By Mary Boyle
The story of The Wizard of Oz is ingrained in American culture Written by L. Frank Baum, an American children's novelist, the story was a hit upon publishing in 1900, and was made into a Broadway musical just two years later. The movie we all know and love, based on the musical, arrived in 1939, and has the honor of being the very first film made in Technicolor. Then, in 1975, a new musical version of this classic tale made its way to Broadway with a modern African-American setting. The Wiz won seven Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical, and was one of the first Broadway productions with an all-black cast. Now, you can see this groundbreaking musical for yourself, thanks to First Stage.
On a farm in Kansas, Dorothy (Camara Stampley/Reese Parish) lives with her Aunt Em (Cynthia Cobb, who also plays Glinda) and Uncle Henry (Shawn Holmes), and her little dog, Toto, of course. When a twister hits, Dorothy's house is flung to the land of Oz, accidentally landing on the Wicked Witch of the East. The munchkins rejoice, and the Good Witch of the South, also known as Addaperle (Candace Thomas), gives Dorothy the silver slippers off of the deceased witch's feet, and sends her off to see The Wiz to see if he might be able to send her back home. Along the way, Dorothy meets a Scarecrow (Dimonte Henning) in need of a brain, a Tin Man (Darrington Clark) in need of a heart, and a cowardly Lion (James Carrington) in need of some courage. They arrive in the Emerald City and meet The Wiz (Shawn Holmes) at last, but he won't give them anything unless they kill the Wicked Witch of the West, Evilene (Raven Dockery).
Alex Radtke, of Cedarburg, who makes his debut with First Stage in The Wiz, is a part of the "Winkie" cast of young performers. Alex plays a Munchkin, Winkie, and a crow in Scarecrow's garden. Though he isn't a complete stranger to acting, Alex said First Stage "is more of a real deal." By the end of the show, Alex will have performed his parts 27 times to both public and school audiences.
Directed by Sheri Williams Pannell and Ameenah Kaplan, The Wiz remains true to its roots. The costumes by Theresa Ham feature traditional African designs and fabrics, and the adult cast is populated by some of Milwaukee's best black performers. The set, designed by Kurtis Boettcher, had the amazing ability to go from a Kansas Farm to the Emerald City by a simple change of lighting. The Wiz, himself, is inspired by none other than the great James Brown, and Shawn Holmes truly creates a larger-than-life character. James Carrington is absolutely perfect as the Lion, and Raven Dockery is spectacular as Evilene. The Young Performers are double cast, and I saw the Winkie Cast, featuring Camara Stampley as Dorothy, who really held her own with the adult performers. If Todd Wehr Theater could only hold an orchestra, this would be a Skylight-worthy musical. All in all, this family-friendly telling of The Wiz is a road everyone will want to "ease on down" together!
The Wiz runs through March 25th at the Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets may be purchased at www.firststage.org or through the Marcus Center box office, in person at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee or by phone (414) 273-7206 or toll free at (888) 612-3500.
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’s Eureka Award, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education, and the arts for its Next Steps program for students with autism (2013, 2015). First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).
By Mary Boyle
Even if you've never seen Shakespeare's Henry V, it's likely that you're familiar with these words from the play:
From this day to the ending of the world,
This is the story of the young English King, Henry, son of Henry IV and the second English monarch from the House of Lancaster, who invaded France and won the Kingdom at the famed Battle of Agincourt.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Dramatic. Powerful. There's even a little romance with Catherine. How could it possibly get better? Why, you add some bourbon, of course! The Bard & Bourbon Theatre Co., directed by Grace DeWolff, takes this amazing work and, with a sparse cast of 8 actors on a tiny stage with hardly any props, does it absolute justice, but then makes it completely unpredictable by getting one of the actors (a different one each night) completely drunk over the course of the play. Trust me, you don't want to miss this.
Zach Thomas Woods is an admirable Henry V, and the only cast member to play just one character. Ian Tully shines as the Dauphin, Pistol, and Gower. Jeremy Jaymes La Belle, who was drunk when I saw the play, managed the French exchange wonderfully as Catherine's maid, Alice, and Ashley Retzlaff, who played Catherine, was impressive. Christopher Braunschweig was particularly notable as Bardolph. LeAnn Vance returns to B&B as Exeter, Susie Duecker makes her mark as Montjoy and the French King, among others, and Bekah Mitton rounds out the cast as Fluellen, Bourbon, and more. Once again, Bard & Bourbon proves that they do "Serious Shakespeare" with "One seriously drunk actor."
Henry V (drunk) runs through February 17th at the Underground Collaborative, located in the basement of the Grand Avenue Mall, 161 W. Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased by calling (414) 792-9223, or online at https://www.bardandbourbon.com/
By Mary Boyle
William Shakespeare is arguably the greatest playwright and writer in the English language, though, in our modern times, his works are often considered too difficult for your average Joe. Interestingly, the average Joe was exactly who Shakespeare wrote for; his plays are filled with bawdy jokes and songs, slapstick comedies, romance and war --
the very things we crave in our entertainment now. Luckily, the Waukesha Civic Theatre is giving everyone an opportunity to experience The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), so that we may get a taste of the wonder of the Bard. Thirty-seven plays in ninety-seven minutes...what could go wrong?
Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield (former founding members of The Reduced Shakespeare Company), and directed by Dustin J. Martin, Complete Works is pulled off with only three actors, using their real names, and a great deal of audience participation. Nicholas Callan Haubner is supposedly a "preeminent Shakespearean scholar" who, along with Jillian Smith and JJ Gatesman, will present an overview of each of the Bard's plays to the audience. After a 12 minute run-through of Romeo & Juliet, the actors realize they're going to have to speed things up a little. Titus Andronicus is done as a cooking show, Othello as a rap, and all 16 Comedies are squished into one play entitled, "The Comedy of Two Well-Measured Gentlemen Lost in the Merry Wives of Venice on a Midsummer's Twelfth Night in Winter," or "Cymbeline Taming Pericles the Merchant in the Tempest of Love as Much as You Like It for Nothing," or "Four Weddings and a Transvestite," and played with the use of some Barbie dolls and stuffed animals.
The amazing thing about the play is that it manages to make fun of all of Shakespeare's works while maintaining an absolute reverence for them and their author at the same time; thus, fans of the Bard will be delighted instead of offended, and those who are new to the Bard will become fans. It's a win for everyone, really, and a wonderfully good laugh, to boot! If nothing else, see the play because it holds two World Records: one for the shortest-ever performance of Hamlet, and one for the fastest performance of Hamlet — backwards.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) runs through February 18th at the Margaret Brate Bryant Civic Theatre Building, located at 264 West Main Street in downtown Waukesha. Tickets can be purchased by calling (262) 547-0708, or online at www.waukeshacivictheatre.org.
The Waukesha Civic Theatre, Inc. is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to provide quality live theatre performances and educational opportunities that will enrich, challenge and entertain both participants and audience members. In July of 2006, the Waukesha Civic Theatre began its 50th season. With that historic season, WCT joined an elite group: according to the American Association of Community Theatres, of the roughly 7,000 community theatres in the United States, only about 100 can claim 50 years of continuous operation. It has undergone many positive changes from its beginnings in 1957 with productions at Waukesha High School. In 1999, WCT moved from a former church to a beautiful new facility in the heart of historic downtown Waukesha. The building, a former historic PIX movie house, was donated to WCT by Bryce Styza, a prominent local developer who saw the power that the theatre could exert in revitalizing downtown. Since the theatre opened in 1957 to the start of its 51st season in September of 2007, over 10,000 people have volunteered and 200,000 audience members have been entertained.
Everything's Sweeter During Maple Sugarin' Season
Wisconsin winters can be long and that last stretch of waiting for spring can be even longer. Luckily, there's something we like to call "the fifth season" to help fill the gap- maple sugarin'!
With over 40 years of history and around 400 maple trees tapped each year, Riveredge has maple sugarin' in it's blood. Maple sugarin' is a time to celebrate the changing of the seasons, teach about the wonders of the forest and trees around us, and experience the pure magic of turning a byproduct of nature into a delicious treat. Whether this is your first season or your 20th, we hope you'll join us for a season of fun, community, and appreciation for the wonder of nature!
Some of the season highlights include:
LEARN MORE AT OUR BRAND NEW MAPLE SUGARIN' PAGE
This Wednesday 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 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 Mequon has 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? There's Twisted Willow or Newport Shores in Port, and Galioto's Twelve21 in Cedarburg. Over Valentine's weekend, Shully's Cuisine in Thiensville is offering five course dinners inspired by romance movies (get your tickets here!). No No's in Newburg is another consideration.
However you share the love, put some Oz into it! Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.
By Mary Boyle
When you hear the word "zombies," you're likely to associate it with the popular show, Walking Dead, or perhaps some of the more recent films in the genre: World War Z, Zombieland, or Shaun of the Dead. Thankfully, Zombies from the Beyond at the Skylight Music Theatre isn't like any of those shows. In fact, if I were to sum it up in one sentence, I'd say it was Grease meets Rocky Horror Picture Show, with a bit of Hairspray thrown in for good measure; set it in Milwaukee, and you've got a musical that can't be beat!
Milwaukee native, James Valcq, grew up on the Skylight stage, performing, arranging, and conducting. Zombies was Valcq's first full-length musical, which opened off Broadway in 1995 to critical acclaim. He went on to collaborate with Fred Alley on The Passage and Spitfire Grill, which is one of the most frequently performed contemporary musicals, and he composed the music for Anatole, which premiered at First Stage in Milwaukee in 2014. In recent years, Valcq has returned to the stage, and has been seen with First Stage, The Rep, and Door Shakespeare. He is currently the co-Artistic Director of Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay.
Set in Milwaukee at the fictional Milwaukee Space Center, Zombies pokes fun at the Cold War and Space Race fears of the 1950's that helped bring on the Golden Age of Sci-Fi films. Major Malone (Norman Moses) oversees the Space Center, along with his right-hand-man, Rick Jones (Rick Pendzich), who happens to have his eye on the Major's daughter, Mary Malone (Kathryn Hausman). When rocket scientist Trenton Corbett (Matt Frye) arrives at the station, he threatens Jones's place with Mary. Meanwhile, secretary Charlene "Charlie" Osmanski (Meghan Randolph) can't seem to get a date at all, though she's adored by the delivery boy, Billy Krutzik (Joe Kapstick). When the team launches a rocket equipped with a camera to take photos of the sun, they make a startling discovery: a flying saucer headed straight for Milwaukee! The saucer contains none other than Zombina (SaraLynn Evenson), an alien who uses her voice to zombify men. Along with her entourage, the Zombettes, she plans to enslave earth men to bring home and repopulate her planet. Will she succeed?
Directed by Pam Kriger, who co-directed the show with Valcq in 1986 at Skylight, Zombies is just good, campy fun. Anyone from the Milwaukee area will appreciate Valcq's homage to his hometown, which is lovingly rendered by Scenic Designer, Aaron Dyszelski. The original role of Zombina was written for Valcq's sister, a gifted coloratura soprano, but SaraLynn Evenson, who makes her Skylight debut, does the hypnotic voice justice, while pulling off the vampy qualities needed of an alien female bent on male domination. Also making their Skylight debut are Joe Kapstick, who impresses with his tap dancing "atomic feet," Matt Frye, and Meghan Randolph. Milwaukee favorites returning to Skylight are Rick Pendzich, who is hysterical as Rick Jones; Kathryn Hausman's, whose deadpan delivery is brilliant; and, Norman Moses, who reminds me of Leslie Nielson in Airplane. Altogether, a strong cast and another brilliant production at Skylight.
Zombies from the Beyond runs through February 18th in the Cabot Theatre, Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee. Tickets are $30 - $75 (plus tax and fees) and can be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, or by calling (414) 291-7800. Box Office hours are Monday – Saturday, noon - 6 p.m. The Box Office window is also open two hours prior to each performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org.
Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more by calling (414) 299-4964 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Skylight Insights. In-depth discussions with directors and special guests take place one hour before every Wednesday and Sunday performance.
Friday, February 16.
Zombies from The Beyond will be interpreted in American Sign Language on Friday, February 16, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets for this performance, call Skylight Music Theatre's Box Office at (414) 291-7800 and mention the ASL performance for seating in the appropriate section.
Thursday, February 15 at 6 p.m.
A preshow celebration for LGBTQ members and supporters. Tickets include pre-show appetizers and talk by Michael Johnston. Limited availability. Call Skylight Music Theatre's Box Office at (414) 291-7800.
Cabarets Follow Select Zombies Performances
Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Jivoff also announced that cabarets at Skylight Music Theatre’s Bar & Bistro will take place immediately following performances of Zombies from The Beyond on Friday, February 9 and Saturday, February 10 at 10 p.m., with an additional show on Monday, February 12 at 7:30 p.m.
The cabaret features Shawn Holmes and Ben Tajnai, two powerful singers covering a full range of singing styles from gospel to rock to Broadway to rhythm and blues, with accompanist David Bonofiglio. Holmes was featured in Skylight’s Hot Mikado (2017) and seen as Jacob in La Cage aux Folles (2016). Tajnai made his Skylight debut last season as Beadle in Sweeney Todd (2016).
Admission is $10 at the door for all cabarets. Cash and credit card accepted. Cabaret performances are in the Skylight Bar & Bistro, second floor of the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee. Cash bar available at all performances.
For more information visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org, email email@example.com or call the Box Office at (414) 291-7800.