The Milwaukee Theater scene begins to heat up in September with a number of exciting productions scheduled to hit the boards.
There’s a lot to choose from and this guide may be helpful. Let’s get off to a good start for what we all hope will be a wonderful season.
“Next to Normal”
Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt.
All In Productions (performance at Next Act Theatre)
The rock musical is the story of a woman with bipolar disorder who struggles on a daily basis and the impact it has on her family. It’s a moving story, told so well it was nominated for 11 Tony awards and won 3. All In has a reputation for doing small, serious show with great skill. “The Last Five Years,” “The Shape of Things,” and “Dogfight” were all memorable productions and the potential is for this company to deliver again. Tim Backes directs and Julie Johnson is Music Director.
By Stephen Temperley
September 10-November 5
Florence Foster Jenkins came alive for millions of people in the Oscar-nominated movie of the same name with Meryl Streep in the title role.It’s the story of a wealthy New York socialite who was convinced she could sing, saying, “people may say I can’t sing, but they can’t say I didn’t sing.” With a voice like scratching on a blackboard, she gave a series of off-key concerts, all leading up to an appearance at Carnegie Hall. Any show with Milwaukee’s Jack Forbes Wilson in it is always a great evening at the theater. The story may be a bit shopworn, but great performances can make it a good night for dinner and a show in the Stackner Cabaret.
“Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune”
By Terrence McNally
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre
September 20-October 15
A great American play about two middle aged people who end up in bed one night.. He’s a short order cook and she’s a waitress who is overweight and feels unattractive. Johnny falls hard for her, but she’s wary. The two take small and hesitant steps toward each other. The fabulous Mary McDonald Kerr directs two of Milwaukee’s best, Todd Denning and Marcella Kearns.
“Guys and Dolls”
Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.
September 19-October 29
Rep Artistic Director Mark Clements is a magician with a big musical, and they don’t come much bigger, or better, than this almost 80-year old classic full of Damon Runyon characters. With songs like “Luck by a Lady,” “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat” and “A Bushel and a Peck” it invites audiences to sing along. One of Milwaukee’s favorites, Kelley Faulkner is one of the dolls in this tale of love, luck and a glance at the underworld side of life. The Rep opens and closes its Quadracci season with two classics, “Guys and Dolls” and “Our Town.”
“The Who and The What”
By Ayad Akhtar
September 27-November 5
Milwaukee’s own Pulitzer Prize winning playwright is back with a story about family and faith and the sometimes conflicting merger of the two. Here’s part of Charles Isherwood’s review in the New York Times: “considers the itchy frictions that emerge when religious belief and contemporary life rub up against each other, as they do for the family at the center of the play, a Pakistani immigrant and his two grown daughters.” Rep Artistic Associate May Adrales will direct.
By Lauren Gunderson
Next Act Theatre
September 28-October 22
The first of two plays by Gunderson, one of the brightest and most successful young women playwrights in the country. The story in this one is about women pioneers at Harvard who map the stars. Talk about a killer cast – this one includes Deborah Staples, Karen Estrada, Reese Madigan, Carrie Hitchcock and Kelly Doherty. In Milwaukee, it doesn’t get much better than that.