Whoa, lots of arts goodies in the Easter Basket, so let’s hop to it!
For the week of March 29-April 4…
Sirens of Song, now-May 29, Stackner Cabaret, 108 E Wells St (milwaukeerep.com)
For the Rep’s final Stackner Cabaret show this season, we have a world premiere inspired by those legendary characters of Greek mythology, the sirens. Three talented actresses take the audience on a journey through the 20th century through female eyes and American history. The stories are juxtaposed with great pop songs of the century, which in turn have made their impact on world culture. And what a lineup it is: Showstopping performances of classics including “Over the Rainbow,” “I Will Survive,” “I Am Woman,” “St Louis Blues,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Hot Stuff,” just to name but a few. So settle in to the cozy confines of the Stackner and enjoy a thrilling showcase of some of the greatest pop standards of all time!
Kaleidoscope Eyes, March 31-April 3, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (milwaukeeballet.org)
The Milwaukee Ballet’s annual Mixed Repertory showcase features as its centerpiece Trey McIntyre’s A Day in the Life, which features dance interpretations of 12 Beatles classics, which has now become a tribute to the recently departed Sir George Martin, the musical genius who was the producer behind all the Beatles records. I won’t spoil the fun by listing all the songs in the “playlist” here, but suffice it to say it runs the gamut of the Fab Four’s music. But don’t look for any dancers in collarless suits, but plenty of Mod attitude! The balance of the program features two world premiere works. MBC dancer and choreographer-in-residence (and past Genesis Competition winner) Timothy O’Donnell’s The Sixth Sin concerns itself with the growing obsession with body image in our society, using as its catalyst how people’s thoughts seem to be dominated by the overriding theme,”If I only had…” 2015 Genesis winner Garrett Smith’s Addendum completes the program. It’s an exploration which features dancers and chairs, backed by the music of cellist Zoe Keating. Following up their sensational premiere of Artistic Director Michael Pink’s Picture of Dorian Gray recently, this program serves to reinforce that whether it’s classic ballets like The Nutcracker or the frontiers of contemporary dance, the Milwaukee Ballet always knocks it out of the park (Yes, the Brewers’ season opens Monday, April 4, at Miller Park)!
Mozart and More, March 31-April 2, Pabst Theater, 108 E Wells St (mso.org)
While the Ballet is busy at the Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra heads down the street for a two week residency at their original home, the glorious Pabst Theater (where the MBC did their performances of Dorian Gray). Guest conductor Ben Gernon leads the MSO in two Mozart symphonies (Nos. 29 and 31 (“Paris”)). Between the Mozart pieces are Stravinsky’s classically-inspired Symphony in C major and Tchaikovsky’s lovely Variations on a Rococo Theme, featuring guest cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan. It’s a fine program to welcome Spring in the intimate setting of the Pabst!
Paul Rodgers, March 31-April 1, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W Canal St (paysbig.com/shows)
Legendary British vocalist Paul Rodgers, who has fronted the great bands Free and Bad Company, still possesses some of the best pipes around. Ramping up to Bad Co’s upcoming tour with Joe Walsh, Rodgers is bringing his solo band to the intimate Northern Lights Theater for a pair of shows this weekend. The show will be packed with classics from both bands, along with a healthy serving of the blues standards that have been a lifelong passion. A Hall of Fame singer in a great venue is a combination that can’t be beat!
Censored on Final Approach, April 1-24, Studio Theater, 158 N Broadway (r-t-w.com)
World War II history buffs should be heading to Renaissance Theaterworks’ final production of the season. It’s the rarely told story of the American female pilots (known as WASPs) who served during the war. Prohibited from serving in active combat, they provided valuable services (including test piloting, instructor piloting, towing targets for air-to-air gunnery practice and transporting personnel and cargo- including parts for the atomic bomb) which freed male pilots for combat duty. In spite of that, the WASPs shared a similar fate to their brethren, the black Tuskegee Airmen-the military brass were not fans of either. To compound matters, the WASPs were often provided aircraft that were badly in need of repairs or should have been removed from action altogether. As a result, many of the women pilots were killed or injured performing their duties. That’s the crux of director Leda Hoffmann’s story, which is a Renaissance co-production with Marquette University’s Theatre Department. It’s also one of the largest productions in Renaissance history, with nearly a dozen characters in the cast, a mix of familiar Milwaukee actors and MU students, both onstage and behind the scenes. Not to be missed.
Ella Enchanted, April 1-May 1, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (firststage.org)
Author Gail Carson Levine’s “reboot” of the Cinderella story becomes a world premiere musical for First Stage, Milwaukee’s premiere family theater. It’s the story of Ella of Frell, who is cursed at birth with a spell which prevents her from disobeying any order, no matter what, even chopping off her own head! Knowing better (and preventing this from being a very short show indeed!), Ella embarks on a quest to get the spell reversed, encountering all manner of ogres, monsters, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers…and a handsome prince (yes, it IS a Cinderella reboot!). And in the talented hands (and voices) of First Stage’s young performers, the result is a production that will captivate the entire family. And here’s an Inside Tip: First Stage is offering a “Pay What You Can” performance at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 6! Tickets will be available beginning at 6 pm that evening.