Winter break can be a tough time for parents, whether it's needing to take off work to keep an eye on the kids, or even just finding enough activities to keep them entertained for a whole week with no school. Riveredge Nature Center looks to help solve both problems by offering a special Winter Camp from December 27th to December 29th.
Led by experienced Riveredge staff, winter camp will open up Riveredge's 379 acres to a plethora of winter activities and allow students to spend their break having fun and staying active.
"Many of our campers have experienced our fantastic summer camp and are looking for something new. Winter camp offers many of the same games and activities but with the addition of plenty of campfires, campfire cooking, and of course snowshoes," explained Steff Merten, Riveredge Adventure Education Manager.
Camp options include a half day camp for youth ages 4 to 5 and a full day option for campers ages 6 to 12, as well as an optional overnight stay at the end of camp. Parents are encouraged to register their campers as soon as possible, as spots are limited and may fill. For those still unsure, Merten offered her top reason parents should sign their children up.
"Winter camp is a great way for kids to stay engaged in the natural world while being unplugged. Kids get to explore and try new things while building relationships, what could possibly be better?"
For more information and to register, interested families can visit www.riveredgenaturecenter.org.
About Riveredge Nature Center
For nearly fifty years, Riveredge Nature Center has been a pioneer in engaging people with the natural world. Its 379 acres of restored wild Wisconsin ecosystems, 10 miles of trails for adventuring, and a legacy of hundreds of thousands of kids transformed by a deeply intimate interaction with nature are a testament to Riveredge's passion for this cause. That passion continues today through the building of a movement to bring the great outdoors to families, schools and neighborhoods.
Each season, the First Stage Young Company (the advanced, college-level acting troupe consisting of area highschoolers) takes on one of Shakespeare's plays, and I have yet to see them fail to do it justice; this is certainly the case with The Comedy of Errors.
This hillarious tale of a most unlikely family reunion takes mistaken identities to a whole new level, courtesy of a set of twins who were separated at birth. Miraculously, each set of twins end up going by the same name, and paired with the other's brother; thus, there is Antipholus of Syracuse (Megan Watson) and his man, Dromio (Sydney Salter), as well as Antipholus of Ephesus (Grace Becker) and his man, Dromio (Alex Salter). The fact that the Dromios are actually played by twins makes the farce all the more confusing and hilarious.
The two men of Syracuse go to Ephesus to find their brothers. When they do not return, their father, Aegeon (Abby Barbeau), goes looking for them, but is arrested when he cannot pay the Trader's fine. He tells the Duke (Ariana Padovano) the tale of his wife and twins, and the Duke grants him more time to pay. Meanwhile, the family and friends of Antipholus and Dromeo of Ephesus have come across the versions from Syracuse, and the wild ride begins! What transpires is a 17th century version of "Who's on First" that audiences will love.
Three cast members from the production hail from Cedarburg, including CHS Senior, Teddy Esten, who plays Adriana, the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus. What's interesting about Teddy's role is that, in Shakespeare's time, the female roles were all played by men, as women were not allowed to be actors. Teddy, however, is doing just the opposite.
"Ever since the show was announced last year, there were rumors that it was going to be cross-gendered," Teddy explained. "I had mixed feelings at the beginning, solely because my favorite character was not one of the females (It's actually Antipholus of Syracuse). However, once we got around to casting, I was super stoked to be playing Adrianna... she's a hilarious character."
Fellow CHS students, Grace Reasoner and Sam Crevenston, play merchants in The Comedy of Errors. Grace was in the fall play with Teddy at CHS, but didn't know Sam until rehearsals began, while Sam has known Teddy for years, but was happy to get to know Grace in this production. All three students are bonafide fans of The Bard.
"I will always believe that, no matter how old it gets, Shakespeare's work will always be incredibly relevant," Teddy said. "Social issues have this way of sticking around throughout all time, and the issues adressed in Shakespearean plays are still present and are therefore adressed in the same way. Not only is it relevant to society, but his masterpieces have a great educational value, as well."
Grace was introduced to Shakespeare not through school, but through First Stage. "I am definitely a fan!" she said. "The number one thing on my Christmas list this year is individual copies of Shakespeare's plays. Since I haven't had too much exposure to Shakespeare before joining Young Company, I am taking it upon myself to delve into the depths of his works."
Sam, on the other hand, came across Shakespeare early on: "I have had a very large amount of exposure to Shakespeare throughout the course of my life, and I am a huge fan."
Besides their love of Shakespeare, the three have a common love of First Stage. "First Stage has been amazingly impactful on me," Teddy said. "I have learned almost everything I know about theatre from my teachers there -- specifically John Maclay and Matt Daniels. These two men have helped me grow infinitely as a performer and as a human. I can't thank the people at First Stage enough. On top of the people who work there, the environment that has been established is unlike any other. The people are all so kind and accepting to everyone. That in itself has shaped the way I view people. Everyone's individualism is just brought out in the best way, and it's really refreshing."
Young Company has three more performances left for The Comedy of Errors: Saturday, December 17th at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 18th at 3:30. All performances take place at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located at 325 W Walnut Street in Milwaukee. Tickets ($14) may be purchased at www.FirstStage.org/Comedy or through the First Stage Box Office at (414) 267-2961.
About First Stage
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in the 2016-2017 season, First Stage is one of the nation’s leading theaters for young audiences and families. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families 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 uses theater to promote active learning throughout the curriculum, serving over 20,000 students throughout southeastern Wisconsin each year. In 2012, First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. First Stage is the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Eureka Award in 2013 and 2015, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education, and the arts. First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).
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.
A Christmas Carol at The Rep
"Marley was dead."
If that isn't the best beginning to a Christmas story, I really don't know what is; you simply can't have Christmas without Charles Dickens' timeless tale. Then again, if you've never made The Rep's annual production of A Christmas Carol a holiday tradition, this is perhaps the best year to start, as The Rep begins its tradition anew, with a World Premier adaptation by Rep Artistic Director, Mark Clements, and a complete re-imagining, of this well-loved tale.
The most stunning difference from past productions is the set design, by Todd Edwards Ivins, which is simply amazing. The streets of Victorian London swirl around the stage, merging seamlessly between the cold home of old Ebeneezer Scrooge to the warm and lively home of Bob Cratchit, giving a nice flow to Scrooge's journeys with the Spirits. Also different is the approach of the play, which now requires a bit of audience participation. This change is quite a departure from the past productions, but may prove more appealing to young children in the audience.
Those familiar with past productions may recognize some familiar names in the cast, though not attached to familiar characters. Milwaukee favorite, Jonathan Smoots (who started out playing Young Scrooge back in 1981) returns to the production, but gives up his role as Scrooge to take a turn as a far more terrifying Marley, while Jonathan Wainwright gives up his role as Bob Cratchit to take a stab at Scrooge. Meanwhile, Chiké Johnson, who played Marley last season, brings an entirely new twist to the Ghost of Christmas Present in this production. Michael Doherty, who played a brilliant Mr. Topper last season, makes a perfectly pleasant Fred this season; and, another Milwaukee favorite, Deborah Staples, keeps her role as Christmas Past from last season, but with a very updated costume.
New this year, but hardly new to The Rep and Milwaukee, are Jonathan Gillard Daly (who has appeared in sixty-one productions of A Christmas Carol since 1998) as Mr. Fezziwig, and Angela Iannone, as Mrs. Fezziwig, and more. Reese Madigan, a relative newbie who has appeared in 15 plays at The Rep, is a convincing Bob Cratchit, and young Milwaukee native, Edward Owczarski, plays Tiny Tim.
While the audience participation can be slightly awkward, there is still that familiar holiday spirit that comes with the ornate Pabst Theater, falling snow, well-sung Christmas Carols, and the timely reminder that 'tis better to give than to receive. The Rep's A Christmas Carol continues to be a magical and welcome holiday tradition in Milwaukee.
A Christmas Carol runs at The Pabst Theater through December 24th. Tickets can be purchased online www.MilwaukeeRep.com, by calling The Rep’s Ticket Office at 414-224-9490, or in-person at 108 East Wells Street in downtown Milwaukee.
About The Rep
In its 63rd 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.
Around Port Washington and beyond, John Reichert is known for the beautiful and decadent chocolate art that he creates for The Chocolate Chisel, which he owns with his wife, Elizabeth MacCrimmon. Long before he worked with chocolate, though, John worked with pewter.
"I'm a sculpture artist, but sculptures take a long time," John laughed. In 1988, he paid for all of the machinery he needed with his first pewter order from Usingers, and a business was born. John has made dozens of pewter ornaments for the holidays over the years, many of which can be purchased in the store, as well as other custum pewter orders.
In addition to art, John is also passionate about his hometown, so when the city took responsibility for its iconic, art deco lighthouse earlier this year, John jumped at the chance to use his skills to help raise money for the repairs and maintenance needed for Port's most photographed and recognized structure.
The pewter ornament that John created, which is for sale at The Chocolate Chisel, as well as various other Port Washington businesses, sells for $20, and all of the proceeds will go to Port's Lighthouse. Unlike John's other ornaments, the lighthouse can stand on its own.
"Not everybody wants an ornament, and this is something I think will sell year round," John explained. "Tourists will buy it as a momento."
John is no stranger to donating his art for fundraising; in fact, he's done it dozens of times with pewter ornaments, and also with custum designed chocolate bars. In fact, he has already designed a lighthouse chocolate bar, which may also be used for fundraising ongoing fundraising efforts.
If you're looking for a gift that says "Port Washington" this holiday season, and a gift that gives back to the community, look no further. Of course, if you're still not sure if it's enough, you could always include a little chocolate.