captivates, but whither goes ‘Mojave’?
and directed by William Monahan (“The Departed”),
“Mojave” stars Oscar Isaac, who’s become quite the
prolific performer (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,”
“Ex Machina” and “A Most Violent Year”).
Along 2’ nothing special, but then again ...
Along 2” is nothing special, particularly when compared to
truly outstanding movies playing locally like “The
Revenant” and “The Force Awakens.” Then again, the
comedic “Ride Along 2” is infinitely better than the
tasteless Christmas comedy “The Night Before” and
certainly no worse than M.
forward to cinema’s spring
distributors - Broad Green Pictures, A24 Films, Lionsgate,
Sony Pictures Classics and Universal Pictures - have
released titles, and descriptions thereof, for the spring.
a Western ‘painfully realistic’
Revenant” is a
painfully realistic pre-Civil War Western with incongruously
was a great year at the movies
been an excellent year for motion pictures. Interestingly,
most of the ones I’ve liked best - the top six of my top
10 - are reality-based.
is a different but good gridiron movie
is a different sort of football film, one concerned with
debilitating head injuries that have too frequently spelled
death for ex-NFL players. It’s a movie with inventive
director Russell helms
‘Joy’ to behold
O. Russell’s new movie “Joy” is a tantalizingly quirky
comedy in the tradition of his 2013 ABSCAM-based endeavor
VII good, just not great
A friend hit the
nail on the head when he predicted the seventh film in the
“Star Wars” series “will be a good movie, (but)
won’t be great.”
VII’ awakens new hope
Buchholtz didn’t care for the last three “Star Wars”
movies. In an interview, the Bay View resident summarized
those prequels as “poorly acted, poorly written, not very
well thought-out.” He added that “Episode I: The Phantom
Menace” (1999), “Episode II: Attack of the Clones”
(2002) and “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” (2005)
each “came off more like a video game than a movie.”
inspirational, if not cutting-edge
may be that Mother Teresa, the Albanian nun revered for her
work among India’s impoverished and the subject of the
newly released biopic “The Letters,” was from the day
she joined the Sisters of Loreto at age 18 a saintly
personage - chaste and obedient in accordance with the vows
nuns take, prayerful, other-centered.
harsh ‘Night Before’ assessment proves accurate
after a screening of “The Night Before,” I heard a woman
comment, “I just wasted an hour and 45 minutes of my life
that I’ll never get back again.”
drama’s heart in right place … or places
Home is where the
heart is. But can the heart be in two places at once? That
seems to be the basic question John Crowley’s
“Brooklyn,” based on a novel by Colm Toibin, is
up to ‘President’s Men’
but ‘My All American’ no ‘Rudy’
it takes a village to raise a child,
an attorney for clerical sex abuse victims in the
takes a village to abuse one.
has superior production values,
but ‘Suffragette’ is superior film
good as Carey Mulligan was as “Far From the Madding
Crowd’s” leading lady last spring, the English actress
is even better as a pre-World War I women’s rights
activist in “Suffragette.
fascinating, if not flawless
“Room” is a
well-cast movie, with emotionally wide-ranging performances
by Brie Larson (also very good in the recent “Trainwreck”)
and 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay (truly remarkable). Both
actors could get Academy Award nominations, as could “Room’s”
Irish director, Lenny Abrahamson.
be told, Redford’s Rather credible
one of “Truth’s” final scenes, Robert Redford as Dan
Rather is cheered by a roomful of co-workers after signing
off for the last time as “CBS Evening News” anchorman.
While applauding Rather, the
other actors could also have been applauding Redford, who,
made up to resemble the newscaster, deserves kudos for
capturing Rather’s voice and mannerisms in an
appropriately low-key performance.
‘Goosebumps’ a bumpy ride,
but Spielberg’s ‘Bridge’ worth negotiating
outsized monsters and a militia of evil-intentioned garden
gnomes, the most interesting subjects in “Goosebumps”
are human: three pretty sensible kids and a couple of kooky
Home’ is great, but not in today’s 3-D adventure sense
Home” is an extraordinary film, but it’s hardly a bells
and whistles film. Cops and a criminal may be at its center,
but this Chinese movie with English subtitles and a 20th
century time frame is no action-adventure picture, no
breakneck-paced police procedural with bullet-dodging or
madcap driving or other acts of derring-do.
‘The Walk’ another fine fall flick
my review a week ago, I exulted that several good movies had
accompanied our new autumn movies like that review’s 3
1/2-star subject, “The
Martian.” Ridley Scott’s sci-fi adventure may or may not
have been the best release since Labor Day; now, however, as
quickly as it burst upon the scene,
“The Martian” has been overshadowed by Robert
Scott’s ‘Martian’ looks to be among better autumn crop
End of the Tour.” “Grandma.” And now, “The
Martian.” History does seem to repeat itself: Autumn
approaches; a better crop of feature films emerges.
latest: One ‘Visit’ you need not make
the list of places you need not visit, feel free to add
theaters showing “The Visit,” M. Night Shyamalan’s
terrific as ‘Grandma’
you wish you had
may not be a technical trailblazer, but “Grandma” is a
terrific motion picture: unfailingly amusing, poignant, very
capably acted, a thorough - and thoroughly captivating -
story in 79 short minutes.
‘Walk’ should take a hike
Redford’s latest movie, “A Walk in the Woods,” has
been done before, more or less, and done better. The
previous rendition occurred last year, a drama with Reese
Witherspoon and Laura Dern instead of a comedy starring the
less impressive duo of Redford and Nick Nolte.
screen keeps it real this fall
If reboots have
figured prominently in this summer’s cinematic landscape,
the fall season promises to place emphasis on movie art
retread 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.' passes muster as feature film
I’ll add my thumb to those already thrust in the air in
support of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” Guy Ritchie’s
feature film based on the old TV series with the same
movie anything but dull
proposing David Foster Wallace, late author of the
well-regarded novel “Infinite Jest” and subject of the
feature film “The End of the Tour,” for canonization.
films take two societal glimpse set in San Francisco, Ireland
It’s 1976. Patty Hearst,
seen on a TV clip in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” is big
news this Bicentennial year while Watergate has apparently been
truth stranger than fiction
Crystal Moselle’s “The Wolfpack” concerns a most
unusual family: the Angulo brood of seven children, all but
the youngest of them males, their Peruvian papa, Oscar, and
their mother, Susanne, of Midwestern farm stock.
Man,’ ‘Pixels’ revisit Dostoyevsky, Pac-Man
“Irrational Man” begins as a potential revisiting of “Educating
Rita” with Joaquin Phoenix in the Michael Caine role. It
becomes an updated screen version of Dostoyevsky’s “Crime
and Punishment” with Phoenix as above-the-law Raskolnikov.
a misnomer for Schumer movie?
through Judd Apatow’s “Trainwreck,” a character is
denounced as universally offensive but then immediately
lauded as likable, everybody’s favorite person.
is hell' theme dominates 'Testament of Youth'
of Youth,” based on an autobiography by the same title,
begins on Armistice Day, 1918. World War I, the inaccurately
dubbed “war to end all wars,” is over and there is
jubilation on the streets.
'Me and Earl' definitely worthwhile
find myself wondering whether it’s merely coincidental
that “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” the
movie based on Jesse Andrews’ novel, takes place in
'Max' isn't 'Mad,' dog story has positives
a clarification. “Max,” from “Remember the Titans”
director Boaz Yakin, is not to be confused with another new
movie, “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Max: Fury Road” has been applauded by critics. “Max,”
although not without positives, is ultimately a middling
offers a lot of hilarity and a bit of bawdiness
latest Melissa McCarthy movie, at first looks and sounds
like a James Bond film, with handsome Jude Law in the Bond
role and a song remindful of “Goldfinger” playing as the
aside, 'Aloha' leaves little to capture the
first film since 2011 from writer-director Cameron Crowe (“Almost
Famous,” “Jerry Maguire”), has met with considerable
public grousing due to, among other things, its allegedly
disproportionate amount of Anglos for a Hawaii-set
Perfect 2' strikes several sour notes
I don’t know
that I’ve seen a theater empty quite as quickly as the one
where I watched “Pitch Perfect 2” the other day.
future could have used a lot more laughs
including the one played by George Clooney in a new Disney
extravaganza, could’ve chosen to heed the biblical
recommendation ”do not worry about tomorrow.”
Crowd' packed with performances in a beautiful film
Like Shakespeare and Dickens,
Thomas Hardy is an oft-filmed British writer. Movies have
been made of Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure,” “Tess of
the d’Urbervilles,” “The Mayor of Casterbridge” and
now, for the second time, “Far from the Madding Crowd.”
Story' is actually two stories -
and both have been better told
The movie “True
Story,” like the 2005 book on which it’s based, is
actually two stories. One concerns Michael Finkel’s
reporter job loss. The second, and larger, story deals with
Finkel’s identity loss to a man accused of murdering his
wife and three children.
can't sing in 'Collins,' Isaac
can dance in 'Machina' but both can act
I really liked
“Danny Collins,” despite some implausibilities. Agile
and captivating, the picture stars Al Pacino - still capable
of commanding the screen - as a pop singer who receives a
letter, waylaid for 40-plus years, from John Lennon.
worth 1,000 words, 'Woman' good as gold
That old adage
“One picture is worth 1,000 words” rings true, time and
again, in the documentary “The Salt of the Earth.”
'Home' has endearing hero, J. Lo songs, memorable messages
the company responsible for the “Shrek,” “Madagascar”
and “How to Train Your Dragon” series, comes another
example of stellar computer animation.
of Doubt' pits spin
doctors vs. climatologists
If, based on our
last two Wisconsin winters, you’ve decided global warming
is a myth, the new documentary “Merchants of Doubt”
might just change your mind.
captures turbulent Belfast on many levels
nighttime footage and daytime scenes of a dark nature; evil
characters and good ones whose largesse stops slightly short
of heroism; long
takes and a relatively - and appropriately - skimpy musical
score in which a drum figures prominently.
'Red' than dead
went from playing schoolboy hockey with flattened cans for
pucks to captaining what some considered the best hockey
team on earth, to building leagues and arenas - plus
bringing the 2014 Olympic Games to Sochi - as Russian
President Vladimir Putin’s minister of sport
'Leviathan' Worth Your Time
the Russian movie “Leviathan” in the worthwhile viewing
isn’t light fare, isn’t a happy story (it’s a drama
devoid of comic relief), but the subtitled “Leviathan”
is well-acted, well-directed, well-photographed and
definitely capable of holding an onlooker’s attention for
its two-plus hours.
likely to parallel Golden Globes
WAUKESHA - The
prediction here is that Academy Awards night Feb. 22 won’t
yield many surprises - at least not in the prominent
categories of leading and supporting actor and actress,
director and motion picture.
Year' tantalizingly cryptic
WAUKESHA - Tantalizingly cryptic.
That adverb-adjective combination came to mind as a
description of composer Alex Ebert’s jazzy-solemn score
for “A Most Violent Year.”
'4' movie buffs to
brush up on Oscar history
WAUKESHA - Now
that the Golden Globe Awards have been distributed, it’s
time to turn our attention to the Oscars.
‘Selma’: How far have we come?
WAUKESHA - “Selma,” the formidable screen story of the
Martin Luther King Jr.-led civil rights march between Selma
and Montgomery, Ala., in 1965, virtually ends with a rap
number called “Glory.”
'Foxcatcher' among 2014's best films
WAUKESHA - Terrifying pipsqueak may be an oxymoron, but it
also seems a spot-on description of John du Pont - or least
the du Pont portrayed by Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher.”
Cabbie' mostly drives the wrong way
- Cast an engaging actor (Vinay Virmani) as the lead in your
comedic flick and a lovely actress (Adrianne Palicki) as his
significant other. Surround the pair with cartoonish
relatives and buffoonish current and former friends.
offers enough for animation fans
WAUKESHA - “Penguins
of Madagascar” opens on a snowy scene - a meandering march
(or should I say wintry waddle?) of the titular creatures,
who are generally unconcerned about an egg hatching in their
of the year on the silver screen
WAUKESHA - In
about a month, on the cusp of a new year, film reviewers
near and far will be offering their top 10 lists for 2014.
of Everything' at 'St. Vincent' winners; 'Beyond the Lights'
mired in mediocrity
Oscar buzz is attaching itself to “The Theory of
Everything,” a film about physicist Stephen Hawking.
boasts solid acting, story line
Director and co-writer Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,”
this year’s marginal comparison to last year’s “Gravity,”
includes enough positive elements to qualify as
flies high; 'Before' needs more
co-written by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Babel”), “Birdman”
has everything from A to Z: A:
An apple - the Big Apple - provides “Birdman’s”
recalls classics; 'Judge' raises objections
I once knew a guy
who seemed happily married. He was even happier when he was
performing in amateur plays, however, so he opted to act
professionally. This new commitment, he decided, would
necessitate breaking up with his wife.
Best of Me' hardly a winner
WAUKESHA - “The
Best of Me” isn’t the best of movies and “The Judge”
raises some objections, as well. Here are more detailed
bad day makes for so-so movie
WAUKESHA - When I
think of Judith Viorst, I think of an essay she wrote
regarding the several varieties of friends. Brilliant as it
was, that essay wouldn’t have made much of a movie.
Renner power worthwhile new films
WAUKESHA - Ben
Affleck and Jeremy Renner star in recommendable new movies.
Here are the reviews. "Gone Girl" “This
movie will be big,” I thought after learning about “Gone
Girl’s” plot and pedigree and seeing the names of some
of the Hollywood types involved.
Hendrix film and filmmaker feted
MILWAUKEE - While
it qualifies for the biopic genre, “Jimi: All Is by My
Side,” doesn’t exactly tell the story of Jimi Hendrix’s
life. Rather, the new movie tells the story of a single year
in the life of the musician-singer-songwriter.
too heavy on Rambo,
too light on Robin Hood
- Two inscrutable individuals, a thoroughly bad man and a
basically good one, play a cat-and-mouse game on their way
to a lethal showdown.
Music Theater presents 'Powder Her Face'
MILWAUKEE - With
music by Thomas Ades and the libretto by Philip Hensher,
“Powder Her Face” tells the story of Margaret Campbell,
a British duchess who was known for her beauty, wealth and
Now Darling’ offers pleasant romp
HARTLAND - Ray
Cooney, sometimes called the British Neil Simon, is known
for his farces. His most famous play, “Run for Your
Wife,” ran in Great Britain for more than nine years.
‘Steel Magnolias’ highlights heart with a smile
GROVE - The title “Steel Magnolias” is an oxymoron used
by playwright Robert Harling to describe the beauty and
strength, the delicacy and toughness of women.
Rep’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ grippingly moving
MILWAUKEE - John
Steinbeck often wrote survival stories where human strength
and loyalty are tested. “Of Mice and Men” is assuredly
one of his most heart-wrenching works.
of actresses delivers in ‘Agnes of God’
MILWAUKEE - The
drama “Agnes of God” raises more questions than it
answers, but it is intriguing and mentally stimulating to
engage in the journey of listening in on Agnes, a young nun,
who is being tried for murder; her Mother Superior; and the
psychiatrist, Doctor Livingston, who has been hired to
determine Sister Agnes’ sanity.
of ‘Starlings’ is puzzling at times
FRANCIS - If you’ve ever watched a flock of starlings, it
looks like an amorphous group of birds flying around without
any discernible pattern or direction. Ben Parman’s
new play, “Starlings,” is well named because it, too, is
appears too weighty for its young target audience
MILWAUKEE - When
a theater recommends that a specific show is targeted for a
particular age group, one expects that there is a good
match. I’d like to have a discussion with a group of
fourth-graders to discern what they derived from
“Holes,” presently playing at First Stage Children’s
brings big-name mix, Vegas glitz
ATKINSON - ”Legend” and “Carrie Underwood” might not
usually go in the same sentence because of longevity.
takes center stage in ‘Newsies’
- “Newsies,” a touring Broadway show now playing at the
Marcus Center, is based on a true story, the newspaper
boys’ strike of 1899 in New York.
best plays of 2015
my “Best of the Best” article at the end of the year is
always fun, but also very challenging. Enriched as we are in
Milwaukee and Waukesha counties with many quality theaters
and a plethora of talented people, making the best choices
as I travel back in time can be stressful, but I’ll do my
best to be thorough and fair.
‘Guys on Ice’ another keeper
- I have seen “Guys on Ice” many times, my favorite play
of the talented Wisconsin playwrights, Fred Alley and James
Kaplan. It’s the sort of comedy that provides a lot of
laughs as well as affords some insight into male
stirred in ‘Month Before Christmas’
- ”‘Twas the Month before Christmas” has Waukesha’s
Doug Jarecki written all over it. It oozes his unique
spirit - a bit wacko, generous, childlike, creative and
spirited, even sweet and sentimental.
is especially welcoming for ‘Heir’
MILWAUKEE - The
Milwaukee Entertainment Group, which performs at the Brumder
Mansion, almost always makes use of the beautiful estate and
playhouse in its productions.
Twisted Carol’ tries too hard to be funny
MILWAUKEE - In
Tandem Theatre is well-known for offering an alternative
show at Christmas. It is usually irreverent, satirical and
quite funny for those who appreciate this brand of humor
where sacred cows are not worshipped.
of My Life’ proves moving
- “The Story of My Life” is a little gem that is hard to
describe. Being played out in the Boswell Bookstore gives it
an intimacy not always experienced on a typical stage
Christmas treat for the community
WAUKESHA - One
senses in the first few minutes that many changes have been
made in Waukesha Civic Theatre’s long-running traditional
Christmas show “Candy Cane Tales and Holiday Carols”
when the first number is about texting a merry
takes on ‘A Christmas Carol’ produce pleasing results
feature of the Lake Country Players’ production of “A
Christmas Carol” is the music, and when Catherine Pfeiler
has a hand in it, you can be sure that it will be of high
provides twist to ‘Love Stories’ by famed authors
— It is not so uncommon for a married couple to both be
engaged in the acting profession. In the Milwaukee theater
scene, it’s fun to watch several pairs work together,
including in the current run of the trilogy “Love
the meaning of the holiday through ‘A Charlie Brown
Although I’m a big Charlie Brown fan, I thought that “A
Charlie Brown Christmas” at the First Stage Children’s
Theatre was a bit disappointing. Snoopy was the biggest
feature and very well-played by Matt Daniels.
‘Fair Lady’ astounds
“My Fair Lady” remains the ultimate musical in my book.
With its brilliant script adapted from the consummate writer
George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” its soaring music
by Frederick Loewe and clever book and lyrics by Alan
Lerner, it can hardly miss.
showy season heavy on ‘Christmas Carol’
season is almost here, and a flurry of Christmas shows await
us in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties and beyond.
‘Mousetrap’ ensnares audience’s attention
- Any play that has been performed more than 25,000 times
for over 60 years in London, not to mention its frequent
production around the world, obviously has strong appeal.
a wonderful version of a beloved holiday classic
ATKINSON - “It’s a Wonderful Life” has been around
since 1946 as a memorable film with Jimmy Stewart and Donna
Reed. Standard holiday viewing, it has also emerged as a
radio show. The Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort
Atkinson is now showing a musical version, a relatively new
creation (2005), which adds another delightful dimension to
this cherished story.
Jewish Christmas story
Coming from a small theater company that has survived for 30
years, “Handle with Care” by Jason Odell Williams is
another victory for founder Mark Bucher and his penchant for
making wonderful choices.
Caruso’ encore deserves applause
Thanks to playwright William Luce, many icons have been
resurrected. With his life-like biographical dramas, he has
brought Charlotte Bronte, Lillian Hellman and Emily
Dickinson back from the dead.
‘Wicked’ and in-depth
- Prequels are not as common as sequels, but the intriguing
and popular musical “Wicked” is an example of a prequel
we’re glad that Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman
of Emmett Till’ still resonates today
MILWAUKEE - In
1962 Bob Dylan wrote a song about the horrendous death of
the 14-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till, who was killed in
Mississippi in 1955 by two brothers who were later acquitted
by an all-white, male jury for the crime they admitted
of ‘Lockerbie’ shines through tragedy
Except for the inconsistency of the Scottish dialect among
the characters, Wisconsin Lutheran College’s “The Women
of Lockerbie” was one of the most beautiful, most moving
plays I have seen this year.
‘Turn of the Screw’ open to interpretation
— Henry James has never been an easy read. “The Turn of the
Screw” is a strange tale, one which literary scholars have
variously interpreted. I’m sure the audience at the Waukesha
Civic Theatre also regarded the play with some degree of
ambivalence and befuddlement over many unanswered questions
as the play ended.
Lion’ emerges as a powerful one-man autobiography
- Put together a skilled guitarist, a talented singer, a
good storyteller - all united in a very personable, handsome
young man - and you have the formula for the success of
“The Lion.” Now playing in the Milwaukee Rep’s Steimke
Studio Theatre, it is a true story written and told by
and the Giant Peach’ yields delicious outcome
MILWAUKEE - First
Stage Children’s Theatre usually delivers pretty amazing
shows, but occasionally there’s one that goes beyond
hits home run with ‘Back Home’
MILWAUKEE - A
show that pays tribute to a singer of renown, assembling his
most famous songs and giving us interesting tidbits about
his or her life is always welcome, especially when it comes
from the pen of a person who traveled with the star for
Kills Monsters’ takes on gender roles, death
- Based on fantasy role-playing adventure, “She Kills
Monsters” at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha picks up
on the flavor of Waukesha Reads this year. It is a perfect
fit for those who enjoy.
Girls’ conflicts, songs, costumes sparkle
Though the composers of the award-winning musical “Dream
Girls” (Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger) deny that their show
is reminiscent of the rocky career of The Supremes, there
are enough similarities to warrant one’s drawing that
Family’ a real scream
ELM GROVE - The
one and only Addams family has been with us since Charles
Addams began creating his cartoons for The New Yorker. Since
the inception of this family in the 1930s, there have been
countless spinoffs in other media - most recently a Broadway
and Lewis - exploring one of history’s biggest
- It is always interesting to speculate on the
“what-ifs” in life.
What if I had pursued a different career,
what if I had married a different person, what if ...
? Robert Frost
addressed this issue in his famous poem “The Road Not
Country tops area ‘Shrek’ musical productions
HARTLAND - Shrek
is an ogre who represents all those who feel unaccepted or
scorned because they don’t fit the mold of what’s
accusations, profiling rise up in ‘Back of the Throat’
MILWAUKEE - When
several members of a group do something wrong, it’s often
a tendency to stereotype all members of that same
Given Monday’ proves to be an unforgettable, complex drama
MILWAUKEE - On
any given Monday night, there will probably be millions of
men and some women watching “Monday Night Football.”
That’s predictable. But, a play by the same name, now
showing at the Tenth Street Theatre under the auspices of In
Tandem Theatre Company, is anything but predictable.
Allis Players capture spirit of Neil Simon’s ‘Barefoot
in the Park’
ALLIS - It is no surprise that Neil Simon’s 1963 play
“Barefoot in the Park” continues its popularity.
Simon’s longest-running Broadway show still amuses
us because of its recognizable situations, its accessible
characters and its humor.
Dancing’ mesmerizes at the Marcus Center
MILWAUKEE - You
could feel it in the air as soon as the show opened.
“Dirty Dancing,” a very popular movie in 1987, starring
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, has a huge fan base, and
they were ready to experience the thrill of the dancing
again, this time live, as the opener of the Marcus Broadway
Players open 50th season with ‘Godspell’
FALLS — Patio Players opened its 50th season with a stunning
production of “Godspell,” a musical which surprised audiences
when it opened in 1971 and has been delighting millions ever
treatment of loss, surprisingly, leaves one feeling
MILWAUKEE - A new
local playwright and director has hit the stage at Brumder
Mansion under the auspices of the Milwaukee
“Amused” is Megan Ann Jacobs’ first published
play, and it is a delightful, fanciful one with the theme of
moving on after a loss.
Opera amazes with Puccini’s popular ‘Tosca’
- One often hears of the artist as a pauper and one who only
achieves fame after his death. Not so in Puccini’s case.
He made more money in his lifetime than any other classical
composer before or since. He died a millionaire at 65.
‘Ghosts’ of Ibsen’s time remain issues
Henrik Ibsen, one of the most renowned Norwegian playwrights
of the 19th century, was severely criticized during his life
for tackling issues that were not culturally acceptable as
material for literature.
poets’ lives artfully captured in ‘Dear Elizabeth’
Anchored by a strong script by Sarah Ruhl and stellar
performances by Norman Moses and Carrie Hitchcock, the lives
of poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop are brought to
light in the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s second offering
of the 2015-16 season.
outdoes itself musically with ‘A Little Night Music’
- Versatile, edgy, clever, unusual, creative, humorous,
moving - all these words and more cannot fully
describe the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. Unlike
many composers, his music is difficult to classify.
Dale’ reflects grim life reflected in ‘Orphan’s Home
WAUWATOSA - In
Horton Foote’s last years, after a life of prolific
playwriting, he ventured into his last ambitious work,
“Orphan’s Home Cycle,” a series of nine plays about
small-town life in Texas over a period of 30 years,
following the fortunes and misfortunes of three families.
examines human cruelty, spirit
- Based on a 1991 film of the same name, “Dogfight,” the
musical, opened off-Broadway in 2012. This is its first
showing in the Milwaukee area.
‘Final Adventure’ adds laughs to mystery
ELM GROVE - For
more than 125 years, Sherlock Holmes has been an icon among
of ‘West Side’ won’t be let down by Fireside
FORT ATKINSON -
Fireside has taken on the challenge of an American
masterpiece, “West Side Story,” a 1957 update of
Shakespeare’s classic romance “Romeo and Juliet.”
‘Othello’ explodes at APT
GREEN - Shakespeare has created many memorable tragic
heroes, but none among them is more heart-wrenching and
gullible than Othello, nor is there another villain more
conniving, ruthless and despicable than Iago.
of quiet desperation on full display in ‘Picnic’
OF DELAFIELD - Whenever I see a William Inge play, I am
reminded of that Henry David Thoreau quotation about most
people leading lives of quiet desperation. Born in
Kansas, Inge is sometimes called the artist who was the
voice of small-town life in the Midwest.
Theatre provokes thought with ‘Rabbit Hole’
Outskirts Theatre has provided a nice niche in summer
theater programming, using
Carroll University as its venue.
farce set in high-flying ‘60s takes some unexpected turns
MILWAUKEE - ”Boeing
Boeing” by the prolific Marc CamolettI has enjoyed a long
and rich history.
of Banquo’ offers insight into Shakespearian actor
ST. FRANCIS -
Angela Iannone, widely revered as actor and director, now
has added playwright to her list of impressive
a lot of work, but they sure can play
FORT ATKINSON -
The subtitle of this show is “A Country Music Revue,”
which is somewhat misleading.
It’s more pop-rock than typical country, although
country is expanding its style.
a lot of
when you get to ‘Avenue Q’
WAUKESHA - When
the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha took on the
Tony-award-winning, adult-Sesame Street musical “Avenue Q”
by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty, it faced quite
the challenge. Under the guidance of multitalented director
and choreographer Ryan Cappleman and a gifted cast, they met
Pan Jr.’ smoothly takes to Lake Country stage
Whenever I see any version of the Peter Pan story (and there
are many), I garner some new messages inherent in it.
Jarecki doesn’t stop learning
WAUKESHA - Over
the years, the Waukesha Civic Theatres’s Doug Jarecki has
demonstrated his talent, his versatility and his
the Musical Jr.' entertains
WAUKESHA - The Waukesha Civic
Theatre took on over 60 children in two casts to present the
beloved “Shrek the Musical Jr.,” a very brave and
generous undertaking indeed.
Millie' thoroughly entertains
ELM GROVE - “Thoroughly
Modern Millie” is a musical based on a beloved 1967 movie
starring Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett.
Over Buffalo' provides pleasant evening outside
If you’re a
theatergoer, you’ve probably encountered one of Ken
Ludwig’s comedies. His
many awards and his millions of fans who have marveled at
his cleverness and his prolific output attest to his
‘Opal’ wins over hearts as Oconomowoc’s
Kleefisch sure to be heard from again
— Acacia Theatre opened last weekend with a little gem
called “Opal,” a musical based on a true story of a young
immigrant from France who lost her parents in 1904 when a
fierce storm arose on their passage to Oregon.
‘Assassins’ proves provocative
HARTLAND — Stephen Sondheim has
never been a writer and composer who has given us fluffy
lyrics or easy harmonies. He likes dealing with controversy
and provocative ideas in his musicals. “Assassins,” now
playing at the Lake Country Playhouse, is a testament to his
artistic leanings and his incisive insights.
dominates in energetic 'Motown'
- The Marcus Center was rocking in its opening of “Motown
the Musical,” directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. The
orchestration was a bit too overpowering at times, but the
strong, able vocalists could not be overcome by a
too-zealous pit of musicians.
on Ice' appeals beyond regional references as play
gets to the heart of guys
ATKINSON - Milwaukee-area audiences are familiar with the
late Fred Alley’s work. As a playwright and a lyricist, he
has delighted us before with “Lumberjacks in Love,”
“Goodnight Irene” and “The Spitfire Grill,” to name
features some colorful, intense characters
University Players in conjunction with Outskirts Theatre
Company opened a vigorous production of Jonathan Larson’s
“Rent,” a rock musical loosely based on Puccini’s
opera “La Boehme.”
in Manhattan' has it's share of humor
Patrick Shanley is best known for his award-winning play and
film “Doubt” and his script for the movie
“Moonstruck” with Cher and Nicolas Cage, but he is quite
Shop of Horrors' cast, plant demand attention
— “Little Shop of Horrors,” now on tap at Next Act
Theatre in Milwaukee and produced by All In Productions,
made its debut in 1960 as a cult movie, and in 1982 opened
off-Broadway to become a big hit.
ado' does well on chilly night at Lapham
TOWN OF DELAFIELD
— A chilly night and a sparse crowd did not diminish the
energy of the cast at Summerstage in the Lapham Peak Unit on
opening night. They muscled through the complex
Shakespearian plot in his romantic comedy “Much Ado About
Nothing” with verve and aplomb.
about anybody can relate to 'Father of the Bride'
“Father of the Bride,” which was popularized in two
films, one starring Spencer Tracy (1950) and the other Steve
Martin (1991), also ended up as a stage play adapted from
the novel by Edward Streeter (1949).
'Into the Woods' to
discover ones humanity
- “Into the Woods,” one of the many successful musicals
by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine
(book), opened last weekend in the Cabot Theatre in the
Broadway Theatre Center.
of Mormons' takes sharp jabs at religion
- The Broadway hit and winner of many Tony awards, “The
Book of Mormon” exploded onto the Milwaukee stage at the
Marcus Center on May 20.