What’s Going On

For the week of November 25-December 1…

The Kooky Cooky House, November 25-January 1 (tentative), Discovery World Museum, 500 N Harbor Drive (discoveryworld.org)

During the 1960’s and 70’s, a holiday destination for many kids was Milwaukee’s “fabulous” Captitol Court Mall, the home of the equally fabulous Kooky Cooky House. Ralphie in A Christmas Story never imagined anything like this! Visitors got to tour the house and see how Santa’s robot crew cranked out all those Christmas cookies! And kids knew it was real because they received an actual cookie from the factory after visiting with Santa to wind up the tour. Families from miles around would make special trips to see this Christmas wonder. But like Capitol Court itself, the house vanished in the 80’s and has been absent ever since, a distant Milwaukee Christmas memory like Billie the Brownie. But now, thanks to the tireless efforts of local media personalities Gino Salomone and Jim Stingl, along with many others, the house is back! The KCH has been lovingly reconstructed from original fixtures and blueprints, and is being housed in the Discovery World Museum for the 2014 holiday season! And Santa himself will be there on November 28 and December 6 (St Nick’s Day). So round up the kids and head on down, or just come yourself and be a kid again!

Nod to Bob, November 26, Linneman’s River West Inn, 1001 E Locust St (linnemans.com)
Besides Black Friday sales, football games and family gatherings, Thanksgiving in Milwaukee means the Thanksgiving Eve “Nod to Bob” Dylan tribute show at Linneman’s. Wednesday night, the 16th annual event (a benefit for the Hunger Task Force) takes place, featuring stellar Milwaukee musicians performing their favorite Dylan songs. Among those on this year’s lineup are Byron Wiemann III, Heidi Spencer, Blonde on Blonde, the Whiskeybelles, Bill Camplin, Semi Twang, the Hanson Family, the Riverwest Aces, the Thriftones, Chris Demay, and many more! Cover is $10, or $5 plus 5 cans of nonperishable food. The music starts at 7 pm sharp, and get there early, the club fills up FAST!

A Cudahy Caroler Christmas, November 28-January 4, Tenth Street Theater, 628 N 10th St (intandemtheatre.org)

For over a decade, In Tandem Theatre’s A Cudahy Caroler Christmas has grown from a holiday alternative to a Milwaukee Christmas tradition. Anthony Wood’s hilarious tale of group leader Stasch’s mission to reunite the singing group one last time for a special on a local cable access channel contains such gems as “We T’ree Guys of Cudahy Are,” “O Bowling Night,” “O Little Town of Cudahy” and “O Yah Der Hey (It’s Time to Watch the Packer Game)” (yes, there’s even a soundtrack CD available at all performances!). However, I regret to report that 2014 will be the final season for Stasch (played by In Tandem co-founder Chris Flieller) and the Carolers. So whether you’d like to have one more visit Stasch & Co, or you’ve never seen the show, it’s more important than ever to order tickets early, as all performances sell out! And you wouldn’t want to be stuck outside freezing your toukas off now, enso?

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, November 28-December 28, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (firststage.org)

Can you believe it’s been 50 years since this holiday classic made its debut as an episode of GE Fantasy Theater on NBC the afternoon of Sunday, December 6, 1964? To celebrate this milestone, First Stage Theater brings back their hit production from 2012. The sets amazingly recreate those on the TV show, and First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank and Musical Director Timothy Splain lovingly ensure this stage show is faithful to the original, with all the songs and characters you remember (including Yukon Cornelius, Hermie the Elf, and that awful “bumble”, the Abominable Snow Monster!). And this is no CGI production, either…The actors do their best to mimic the stop-action animation on the original show! In addition to the talented young First Stage performers, the cast includes Milwaukee favorites Karen Estrada, Lee Becker (who also wrote lyrics for A Cudahy Caroler Christmas), Alison Mary Forbes and Matt Daniels, who is directing this production. It’s a great time for kids of all ages, so don’t be a misfit and round up the gang and head on down, or come yourself and step into a time machine that will transport you back to when you were a kid! BTW, with this production Alison Mary Forbes comes full circle, from playing Rudolph in the local holiday murder-mystery Who Killed Santa? to playing Mrs Donner in this show!

Man with a Camera, November 28, Shank Hall, 1434 N Farwell Ave (shankhall.com)

Once upon a time, the late 70’s and 80’s to be exact, Milwaukee music legend Sigmund Snopek III fronted a pop quartet simply called Snopek. They released several albums (including Speaking Out Loud and First Band on the Moon) featuring some of the most catchy, yet quirky, tunes you’ll ever hear this side of legendary bands like 10 cc and Jellyfish…and played dozens of gigs as the “house band” at the TV6 Comedy Cabaret at Milwaukee Summerfest! Those songs include “New York Jumpers,” “Hamburger Holocaust,” and a gorgeous romantic pop confection called “Kathleen,” penned by band member Byron Wiemann III. Well, the band split up (but didn’t wind up on VH1 Behind the Music), the members (which also included Jim Gorton (bass) and Mike Lucas (drums)) went their separate ways, with Byron relocating to Germany. But when Byron comes home to visit, he hooks up with Jim and Mike to perform as Man with a Camera (a name taken from the classic 1929 Soviet documentary film recently shown at the Milwaukee Film Festival!). And that’s happening this Friday at Shank Hall! Expect to hear new and recent music, as well as a slew of classic Snopek tunes. Who knows, perhaps even the Big Sig himself may show up!

And finally, my best wishes to you and yours for a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

What’s Going On

For the week of November 18-24…

David Bowie Is…November 19, Oriental Theater, 2230 N Farwell Ave (landmarktheatres.com)

If you’re unable to make it down to Chicago to see this exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art from now till early January and/or couldn’t get in to see this film’s screening at the Downer in September, here’s another chance for you to see this filmed tour of the amazing David Bowie memorabilia show from its initial run at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. After seeing the show and/or film, one can only conclude that Bowie is the ultimate Pack Rat, right up there with Charles Foster Kane. But since he’s sharing his cache with the public, we’re all the better for it! BTW, this screening coincides with the release of the new Bowie 50th Anniversary boxed set retrospective Nothing Has Changed.

Nathan Wessselowski & Friends, November 21, Bader Recital Hall, 1584 N Prospect Ave (wcmusic.org)

The Festival of Music and Trees continues through the 23rd at Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, featuring daily music performances and dozens of awesomely decorated Christmas trees that you can bid on and possibly take home with you! On Friday, local singer and performer Nathan Wesselowski (he was the Evil Professor in Milwaukee Opera Theater’s hit Fortuna! and will also be appearing in MOT’s production of The Mikado in 2015) ramps up for his return run in In Tandem Theater’s Cudahy Carolers’ Christmas (more on that next week!) by rounding some of his favorite musical pals for an evening of Broadway show tunes. Sounds like a great way to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday week!

The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised), November 21-December 14, Studio Theater, 158 N Broadway (milwaukeechambertheatre.com)

It’s a big week for Milwaukee theater, as no less than three holiday productions open their runs! First up, we have this exhaustive look at the works of the Bard…Correction, make that exhausting look, as Milwaukee Chamber Theater presents this hilarious farce where Shakespeare’s works are compressed into a two-hour romp (Don’t worry, everything, and I mean everything, is covered!). Although this hilarious revue has been presented previously (most recently at the Rep’s Stackner Cabaret), this production offers an interesting twist. The entire four-member cast (Chris Klopatek, Rick Pendzich, Chase Stoeger and Marcus Truschinski) all met and performed when they were students at UW-Whitewater. I don’t know if this was one of the shows they performed back in the day, but I do know one thing: Prepare to hang on, it’s gonna be a fast and furious ride!

Harvey, November 21-December 21, Powerhouse Theater, 108 E Wells St (milwaukeerep.com)

Speaking of the Rep, their holiday offering is a play that’s closely associated with Jimmy Stewart, whom we usually think of this time of year for his iconic role as George Bailey in the film classic It’s a Wonderful Life. But another of his memorable film roles was as Elwood P Dowd, a man whose boon companion is a gigantic pooka rabbit named Harvey. Unfortunately, nobody else can see this “friend,” which sets the action of this play into motion. The Rep is marking the 70th anniversary of the play’s premiere with this production, which features a cast of Rep “all-stars.” Familiar faces in the cast include Jon Daly (as Elwood), Jim Pickering, Laura Gordon, Deb Staples, Richard Halverson, Kelley Faulkner and Laurie Birmingham. You may not see that “wascally wabbit,” but I assure you’ll see plenty of star power and enjoy plenty of laughs, picking right up where last season’s uproarious Rep production of Noises Off! left off!

The Wizard of Oz, November 21-January 4, Cabot Theater, 158 N Broadway (skylightmusictheatre.org)

Producing a stage version of a classic movie musical like The Wizard of Oz would seem a daunting task for a local theater group. But with Skylight’s record of hit productions of musicals over the past few holiday seasons (including The Music Man, The Sound of Music, and Les Miserables), this production should be a real treat. BTW, Susie Wiedmeyer, who plays Dorothy, stepped in to play Maria in a string of performances of The Sound of Music when Liz Telford came down with an illness. Susie did such a great job that it earned her the role of Dorothy in this production! And like those previous shows, there will be no shortcuts in this production, especially when it comes to the Munchkins (cue groaning here!). And if you find yourself singing along with these familiar songs (Who wouldn’t want to represent the Lullaby Leaves or Lollipop Guild?), I have just the ticket for you! On New Year’s Eve, the Skylight will be offering a special “singalong” performance where the audience is encouraged to sing right along with the actors onstage…and nobody will shush you for doing so! A champagne reception follows the performance to “sing” in the New Year! Also, all Friday and Saturday evening performances (except on Nov 21) will be followed by a free cabaret show in the Skylight Bistro. Things That Go Ding (Dong Merrily on High) is a hilarious holiday revue from Skylight percussionist extraordinaire Mike Lorenz, assisted by pianist Jack Forbes Wilson (currently starring in the hit Liberace! in the Rep’s Stackner Cabaret-my, he’s busier than Santa!) and the Skylight’s Clown Prince of Comedy, Ray Jivoff. Talk about making the season bright!!

Sam Llanas, November 22, Bader Recital Hall, 1584 N Prospect Ave (wcmusic.org)

When he was a member of Milwaukee’s beloved Bodeans, Sam Llanas was accustomed to performing before massive crowds at venues like Summerfest and U2’s gig at LA’s Memorial Coliseum. On Saturday night, you get the rare opportunity to hear Sam and his crackerjack band in the cozy confines of WCM’s Bader Recital Hall during a special performance as part of the Festival of Music and Trees. Sam will be featuring tunes from his brand-new CD The Whole Night Thru, older solo tunes, and Bodeans classics too! This gig will be a sure sellout, so don’t dawdle! For a full schedule of other Festival events, check the Conservatory website (wcmusic.org).

Now if that’s not enough choices for you, keep in mind the downtown holiday season kicks into high gear this week! On Thursday, the City/County Christmas tree will be lighted at Red Arrow Park around 4:45 pm, followed by the Holiday Lights Festival Kickoff at Pere Marquette Park at 6 pm (milwaukeedowntown.com). Following the music program at 6:30, all the holiday lights at Pere Marquette, Cathedral Square, and Zeidler Union Square Parks will be switched on, accompanied by fireworks over the skies of downtown Milwaukee. On Saturday morning, Santa arrives during Milwaukee’s biggest annual parade, the Downtown Christmas Parade (milwaukeeparade.com). And if you’re one of those that can’t get enough of Milwaukee’s summer ethnic festivals, make tracks to State Fair Park this Friday through Sunday for the annual renewal of the Granddaddy of them all, the 71st Holiday Folk Fair International! It’s like having all those summer festivals all rolled into one! More information available at folkfair.org.

What’s Going On

For the week of November 11-17…

Speak No Evil, November 13, Bader Recital Hall, 1584 N Prospect Ave (wcmusic.org)

Fifty years ago, Wayne Shorter was a up-and-coming sax player who had recently joined up with Miles Davis to help form one of the greatest ensembles in jazz history. He also found the time to release an album under his own name called Speak No Evil, and this Blue Note release went on to become one of the most influential jazz albums of the 60’s. On Thursday night We Six, the faculty jazz group at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, celebrates this milestone by performing the album in its entirety. This concert is also the kickoff event of WCM’s annual holiday Festival of Trees and Music, featuring an array of special performances from November 13-22. Check the website for full festival information!

Scheherazade, November 14-15, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (mso.org)

Following up last weekend’s great performance, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra returns this weekend with another gem of a program. Guest Conductor Marcelo Lehninger leads a program that includes Stravinsky’s energetic Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra, is joined by guest soloist Sean Chen for Saint-Saens’ dazzling Piano Concerto No. 2, and concludes with one of the greatest orchestral showcases ever, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, a musical retelling of the Arabian Nights, which features some lovely violin solos from MSO Concertmaster Frank Almond. All in all, an evening of exciting music sure to warm up these chilly fall evenings!

Steely Dane, November 15, Shank Hall, 1434 N Farwell Ave (shankhall.com)

For the third straight year, Madison’s Steely Dane takes the stage at Shank Hall on Saturday night. This Steely Dan tribute band features nearly two dozen musicians (many of them members of other Madison-area bands) playing flawless renditions of Dan classics. So many musicians wanted in on this project that the band members play in shifts in order to accommodate everybody! Since last year’s Shank gig, they also performed at the 2014 Summerfest, where they played the classic album Aja in its entirety, a rather amazing feat given the complex music contained therein! Because of the band members’ other commitments, Steely Dane is limited to a handful of gigs annually, so Saturday night’s show is most definitely a rare treat. In other words, if you’re a Steely Dan fan, make sure you don’t miss this show!

Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza, November 17-18, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W Canal St (paysbig.com/shows)

As far as music shows are concerned, the holiday season is here, and things get off to a roaring start with the return of the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Christmas Extravaganza to the Northern Lights Theater next Monday and Tuesday! For this Christmas music fan, no other holiday music show will surpass this one. Although this will be the 4th straight Christmas the BSO will be playing the NLT, the Stray Cat’s Big Band has been doing their annual Christmas Extravaganza for over a decade! Besides snappy arrangements of holiday favorites old and new, there’s a set that features a rockabilly trio where you’ll hear Stray Cats favorites, and the full band cuts loose on “Rock This Town” and “Rumble in Brighton” mixed in with “Sleigh Ride” and Les Brown’s classic Big Band arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. A couple of other Fun Facts about the Milwaukee shows: The Northern Lights Theater is the smallest venue on the tour, but because Brian and the band love playing the room so much, it’s the only stop on the tour with multiple dates! So whether you’ve seen this show previously or not, act quickly so you don’t get turned away…Santa and the Grinch (both make appearances during the show) would be disappointed!

What’s Going On

For the week of November 4-10…

In the Red and Brown Water, November 6-16, Helfaer Theater, 525 N 13th St (uprootedmke.com)

Marquette University’s Theater Department joins forces with Milwaukee’s Uprooted Theater to present Tarell Alvin McCraney’s powerful play. Directed by Uprooted Artistic Director Marti Gobel, it’s been called the African-American version of Thornton Wilder’s classic Our Town. It’s the story of Oya, a local track star who gets a scholarship offer to the state university and a way out of the projects in the Louisiana town where she grew up. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as all that. Local actors Ericka Wade and Ken Williams are joined by 24 MU student actors to fill out the cast of this show that will keep you thinking long after you leave the theater!

Lucy, November 7-9, Tenth Street Theater, 628 N 10th St (milwaukeeoperatheatre.org)

The team that brought the hit Guns N’Rosenkavalier to Milwaukee in 2013 are back with a world premiere opera this weekend. Composer John Glover, librettist Kelley Rourke, and baritone Andrew Wilkowske present this true story of psychologist Maurice Temerlin who adopted a day-old chimp (which he named Lucy) in the 60’s and proceeded to raise her as a human child. The one act opera proceeds to explore the consequences of this experiment. Stage Director Erik Pearson and the cast are musically assisted by California’s Redshift Emsemble in this provocative, intriguing piece.

Liberace! November 7-January 11, Stackner Cabaret, 108 E Wells St (milwaukeerep.com)

In 2010, the Milwaukee Rep premiered Writer/Director Brent Hazleton’s play about this Milwaukee legend who took music lessons at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and grew up to become a show legend icon who inspired Elvis, Elton John and Lady Gaga and earned the title “Mr Showmanship.” It was a runaway smash and earned raves for star Jack Forbes Wilson, thanks to his prodigious musical talents and ability to channel the star’s personality in presenting Liberace’s life story. Responding to public demand, the Rep has tried for several years to revive the show with Forbes, but the actor wasn’t ready to take on this challenging role again until the time was right. That time is now. If you missed it the first time around, or want to revisit the show again, don’t miss this golden opportunity (as Lee himself would probably describe it) to see this gem…It might be your last chance! BTW, the tireless Jack will also be performing in Christmas Things That Go Ding!, the cabaret show that follows Friday and Saturday evening performances of the Skylight’s The Wizard of Oz, beginning on November 22. Jack will be joined by show creator Mike “Ding” Lorenz and the Skylight’s Ray Jivoff.

WMSE Fall Membership Drive, November 7-14, WMSE Radio 91.7 fm (wmse.org)

Following on the heels of last Sunday’s highly successful Big Band Grandstand event featuring the Cab Calloway Orchestra at Turner Hall Ballroom, Frontier Radio WMSE launches its annual Fall Memebership Drive on Friday morning to help raise funds to keep this community treasure on the air for the next six months. In addition to raising the $120K needed to meet operating expenses, the station is also raising funds for its project to digitize its vast jazz and big band music library, the objective being to make the music available to anyone through the station website. As I’ve mentioned many times before, WMSE is truly a community-powered radio station, where the DJ’s are almost entirely volunteers (some have been on the air for over three decades!) that select the music they play, often from their own collections! Also, the Mighty 91 is now Milwaukee’s radio home for Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concert broadcasts, which were launched in June. The variety of music genres showcased, the commitment to local music, even a talk show devoted to Milwaukee Pop Culture (Wednesday afternoon’s The Disclaimer)…The thought of losing all this is just too much to bear! So please tune in for the special programming during the drive, and most importantly, pledge your support by calling 414 799-1917 or online at wmse.org. Remember, no pledge is too small!!

Pictures at an Exhibition, November 8-9, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (mso.org)

For this music buff, you just can’t go wrong with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s program this weekend. Guest Conductor Carlos Kalmar opens the festivities with Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony, the Russian composer’s homage to Mozart and one of his most delightful pieces. Also on the program is the world premiere of Marc Neikrug’s Bassoon Concerto, featuring the MSO’s enormously talented Ted Soluri (In fact, Ted’s been known to handle the French horn on occasion!). Wrapping it all up is Maurice Ravel’s magnificent orchestration of Russian composer Modest Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, one of the great orchestral showcases. By the time the piece concludes with the resounding chords of “The Great Gate of Kiev,” you will know you’ve experienced something truly special, a triumph for both Ravel and Moussorgsky.

What’s Going On

For the week of October 28-November 3…

Don Quixote, October 30-November 2, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (milwaukeeballet.org)

If you’re a Milwaukee dance fan, this is a big weekend for you! And it gets underway Thursday night when the Milwaukee Ballet opens their new season with one of the classics. Don Quixote is the legendary Cervantes tale of chivalrous Alonso Quixano and his loyal companion Sancho Panza known to many as the hit Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. The production features MBC Artistic Director Michael Pink’s choreorgraphy, which was first presented in 2006. Pink states that the story has a much lighter tone than the musical, which is probably a result of all the dancing in this show…and the ideal opportunity to showcase the wonderfully talented MBC dancers! Everything you want in a classic ballet is here: A great story, glorious costumes, magnificent sets, marvelous dancing, the live performance by maestro Andrews Sill and the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra…What are you waiting for??

Paleontology of a Woman, October 30-November 1, Next Act Theater, 255 S Water St (danceworksmke.org)

And for those who prefer modern dance with a bit of an edge, Milwaukee’s feisty Danceworks has just the show for you. It’s a performance art piece that’s a collaboration of Danceworks Artistic Director Dani Kuepper and former “Project Runway” contestant Timothy Westbrook that’s taking place in the cozy confines of Next Act Theater. Now everybody talks about going green, but in this production, Danceworks is doing something about it. The artistic team went around the area collecting trash that was converted into costumes for the show! The only new wardrobe purchased for the show was three pairs of shoes. Plenty of provocative ideas regarding gender perception fill the production, which also features Allen Russell’s original score performed by Tontine Ensemble. Sounds to me like another exciting production for this always adventurous (and fun) Milwaukee dance group.

WMSE Big Band Bandstand featuring the Cab Calloway Orchestra, November 2, Turner Hall Ballroom, 1034 N 4th St (wmse.org)

The WMSE Radio Fall Fundraising Drive begins this Sunday with a special event at Turner Hall Ballroom that’s a tribute to DJ Dewey Gill, who has been entertaining listeners for over 30 years with his Sunday morning Big Band show. Dewey will be spinning some of his favorite dance band 78’s, Wisconsin Hybrid Theater (which regularly appears live every first Sunday of the month on WMSE’s “Frontier Radio Theater”) will perform skits with a big band theme, and headlining will be the Cab Calloway Orchestra, led by CB Brooks, Cab’s grandson. The band also features many musicians who performed with the man himself, so you can rest assured you’ll hear Cab Classics such as “Minnie the Moocher,” “Jumpin’ Jive,” “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House,” and many more. The dance floor will be open for all you swing dancers, there’s a silent auction (information on the station website), and there will be hors d’oeuvres from Braise. Funds raised will go towards digitizing the station’s vast jazz music library (including the Big Bands), which will allow listeners streaming access to the entire library! Attendees are encouraged to dress 40’s style for the event, so it looks like I better get going so I can dig up that Zoot Suit! BTW, there’s no Packers game this Sunday, so there’s no excuse for missing this!

What’s Going On

For the week of October 21-27…

Crossing Over, October 22, Times Cinema, 5906 W Vliet St (exfabula.com)

Fall is definitely in the air, and Milwaukee’s favorite storytelling group, Ex Fabula, gets its new season into high gear with its first StorySlam session for 2014-15. For the occasion the group returns to one of its most popular venues, the Times Cinema. Perhaps the reason that’s true is the free popcorn for early arrivals…or is it the free movie you can see if you stay after the StorySlam (The current movie is Brad Pitt’s WW II drama Fury)? OK, those are pretty cool incentives, but the real attraction is getting to see the talented storytellers expound on the topic “crossing over” on the Times stage! A big crowd is expected as usual, so make sure to get there early!

NRBQ with Semi-Twang, October 22, Shank Hall, 1434 N Farwell Ave (shankhall.com)

The fact that Semi-Twang, one of Milwaukee’s most venerable bands, is the opening act for this show is no accident. They perfectly complement NRBQ, one of the great American rock bands you probably never heard of, but one of the elite few who have appeared on The Simpsons! Led by Terry Adams, they put on a show that’s nothing less than a rollercoaster ride through the history of American music, incorporating elements of jazz, country, and folk under the guise of a party-time rock band. They are indeed one of the most-admired bands whose songs have been covered by scores of other artists…In fact, their song “Me and the Boys” alone has been covered by Bonnie Raitt AND Dave Edmunds! Local musician and DJ Paul Cebar reports this is the band’s first visit to MKE in a decade, so this show is a great way to help celebrate Shank Hall’s 25th anniversary!

Nineteen Thirteen Haunts the Estate, October 24, Jazz Estate, 2423 N Murray Ave (nineteenthirteen.bandcamp.com)

Kick off your Halloween celebrations with a visit to the dark, “haunted” environs of the Jazz Estate this Friday with a special show from Nineteen Thirteen. This local trio featuring cellist Janet Schiff and percussionists Scott Johnson and Victor DeLorenzo is indeed capable of creating some mighty spooky sounds. But if you like music that has an adventurous edge, be sure you make the scene at the Jazz Estate on Friday night! BTW, the band has cleverly included covers of songs like Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” and “The Model” into their sets, but I don’t think I’d bet the farm that “Monster Mash” will make the setlist for this show!

The Gearhead Show Howloween Spooktacular, October 25, 6-9 am, WMSE Radio (91.7 fm or wmse.org)

Regular listeners to this Saturday morning tradition on WMSE know the show’s host Dietrich is crazy about Halloween. It’s no secret it’s his favorite holiday, and his annual “Howloween Spooktacular” show is right up there with Paul Host’s Christmas Eve extravaganza as one of the station’s yearly highlights. The sky’s the limit (Watch out for witches on flying broomsticks!) when it comes to what music will be featured on this year’s show. But it’s a pretty safe bet that Ted Cassidy’s “Do the Lurch,” Buchanan and Goodman’s “The Flying Saucer (Parts 1 and 2),” Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You,” the Swingin’ Neckbreakers’ “No Costume, No Candy,” Deadbolt’s “Psychic Voodoo Doll,” the Guess Who’s “Clap for the Wolfman,” the Dead Elvi’s “The Creature Stole My Surfboard,” along with selections from legendary TV horror movie show host John Zacherle will make the “cut.” I’m not sure if Dr Cadeverino will drop by for a visit…you’ll just have to tune in and find out. Oh, and if you can’t listen “live,” you can catch stream the show on the Archive at wmse.org. But I find it a special treat listening at the hour when Count Dracula calls it a day…or night??

What’s Going On

For the week of October 14-20…

Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars, October 17-November 15,Todd Wehr Theater, 929 N Water St (firststage.org)

Sherlock Holmes is arguably the world’s first super-sleuth. But in First Stage Theater’s season opening production, you won’t find Basil Rathbone, Robert Downey, Jr…not even Benedict Cumberbatch! You see, in this case, Holmes has disappeared, and his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, has returned to wreak havoc upon London. So it falls to Holmes’ youthful proteges-a group of street kids known as the Baker Street Irregulars-to jump into the breach to defend the city and also locate Holmes’ whereabouts. Tony Lee’s graphic Holmes novels have been adapted by First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank into a show that’s enjoyable for Holmes fans for all ages. The usual cast of talented youthful performers are joined by adult actors (including Mark Corkins and Marcy Kearns), along with period-style music from Frogwater’s John Nicholson, to help bring the stories to life. I can only echo Holmes’ classic exhortation: “Come, Watson: The game’s afoot!!”

Amelia, October 17-November 9, Studio Theater, 158 N Broadway (r-t-w.com)

When it comes to US History, no period fascinates more people worldwide than the Civil War. And the War Between the States (or the Skirmishes, as it’s called by some Southerners and Brits) is the setting for Renaissance Theaterworks’ season opener, Alex Webb’s Amelia. One of Milwaukee’s most talented actors, Laura Gordon, directs this tale of a newlywed whose husband Ethan goes off to join the Union Army. When Ethan’s letters stop coming, Amelia takes matters into her own hands, going so far as to disguise herself as a Union soldier to find her missing husband. The audience sees the war through Amelia’s eyes (including Gettysburg and Andersonville) as she observes the carnage and danger up close and personal. Will her effort and sacrifice reunite her with her true love? That’s what makes this production a special treat for both Civil War buffs and lovers of great romances. And speaking of special, the play features Casssandra Bissell as Amelia and longtime Milwaukee Rep stalwart Reese Madigan as Ethan. It’s a true tour de force in the intimate Studio Theater!

Smith Uncovered, October 18, Pitman Theater, 3431 S 39th St (alvernopresents.alverno.edu)

Several years back, Juniper Tar’s Ryan Schleicher presented a tribute to the great American composer Stephen Foster as part of Alverno College’s Alverno Presents series. On Saturday, another American music icon gets her due when Patti Smith is celebrated in the show Smith Uncovered. Testa Rosa’s Betty Strigens is curating the program, which will feature her band, as well as Juniper Tar’s Chris DeMay with the Metropolitan Singers, Die Kreuzen, Mark Waldoch and Hello Death, Nineteen Thirteen, and other Milwaukee music luminaries. The objective is to provide a wide-ranging look at this artist’s career, and if it’s anywhere nearly as good as the Foster retrospective, it will be a truly special evening.

Against Type! Roles I’ll Never Play But Could, October 19, Next Act Theater, 255 S Water St (uprootedmke.com)

As I’ve said before, Milwaukee is truly blessed with many outstanding theater groups, and one of them is certainly Uprooted Theatre. On Sunday, for the fifth year, Uprooted is presenting Against Type!, one of the most unique fundraisers you will ever see. Uprooted’s Marti Gobel has assembled an illustrious group of some of Milwaukee’s finest theatrical talent and turned them loose on roles and plays you would never see them performing in their usual venues. To give you an idea, remember Jim Pickering’s portrayal of Mrs Fezziwig in the Rep’s production of A Christmas Carol last year? Now imagine an entire show like that! And who will be participating in this year’s extravaganza? I’ll never tell, and even if I could, it would take all the fun out of the surprises in store for those in attendance. Be there or be square.

Ruthie Foster with special guest Luther Dickinson, October 19, Shank Hall, 1434 N Farwell Ave (shankhall.com)

Last June, Austin, Texas blues dynamo Ruthie Foster headlined Manitowoc’s Metro Jam festival. And considering the majority of the audience probably had never heard of her before the show, she proceeded to blow the crowd away with a show that could certainly be described as a real “Texas Twister.” Now, Milwaukee fans can see and hear for themselves this diminutive performer who’s simply a force of nature (along with her crackerjack band) when she lands at the cozy confines of Shank Hall on Sunday night. If that weren’t enough, joining Ruthie on the bill will be North Mississippi All Stars member Luther Dickinson. It takes a really special show to make it worth going out on a Sunday night…This one qualifies!

We the Economy: 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford to Miss, October 20, Oriental Theater, 2230 N Farwell Ave (landmarktheatres.com)

With economic issues dominating the current election campaign, Landmark Theaters nationwide (including Milwaukee’s Oriental) are presenting a special one-time screening of this unique film on Monday night. It’s comprised of twenty 5-8 minute films, each helmed by an acclaimed director and spanning various genres from animation to live action, with the objective of addressing questions like: What is the economy? What is money? What is the role of the government in the economy? What is globalization? What causes inequality? The films use an entertaining approach in educating the audience on these heavy topics, hopefully leading to making informed choices come Election Day…and you don’t have to show an ID to vote in WI on November 4th!!