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.