One hundred years ago, on November 11th of 1919, America celebrated its first Veterans Day, then known as Armistice Day, in commemoration of the ending of the first World War, which ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In 1926, Congress designated the day a National Holiday, and changed the name to honor all Veterans, living and dead, who served their country. There are Veterans Day celebrations all around Oz to attend but, if you can't attend a ceremony, you can also honor veterans with a purchase of a red poppy from an American Legion member. These flowers, which flourished in Europe following WWI, became the symbol of the blood that was shed by so many, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D. while serving on the front lines.
On Sunday, November 10th from noon - 2, the Rivoli in Cedarburg will host a free screening of the film Dawn of the Red Arrow, which follows the stories of Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers who returned from Europe 100 years ago after nearly two years of service with the 32nd "Red Arrow" Division during World War I, beginning with their journey from their hometowns to the training fields of Texas and then across an ocean to the battlefields of France where they forged a legacy that remains with Wisconsin today. Built with 15,000 volunteer National Guardsmen from 72 Wisconsin communities, the 32nd Division forged the first chapters of its long and proud service to Wisconsin and the United States.
On Veterans Day - Monday, November 11th:
The Landt-Thiel Post 470 will offer a program beginning at 10:30 a.m., followed by a luncheon, at the Legion Hall, located at 601 W. Dekora St. in Saukville.
The Melvin-Wester Post 412 will have a ceremony at the Cedar Grove Belgium High School, located at 50 W Union Ave in Cedar Grove, at 10:15 a.m. Cookies and coffee will be served prior to the service.
The Peter Wollner Post 288 will host a luncheon for veterans and the community at the Legion Hall, located at N57 W481 Hilbert Ave. in Cedarburg at noon.
The Rose-Harms Post 355 will lead a parade from the post, located at 1540 13th Ave., at 10:30 a.m. to Veterans Park, where there will be a program at 11 a.m. A luncheon for veterans and the community will follow at the post. Donations accepted.
The Howard J Schroeder Post 457 will host a ceremony and luncheon at their post, located at 1650 W. Mequon Road, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
In Flanders FieldsIn Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row.
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
By Mary Boyle
By now, Lin Manuel Miranda's 2015 Broadway Musical smash hit Hamilton, based on the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, is a household name. Winner of 11 Tony Awards (and a record-breaking 16 nominations), as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Hamilton continues to run on Broadway, along with productions in London and Chicago, and two simultaneous U.S. tours: the Angelica tour (first) and the Philip tour (second). Thanks to the Broadway at the Marcus series at the Marcus Performing Arts Center, the Philip tour has arrived in town for Milwaukee's long-awaited HAMILTON premiere.
The musical, itself, focuses on the life of Alexander Hamilton, our country's very first Secretary of the Treasury and founder of our financial system, as well as the founder of the U.S. Coast Guard and the New York Post newspaper. Unfortunately, before the musical, Hamilton was often remembered not for his accomplishments, but for the way that he died: in a famous duel in 1804 with Aaron Burr, who was America's third Vice President at the time. Comparisons between Burr and Hamilton are made throughout the musical, highlighting the incidents that led up to the duel. While full of historical facts, the musical takes plenty of artistic license and rearranging of events for dramatic effect and time constraints; however, I (and many others) wouldn't have done this research if it had not been for the musical, which has unleashed a sudden obsession with American history as it pertains to Alexander Hamilton.
The popularity of the musical was such that it saved the $10 bill, which was slated to have its image of Alexander Hamilton replaced with a woman; instead, the $20 bill will be changed. A book about the making of the musical, Hamilton: The Revolution by Jeremy McCarter and Lin Manuel Miranda, has over half a million copies in print, while the book that inspired the musical has sold over a million copies, thanks to the musical. The musical even inspired Hamilton: The Exhibition, an interactive museum focused on the life of Alexander Hamilton that ran on Chicago's Northerly Island this past April through August, and is expected to go on tour, just like the musical.
While it may seem unlikely that the story of one of America's lesser-known founding fathers would be the musical to take both Broadway and the nation by storm, Miranda's song and lyric-writing genius, which became apparent with his first successful Broadway hit, In the Heights, and was confirmed with the music he wrote for the 2016 Disney film Moana, is not to be denied. He can write in just about any genre, from hip-hop and rap to 70's rock and classic Broadway, and he does it all in Hamilton; songs that make you laugh, cry, cheer and simply wonder in awe at his ability to arrange words. Song writing ability aside, though, I believe the real brilliance of Hamilton was the way Miranda chose to tell the story, which is truly a retelling of our nation's history, in such a way as to include everyone in the dialogue.
Alexander Hamilton, himself, was an immigrant, as was Miranda's father. While reading Chernow's biography, Miranda identified with the immigrant experience, and he recognized how it fit into the current cultural and political landscape. By casting the musical with people of color as our founding fathers, people who have been largely unrepresented in the telling of America's history, and by using hip hop and rap, the music of the marginalized, to tell portions of the story, Miranda gave them a voice and made them seen, not as a lesser, but as a main character. There is a line in the song "Yorktown" that goes: "Immigrants, we get the job done." When the audience hears it, it never fails to elicit cheers. Suddenly, the American story includes immigrants and people of color, and it doesn't just include them, the story also belongs to them. This musical is beyond groundbreaking. Unprecedented is the only way to describe it.
The trouble with the musical being so incredibly popular is that most fans have been listening to the soundtrack for some time, and they want to hear Lin Manuel Miranda, who played Alexander Hamilton, along with the rest of the original Broadway cast, but this is not to be. Much like the Chicago cast, the Philip tour has some performers that really live up to that expectation and some who do not. For those who do not, some are able to make the roles their own and their performance is good enough to be a replacement for the original. Nonetheless, there is music in the play that is not in the cast recording, and the chance to see it staged is well worth it. For those who have been living under a rock and haven't heard the original cast recording, you're in for a real treat.
I expected Joseph Morales, who was in the original Chicago cast as well as playing Usnavi in the National Tour of In the Heights, a role also played by Miranda, to be a good replacement, but I was disappointed in his lack of emotion, particularly in the first act. Nik Walker, who is Aaron Burr, has a very different voice from the original, but his duet with Morales in "Dear Theodosia" is beautiful and I truly enjoyed his performance. Warren Egypt Franklin is perfect as the Marquis de Lafayette, and especially as Thomas Jefferson, and Erin Clemons, Ta'Rea Campbell, and Nyla Sostre all deliver excellent performances as the Schuyler sisters: Eliza, Angelica and Peggy. As usual, King George (Neil Haskell) steals the show; he just can't help himself. Overall, the Second National Touring cast is a really solid group. Be prepared to laugh and cry but, more importantly, be prepared to witness history in the making.
HAMILTON runs through November 17th at Uihlein Hall, located within the Marcus Performing Arts Center at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets may be purchased by calling (414) 273-7206, in person at the Marcus Center Box Office, or online at https://www.marcuscenter.org/show/hamilton. For each performance, there are 40 $10 tickets set aside for the #HAM4HAM Lottery, beginning two days prior to each performance. To enter, go to https://hamiltonmusical.com/lottery/ and click on the "Milwaukee" tab.
Learn more about the Broadway at the Marcus Center 2019-2020 Season at:
By Mary Boyle
First Stage in Milwaukee, a national leader in theatre for young audiences, has a reputation for producing world premiere plays. This past season, they upped their commitment to this endeavor by creating the Foundry Stage Series, which is dedicated to forging the future of theater though emerging plays, artists, and engaging experiences beyond the stage. Besides producing new work, this series includes workshops, additional talk-backs, hosting new play readings, and the addition of an expanded Playwrights-in-Residence program. Alvaro Saar Rios is one of four playwrights-in-residence this season at First Stage, and his play, ON THE WINGS OF MARIPOSA, which was one of the new works that went through a reading last season, is this season's Foundry Stage Series World Premiere play.
Based on the story Ghost Wings, written by Ozaukee author Barbara Joosse, On the Wings of Mariposa is a celebration of Mexican and Latino culture, coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month and Día de los Muertos celebrations, as well as a beautiful tale of family, love and loss.
Ten year old Pilar (Abby Hanna/Dayanara Sanchez) has recently lost her beloved Abuelita (Laura Crotte). Before she passed, Abuelita brought Pilar to her favorite place: a part of the forest called El Círculo Mágico (the circle of magic), where the monarch butterflies (mariposas) return to every spring in Mexico. According to Abuelita, the monarchs are more than just beautiful: they carry the souls of our loved ones. When Pilar wraps her grandmother's rebozo (shawl) around her, she breathes in her Abuelita's scent and it brings back all of the beautiful memories, but the memories begin to fade as the scent does, even when she returns to the forest. With the help of her Mami (Rána Roman) and her friends, Amparo (Catalina Cruz/Stephanie Santoyo-Bustos) and Ramiro (Rafael Cervantes/Enzo Velasco), Pilar works to get her memories back in time for Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead).
Directed by Karen Estrada, a First Stage alumni and Milwaukee actor, director and educator, On The Wings of Mariposa is a bilingual production that not only highlights Hispanic culture, but particularly showcases Milwaukee's own Hispanic community, from Director Saar Rios, who also wrote the award-winning play Luchadora!, which made its world premiere at First Stage in 2015, to Music Director Dinorah Márquez, who founded the award-winning Latino Arts Strings Program at the United Community Center in Milwaukee, which recorded Márquez's original music and lyrics for the production. Rána Roman, who plays Pilar's mother, is a graduate of the Milwaukee High School of the Arts and a regular on Milwaukee stages; in fact, she will play Eva Perón, Latin America's famous First Lady, this season at Skylight in Evita.
Though the play is bilingual, audience members need not be to understand the story; as a matter of fact, the production is an excellent immersion into Spanish language, as well as a cultural experience. Moreover, the story is a beautiful example of dealing with the death of a loved one. Sweet and a bit sad, On the Wings of Mariposa is a touching reminder that "when you love someone, they never really leave you."
ON THE WINGS OF MARIPOSA runs through November 10th at the Todd Wehr Theatre, located at 929 N. Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets may be purchased by calling (414) 267-2961 or online at www.FirstStage.org. There are several special events scheduled in conjunction with the performance, including:
Sat, Oct 26 at 1pm or 3:30pm
Día de los Muertos celebrations
Browse our MERCADITO (Artisan Market) in the upper lobby.
Create Mexican crafts
Pre-show music by Latino Arts Strings Program
Sun, Oct 27 at 1pm
MERCADITO, Mexican crafts, and music Latino Arts Strings Program
Tech Talk – an extended talkback about the creation of the play – following the performance.
Fri, Nov 1 at 7pm
College & Young Professionals Night Inquire at (414) 267-2961
Sun, Nov 3 at 3:30pm
Tech Talk following the 3:30pm performance.
Sat, Nov 9 at 7pm
Sensory Friendly Performance. Tickets by phone at (414) 267-2961.
Sun, Nov 10 at 3:30pm
Sign Language Interpreted performance at 3:30pm
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 nearly 2,000 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). www.firststage.org
By Mary Boyle
Mo Willems has been one of the most popular authors of books for children over the past decade, and with good reason. Both author and illustrator of over 50 books, including the Knufflebunny and Pigeon series, Willems has a knack for capturing the antics, feelings, and behavior of young children with honesty and empathy and, to the delight of readers of all ages, brilliant humor. His books have earned him three Caldecott Honors, two Theodor Seuss Geisel Medals, five Geisel Honors, and numerous #1 New York Times Best sellers. While his career began in television, working for the likes of Seseme Street and Cartoon Network, his latest venture has been in live theatre, with the creation of several musicals based on his books. Now, Milwaukee audiences have the opportunity to see two of Willems' most beloved characters in ELEPHANT & PIGGIE'S "WE ARE IN A PLAY!"
Directed by Milwaukee's own Matt Daniels, We are in a Play is a part of the First Stage First Steps series, which takes place at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center and is geared towards children ages 3 - 7. These productions are shorter (nearly an hour) for shorter attention spans, and children have the opportunity to sit on wide steps, or even on mats, as opposed to chairs. Elephant & Piggie are first reader books and several of the stories are incorporated into the musical. Elephant (James Carrington), whose name is Gerald, is an anxious fellow, but he always feels better when his best friend, Piggie (Rachel Zientek), is around. Whether they're going to a party, playing with a new toy, or sharing an ice cream cone, Elephant & Piggie always have each other.
Those who are familiar with the Elephant & Piggie stories will find the embodiment of the characters in the well-chosen adult performers. James Carrington, who was also seen in The Wiz as the cowardly lion with First Stage, is absolutely perfect as Elephant Gerald, while Rachel Zientek, who was brilliant in Forward Theater's production of Fun Home and in Milwaukee Chamber Theatre's Unnecessary Farce, is the very essence of Piggie. They are accompanied by the three Squirrelles and Boy (Lina Singh, Ryann Schultz, Tarynn Lassiter and Joshua Wirth in the Swimmy Cast, and Taylor Arnstein, Katie O'Connor, Maya O'Day-Biddle, and Augie Poppert in the Fancy Cast ), who sing and dance along with Gerald & Piggie. The music, directed by Josh Robinson, is fun, catchy and absolutely what you'd expect Gerald & Piggie to sing. The dancing, choreographed by Jayne Regan Pink, is equally appropriate; even the set design by Emily Lotz and costumes by Lyndsey Kuhlmann are just right.
First Steps productions are an excellent way to introduce young children to theatre. Besides the shortened show time and storytime-like seating, there are activities available in the MYAC commons prior to the show and audiences can even purchase Willems' books or, for a donation, receive adorable Elephant & Piggie finger puppets to create their own plays at home. Translating popular stories to the stage can be particularly difficult, but First Stage absolutely nails it for We are in a Play. He's a pachyderm and she's a swine, but you'll find this musical is just divine. Don't miss this production!
ELEPHANT & PIGGIE'S "WE ARE IN A PLAY!" runs through November 3rd at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located at 325 W. Walnut St. in Milwaukee. Tickets are $14 and may be purchased by calling (414) 267-2961 or online at www.FirstStage.org. There will be a special ASL interpreted performance, for the deaf or hard of hearing, on Sunday, November 3rd at 1 p.m.
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).
Halloween comes but once a year, and it's the perfect opportunity to be someone (or something) else, for a change. Then there's the free candy, of course. Ozaukee has all kinds of fun Halloween happenings for all ages — here's the lineup!
Jack-o-Lantern Jamboree Sunday, October 20th from 1-4 This not-so-scary Halloween event at the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds is perfect for kids 10 and under, and includes games, crafts, food, and more — better still, it's indoors and a fundraiser for 4-H!
The Haunt Friday & Saturday nights from October 12-27 This is the place to go if you're looking for a scary Halloween experience! A fundraiser for 4-H, The Haunt takes place indoors at the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds.
Halloween Scary'oke Dance Party Saturday, October 12th at 8 p.m. Join the Sultans of Swag for a haunting event to benefit Mel's Charities! Dancing, Costume Contest, and more!
Scary Bloody Mary Walk Sunday, October 27th from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Enjoy Bloody Marys while supporting the Cedarburg Friends of Parks & Recreation! Five sponsor bars compete for the title of Best Bloody Mary 2019, while participants compete for Best Costume ($100 first place costume). Participants vote for Best Bloody and Best Costume to determine the winners.
Gothic History Tours October 18, 19 and 25 Immerse yourself in the dark side of Cedarburg’s history at the Cedarburg Cultural Center's Gothic Tours, with stories and live performances representing hauntings and atrocities from bygone days, geared for ages 12 and up.
Saukville Scare 5K Run/Walk Saturday, October 19th at Grady Park in Saukville, this family-friendly Halloween-themed event benefits the Saukville Elementary School free breakfast program.
Pumpkin Walk Wednesday, October 31st from 5-9 p.m. The Pumpkin walk is truly Halloween fun for the whole family. Jack-o-lanterns line Washington Ave., and many of the main street businesses offer treats and specials for those who wander through.
Trails & Treats Saturday, October 25th from 4:30-8:30 p.m. at Riveredge A non-spooky night of fall family fun as you hike a mile loop of our trails and visit education stations featuring some costumed woodland creatures along the way! While there, these new friends will entertain and educate you about their habits and habitats, and give you some candy-free treats while they're at it!
Halloween Science Show Friday, October 25th at 6 p.m. at Oscar Grady Library. Get into the spirit and join us for some spooky Halloween science fun featuring experiments and demonstrations by Elementastic!
Harvest Moon Dance Saturday, October 26th from 6-11 p.m. Put on a costume and dance the night away with Jerry & Nora and the Revue at the American Legion! Raffles, door prizes, and food, with proceeds going towards programs for homeless women vets.
Trivia Night, Halloween Edition Thursday, October 31st from 6-8 p.m. Join Oscar Grady Library for a spooky test of knowledge! Costumes encouraged. Participate with friends or total strangers! Must be registered by October 24th.
Port Washington Ghost Walk Celebrate your Halloween Season in a most unique fashion. Join us for the popular Port Washington Ghost Walk plus an actual Ghost Hunt!
Harvest at the Market Saturday, October 26th from 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Celebrate our last market of the season with Downtown Trick or Treating for the kids! Participating businesses will have a pumpkin hanging in their window. Dress-up and get ready to have some fun. And there's even more: bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving and pumpkin bowling!
Harry Potter Kids Cooking Camp Saturday, October 26th from noon-4 p.m. at Shully's in Thiensville. Become a potions master at our Hogwart's Academy. Learn to make potions, chocolates and goodies, with more surprises along the way!
Business-to-Business Trick-or-Treat Thursday, October 24th from 4-7 p.m. Children of all ages and their escorts are encouraged to visit participating Thiensville businesses along Main St., Green Bay Rd. and Friestadt Rd. for treats!
Dracula at Cardinal Stritch
Trick-or-Treating in Oz
By Mary Boyle
In the whole of the musical theater world, there are few music and lyric writing duos as well known and successful as Rodgers & Hammerstein. The King & I, The Sound of Music, and South Pacific were among their Broadway hits, but the most influential and successful was their very first collaboration: Oklahoma! Since its opening on Broadway in 1943, this tale of romance on America's frontier has seen numerous award-winning revivals and national tours, including a 75th Anniversary staging happening on Broadway right now, and was even the winner of a special Pulitzer Prize. Oklahoma! literally set the stage for all Broadway musicals that followed, which makes it the perfect season opener for Skylight Music Theatre's 60th Anniversary Season, under the leadership of their new Artistic Director, Michael Unger.
Curly McLain (Lucas Pastrana) is a cowman in love, but his lady of interest, Laurey (Brittani Moore), seems to be playing hard to get. Though Laurey's Aunt Eller (Cynthia Cobb) and the rest of the community are sure the two are stuck on each other, Laurey already agreed to go to the dance with Jud Fry (Jeremy Peter Johnson), the creepy hired hand on her Aunt's farm. Curly and Laurey's romance isn't the only talk of the town, though: Will Parker (Sean Anthony Jackson), another cowman, has his heart set on Ado Annie (Hannah Esch), but neither she nor her father (Chad Larget) are taking him seriously. At the moment, the peddler Ali Hakim (Ehtan D. Brittingham) seems to have caught Ado's eye (and her eye may have a tendency to wander). Both Curly and Will need to work to get ahead of their competition in order to win the hearts of the ladies they love.
Directed by Jill Anna Ponasik, Oklahoma! is so much a part of our culture that, even if you've never seen the production before, you will almost surely recognize the music. From the opening number, "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," to the title song, "Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweeping down the plains)," you may be surprised to find yourself singing right along. Lucus Pastrana, who was last seen as the title role in Pippin at Skylight last season, is perfectly cast as the leading man, Curly, alongside his fellow cowman and fellow Skylight regular, Sean Anthony Jackson, who plays Will Parker. Cynthia Cobb and Chad Larget, who are also no strangers to the Skylight stage, are brilliant as Aunt Eller and Ado's papa, respectively. Brittani Moore and Jeremy Peter Johnson make fabulous Skylight debuts as Laurey and Jud. Keep an eye out for two newcomers: Hannah Esch is so much fun to watch as the feisty Ado Annie, and Ethan D. Brittingham, who was seen last season in The Fabulous Lipitones at In Tandem, is wonderful as the rascally pedler, Ali Hakim.
Once you see it, it's easy to see why Oklahoma! continues to draw crowds 75 years after it first hit Broadway and how the music continues to be a part of our culture: it's simply as American as apple pie, and just as traditional, while still having the ability to speak to modern audiences. Skylight does it absolute justice. See it while you can.
Oklahoma! runs through October 13th at the Cabot Theatre, located within the Broadway Theatre Center at 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center BoxOffice, 158 N. Broadway, by calling (414) 291-7800, or visiting 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.
By Mary Boyle
Based on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, with book by Arthur Laurents, music by America's original composer, Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by the amazing Stephen Sondheim, the 1957 Broadway Musical known as West Side Story has been an icon of American Theatre since its debut. In fact, when tickets for the production at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater went on sale this past June, it earned the highest grossing on-sale for a musical in the Quadracci Powerhouse, beating out last season's In the Heights. Considering the immense popularity of anything Lin Manuel Miranda has touched, that's really saying something. Now is your chance to see this great American work for yourself, as The Rep presents West Side Story.
The "West Side" in West Side Story is New York's Upper West Side. The time is the mid- 1950's, which means that the musical was modern at the time it was written in, and it was addressing a serious issue of the day: the largest migration of Puerto Ricans in New York history into a blue collar and mostly white neighborhood, along with the racism and violence that came with it. The story is told from the perspective of the two teenage gangs that fought for "territory" on the streets: the Sharks are the Puerto Ricans, and their leader is Bernardo (José-Luis Lopez, Jr.); the Jets are the white boys and their leader is Riff (Jacob Burns). From a Shakespearean standpoint, Bernardo is our Tybalt and Bernardo's younger sister, Maria (Liesl Collazo), is our Juliet, while Riff is our Mercutio and his idol and mentor, Tony (Jeffrey Kringer), is our Romeo, a fellow who is getting too old for the gang, and who has a feeling that something big is about to change in his life. Riff convinces Tony to meet at the dance, where he plans to formally challenge the Sharks to a final rumble to decide who will own the streets. Once there, time stands still when Tony and Maria find each other across a crowded dance floor. Of course, Bernardo makes sure his little sister is sent home, but that won't stop Tony from seeing her. Like Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed lovers have their own balcony scene, but will they meet the same tragic end as their historic counterparts?
I have to admit: this was the first time I've seen a staging of West Side Story and, in the beginning, I was surprised at how dated it felt. The choreography, based on the original by Jerome Robbins but updated by Jon Rua, is front and center, and just as important as the music and lyrics; but, it has that "Fosse" feel which, combined with the improvised 50's "street language," makes it difficult to take seriously. Some of the gang members are not believable as teenagers, and that made it still more difficult to take seriously. Then, Tony sang "Maria" and I understood why people still come in droves to see this production. Interestingly, it seems as though fans of West Side Story fall into one of two categories: either they love the romance between Tony and Maria or they love the dancing between the gangs. I fall into the former category.
Given the current state of our society, it isn't hard to see that the struggles of 60 years ago are still our struggles today, which is a large part of what continues to make this musical relevant. Much of the music, which is directed by frequent Rep collaborator Dan Kazemi, is timeless. Songs like "America," "I Feel Pretty" and "Somewhere," written by the iconic Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim (Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeny Todd, Into the Woods), who made his Broadway debut with this production, are a part of the soundtrack of our culture, recognizable by almost anyone. The name "Officer Krupke," from the song, "Gee, Officer Krupke," played brilliantly by Bill Watson in The Rep's production, might even ring a bell.
Directed by Mark Clements, who is celebrating his 10th year as The Rep's Artistic Director, West Side Story is an ambitious production. Not only do you need "triple-threat" performers (they can sing, dance, and act), you need a lot of them. The Rep brilliantly chose to cast several talented young performers from the area: Reese Parish, who was recently seen in The Rep's Professional Training Institute's performance of Everybody and the First Stage Young Company's World Premiere of Girls in the Boat; Isabel Bastardo, who was also in Everybody, as well as the First Stage Young Company's production of As You Like It; and Terynn Erby-Walker and Georgina Pink, who were recently seen in Skylight Music Theatre's production of Hairspray. Milwaukee favorites Jonathan Wainwright and James Pickering are well cast as Lieutenant Schrank/Glad Hand and Doc, respectively. Many of the performers on the stage are making their Rep debut, including Jeffrey Kringer and Liesl Collazo as Tony and Maria, who are both exceptional as performers and believable as young adults. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Hope Endrenyl, who did a fabulous job as Anybodys.
West Side Story runs through October 27th at the Quadracci Theatre, located within the Patty & Jay Baker Theater Complex at 108 E. Wells St. in Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased by calling (414) 224-9490, in-person at the Box Office, or online at www.MilwaukeeRep.com.
About Milwaukee Repertory Theater
The Milwaukee Rep is the largest performing arts organization in Wisconsin, in terms of audiences served, and one of the largest professional theaters in the country. Each year, The Rep welcomes up to 275,000 people at nearly 700 performances of 15 productions, ranging from compelling dramas, powerful classics, new plays, and full-scale musicals in its three unique performance venues: the Quadracci Powerhouse, Stiemke Studio, and Stackner Cabaret. Now in its 66th Season, The Rep has gained a national reputation as an incubator of new work, an agent of community change, and a forward-thinking provider of .vital arts education programs. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mark Clements and Executive 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.
Fall is here, and that means it's time to get your pumpkins and apples! Luckily, finding a humble pumpkin patch, or a sweet-smelling orchard in Oz is not too difficult a task.
One of the best ways is to let the farmers come to you at one of the area's Farmers Markets. In Oz, there's one for almost every day of the week, and you're sure to find what you're looking for!
Of course, if you're looking for a farm to visit, we have those, too:
Cedarburg Creek Farm has just about every pumpkin hunting experience you could hope for: a kid's straw bale, a corn maze, and much more fall fun, close to home. Add in no admission fees and FREE Hay Wagon Rides, and they are THE place for affordable family fun. Cedar Creek Farm is located at 649 Hwy. 60 in Cedarburg.
Appleland in Fredonia has apples, of course, and a stunning variety of them, at that, but they also have pumpkins to pick or already picked, and an assortment of jams, bakery, caramel apples, cider, and more in their market store. Free wagon rides on the weekends. Appleland is located at 4177 Highway 57 in Fredonia.
Buechler Farms offers a fun family fall experience. A petting zoo, corn maze, hayrides, and kiddie train are available, as well as pumpkins, gourds, and cider. The farm is located at 587 South Royal Ave in Belgium.
Creekside Valley Farm in has a pumpkin patch, hay maze, petting zoo, fall decor, pedal tractors, and more. Find them at 13101 N Wauwatosa in Mequon.
Nieman Markets, located at 14335 N. Wauwatosa Rd. in Mequon, has apple picking, a corn maze, pumpkins, a petting zoo, a market, and more.
Barthel's Fruit Farm is synonymous with apple picking. Located at 12246 N Farmdale Rd. in Mequon, the barn has plenty of already picked pumpkins and gourds, or you can go to the field to pick your own. Barthel's apples are also available at Outpost in Mequon.
Nieman's Orchards, located at 9932 Pioneer Rd. in Cedarburg in the "Big Red Barn," offers apple picking, as well as other produce and fall favorites.
If you're willing to venture a bit out of Oz, there are a few places worth the trip:
Spieker's Pumpkin Farm in Random Lake features a massive corn maze, hay rides, and an incredible variety of pumpkins and gourds, as well as a petting zoo, and more. Find it at N1181 Hwy. 57 in Random Lake.
Meadowbrook Pumpkin Farm and Market in West Bend has quite the exotic petting zoo, and a haunted corn field, a totally unstaged and hair-raising adventure through 8 plus creepy houses and 3/4 miles of narrow trails in tall, dense corn, on narrow confined trails. Not exactly family fun with young children, but possibly a great outing with your teenagers or adult friends. Find Meadowbrook at 2970 Mile View Road in West Bend.
By Mary Boyle
This season of Broadway at the Marcus Center features an incredible line-up of Tony Award-winning musicals, including the classic My Fair Lady, 90's favorites The Lion King and Miss Saigon, and the past three year's big winners: 2016's Hamilton, 2018's The Band's Visit, and they kick it all of with the 2017 Tony Award-winning smash hit, Dear Evan Hansen, which runs through September 29th at the Marcus Center's Uihlein Hall.
Evan Hansen (Stephen Christopher Anthony) is about to start his senior year of high school, but he's not excited. Thus far, Evan hasn't fit in well at school; like many kids his age, he suffers from social anxiety, which he is medicated for. His hardworking single mother, Heidi (Jessica E. Sherman), encourages Evan to bring a Sharpie and use the cast on his recently broken arm as the perfect ice-breaker to meet new friends and get the year off to a good start, as well as reminding him to write the encouraging letters to himself that his therapist recommended. The letters begin, "Dear Evan Hansen."
Unfortunately, the day does not go well: the only person who signs Evan's cast is the school outcast, Connor Murphy (Noah Kieserman), who finds and takes Evan's letter to himself, in which Evan mentions Connor's sister Zoe (Stephanie La Rochelle) as one of the only highlights of school. Just when Evan thinks Connor Murphy is going to make his life worse, he's called to the school office where Connor's parents, Larry and Cynthia (John Hemphill, Claire Rankin), are waiting to meet him: Evan's letter was found in Connor's pocket after he committed suicide, and they are convinced that Connor not only wrote it to Evan, but that Evan surely was their troubled son's only friend. Utterly alarmed and unable to crush the hopes of two grieving parents, Evan does nothing to discourage their mistaken belief. Before long, one little lie leads to another, as Evan discovers that being "Connor's best friend" might be the best thing that could ever happen to him.
The creative team of Dear Evan Hansen has quite an impressive pedigree, with book by Tony Award-winner Steven Levenson and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who were the award-winning team from the films La La Land and The Greatest Showman. Director Michael Greif is known for his work on Rent and Next to Normal on Broadway, and Choreographer Danny Mefford also holds the Tony Award for his work on Fun Home. Music Supervisor and Orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, of Hamilton and In the Heights fame, earned a Tony and a Grammy for each production, while Scenic Designer David Korins earned a Tony nomination for his work on Hamilton, as well.
What's remarkable about this musical is that it is so thoroughly grounded in the current struggles of our modern world: the effects of social media on our relationships and how we communicate, mental health issues, the rise in youth suicide, and the difficulties of being a single parent, among others. It's a story, sadly, that everyone can relate to, but it's also a story that is beautifully told and full of hope. The entire cast is incredibly talented, and reach the type of tear-inducing vocal perfection that you want to achieve in a Broadway musical, but Stephen Christopher Anthony as Evan delivers a particularly impressive performance, both vocally and portraying the delightfully uncomfortable and awkward Evan.
The music of Dear Evan Hansen has been extremely popular, earning the highest charting debut position on the Billboard 200 for an original cast album since 1961. "You Will Be Found" has become an anthem for anyone who feels alone or left out and, in this day and age, that seems to be a lot of people. In fact, in just the past year, the YouTube video of the song has been streamed nearly 9 million times. For all that social media is supposed to be connecting us, that's a lot of lonely people. A lot of lonely people that Evan Hansen has helped to find. Broadway has always had a reputation for starting important cultural conversations, and Dear Evan Hansen is the conversation we need to be having now.
Dear Evan Hansen runs through Sunday, September 29th at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts Uihlein Hall, located at 929 N. Water St. in Milwaukee. Tickets may be purchased by calling 414.273.7206, or online at:
Riveredge Nature Center in Saukville is one of Ozaukee's best natural spaces, especially because the people there work so hard to make getting outdoors fun for everyone. This Fall, Riveredge has plenty of opportunities to engage in nature, for members and non-members, alike!
While it doesn't take place in Oz, this annual collaboration between Riveredge and Lakeshore State Park is full of fun for the whole family! Be there on Saturday, September 28th for one of the biggest annual conservation events and festivals in Wisconsin, returning a breeding population of Sturgeon to Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River!
Music in the Mushroom – A Historic Riverside Celebration Hike out to the Mushroom Shelter for an evening of music, history, river exploration and more, to celebrate the Milwaukee River. Naturalists will lead historic hikes to the Grady Ruins along the Milwaukee River, try your hand at catching some river critters, enjoy tunes from the 1940's originally recorded in the town of Saukville, courtesy of Oscar Grady Library, and purchase picnic foods on site for the perfect autumn afternoon on Saturday, October 12th.
Barn Dance with Frogwater Dust off your straw hat, round up your dancing boots and grab your partner for a Barn Dance Fundraiser at Riveredge Nature Center! Join us Friday, October 18th after sun-down, or for you city-folk- 7:00pm! Learn traditional barn dances under direction of a professional caller, enjoy foot stompin’ tunes by regional favorite, Frogwater, and sip a jar of brew from a local brewery. (We’re much obliged to provided your first drink on us!) All ages welcome, no previous experiences needed! Games, campfire, and good old fashion fun provided. Fire Grilled Hot Dogs, Sausages, & Corn on the Cob available for purchase. Proceeds benefit Youth & Family Education Programs at Riveredge.
A Day for Dogs We love our pups, and we know you love yours too! While we must normally limit dog access at Riveredge to protect the sanctuary’s sensitive native plant and animal life, we wanted to offer you one day a year where your dog can be a “Riveredge Kid” too! Show your pups a piece of nature and enjoy a family hike through our beautiful restored wild Wisconsin sanctuary. It’s guaranteed to be a pawesome day for the whole family. Come for all or part of the day on Saturday, October 19th from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (no need to show up right at 9 AM). Please feel free to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy!
Trails & Treats
Families are invited to hike the Riveredge trails and visit educational stations along a one mile loop on Friday, October 25th from 4:30-8:30 p.m.. Along the way, visit with costumed woodland creatures educating you about their habits and habitats and receive candy-free treats as you go! Plus, tons more fantastic fall festivities! Costumes are highly encouraged.
These events are just a sampling of what's happening at Riveredge, so be sure to check out their website for the full details. Membership is not required for most events, though registration is usually required, but membership is reasonably priced and offers discounts on events and certain members-only opportunities, as well as other benefits. Let Riveredge help you get outside this Fall!