What’s Going On

For the week of September 16-22…

Cinderella, September 19-October 5, Cabot Theater, 158 N Broadway (skylightmusictheatre.org)

Hot on the heels of the Milwaukee Symphony’s sensational presentation of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni last weekend, Skylight Music Theater opens its new season with a production of Rossini’s opera Cinderella. Like the MSO’s performance, this production has a modern twist. As per Skylight tradition, the opera will be sung in English, and the story has a modern-day setting, right down to the dresses from New York designer Cesar Galindo. Yes, there are stepsisters in this Cinderella, but they’re hardly ugly! Typical of Rossini, very hummable melodies permeate this opera. And Skylight has taken extra trouble to make everyone aware that “this isn’t Disney’s Cinderella! So don’t expect any singing mice, but expect to have a great time as Skylight gets their new season off to a rollicking start!

The Good Father, September 19-October 12, Studio Theater, 158 N Broadway (milwaukeechambertheatre.com)

Just down the hall from the Skylight in the Broadway Theater Center, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre follows up its smash production of Master Class with its first Studio Theater production of the season. It’s Christian O’Reilly’s modern Irish love story The Good Father. Jonathan Wainwright stars as Tim, a house painter who meets attorney Jane (played by Laura Gray), at a New Year’s Eve party. No, you won’t hear Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract,” but you get the idea where the story goes from there. Both actors have become Milwaukee audience favorites, and the show sounds like perfect Date Night fare!

Elgar’s Cello Concerto, September 19-20, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (mso.org)

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Music Director Edo de Waart welcomes exciting young cellist Alisa Weilerstein in her MSO debut in this weekend’s program. She will be featured in one of the great showcases for the instrument, Sir Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto, a piece made famous by the legendary Jacqueline du Pre. In addition to the Elgar, the program features the work of another great English composer, Benjamin Britten, with the curtain-raiser Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. Winding up this great lineup of orchestral music is Antonin Dvorak’s spirited Symphony No. 8. It’s a tall order to top last weekend’s performances of Don Giovanni, but it looks like the MSO will be up to the task!

Dr Strangelove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Loved the Bomb, September 21 & 24, AMC Theaters nationwide including AMC Mayfair Mall, 2500 N Mayfair Rd (amctheatres.com)

Following up their successful series of movie classics this past summer, AMC Theatres carry on with a new series of classics this fall. Up next on Sunday and Wednesday is a 50th Anniversary screening of Terry Southern’s dark comedy Dr Strangelove, released just two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. And yes, this is certainly legendary director Stanley Kubrick’s funniest film, featuring great turns from George C Scott (Gen Buck Turgidson), Sterling Hayden (Gen Jack D Ripper) and Slim Pickens (as B-52 pilot Major “King” Kong, with a young James Earl Jones as one of his crew members). But topping them all is the incomparable Peter Sellers who plays not one, not two…but three distinctive characters in a comedy tour de farce. Two of his characters are easily identifiable, but the third one requires attentive viewing, and I’ll leave it at that. Memorable line: “Gentlemen, please! No fighting here…This is the War Room!” And who can forget Dame Vera Lynn’s iconic song “We’ll Meet Again” playing over the end credits amid scenes of nuclear annihilation?

Prometheus Trio Season Opener, September 22 & 23, Bader Recital Hall, 1584 N Prospect Ave (wcmusic.org)

Beginning their 15th season as the Resident Faculty String Trio at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, the PT (comprised of MSO violinist Tim Klabunde, MSO cellist Scott Tisdel and pianist Stefanie Jacob) present a typical program of interesting music, including Gabriel Pierne’s Trio and Beethoven’s own arrangement of his Symphony No. 2 for String Trio! As always, the Trio’s well-attended performances are held in the Conservatory’s intimate Bader Recital Hall. Welcome autumn with an evening of stirring classical music from the Prometheus Trio!

Coming Next Week: My Special Preview of the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival!

What’s Going On

For the week of September 9-15…

Teenage, September 11, UWM Union Theater, 2200 E Kenwood Blvd (teenagefilm.com)

UWM’s Union Theater’s Fall season continues with a free screening of Matt Wolf’s fascinating 2014 documentary which answers the question: Where did teenagers come from? Sure, they’ve always been with us, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that they asserted themselves as a group to be reckoned with. The film uses a mixture of archival film and stills, along with spoken excerpts from diaries and journals, to paint the picture of emerging adolescents and the rebellious lifestyle that carved out a niche separate from the children they once were.

Global Union Festival, September 13, Humboldt Park (alvernopresents.alverno.edu)

The lakefront festivals may have ended for 2014, but the official farewell to summer takes place this Saturday at the bandshell in Bay View’s picturesque Humboldt Park, when Alverno College presents the 9th annual Global Union festival. Like the name says, this free event presents a wildly eclectic lineup of musical acts. The 2014 edition is certainly up to the festival’s high standards, truly with something for everybody! The music gets underway at noon with Argentinian electronic cumbia artist La Yegros, followed by the intriguing sounds of Wu-Force at 2 pm. This band is true World Music fusion, featuring Nashville-based folk artist Abigail Washburn and Chinese zither musician Wu Fei. At 3:30 we have Kobo Town, a calypso band from Canada (!) featuring Tobago-born vocalist Calypso Rose, and the whole shebang wraps up at 5 with the world-renowned Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars, a longtime favorite of Milwaukee’s musical ambassador Paul Cebar. There may be an autumn chill in the air, but the music promises to be hot!

Don Giovanni, September 13-14, 16, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (mso.org)

It may be early in the Arts Season in Milwaukee, but the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s season opener promises to be one of the true jewels on the fall schedule. It’s a performance of Mozart’s immortal opera Don Giovanni, his retelling of the Don Juan legend that’s always listed among the Top Ten Operas of all time. It’s also a return to opera performances for the MSO, which performed concert versions of Boris Godunov and Carmen under former Music Director Andreas Delfs. Current Music Director Edo de Waart is a world-renowned opera conductor who’s led productions at many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses, but this will be his first such endeavor with the MSO. And, unlike the Delfs-led concert performances of the past, this production will offer a significant twist. The MSO will not be on stage but in the orchestra pit as is the case for traditional opera performances. Sharing the stage with the outstanding soloists playing the key roles will be James Darrah’s sets, resulting in a “semi-staged” production allowing the soloists to move about and interact. It will give the opera a fully produced feel, a very special musical treat for Milwaukee’s classical music fans. Maestro de Waart promises MSO performances of other Mozart operas Cosi fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro in the future, but it all starts this weekend with the magnificent Don Giovanni!

What’s Going On

For the week of September 2-8…

WMSE Backyard BBQ, September 6, Cathedral Square Park (wmse.org)

Summer may be officially over, but the festival season most certainly is not! This Saturday, Frontier Radio WMSE presents its 5th annual Backyard BBQ in the station’s “backyard,” Cathedral Square Park in Milwaukee’s East Town. Once again, this free “thank-you” event for station listeners (and the public as well!) presents an array of musical acts with something for everybody! Also, a number of food trucks will be available providing plenty of culinary goodies…AND the Milwaukee Film Festival folks will be on hand to release the schedule books for the 2014 festival! The festivities kick off at 4 pm with local favorites Mike Benign Compulsion and Greatest Lakes, followed by national acts Split Lip Rayfield and Indigenuous, finishing up with the surf rock sounds of the legendary Los Straitjackets! Bucky Badger and the UW football crowd won’t be the only folks partying this Saturday!!

Beatles Invade Milwaukee, September 4 & 6, Milwaukee Public Television (mptv.org)

If you were unable to attend the premiere screenings of this film last week, not to worry…Milwaukee Public TV is showing the program on Thursday on channel 10 and Saturday on channel 36. The film celebrates the Fab Four’s one and only Milwaukee visit on September 4, 1964. Featured on the program are legendary WOKY DJ “Beatle” Bob Barry; world-famous pop music historian Joel Whitburn (a lifelong resident of the Milwaukee area); the daughters of local promoter Nick Topping, the guy who brought the show to town; plus a number of folks who were actually at the show at the Milwaukee Arena. A couple tasty trivia tidbits you’ll learn during the show: The hotel where the Beatles stayed after the show is now Mashuda Hall, a Marquette University dorm; and though the Beatles didn’t perform there, the Eagles Club (now The Rave) hosted performances by a slew of British Invasion acts, including the Dave Clark Five! And of course, there’s WTMJ’s film footage of the show itself…and I wouldn’t be surprised if that doesn’t show up in Ron Howard’s Apple Corps documentary of the Beatles’ touring years, coming in 2015!

The Doyle and Debbie Show, September 5-November 2, Stackner Cabaret, 108 E Wells St (milwaukeerep.com)

The Milwaukee Rep kicks off their new season with a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ with The Doyle and Debbie Show, a country music send-up that does for country music what the movies This Is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind did for Heavy Metal and folk music, respectively. This show had a long Chicago run, thanks to great reviews and especially word of mouth raves from fans. The Rep’s production enjoys a special advantage with its intimate Stackner Cabaret venue, so be prepared for some cast-audience interaction. The best way to describe the show’s characters are to think of the classic duo of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Patron, and the show’s all-original songs are reminiscent of Robert Altman’s classic film Nashville, where all the film’s songs were also originals that were funny yet affectionate spoofs of traditional country music themes. It’s a special treat to start the new Stackner season!

Do The Right Thing, September 6 & 7, UWM Union Theater, 2200 E Kenwood Blvd (uniontheatre.uwm.edu)

Wrapping up its Welcome Back Week, the UW-Milwaukee Union Theater presents free screenings of Spike Lee’s 1989 classic. The film stands as a snapshot of America in the late 1980’s, capturing a Brooklyn neighborhood during one scorching hot summer day when tensions come to a boil. Besides producing, writing and directing, Spike plays the pizza delivery guy for Sal’s, the iconic neighborhood pizzeria whose walls’ portraits celebrate the owner’s Italian heritage but stir up resentment in a growing number of patrons and factors into the escalating neighborhood tensions. And what an amazing cast! Danny Aiello (as Sal), Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, John Turturro, Samuel L Jackson, John Savage, Rosie Perez and Martin Lawrence are all here, as well as a pulsating hip-hop soundtrack. This movie confirmed Spike Lee as a major voice in American film, and is not to be missed.

Beatlemania Returns to Milwaukee!

Beatles Invade Milwaukee, August 27, Milwaukee Theater, 500 W Kilbourn Ave (mptv.org)

As you’re probably aware, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles taking America by storm, beginning with their debut performance on the Ed Sullivan TV Show on February 9th. All year long, 50th anniversary milestones of one kind or another have come and gone. On September 4, Milwaukee gets to celebrate a Beatles 50th anniversary of its own. That’s when the Fab Four presented their one and only Milwaukee show at the Milwaukee Arena (now the UWM Panther Arena). To mark the occasion, Milwaukee Public Television has produced a documentary called Beatles Invade Milwaukee, which chronicles their visit to our fair city. The film is narrated by legendary WOKY Radio DJ Bob (“Beatle Bob”) Barry, and features interviews with noted pop music historian Joel Whitburn as well as a number of Beatles fans who were at the concert. I reckon we’ll also hear the story of how “Beatle Bob” almost didn’t get to emcee the show, and the producers also promise a selection of previously unseen photos and film footage of the visit.
And as a special treat, MPTV is presenting a pair of free premiere screenings on Wednesday at the Milwaukee Theater, which just happens to be next door to the Arena. The screenings will be followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers and some of the individuals featured in the film.
A free premiere of a documentary celebrating the Beatles’ Milwaukee show on the same block where it took place?? Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!!!

Irish Fest Special Edition

For the week of August 12-18…

Milwaukee Irish Fest, August 14-17, Maier Festival Park (irishfest.com)

Starting Thursday, the 34th edition of Irish Fest opens its 4-day run at Maier Festival Park (aka the Summerfest Grounds) on Milwaukee’s Lakefront. Generally regarded as one of the world’s largest celebrations of Celtic culture, the festival features music, dance, theater, history, sports, Celtic Canines, cuisine…not just from Ireland, but from all Celtic lands, including Scotland, Canada, Australia, Wales…even France and Spain!

In addition to the usual abundance of musical offerings from abroad as well as here at home and more Irish dancers than you can shake a stick (or shillelagh) at, each fest has special features unique for that year. Look for these at the 2014 Irish Fest:

-Brian Boru Millennial Celebration
Irish Fest joins celebrations in Ireland for the first modern ruler of Ireland who unified the country after being victorious in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Genealogists, historians, musicologists, bow makers, chefs, etc, will be on hand throughout the grounds with special presentations as part of the celebration. The crown jewel of the celebration is the musical suite Brian Bora: The High King of Tara, composed in 2002 by Maurice Lennon and performed daily at the Miller Lite Stage. America’s Got Talent favorites the Willis Clan will be featured in all performances.

-Scottish Music Showcase
Previously, Irish Fest has showcased the music of County Clare, County Galway and Nova Scotia. This year, Scotland is the featured showcase. Among the acts included are Fest faves Red Hot Chili Pipers (back for the 5th year!), Manran, Dallahan, Gria, Alasdair Fraser, Skerryvore, Dougie MacLean and the ALT (featuring John Doyle, Nuala Kennedy and Eamon O’Leary).
Some special features: RHCP will be filming their new live DVD during their shows on Friday and Saturday nights; and it all wraps up on Sunday night with a Scottish Music Jam featuring members of RHCP, Skerryvore, Manran…and more! Both events take place at the Leinie’s Rock Stage.

-In Tandem Theatre Presents Sweeney Astray
One of the things that help make Irish Fest really special is the Cultural Village, and one of the Village’s jewels is the Theatre Pavilion. One of the featured theater productions this year comes from Milwaukee’s own In Tandem Theatre. The play is an adaptation of a story-poem by Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, regarded as “the greatest Irish poet since Yeats.” It’s the story of Sweeney, King of Dal-Arie, who is cursed by a priest during the Battle of Moira. The curse turns Sweeney into a bird and he loses everything. Has he truly been transformed or has he lost his mind? You’ll just have to come to the show to find out! In Tandem co-founder Chris Flieller and popular local actor Marcy Kearns are the cast for this play, with performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

-Jamesons/Gilles Custard
As longtime Irish Fest fans are well aware, plenty of Irish food favorites are available all over the festival grounds, including baked potatoes, fish & chips, corned beef & cabbage, shepherd’s pie, scones, and the ever-popular bangers and mash. And to top it all off this year, the Jamesons Lodge will be featuring Jamesons/Gilles custard! Yes, Jamesons mixed with legendary Gilles Milwaukee custard to create a treat that is bound to appeal to the multitudes in custard-crazy Wisconsin!

And of course, a wide array of great music acts will be on hand, including returning favorites like Gaelic Storm, Milwaukee’s Frogwater and Athas, fabulous Chicago fiddler Liz Carroll, Different Drums of Ireland and Black 47 (in their Irish Fest farewell performances!), brilliant accordionist Sharon Shannon, the high-energy Spanish piper Carlos Nunez, Milwaukee’s rowdy Reilly and Whiskey of the Damned, the lusty vocals of the High Kings, longtime local acts Blarney and Leahy’s Luck, and many, many more.

So get jiggy with it and head down to the Lakefront this weekend for Irish Fest…Paddy and Molly McFest will be looking for you!

What’s Going On

For the week of August 5-11…

Monty Python Live (Mostly), August 6 & 9, Oriental Theater, 2230 N Farwell Ave (landmarktheatres.com)

One of the most exciting Pop Culture events of 2014 was the recent series of sold-out Monty Python reunion shows held at London’s O2 Arena. The final show on July 20 sold out in a staggering 20 minutes (and that might be a conservative figure)! If you were unable to fly to London to attend in person, fear not. In the tradition of their popular screenings of National Theater performances direct from England, Milwaukee’s historic Oriental Theater is presenting a film of Python’s reunion show. In fact, Landmark Theaters across the USA will be showing the film! And due to popular demand for the evening show on the 6th, the Oriental will be showing an encore presentation on Saturday the 9th at 11 am! The Pythons insist these will absolutely be the final performances by the beloved comedy troupe, and they feature some new brand-new bits as well as the classics we all know and love (Dead Parrot, Lumberjack Song, Spam (“Baked beans are off!”), Argument Clinic, Spanish Inquisition, the list goes on and on). So if you’re a Pythonite, make sure you don’t miss it! Shrubberies are optional.

Master Class, August 8-24, Cabot Theater, 158 N Broadway (milwaukeechambertheatre.com)

Yes, the Wisconsin State Fair is underway, and the Milwaukee Brewers are heading into the home stretch of an exciting division title chase. No matter, Milwaukee’s Fall Theater Season gets rolling this weekend with the season opener from the Milwaukee Chamber Theater. It’s a special season for MCT, which is celebrating it’s 40th Anniversary season, so they’re reviving some of their most acclaimed productions including the season opener, 1999’s Master Class. Terrence McNally’s play, a co-production with Milwaukee Opera Theater and Carroll University, is based on actual graduate classes legendary diva Maria Callas taught at New York’s prestigious Juilliard School during the early 70’s. Reprising the role of Callas from the ’99 production is one of Milwaukee’s finest actors, Angela Iannone. Joining her are several fine local musicians, singers Alicia Berneche, Melissa Cardamone and Edson Melendez, and pianist Brian Myers. To quote MCT Artistic Director C. Michael Wright, “Angela’s Callas is sublime.” If you missed the show in ’99 (my hand is raised), don’t make the same mistake again!

Coming Next Week: A preview of the 2014 Milwaukee Irish Fest!

What’s Going On

For the week of July 22-28…

Phantom of the Opera, July 23-August 3, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (marcuscenter.org)

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is a bona fide Broadway legend, and when producer Cameron Macintosh puts one of his shows (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon are several others) on tour, audiences don’t get a watered-down “roadshow” production. Instead, they get a full-blown production, equaling what they’d experience on the Great White Way. And so it will be with Phantom when it plays the Marcus Center beginning Wednesday. The show boasts an exceptional cast, lavish sets…and a Milwaukee connection. The show’s co-musical directors, Richard Carsey and Jamie Johns, are mainstays of the local theater scene, particularly the Skylight Theater, and have taken a leave of absence for the past year to pursue this opportunity. Festivals may dominate Milwaukee’s summer landscape, but this show illustrates theater is alive during the summer as well!

German Fest, July 25-27, Maier Festival Park (germanfest.com)

It’s the last weekend in July, so it’s time again for Milwaukee’s Original Haus Party, otherwise known as German Fest. In addition to the usual abundance of food, culture, crafts, music, spanferkel, dachshund races, brat-eating contests and 3 on 3 soccer tournaments (After all, Germany just won the World Cup!), there’s a new twist to the proceedings this year. Utilizing the magnificent new BMO Harris Pavilion at Maier Festival Park (aka the Summerfest Grounds), German Fest is presenting Jams on Tap, rock shows featuring Three Dog Night, Bret Michaels, and the Plain White T’s. Jawohl, the gemuetlichkeit will be present in abundance at the Lakefront this weekend!

Broadway Theater Center Open House, July 25, Broadway Theater Center, 158 N Broadway (skylightmusictheatre.org)

This Friday is the Summer Edition of Milwaukee’s popular Gallery Night, and as a special treat, the Third Ward’s Broadway Theater Center is throwing open its doors for its annual Open House. Visitors can tour the building’s facilities and get a behind-the-scenes look at costume and set design shops, as well as seeing parts of the building the general public ordinarily never sees! You can also enter drawings throughout the building for various BTC prizes, and it’s all topped off with a Preview Showcase in the BTC’s beautiful Cabot Theater, where you’ll see performances from the BTC’s tenant groups (Skylight Music Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theater, Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee Children’s Chorus). And it’s FREE!!

Brady Street Festival, July 26, Brady Street from Van Buren St to Farwell Ave (bradystreet.org)

And the last weekend of July also means it’s time for the annual Brady Street Festival, another free street festival arriving just in time for those of you just recovering from Bastille Days a few weeks back! Four music stages featuring popular local bands will keep things hopping throughout the day and evening, and there are plenty of food and craft vendors lining the street to sample as well! Among the music acts are Kane Place Record Club, the Celebrated Workingman, Tweed Funk, Soul Low, Grace Weber, the Sleepwalkers and DJ Eric Blowtorch. And there’s a cheese curd eating contest along with the Dudes Will Be Divas Drag Show thrown in for good measure! It is truly the world of Brady Street in microcosm!