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!!