What’s Going On

For the week of January 10-16….

Blue Oyster Cult/The Tubes, January 13, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W Canal St (paysbig.com/shows)

Friday the 13th is a lucky day for Milwaukee’s Classic Rock fans with a great double bill in the intimate Northern Lights Theater!  Headlining will be Blue Oyster Cult, whose massive 70’s hit “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” made the phrase “More cowbell” part of the pop culture lexicon.  Opening the show are the kings of theatrical rock, the Tubes, with their irrepressible leader Fee Waybill.  The band is part of an elite group of rock acts that were the guests of “Fishin’ Musician” Gil Fisher at the Scuttlebound Lodge on the classic SCTV series!  Atta boy, Shadow…Talk to ya later!!

Scheherazade, January 13-14, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (mso.org)

Conductor JoAnn Falletta, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony, began her career as Associate Conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra from 1985-88.   This weekend, she returns to lead the MSO’s brilliant program which leads off with a short piece from contemporary American composer John (The Red Violin) Corigliano.  The program continues with another MSO returnee, cellist Zuill Bailey, as soloist in Saint-Saens’ dazzling Cello Concerto #1.  Winding up the festivities is Rimsky-Korsakov’s crowd-pleasing tone poem Scheherazade, a musical setting of the Tales of the Arabian Nights featuring solo violin passages from MSO Concertmaster Frank Almond.  All great music to warm up a chilly winter’s evening!

Welcome to Bronzeville,  January 13-February 5, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (firststage.org)

Family theater First Stage’s first production of 2017 is this original play from writer/director Sheri Williams Pannell that celebrates the neighborhood that was once the hub of Milwaukee’s African-American community.  The time is 1957, and the show is populated by a wide cross-section of characters (inspired by actual residents) that were all integral to this close-knit area.  Even legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday (Malkia Stampley) is on hand for a gig at a local club!  The show is a poignant reminder for all ages of what for decades was a thriving part of Milwaukee.

Melodies and Memories:  200 Years of Milwaukee Music, now-April 29, Milwaukee County Historical Society, 910 N Old World 3rd St (milwaukeehistory.net)

You can bet the sounds of Bronzeville are among those heard in this ambitious special exhibit at the MCHS.  Like the name says, it’s a wide-ranging look at the wide range of music embraced by Milwaukee through the decades, from classical to ethnic to folk to jazz to pop and everything between.  Vintage musical instruments are on display, and Milwaukee music-related businesses like Hal Leonard Publishing and Koss Stereophones are represented too.  And since music is most definitely an active art form, there’s plenty of interactive opportunities available, including instruments from Brass Bell and Cascio Music as well as listening stations where one can sample various types of Milwaukee music down through the years, complementing the visual artifacts on display.  Bottom line:  If you’re a music buff, this is a must!!


What’s Going On

For the week of January 3-9…

Welcome to the first post of 2017!

The Sound of Music, January 3-8, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (marcuscenter.org)

It’s pretty amazing to know that The Sound of Music, one of the most beloved musicals of all time, has had only one Broadway revival (1999) since its original 1959 production, thanks to the incredible popularity of the Oscar-winning 1965 film version. That could change with the touring production playing Milwaukee from Tuesday through Sunday.  The aim is to make this production Broadway-bound when its road tour ends, and the show’s director, Broadway veteran Jack O’Brien (Tony winner for Hairspray) just might pull it off.  Much like the recent revival of West Side Story, O’Brien has tweaked the story to make it more relevant to contemporary audiences.  Most notably, he has made Maria more age-accurate.  In the actual story, she was only 5 years older than eldest Trapp daughter Liesl when she went to work as the Trapp children’s governess (O’Brien notes when he saw the original Broadway production, Mary Martin was 46!).  And speaking of Liesl, O’Brien has made her any boyfriend Rolf into characters that behave like actual teenagers  (The younger Trapp kids share similar characteristics), giving their spotlight song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” new meaning.   And the budding romance between Maria and Captain von Trapp definitely smolders.  In many ways, this production has many similarities to Maria Rhode’s landmark production at Skylight Theater several years back.  And that’s a good thing!  Seeing this production provides relevancy to current events of today, a trait shared by other revivals of classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals.  So check it out…you may be seeing a Broadway production before it opens on the Great White Way!

And though the calendar says the holidays are over, 2 local holiday productions are still running.  In Tandem’s hilarious spoof Holiday Hell:  The Curse of Perry Williams plays through Sunday, and the Rep’s dazzling Irving Berlin tribute I Love a Piano continues at the Stackner Cabaret through the 15th.  If you’ve been to busy to check them out, don’t miss your chance to see them now!

What’s Going On

For the week of December 13-19…

Second City’s Dysfunctional Holiday Revue, December 14-18, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (marcuscenter.org)

While they may not be as long-running a Milwaukee holiday tradition as the Rep’s Christmas Carol or the Ballet’s Nutcracker, this iconic Chicago improv comedy troupe returns for yet another Christmastime visit to our fair city this week.  For those of you who didn’t get enough irreverent holiday humor from In Tandem’s just-opened Holiday Hell:  The Curse of Perry Williams, rest assured Second City is here to provide more.  But remember, they’re here only till Sunday!

The Right Stuff, December 14-15, AMC Theaters nationwide (including  AMC Mayfair Rd, Mayfair Mall) (amctheatres.com)

In tribute to the recently passed John Glenn, AMC Theatres have brought back the 1983 film version of Tom Wolfe’s classic book about Chuck Yeager’s quest to break the sound barrier and the astronauts (including Glenn) who were America’s first men in space.  This is a great opportunity to see this gem on the Big Screen, where it deserves to be seen.  The eye-popping effects are complemented by splendid ensemble acting, from a cast that includes Sam Sheppard, Barbara Hershey, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Scott Glenn, Harry Shearer, Jeff Goldblum, the Band’s Levon Helm (!), and Chuck Yeager himself (Keep your eyes peeled!).  The launch of Glenn’s Friendship 7 spacecraft to the accompaniment of Gustav Holst’s classic suite The Planets is one of the most heart-stopping sequences ever captured on film.  Also watch for cameos from veteran CBS newsman Eric Sevareid and Jose Jimenez.  It’s a three-hour plus film that literally flies by!

White Christmas, December 17, Avalon Theater, 2473 S KK Ave (avalonmke.com)

Also back in its widescreen glory is this 1954 Bing Crosby-Danny Kaye musical, showing this Saturday morning as part of the Avalon’s “5 Days of Christmas” series.  Like the Rep’s current Stackner Cabaret show “I Love a Piano,” this movie is bursting with tunes written by Irving Berlin.  They range from a touching rendition of the title classic, to “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep),” “Choreography” (must be seen to be believed), “Sisters,” “Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army,” “What do You do with a General?” “Snow,” “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing”…Well, you get the idea.  One of the first Big Screen musicals, the movie was a big hit when initially released, and it’s still fun watching today (even if the plot is a bit on the corny side, but the presence of Bing and Danny’s co-stars Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt) and Vera-Ellen compensate for that).

Haunted Screens, now-January 22, Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N Art Museum Drive (mam.org/haunted-screens)

An exhibit about the German Expressionist film movement of the 1920’s and 30’s may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a holiday time diversion.  But for cinema buffs, this current special presentation at the Milwaukee Art Museum is a real treat.  Lots of artifacts from classics including The Blue Angel, Metropolis (recently screened at the Milwaukee Film Festival), The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, M, Nosferatu and many more are here for your perusal.  After that, if you’re still seeking more traditional holiday fare, head over to the Kooky Cooky House at Discovery World next door!

What’s Going On

St Nick comes tonight, and he’s bringing more holiday musical goodies for Milwaukee!

For the week of December 6-12…

Prometheus Trio, December 5 & 6, Bader Recital Hall, 1584 N Prospect Ave (wcmusic.org)

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s annual Festival of Music and Trees is underway, and their resident faculty Piano Trio is part of the festivities with their traditional December performances on Monday and Tuesday.  The program includes music of Haydn, Dohnanyi and Faure, and as a special treat, guest violist Wendy Richman will be joining these intrepid performers for the occasion!  So step inside from the winter chill, view the beautifully decorated trees inside the historic Goodrich Mansion, and enjoy some great classical music!

Christmas with the Nelsons, December 6-9, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W Canal St (paysbig.com/shows)

Following up last week’s great Christmas show with the legendary Ronnie Spector, the Northern Lights Theater continues their holiday offerings when Rick Nelson’s twin sons Matthew and Gunnar return for a four-day residency this week.  The boys were MTV stars back in the 90’s whose grandparents are none other than the legendary Ozzie and Harriet!  Not surprisingly, the Nelson boys’ show is a down-home family affair, mixing their MTV hits with their renditions of holiday favorites old and new, continuing a precedent set by their dad when he offered his take on the chestnut “The Christmas Song” on his parents’ TV show!   Please note their are several matinee performances as well as evening shows available!

Windmills of Your Mind:  The Music of Michel Legrand, December 8, Bader Recital Hall, 1584 N Prospect Ave (wcmusic.org)

Wisconsin Conservatory’s Festival of Music and Trees continues with a special program from We Six, the conservatory’s highly-acclaimed resident jazz sextet.  The show features the compositions of legendary French composer Michel Legrand, whose roots are in jazz and is also one of the most renowned film composers ever!  The sextet puts their spin on classics including “Windmills of Your Mind,” “Watch What Happens,” “You Must Believe in Spring” (very timely!) and “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life,” as well as selections from the film scores from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Summer of ’42, and The Thomas Crown Affair (the 1968 movie starring Steve McQueen).  Looks like a special holiday treat in the cozy Bader Recital Hall!

John McGivern’s Holiday Tales, December 10 & 16, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W Canal St (paysbig.com/shows)

It’s no surprise “Milwaukee’s Historian” John Gurda acts as actor/storyteller John McGivern’s sidekick on the award-winning Milwaukee Public Television series Around the Corner with John McGivern.  While Gurda offers historical perspective on the many communities the show visits, “Johnny Mac” offers history of another kind, seen through the prism of pop culture.  Rest assured many Milwaukee Christmas memories will be recounted in his new Holiday Tales show set for three more performances at Northern Lights Theater on the 10th and 16th.  Come and share in the laughs and nostalgia!  Please note this show is different from Home for the Holidays with John McGivern, which was recently shown on Milwaukee Public Television!

The Nutcracker, December 10-27, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (milwaukeeballet.org)

Milwaukee’s final holiday arts production opens this weekend, and for many, it’s the best.  The Milwaukee Ballet’s presentation of Artistic Director Michael Pink’s setting of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece has long been hailed as a classic that’s ideal for kids of all ages!  In fact, many return year after year, and for good reason.  The live orchestra, the sumptuous sets and costumes, the delightful dancers of MBC and the energetic performers of the Milwaukee Ballet School combine for a show that’s truly irresistible!  The only thing left for me to say is, if this is your first encounter with this holiday tradition…Boy, do I envy you!

Holiday for Brass, December 10, Carney Performing Arts Center at Pius XI High School, 135 N 76th Street (mfbrass.org)

Going back to the early days of the Salvation Army, Christmas music and the sounds of a brass band have been intertwined.  In that spirit, Milwaukee’s nationally-acclaimed Festival Brass presents their holiday program this Saturday at the splendid Carney Arts Center at Pius High School!  In fact, the venue is the studio for MFB’s upcoming debut CD.  The album will be ready for release for Christmas 2017, but you can get a preview of what you’ll hear on this disc at the concert since much of the music is on the program!  The program opens with a glorious fanfare based on “Adeste Fideles” and mixes traditional and contemporary seasonal music.  Also on the program is a performance of the group’s upcoming  2017 Championship Selection, Peter Graham’s Dimensions.  Head on over and enjoy the marvelous music…and don’t forget to offer your feedback and suggestions for the CD!

The Sleighriders, December 12, Shank Hall, 1434 N Farwell Ave (shankhall.com)

I’ve been talking a lot about Milwaukee’s many holiday musical traditions.  And  the group called the Sleighriders is of rather recent vintage; nevertheless, the band that comes to life one night a year has returned annually for over 30 years, making it a true Milwaukee holiday icon!  And they’re back this Monday night at their longtime home Shank Hall!  Local music legends Xeno and Steve Grimm have spearheaded the project through its entire run, which is a fundraiser for Variety of Wisconsin’s Children’s Charities.  Forty musicians fill the stage with classic rock and soul sounds, with legends like Sigmund Snopek III, Steve Cohen, Warren Wiegratz, Eddie Butts and many many more, including the Joe 2.0 String Section!  Many people talk about this show, but only those who actually attend really know what they’re talking about!  Not to be missed?  Are you kidding??

And to wrap it up this week, the Milwaukee Rep has just announced its just-opened spectacular new production of Christmas Carol has already set a box office record for best selling production in its 41 year history!  Bottom Line:  If you don’t already have your tickets, you best get a move on…You don’t want to wind up exclaiming “Bah Humbug” with Scrooge!

What’s Going On

December arrives this week, and with it another batch of Christmas goodies!

For the week of November 29-December 5…

Ronnie Spector’s Best Christmas Party Ever!, November 29, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W Canal St (paysbig.com/shows)

It’s not every day a Rock and Roll of Famer visits your town, especially one whose voice is part one of the all-time great holiday albums, Phil Spector’s Christmas Album.  Last year, Darlene Love did a Christmas show here.  On Tuesday, one of the most iconic singers in Rock history (and another R&R Hall member) comes to town when Ronnie Spector brings her holiday show to the Northern Lights Theater.  While best known as a member of the Ronettes and their song “Be My Baby” (which Brian Wilson says is the greatest record ever made!), the MTV Generation knows Ronnie for appearing (and singing in) Eddie Money’s massive hit “Take Me Home Tonight.”  Rest assured, we’ll be getting a generous sampling of her Ronettes hits as well as many of the tunes from the Spector Christmas album.  Talk about an early start on the Christmas celebration!!

Christmas Choral Concert, December 1-4, Schwan Concert Hall, 8815 W Wisconsin Ave (wlc.edu/arts)

One of the best (and easily affordable) Milwaukee Christmas traditions arrives this Thursday through Sunday as the Wisconsin Lutheran College Choral Department presents its annual Christmas concert.  Three groups present a widely varied program of music drawn from classical to folk and spiritual tunes, but all of it celebrating the Reason for the Season.  During the changeover between groups during the program, the audience is encouraged to sing along on several familiar seasonal hymns.  It’s truly one of the best ways to get into the Christmas spirit!  And the beautiful Schwan Hall will be decked out for the occasion!

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, December 2-24, Pabst Theater, 108 E Wells St (milwaukeerep.com)

Milwaukee’s most anticipated holiday production for 2016 is the Milwaukee Rep’s Christmas Carol at the historic Pabst Theater.  While the Rep presented the Dickens classic for the past four decades, 2016 brings a totally new staging of the tale from Rep Artistic Director Mark Clements.  Simply put, it is the most ambitious production ever staged by the Rep, featuring a new script, new sets, new music, new stage effects…and yes, it will snow in the Pabst Theater!  It’s enough to make even Scrooge (Rep veteran Jonathan Wainwright) believe!  Also, the productions integrates elements of the English theatrical traditions of music hall and pantomime, which encourages audience members to interact with the onstage action (which will spill over into the audience).  This show is sure to make Tiny Tim exclaim, “Merry Christmas, Everyone!”

Holiday Hell:  The Curse of Perry Williams, December 2-January 8, 10th Street Theater, 628 N 10th St (intandemtheatre.org)

Cudahy Carolers Christmas, Scrooge in Rouge, A Twisted Carol…Yep, you can always count on the feisty In Tandem Theatre to present delightful if alternative productions during the holiday season.  2016 brings the return of this In Tandem holiday hit, written by Cudahy Carolers’ Anthony Wood and Twisted Carol’s Mondy Carter.  It’s the story of Perry Williams, singing star of 1950’s TV who really can’t sing!  The vocal pipes are provided by show assistant Benny, whom Perry just fired on the eve of his much-awaited Christmas special!  How far will Perry go to preserve the secret?  Can he even keep the ruse from being exposed?  Or will the public find out it’s Benny providing those dulcet tones?  (Sort of reminds me of Singing in the Rain!)  Head down to the 10th Street Theater to find out, and enjoy a rollicking good time in the process!

5 Days of Christmas, December 3-25, Avalon Theater, 2473 S KK Ave (avalonmke.com) and Times Cinema, 5906 W Vliet St (timescinema.com)

Following up their popular series of classic Christmas movies last year, two historic Milwaukee theaters-Bay View’s Avalon and Washington Heights’ Times Cinema-join forces once again to present these holiday treats on the Big Screen to delight movie fans of all ages!  However, this year’s series has a twist:  Rather than back loading all the movies in the week running up to Christmas, the theaters will be spreading out the films over five Saturday mornings at 10:30 beginning December 3rd (following in the tradition of the Avalon’s Second Saturday Classics series).    Here are the schedules:

December 3:  A Christmas Story (Avalon) and Home Alone (Times)

December 10:  A Christmas Carol (1938) (Avalon) and Miracle on 34th Street (Times)

December 17:  White Christmas (Avalon-there may not be snow in the theater, but you can watch for shooting stars in the sky!) and A Christmas Story (Times)

Wrapping up the series, both theaters will be showing Jimmy Stewart’s classic It’s a Wonderful Life on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!  Admission is $5 for each movie, and make sure to arrive early so you don’t miss the special holiday cartoons and videos shown before each movie!

More holiday treats arriving next week, including the Milwaukee Ballet’s Nutcracker!

What’s Going On

More reasons to be thankful as the holiday treats continue to arrive on the Milwaukee theater scene!

For the week of November 22-28…

Elf the Musical, November 22-27, Marcus Center, 929 N Water St (marcuscenter.org)

The 2003 holiday classic movie starring Will Ferrell (as Buddy the Elf),  Bob Newhart, Ed Asner and James Caan was turned into a hit Broadway musical in 2010 (only Wicked and The Lion King were bigger hits that holiday season!) , and that show arrives in Milwaukee this week as part of the Marcus Center’s Broadway series.  The musical numbers only add to the story’s charm and there’s plenty of comedy for kids of all ages!  The show is only here till Sunday when Buddy and his friends will be moving on, so make sure you don’t miss out!

Lobby Hero, November 25-December 18, Studio Theater, 158 N Broadway (milwaukeechambertheatre.org)

Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan’s current film Manchester by the Sea is one of 2016’s most acclaimed movies.  As its holiday offering, Milwaukee Chamber Theater presents Lonergan’s play Lobby Hero, the story of Jeff, a young Manhattan security guard drawn into a local murder investigation.  Soon Jeff’s supervisor William and rookie cop Dawn become part of the story and Jeff is forced to make some quick, irreversible decisions about right and wrong.  It’s a romantic comedy, making it a nice alternative to the holiday-themed productions currently dominating the local theater scene!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:  the Musical, November 25-December 31, Marcus Center (firststage.org)

By popular demand, this stage adaptation of the beloved TV classic is back for the holidays at Milwaukee’s premier family theater.  The Johnny Marks songs you know and love (“Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Ringle Ringle Ringle,” “We Are Santa’s Elves,” “We’re A Couple of Misfits,” “Island of Misfit Toys,” “There’s Always Tomorrow,” and of course the title song) are all here, and the set will make you think you just stepped into Christmas Town at the North Pole.  Local acting favorites Drew Brhel, Matt Daniels, Allie Babich and Karen Estrada are joined by some of the most talented young performers in the area to create a production that must be seen to be believed.  And you will believe!

Coming next week:  We look at a sleigh full of concerts heralding the holiday season!


What’s Going On

For the week of November 15-21…

As usual, the week before Thanksgiving is a mighty busy one on the Milwaukee arts scene.  So buckle up, and away we go!

Beatles Deconstructed:  The White Album, November 16, Downer Theater, 2589 N Downer Ave (beatleslectures.com/thetrailer)

Did you know the Beatles’ 1968 White Album has become the biggest-selling album of the 60’s?  Not the biggest-selling Beatles album, not the biggest seller of 1968, but the greatest selling album released in the 1960’s!  It’s also the subject of the first of Beatles expert Scott Freiman’s series of four films in which he dissects classic Beatles albums to learn how this magical music was created in the first place.  The White Album was chosen as the first film because it’s the most eclectic album the Fab Four ever released.  Delicate folk ballads, balls-to-the-wall rockers, music hall ditties, a very early attempt at reggae, a lullaby (sung by Ringo!),  even an avant garde piece inspired by composers John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen…they’re all part of the setlist on this sprawling double album.  Freiman is your tour guide through this meticulous and fascinating look at the making of this classic.  The film is being shown once on the 16th, so be there or be square!  (Note:  The film is also being shown the same evening at several area Marcus Theaters.  Check theater listings for schedule information.)

103rd Annual City Christmas Tree Lighting and 18th Annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kickoff, November 17, City Hall, corner of Water & Wells and Pere Marquette Park (milwaukeeholidaylights.com)

Ready or not, here come the Holidays!!  Downtown Milwaukee gets lit up this Thursday, beginning with the official lighting of the city’s Christmas tree.  Please note this year’s ceremony takes place at City Hall instead of Red Arrow Park.  Following that, the festivities head over to Pere Marquette Park for the throwing of the switch to ignite the lights at the downtown county parks (Pere Marquette, Cathedral Park, and Zeidler Square) with a fireworks show following!  Lots of entertainment at both events, including the Rep Carolers from their upcoming production of Christmas Carol…and it’s all free!!

The Foreigner, November 18-December 18, Quadracci Powerhouse Theater, 108 E Wells (milwaukeerep.com)

Milwaukee playwright Larry Shue has certainly done his share to bring laughter to the world.  His plays The Foreigner and The Nerd (both commissioned by the Rep) have entertained audiences around the world.  And for the Christmas season, The Foreigner comes home to the Rep in a Laura Gordon production that features a great cast headed by Jim Pickering (Did I just hear that this will be Jim’s 175th theatrical production?? Wow!).  Whether it’s your first time experiencing it (count me in!) or a returning fan, for pure theater fun there’s nothing better this holiday season!

La Cage Aux Folles, November 18-December 23, Cabot Theater, 158 N Broadway (skylightmusictheatre.org)

As is the Skylight’s annual holiday tradition, a classic Broadway musical will be on the Cabot stage this season (Previous holiday productions included My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The Sound of Music and Les Miserables).  This Tony-award winning show (which also inspired the Robin Williams-Nathan Lane hit movie The Birdcage) boasts a strong local cast, like past Skylight holiday shows.  Starring in this production are the always hilarious Ray Jivoff (Is this guy really the Interim Artistic Director of the Skylight?) and Norman Moses (who recently wowed Skylight audiences in The Music Man and My Fair Lady).  As previously mentioned, this Dynamic Duo will be joined by a strong supporting cast, performing the memorable score from Jerry Herman (Hello Dolly, Mame).  As an extra treat, the show’s costumes are being designed by Chris March (Project Runway).  If you thought his costumes for last year’s My Fair Lady were terrific, wait till you see what he’s cooked up for La Cage!    Holiday joy galore!

UnSilent Night, November 18-December 11, Next Act Theater, 255 S Water St (nextact.org)

If you’re a fan of classic old-time radio like me, you’ll be looking forward to this World Premiere production of veteran John Kishline’s play that’s this year’s holiday offering at Next Act.  The story is set at Christmas Eve 1953 at Milwaukee radio station WNXT (Now where did those call letters come from??).  Evening DJ Frank is regaling his audience with holiday stories, music and observations about that Jolly Old Elf.  As he’s about to shut down the station for the night (Yes, radio stations really did sign-off at night back in the day!), an unexpected visitor shows up at the studio door.  His appearance and situation prompt Frank to fire up the transmitter, with an appeal for the listeners’ help.  It’s a production filled with holiday nostalgia, but also has a poignant message that’s relevant for us in 2016.  Next Act Artistic Director David Cecsarini stars as Frank, with able support from Doug Jarecki, Andrew Muwonge and Molly Rhode.

Milwaukee Holiday Folk Fair International, November 18-20, State Fair Park (folkfair.org)

Milwaukee’s iconic summer ethnic festivals have long been a part of the local scene.  But long before the gates opened on Festa Italiana, German Fest, Irish Fest, Mexican Fiesta, etc, their catalyst had been in existence for decades.  In 1943, during the height of World War II, the first Milwaukee Folk Fair was held at the Milwaukee Auditorium (the Arena hadn’t even been built yet!).   It was created as a way to showcase all of Milwaukee’s diverse ethnic communities in one place, a true “melting pot” in contrast to the conflict raging throughout Europe and the Pacific.  It has since become a Milwaukee holiday tradition, and this year’s event will spotlight 50 ethnic groups, with nearly 50,000 expected to attend.  If you crave the music, crafts, culture-and food (of course!) at the summer festivals, the Folk Fair offers a taste of all of them in one place!  No wonder it draws  fans from far and wide!!

Milwaukee Holiday Parade, November 19, downtown Milwaukee (milwaukeeparade.com)

Yes indeed, the Man with the Bag arrives in downtown Milwaukee this Saturday morning.  And to make Santa feel right at home after traveling from the North Pole, the local weather forecast predicts a chilly November day with highs in the 40’s (Don’t say you weren’t warned!).  This being the 90th annual parade is proof  Milwaukeeans are a hardy bunch, and the cold weather won’t dampen the spirits and warmth of the throngs expected to line the parade route.  Especially with over 100 units including bands, floats, giant balloons…with Santa and his reindeer as the Grand Finale!  The event is free of course, but the Hunger Task Force will again be on hand to accept non-perishable food donations during this most high demand season!  So remember to bring some cans and boxes of food along down to the parade…Santa (and many others) will be glad you did!

One more reminder this week…PBS’ pop music history series Soundbreaking continues its run at 9 pm from now through Friday, and also from Nov 21-23.  Monday’s opening episode was awesome…For music fans (and who isn’t?) it’s not to be missed!!