By Mary Boyle
The Hunchback of Notre Dame began as a Gothic novel written by Victor Hugo, published in 1831. Interestingly, the main purpose of the story was to encourage the preservation of the Medieval cathedral (a cause that Hugo was quite passionate about), and the novel, which was immensely popular, actually served that purpose. While Hugo's detailed descriptions of the cathedral's architecture inspired a generation to save old buildings, the rest of the story continues to endure and inspire today, with the most popular version being the 1996 Disney film.
Arguably one of the darkest of the animated collection (although it still managed a G rating), Disney's Academy Award-winning Hunchback was a significantly happier story than Hugo's novel, and featured powerful music by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Then, in 1999, playwrights James Lapine and Peter Parnell created a musical that borrowed the music of the Disney film, along with some new additions, and more of Hugo's original story. The result is a much darker, more powerful production, better suited for mature audiences. This is the version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame the Waukesha Civic Theatre has chosen to kick off it's 61st Season.
Directed by Mark E. Schuster, WCT's Hunchback of Notre Dame asks the same question as its predecessors: "What makes a monster, and what makes a man?" The pious archdeacon, Dom Claude Frollo (Brant Allen), is the seemingly benevolent caretaker of Quasimodo (Ryan Peter Dziuba), the deformed bell-ringer of Notre Dame, who has never been allowed to leave the cathedral. Phoebus De Martin (Kevin J. Gadzalinski) is a handsome, pompous, womanizer, and a recent arrival in Paris, having accepted a position as Captain of the Cathedral guards. All three fall like rocks for the beautiful, kind-hearted gypsy, Esmeralda (Andrea Ehlinger), whom they encounter at the Feast of Fools, but which of them is truly worthy enough to win the girl?
The powerful music is what makes this production, and a full Cathedral Choir, an on-stage Orchestra, Directed by Josh Parman, and a Congregation and Cast of talented singers, all under the Direction of Yeng Thao, does it justice. Brant Allen, who returns to WCT after playing Javert in Les Misérables, positively embodies Frollo; Ryan Peter Dziuba is a brave and remarkable Quasimodo, and Andrea Ehlinger is well-cast as Esmeralda. All in all, Hunchback is an excellent way to kick off both the WCT Season and the Holiday Season.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame runs through November 12th at the Margaret Brate Bryant Civic Theatre Building, an intimate, wonderfully retro space located in historic downtown Waukesha. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 262.547.0708, by
Fax at 262.547.8454, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at http://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.
By Mary Boyle
For the fifth year, Port Washington's farm-to-table restaurant, Twisted Willow, hosted their Harvest Dinner, a six-course extravaganza featuring food from local producers, as well as Twisted Willow's own farm, benefiting the Ozaukee Family Sharing Food Pantry.
The restaurant was closed on Saturday, October 21st, to accommodate this special meal, which has grown so much in popularity that two seatings were offered: one at 5 p.m. and one at 7:45 p.m. The dinner is served over a leisurely pace, and guests may choose whether to include a pairing.
The First Course was a Gorgonzola Dome; a blend of gorgonzola and mascarpone cheeses served with pears, Little Mountain Apiaries honey, crushed hazelnuts, dried cherries, and a housemade rosemary cracker paired with Cynar Spritz, a bitter Italian liqueur made from artichokes that was complex, but still light and refreshing.
The Second Course was an excellent Wild Mushroom Chowder, featuring locally foraged wild mushrooms and TW Farm's rainbow chard, as well as fingerling potatoes, brandy cream, and a topping of walnut gremolata paired with a Pozi Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
A Grilled Plum Salad with frisee, arugula, baby spinach, local dried honey crisp apples, roasted pecans with a sherry vinaigrette and topped with local Marieke young gouda, from Thorpe, WI, made for a sweet and delicious Third Course, paired with a New Glarus Staghorn Octoberfest.
A seared Alaskan halibut was served with TW Farm's roasted poblano creamed corn and delicata squash puree, carrot top, parsley oil, local bacon, and micro-cilantro, and paired with an Alain Normand Macon La Roche Vineuse for the Fourth Course.
A refreshing Palette Cleanser of Lemon Italian Ice with lavender and orange zest was made by The Amazing Ice Cream Co. in Port Washington, which is a recent venture by the owners of the Chocolate Chisel.
The Fifth Course was a roasted red deer loin, served with parsnip and yukon potato puree and a lingonberry demi-glaze. A little formed mound of locally foraged miatake mushroom bread pudding, which was reminiscent of turkey stuffing, and brown sugar baby carrots were served alongside, and this dish was paired with M. Chapoulier Petite Ruche - a sharp, peppery red.
Finally, the dessert: a warm TW Farm kabocha squash and olive oil cake, which was similar to a pumpkin bread, topped with The Amazing Ice Cream Co.'s Ginger Ice Cream and candied pumpkin seeds - the combination of which can only be described as "amazing." This was paired with a Mocha Manhattan, which had a wonderful chocolaty scent, but was quite strong.
As usual, Chef Dan Wiken and the team are masters at combining flavors, and the attention to detail - from food to drinks to decor - is outstanding. The staff are so inviting, and the restaurant has such a warm, indulgent ambiance, particularly with these large community dinners. If you missed your chance at the Harvest Dinner this year, I strongly encourage you to make your reservations for the next one. My advice: arrive hungry, or you will definitely run out of room before you hit dessert!
By Mary Boyle
Do you knit, crochet, quilt, or sew? Do you love to garden, bake, or can food? Perhaps you're a woodworker, or a photographer. Maybe you are a beekeeper, or you make your own wine or maple syrup. Do you paint, make baskets or ceramics, or make things out of leather? Are you a poet, a scrapbook or greeting card maker, or do you make your own soap or candles? Possibly you just have a really cool collection of something? If any of that, and more, applies to you, then the Ozaukee County Fair wants you for their Open Class Division.
The Ozaukee County Fair - one of the last free fairs in the Midwest - is organized each year by the Ozaukee County Agriculture Society. Every first Sunday in August, the Fair comes to a close, but the planning for the next one begins. Anyone can become a member of the Society for a very little fee, and if you really want to be involved in the Fair, you can take a turn serving on the Board, like Jamie Nevins, who is hoping to bring a little more attention to the Open Class Division, an often overlooked opportunity at the Fair.
Most people are aware that various 4-H groups show their horses, chickens, pigs, cows, and other farm animals at the Fair to win ribbons, but they may not be aware that you do not need to be a part of 4-H to enter your animal. Not only that, you don't need to have an animal - there are all kinds of things that can be entered in the Open Class Division at the Fair.
"Open Class is for anyone in the County, and beyond," Nevins explained. "It doesn't cost anything to enter, it's open to all ages, and you can enter everything from art to produce, and more. With the explosion of the DIY movement, it seems like everyone is growing their own food or knitting their own sweaters - why not enter them at the Fair and get bragging rights?"
The deadline to enter items is June 30th, but Nevins hopes that letting people know before the Holidays will give them time to prepare (or at least make them think about saving one of their jars of pickles they canned this Fall). "We hire knowledgeable judges, and you can get feedback from them to help you, so it's a learning experience, but it's also validation for something you're already doing," Nevins said.
Terry Schoessow has worked with a wide variety of categories within the Open Class Division over many years as the Open Class Superintendent, and has seen many a beautiful quilt, cake, and photograph. She, too, is frustrated by the lack of awareness of this great opportunity.
"Many people don’t understand that the 'Open' Class means that it is open to anyone: little kids through adults. A person does NOT have to be a member of a group. We have people who enter from senior centers and group homes, homeschooling families, and couples who compete with each other in baking. There are people who enter one photo, and others who enter 25 photos - one in almost every category. One does NOT have to be a resident of Ozaukee County to enter any non-living class."
Schoessow said one of the greatest hurdles with the Open Class is the deadline, because the Fair is not on people's radar at the end of June. The other problem is making sure to follow the instructions at the top of each department, as different items must arrive at the Fair at different times. A list of available things to enter, called a Premium Book, is put online in late winter or early spring, with paper copies available at public libraries and various other places around the county. The 2017 Premium Book is still available online, and the books don't change drastically from year to year, so it's a good way to see all of the different categories.
"Commercial vegetable growers and florists have their own divisions to display their creations separately from the amateurs," Schoessow said, "And there is also Department 17, which is for anyone with a Special Need who lives in Ozaukee County. Fun categories, such as 'Tallest Weed,' 'Most Unusual Vegetable,' and 'Heaviest Cabbage' get attention."
Entering your work at the Ozaukee County Fair can bring more than ribbons, or even validation: Nevins mentioned that she hired a cake decorator whose work she saw at the Fair, so it's an excellent way to market your skills, as well. In any event, what better way to pass a long Wisconsin Winter than planning a project for a warm summer day at the Ozaukee County Fair?
For more information about the Open Class Division, go to: www.ozaukeecountyfair.com/premium-books/.
By Mary Boyle
I admit it: I am not as well-read as I would like to be. I never slogged my way through War & Peace, Gone With The Wind, or Moby Dick, and the Disney animated film of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the closest I've ever come to getting acquainted with Hugo's great work; however, after I saw All The Great Books (Abridged), which opens In Tandem Theatre Company's 20th season, I felt significantly less guilty about being under-read. In fact, I felt positively relieved! You, too, can find absolution from your ignorance by attending this fast-paced, witty play happening at the Tenth Street Theatre in Milwaukee through October 29th.
Playwrights Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, who are also responsible for The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) and The Complete History of the World (Abridged), turn the audience into students and the theater into a classroom...except you're remedial students, and the teachers are actually the Coach (Doug Jarecki) and the Drama Professor (Ryan Schabach), along with a Student Teacher (Chris Goode), since the English Teacher met with an untimely accident. Oh yes, and they're going to cram in all the great works of literature into 90 minutes. No problem.
Doug Jarecki, who played the Coach in In Tandem's 2008 production of the play, returns to reprise his role as the only teacher who could summarize Little Women as a football play, and he does so, brilliantly. Ryan Schabach's drama queen of a Drama Professor is spot on, and Chris Goode channels Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure as a dimwitted, but sometimes surprising, Student Teacher. While total literary nerds might get more of the jokes, I believe audience members will be surprised by how much these great works have become a part of our culture, and how much they already know about them, even if they've never cracked open the book at all. While some works are regarded with respect, others are viciously ridiculed. Nonetheless, you will leave the play feeling smarter than when you arrived and, perhaps for the first time, you'll have fun while you're learning!
All The Great Books (Abridged) runs through October 29th at the Tenth Street Theatre, located at 628 N. 10th Street in Milwaukee. Tickets are available by calling (414) 271-1371, in person at the Tenth Street Theatre Box Office, or online at www.intandemtheatre.org (additional fees apply to online orders).
In Tandem Theatre is pleased to partner with Literacy Services of Wisconsin (LSW) to collect books during the comedy, All The Great Books (Abridged). Illiteracy is no laughing matter, but donating great books can be a fun way to help support non-readers in our community. Books for all ages are recommended!
About In Tandem Theatre
In Tandem Theatre, a 501(c)3 nonprofit theatre located in Milwaukee, was founded in 1998 by Chris and Jane Flieller with the commitment to produce exciting, innovative and professional live theatre by presenting creative and eclectic programming that enlightens, inspires, provokes, and entertains a diverse audience in an intimate atmosphere. Its name, In Tandem Theatre, reflects the connection between audience and actor, the audience and the written word – an intimate experience obtained when live audiences are engaged in strong storytelling. In Tandem Theatre is committed to creating innovative, exciting live theatre designed to inspire, enlighten, provoke and entertain a diverse audience through comedy, drama, musicals, classics and new works.
By Mary Boyle
You are likely to be quite familiar with the MGM film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang if you are over the age of 40. Directed by Ken Hughes, Chitty was written by Hughes and the famous children's book author, Roald Dahl, based on a 1964 novel by Ian Flemming. The movie starred Dick Van Dyke, and was brimming with memorable songs written by the amazing Sherman brothers, who have written more motion-picture musical song scores than any other songwriting team in film history, including Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Charlotte's Web, and The Aristocats. Adapted for the Stage by Jeremy Sams, First Stage brings Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Milwaukee to introduce a whole new generation to the magic story of a very special car.
Directed by Jeff Frank, Chitty is a story of the magic of childhood imagination, but also the very real magic of love. Jeremy and Jemima Potts (double cast as Jack Trettin/Seth Hoffman and Paige Landrum/Michalene McQuide) spend their summer playing in a beloved old car in the nearby junk yard, but when a scrapper wants to buy it, the junk yard owner gives the children a chance to purchase it first. Through an amazing bit of luck, their struggling inventor father, Caractacus Potts (Jackson Evans), comes up with the necessary funds to make the purchase. After a bit of tinkering, Chitty is unveiled, and the family discovers she is more than she seems! Unbeknownst to them, the rulers of Vulgaria are also after the car, and they send their spies, Goran (Nathan Wesselowski) and Boris (Sara Zientek), who mistakenly kidnap Grandpa Potts (Robert Spencer). Now, Caractacus, Jeremy, Jemima, and Truly Scrumptious (Malkia Stampley -- last seen with First Stage in Welcome to Bronzeville) must save Grandpa while avoiding the Child Catcher (Teddy Warren) and the Baron (Drew Brhel) and Baroness (Elyse Edelman) of Vulgaria. Luckily, they have the help of a Vulgarian toy maker (Rick Pendzich) and the children of Vulgaria on their side.
Wonderful costume design by Lyndsey Kuhlmann, and scenic design by Martin McClendon, really transports the audience to early 1900's England. With a cast full of Milwaukee favorites, live piano music by music director Paul Helm, and fantastic choreography by the duo of Milwaukee Ballet's Michael Pink and his wife, Jayne, Chitty is a delightful, magical time for audience members of all ages. Well done, First Stage!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs through November 5th at the Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N. Water St. in Milwaukee. Tickets are available in person at the Marcus Center box office at 929 N. Water Street, by phone at (414) 273-7206, or online at www.firststage.org.
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
Gilbert and Sullivan were masters of the comic opera, and almost entirely responsible for the modern musical. Last season, Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee tackled G & S's Pirates of Penzance, to the delight of audiences, but in their inaugural season in 1959, they did Gilbert and Sullivan's 1885 work, The Mikado. The production was so popular with audiences that Skylight has done it every decade since, but this time around, they decided to shake things up a little and do Hot Mikado -- a swinging, jazzy, bluesy, gospel number that will have you laughing out loud and clapping along!
Hot Mikado was a 1939 Broadway Musical, produced by Mike Todd and based on Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, with an all-African-American cast, starring the amazing Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. This production mostly stayed true to G & S's original, but the musical arrangements by Charles L. Cooke were all Jazz.
Director Austene Van, who is making her Skylight debut, sets her Mikado in a 1940's nightclub, creating a play within a play scenario that is so perfect, I can't believe that nobody has done it before. The phenomenal six-piece band on stage, led by music director Michael Duff, completes the nightclub feel, but seating a few audience members at small tables at the sides of the stage goes the extra mile.
"I think Skylight audiences will be thrilled by this updated version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic masterpiece," Van said. "It remains true to the wonderful G & S music and harmonies, but takes a fresh approach to address some of the out-dated dialog and stereotyping that makes audiences wince. I am fascinated with Gilbert & Sullivan’s ability to craft such a funny and outrageous story while hiding political and cultural messages. In 1885, when The Mikado premiered in London, it was a time when the world was swept up in a craze for all things Japanese, so the messages are hidden behind the opulence of Japanese motifs."
Milwaukee actors and Skylight favorites abound in this production, and they are favorites with good reason. Chris Klopatek, who was previously in Pirates of Penzance, is Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner. Rána Roman, who can be seen on stages all over Milwaukee, is Yum-Yum. Ryan Cappleman is brilliant as the multi-personality-disordered Pooh-Bah, the "Lord High of everything else." Making their Skylight debut is Michael Penick as Nanki-Poo, Peter Sipla as The Mikado, Alexis J. Roston as Pitti-Sing, and Christie Burgess as Peep-Bo.
Though she is also making her Skylight debut, she is no stranger to Milwaukee: Jamecia Bennett, the Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, director, vocal arranger, producer, and the new lead singer of the 3-time Grammy Award winning Sounds of Blackness, absolutely kills it as Katisha -- in fact, I believe I can safely say that the reason you need to see Hot Mikado is so you can hear this woman sing.
Bennett and Cigarette Break will be performing for one night only in the Skylight Bar and Bistro this Monday, October 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $20 at the door, for cash only, and entry is limited to the first 100 patrons. The Skylight Bar and Bistro is located on the second floor of the Broadway Theatre Center.
Hot Mikado only runs through October 15th in the beautiful Cabot Theatre, and tickets are going fast! Tickets can be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, located at 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward, or by calling (414) 291-7800, Monday–Saturday, noon - 6 p.m. Box Office hours are noon - 6 p.m. The Box Office window is also open two hour s prior to each performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org.
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. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.
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: