 years old. Annie Sullivan, who was just 20 years old, herself, was able to finally give Helen the gift of communication. Helen wrote of this transformation at length in her autobiography, The Story of My Life, published in 1903, which the playwright William Gibson used as a basis for his Broadway production in 1959. Fifty years later, Helen's story is still touching audiences, still incredibly relevant, and the perfect production to end the First Stage Young Company season with. Don't miss your opportunity to see The Miracle Worker.
Directed by the amazing Matt Daniels, who is also the Director of Young Company, the award-winning training program for advanced high school actors at First Stage, The Miracle Worker is not only a testament to the human spirit, but a reminder that all people, regardless of their abilities, have value and deserve a chance to reach their potential; that our greatest teachers can be found in those we least expect; and, that good communication can overcome almost any obstacle.
The Young Company cast for The Miracle Worker includes: Jennie Babisch as Annie Sullivan; Meghan DeRoche as Kate Keller; Eloise Field as Anagnos/Belle; Addy Grace as Percey/Doctor/; Kyra Mathias as Viney/Martha/; Ashley Nord as Helen Keller; Mathilde Prosen-Oldani as James Keller; Gabe Smith as Captain Keller; and, Chloe Winney as Aunt Ev.
While most people know the story of a deaf and blind girl who learned to communicate, Daniels insists that one of the best parts of the story is what most people don't know. "Helen Keller went on to be the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college. She went on to a life of social activism, including co-founding the American Civil Liberties Union, fighting for worker's rights, working tirelessly for the American Federation of the Blind, and acting as America's first Goodwill Ambassador during WWII. She was friends with mark Twain, Albert Einstein, and Eleanor Roosevelt. She learned several languages, including their braille counterparts, received six honorary doctorates, and fought for humanitarian causes until she dies in 1968."
Imagine what may have happened if Helen's parents hadn't believed in her ability to learn? If they hadn't fought for her and given her every opportunity? If they had let their prejudices against Annie Sullivan's age or the fact that she was Irish and from the North stop them from hiring her? What if all of the people in Helen's life underestimated and undervalued her because of her deafness and blindness? The world would be a very different, and much darker, place.
Not only is this a classic production that everyone should see, the Young Company does a phenomenal job with it; they have never failed to impress me, and I will continue to insist that their productions are some of the best theatre in Milwaukee at an incredible value. Don't miss your chance to see this.
THE MIRACLE WORKER runs May 10 – 19, 2019 at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located at 325 W. Walnut Street in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets are $14 and may be purchased online at www.firststage.org or through the First Stage Box Office at (414) 267-2961. Performance runtime is approximately two hours and twenty minutes, which includes two intermissions. Suggested for families and young people ages 12+.
About First Stage
First Stage is one of the nation’s leading theaters for young people and families. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten and entertain. Its Theater Academy, the nation’s largest high-impact theater training program for young people, fosters life skills through stage skills and serves over 2,100 students each year. As Wisconsin’s leader in arts-integrated education in schools, First Stage’s dynamic Theater in Education programs promote literacy, character building and experiential learning throughout the curriculum, serving over 20,000 students each year. First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2012), and was the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’sEureka Award, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education and the arts for its Next Steps program for students on the autism spectrum (2013, 2015). First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Milwaukee Arts Partners and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).
By Mary Boyle
Every now and then, a new theatre company pops up in Milwaukee, supported by larger, incubating theatre, and one of the latest is Lemonade Theatre Productions. Utilizing the Next Act Theatre in downtown Milwaukee, Lemonade offers up the first production of their 2019/2020 season, The Odd Couple: Female Version.
Set in the mid 80's, The Odd Couple: Female Version is Neil Simon’s revision of his hugely successful 1965 play, The Odd Couple. The play sparked the 1968 film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, which then sparked the television show starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman from 1970-1975. Simon, who passed away at the age of 91 last August, holds the record for receiving the most combined Oscar and Tony nominations, and is also remembered for his other hit plays, Barefoot in the Park, Biloxi Blues, and Lost in Younkers.
Directed by Jessica Betts, this version of The Odd Couple really is just like the popular sitcom, but with women. Olive Madison (Brittany Ann Haut), a divorcée with a successful career, now lives alone in her New York City apartment. Though she's no Betty Crocker (the place is a mess and the food isn't edible), it's the place where Olive's group of friends (Michelle White as Sylvie, Marina Dove as Mickey, Sheng Lor as Renee, and Megan Harington as Vera) meet for Trivial Pursuit night once a week. When one of the friends, Florence Unger (Carrie Johns), doesn't show up for the game, they know something is wrong. Sure enough, Florence's husband of 14 years wants a divorce. Olive, wanting to help her friend and thinking it might be nice not to live alone, invites Florence to live with her, but Florence's obsessive cleanliness and dedication to domestic arts might be more than Olive can take. When Olive organizes a double-date with the Costazuela brothers, Jesus (Jesse Kaplan) and Manolo (Dennis Lewis), immigrants from Spain who reside in the same building, the wrong type of sparks start to fly.
Although the production is light and fun, especially if you're old enough to remember the 1980's, there's a reason this play didn't hit it off the way the original did: it just doesn't work quite as well, nor is it quite as believable, with women. Haut and Johns are well cast as the odd couple, but it's Kaplan and Lewis as the Costazuela brothers who are complete scene-stealers and get the most laughs. While the production is lighthearted and fun, it's a bit rough around the edges, mostly due to some awkward scene changes. For the most part, the play feels like being the studio audience for a taping of a sitcom which, if you had any experience with the first versions of The Odd Couple, is about what you would expect. Nonetheless, Lemonade Theatre's first offering is an amusing, entertaining, and affordable way to spend a couple of hours of your time.
The Odd Couple: Female Version runs through May 12th at Next Act Theatre, located at 255 S. Water Street in Milwaukee. Tickets may be purchased by calling (414) 278-0765, or online at nextact.org, as well as at http://www.lemonadetheatre.com under the "Box Office" tab. Lemonade Theatre Productions is also running a special for Mother's Day: Buy One Get One Free when you enter the code "LOVEMOM" at nextact.org for the Mother's Day show, good for up to 4 tickets!
Reprinted with permission. Originally published in the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
By Sari Lesk
Allison Hayden said she is tired of people not talking about the Holocaust when they re-enact World War II.
Hayden, an Israel, education and Jewish Community Relations Council program specialist at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, is a hobbyist re-enactor. As a pastime, she combines her passions for performing and history to educate people on subjects they may not have learned about.
Hayden typically participates in a re-enactment of the 7th Banija division, a Yugoslavian unit from World War II. But for an upcoming event, she and her friends are branching out to tell a lesser-known story.
For a May event at Pioneer Village in Ozaukee County, Hayden is participating in a re-enactment of the Bielski brigade.
“If you want to accurately talk about history, you need to talk about all aspects, and you really need to talk about the Holocaust,” she said. “It can’t be ignored anymore in the re-enacting community, because it’s leading to a generation of people who don’t have as much Holocaust knowledge.”
The Bielski brothers created a family camp in the forest of Western Belarus, according to Yad Vashem. They created their partisan unit after their parents and other relatives were killed in a massacre of about 5,000 Jews in 1941, and went on to save about 1,200 Jews.
“I hear a lot of people say, ‘Well why did the Jews just let themselves get murdered in the Holocaust? Why didn’t they do anything to fight back?’” Hayden said. “I’ve always tried to be like, ‘No, they did fight back. There was a lot of resistance.’ But I feel like it’s never represented at re-enactments.”
Hayden is creating the impression with Daniel Palama, who founded their original 7th Banija unit. Palama, who has a degree in Holocaust studies, said his research shows the Bielski brigade became so organized that its village included a synagogue, schools and a hospital.
Palama said he wants people to learn from this re-enactment how a culture was lost as people were displaced from their homes – an issue he said is mostly skirted around in World War II re-enactments.
He also said the re-enacting community needs “a narrative that helps to make things much more complex than just the black-and-white of it being G.I. Joe versus Jerry from Bavaria.”
Hayden and Palama said they will create a camp with Jewish antiques for this impression, including prayer books, along with Russian and Polish Jewish books. In addition to being available throughout the day to talk with visitors, their unit is creating a formal presentation, they said.
Hayden said she hopes people will better understand the Jewish experience during the Holocaust.
“There was a sense that the Jews weren’t going to go down without a fight, and that Jewish life was present and precious,” she said. “Despite the best efforts of the Germans and their collaborators, they could escape, and they could move on and they did fight back. They didn’t just roll over to their deaths, as I’ve heard some people say.”
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The Ozaukee County Historical Society Holds its 5th Annual WWII Event
The year is 1944 and the city is Metz, France, a city located in northeast France that had previously fallen to Germans in 1940 and was annexed to the Third Reich. The Allied forces of France, with its heavy fortifications, became an important focal point for the Germans to mount a defense to contain the advancing U.S. Third Army. The battle for Metz, France lasted from September until the end of November in 1944, with heavy causalities. The last isolated forts of Metz did not surrender until well into December 1944.
On Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, the Ozaukee County Historical Society and the 1st Allied Airborne Living History Re-enactors will transform Ozaukee County Pioneer Village into a European Village in the midst of World War II. Get ready to step back in time and experience, first-hand: “Metz: The City That Wouldn’t Surrender”.
Attendees can expect to see the military encampments of U.S., German and French units, to name a few. They will see the Veteran’s Military Museum military vehicles on parade, plus demonstrations, uniforms, artifacts and weaponry of the time. They will visit a French café, a USO canteen in a 1907 railroad station and the Metz field battles.
A special USO style dance is held on Saturday at 7:00PM in the Village Hall featuring wartime favorites and the music of the forties by one of Milwaukee’s best swing band, Swing Nouveau. The re-enactors and USO girls will wear the dress-best to entertain the public, as well. Come listen to the music and attend the dance for only $8.
The event runs from 10AM to 5PM on Saturday and 10AM to 3PM on Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for students (13-17) and Seniors and $5 for all veterans and children 5-12. World War II veterans and small children (under 5) are free. Wrist bands will be provided, so those who attend can see the encampment during the day on Saturday and come back for the dance in the evening, at no additional cost. Food and beverages are available both days. Pioneer Village is located at 4880 Highway I in the Town of Saukville. Go to https://www.ochs.co.ozaukee.wi.us/events for event schedule and further details of the event.