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!