She’s crushing the drums relentlessly, not smashed in the back behind the amps, but on the front line. Accompanied by a guitar or two (Pat Boyce and Bill Grasley), bass (Brandon Domer), and sometime keys (Domer), Nichole Rae concusses the tension out of her drum heads while vocally exhuming all manners of their collective innards, thusly The Traveling Suitcase. For the Eastside Music Tour they made their 5:00p slot feel like headliner, that’s a pretty good sign of gnarl even if day drinking is involved. Something cool from Madison for a change.
The Traveling Suitcase, Carry Out Show via Brandon Domer on YouTube
Give them shades from other bands of now, or the future, and their eyes will blaze through those tinted lenses and burn your face off. The Traveling Suitcase rallies harmonic, desperate, and mercurial spirits. Spreading themselves as thin as artistically possible, they’re getting around the Midwest for live shows, keeping their edges tattered.
Slated to return to Milwaukee for Raw Artist Showcase in May, it wouldn’t surprise if The Traveling Suitcase finds time to squeeze in a couple of shows around here in the meantime.
The irony of robots is that they are kind of low tech now. In Brian Rott’s latest amalgamation of ideas, props, plot and actors Robot Cabaret, we find out that quite possibly robots have feelings too.
Extraordinarily imaginative, Rott, in creative tandem with Michael Guthrie, centers an underlying point of tension around a Robot Detective that seeks out and dismantles fritzing robots that are passing around a terrible virus. In this robot world, companionship develops between human and machine, as robots of various persuasions, interests and intelligence seek to emulate the best humans have to offer; or wait do the robots want to rid the planet of humans and keep the highest points of human invention preserved in exacting semi-conducted binary logic?
The best thing about Quasimondo’s productions (Robot Cabaret being no exception) is that they spin fractal like stories, within sub-stories within metaphorical vignettes, woven into loosely devised plots that don’t follow a logical or sequential pattern, their plays at least don’t seem to do so until you get home and say silently, “oh”. Most likely you’ll just have had several dramatic flashbacks to some completely outrageous joke that you missed live.
Quasimondo’s full commotion multi-sensory response inducing hijinks, always stack the shows with ample pop culture references and true renegade efforts from very talented performers of many different corners of stage art. Robot Cabaret even has guest cameos from famous imposter musicians of various glory ages that a conniving salesman has put his robot minions up to studying so that he can make sideshows out of them. Bits and jokes galore litter the show, spewing from human and robot alike, and backed up by a house band… a house band? Yes!
If you’re into theater, nothing can bring more enjoyment than not knowing what to expect next from the next scene, or part of a dialog. Robot Cabaret far exceeds this threshold and the ensemble is an attractive bunch to put a bit of icing on the show.
The Quasimondo’s Robot Cabaret opened Thursday night and runs February 16, 18, 21, 22 and 23 and the following weekend all at 8p at the Fortress. There’s also a Matinee show on February 24 at 2p and pay-what-you can on February 18. Advanced tickets are available.
A jagged cobble gangway leads to a rundown London public house. Inside, the local pub’s dingily stained wood bar, worn and barely kept, stays littered with empty glasses awaiting a pour from Margarette (Sharon Nieman-Koebert), a surly bartender in the Whitechapel section. The pub’s flock comes to the trough at times solitary, and at others in tandem and at random, always gnarled like the wrought iron propping up the once fine carved stair banister. The same iron, cast thick to seal unequivocally combustible ether within it, protects the life of the only light on this bleak passage on Buck’s Row. A lurid scene to beset the stage, a swell display of craftsmanship to give a story a place; something Milwaukee’s come to expect from the Alchemist Theatre.
Aaron Kopec, the Alchemist’s lead producer/director, has been making rounds story telling the world’s most notorious villains. Eventually, the wheel had to stop on the original terror tale, of those despicable acts carried out by Jack the Ripper. Dubbed the first modern serial killer, the fact that “The Ripper” only had a nickname and never saw justice gives his legend that much more creepy mystic. His known victims referred to in history’s annals as the Canonical Five, collectively serve as the production’s namesake and principle character.
The Chisel, The Stone
One by one we meet Polly Nichols (Liz Whitford), Annie Chapman (Sammich Ditloff), Elizabeth Stride (Erin E.), Catherine Eddowes (Libby Amato) and Mary Kelly (Anna Figlesthaler), unsavory and low, making their ends meet through charms of the flesh. Their first impressions come through the crude eyes of two Whitechapel blokes, who give us a taste of the bitter flavor filling the Old World English body politic, freshly weary off a century of Industrialization.
Isolated and cynical of their own existence, we learn of the male archetype’s harbor of utter disdain for women from Thomas Cutbush’s (Randall T. Anderson) foul mouth, frothing with vile regard for each of the Canonical Five. As he describes the unseemly sisterhood, they pepper the street corners and pubs they work with quip dirty remarks, emitting an aura of rank sexuality, leaving little doubt as to the warrant for Cutbush’s attitude.
Then there’s James Sadler (Kurtis Witzlsteiner) a scurvy ship hand with a streak of kindness towards the neighborhood ladies, but within eye shot of a fellow bloke he falls in-line with the times. He likes to frequent the stale air in London’s underbelly, among the regular faces flush with booze, scrapping by in life, guiltlessly having his way with the town floozies.
Then there’s a conspicuous stranger that completes the line up. A Yank, Francis Tumblety (Harry Loeffler-Bell) sensitive and prone to offense, with little interest in typical mundane male affairs, floating far above vulgarity and “buggering” tawdry women. Searching for something, his mysterious silent ways befuddle everyone, even more so when he takes a personal interest in anyone expressing brutal honesty about the contradictions and futility surrounding life in industrial society.
When the Music Stops
Contrary to the male point-of-view, much of the story unfolds from the perspective of the women who would loose their lives at the hands of Whitechapel’s unknown killer. In their private moments with each other, the working women share kindnesses, concern, their meager possessions and hefty burdens. After the first of their circle falls to a vicious murder, with them we go deeper and deeper into fear’s mist, barely enduring reality as their loop grows narrower and narrower.
Each heroine exposes their inner most feelings before their moment of reckoning, leaving an unfortunate trail of crumbs back to the beaten road of circumstances leading to their dispossessed existences as working girls; each having been abandoned by their husbands and emotionally lacerated by the loss of their children. They yearn for some light of hope, elusive and shyly personified by Billy McDoogle (Drake Dorfner), the Whitechapel section’s street lantern attendant.
The Wheels Grind
Theater has always taken on the conundrums of human life, contemporaneously in current day theater it’s quite vogue get down right obscene. While keeping the obvious aesthetic and entertainment value of drama in the forefront, The Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper does present some content, social commentary and dialog that is not for the squeamish. In taking on the tough issues of gender relations, morality and poverty, in some of the scenes the players are clearly challenged with even dramatizing these topics. (not to worry this doesn’t relate to the on-stage portrayal of the fates of the victims, there is not one scene of dramatized violence)
All of the actors muster rousing performances in at least one scene, playing to their acting strengths. Amato and Figlesthaler maintain superb chemistry with each other and create tension with the other characters particularly well. Ditloff embodying haplessness, Erin coyness, and Whitford tragedy, take the limited moments available in their monologues to draw the audiences attention.
Nieman-Koebert’s character Margarette, an unlikely foil, keeps the down-beats from sinking too low. A bit jester-ish Witzlsteiner provides a character that is relateable to most. Loeffler-Bell is convincing, as a being that doesn’t quite fit in. Anderson, displayed quite a bit of stage presence and seasoning, keeping the pace of the show.
A Matter of Practice
Where as pressure has mounted in Milwaukee’s theater community to climb trees and dance in the street, as a production The Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper maintains a conventional approach, which is always interesting to watch, as it tries to say something relying purely on what the players can evoke with method and the personal approaches to character. A good story and show, the Alchemist’s current run appeals most to those with a taste for little suspense and naughty humor.
The Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper runs tonight in about five minutes, with closing weekend next Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All show times starting at 7:30p on the dot.
Proclaiming ‘Old is the the new New’ on the most infamous social media outlet, attracted the comment “New is Ooover!” Can anything be official?
Inducing a new understanding of ubiquity, when Alverno Presents announced Ryan Schleicher would lead a night of musical rediscovery entitled Beautiful Dreamer: The Foster Project the pieces of this musical thread dangled unattached to my immediate reference. If Schleicher rings a bell, he’s a member of Milwaukee’s own Juniper Tar, a simple times bluesy rock band that evokes that slow roasted southern rock with sharp whiskers whose name I pray is a idiom for Gin and cigarettes… but Stephen Foster…
Juniper Tar will preside over Alverno’s Pitman Theatre as maestro of The Foster Project, giving segue to several performers of disparate musical genres all of them casting their interpretations of Stephen Foster’s body of work. Let your eyes relax, drifting the words ‘Stephen, Stephen … Foster‘ through your mind.
Set Adrift on Memories Bliss
Yes, that green composite plastic cardboard cuboid with metal hinges and stubby round feet opens, revealing the platter of that 2nd grade classroom A.V. wonder sitting on the counter. Maybe it stood in the music room. Mrs. Staccato delicately picks up the arm of the phonograph and places it on the already rotating vinyl record. “Oh Susanna, don’t you cry for me…, Today class were going to learn about Stephen Foster”, Mrs. Staccato says. Please, come off of that bookshelf before you hurt yourself in your daydream now.
Old Music Dawns
Giving due to Stephen Foster, Jon Langford representing punk/blue grass, Blueprint accounting for Hip Hop, Robbie Fulks revving up Country, and Bethany Thomas pipping Choral solo will treat the audience to their personal tributes to Foster’s music.
Incredible talent will perform Beautiful Dreamer: The Foster Project at Alverno College’s Pitman Theatre, 3134 South 39th Street, on February 2, 2013 at 8:00p. Tickets are available in advance and at the door. It’s early, but The Foster Project might be one of the most genuinely interesting musical performances of the year.
“Motley” described a famous Crue of lost angles rocking the 80′s. In Milwaukee these days, Thriftones get motley, genuinely. Their distinct brand of folk, rhythm and blues Americana bridges the front porches of Dixie to bonfires of the Heartland, open fields of Upstate New York to city blocks running into Golden Gate Park.
The Thriftones tumble through mysterious carnival music-box time signatures, chiming, then break into swoons well-timed, with pace and delivery of a hilarious stand-up comedian prodding a crowd to laughter on command. Rattling, twanging guitar riffs serrate blues piano melodies, reckoning humble, hard times, down-tempo bluegrass rock by-gone, but not forgotten. Tapping influences faintly recognizable, more as ode than necessity, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, and a few others, subtly register in interludes and bridges, densely covered with original musical elements.
While judgement passed on bands often hinges on they’re musical ability, Thriftones demonstrate that lyrics sung, in key and audibly, can also have thoughtful, wise and poetic content and keep they’re edge. At their Mayan world end show at Frank’s Power Plant, Thriftones’ vocals easily cut the monotony of clanking glasses and empty cackles, in easy harmony with their instrumentation. A balance struck on par with bourbon whiskey, neat.
Jessie Torrisi digs for a loud octave to check the sound sound system with. It’s The Please Please Me’s last stop on their tour, Yield, before heading back to homebase. Above the stage, clear plastic cords house a series of small lights that grant a red haze; dim red, the color of Rock. The eyes and images of a thousand Rock heroes stuck to the wall on posters approve. The Please Please Me can now begin.
A drummer, a cellist, and Torrisi on lead and vocals, at a volume suitable for listening, dive into their set. They easily touch shallow water of typical triangle-ting pop, then drift deeper looking for country and bluesy rock roots. Born south by south west in Austin, The Please Please Me call it circus pop. It sounds like the music stuff that definitively adds to the shape of Rock.
Fittingly they lope down the heartbroken road that keeps fingers calloused from strumming away the pain. Drum lines beat by Agustin Frederic switch back and forth mid-song from mid-tempo big epic rock ballad-esque tom pounds, to slight time-keeping hi-hat ticks. The cello bowed by Alissa Shram haunts mysteriously, giving each song a ambient cohesion. Intriguingly, The Please Please Me makes Sunday evening wine sipping music that when played live amps up to a whiskey slugging pitch.
The Please Please Me EP video tease via YouPleasePleaseMe on Youtube
That frighful edge of Milwaukee’s Eastside that dulled in the 2000′s, grates against a new breed of old souls, in clunky worn leather boots. The Please Please Me fit right in, Yield growing in its own way, incubating dark musky crevices needed for spawning a good rock lounge.
This band of theatrical misfits led by Brian Rott, have taken over a rugged space in Brewers Hill’s Fortress Building and turned it into an irreverent dramatic play land. Rott, Artistic Director of Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre, recently did the unthinkable. He tangled with the rotting corpse of Anton Chekov to produce his version of The Seagull… in 3D. Yes my friends, 3D.
Wow, it’s in 3D!
It all started with a schtick jabbing at movie opening sequences. Members of the Quasimondo ensemble come out and mime a skit, where as the audience is instructed to prepare for a 3D bonanza by turning off their cell phones and throwing on their 1950′s 3D glasses. A handful of small rainbow colored feathers get tossed in the air and to everyone’s delight we’ve been had. Feathers fall to the ground with that strange blue and red haze that just won’t mix, that was the 3D part we can take our glasses off now. Then zombie Chekov appears.
He creeps out during Rott’s brief intro to Chekov: the man, the myth, the legend, a nice touch to the show for those who just like the idea of going to see play. Zombie Chekov is then gunned down with an original neon orange Nintendo Entertainment System Duck Hunt pistol (vintage NES references weave throughout the piece). As most zombies do if you leave their heads and limbs intact, zombie Chekov (Steve Gallam) stiffly limps over to join the music ensemble and lifelessly picks up a saxophone to lead the house concert band with Molly Leiberman, Sara Mellstrom, and Jenifer Reinke.
Oh, yeah, there’s a Plot
Konstantin (Rott) wants fame as a writer but his attention-hoarding, overbearing, melodramatic mother Irina Arkadina (Olivia Gonzales) can’t let go of her overexposed stardom or her twisted romantic entanglement with laureate novelist of the times Boris Trigorin (Jeff Kriesel).
Konstantine dotes, unrequited, for the naive daughter of a real estate magnate, Nina (Jessi Miller). She’s an aspiring actress longing for regard on-par with Irina’s. Having caught a glimpse of one of Nina’s performances, Boris falls for Nina’s whimsical fancies. She likens herself unto a seagull.
Irina’s brother, Sorin (Michael Davis) meanwhile suffers from an unknown affliction that will soon take his life. The manager of his estate Ilya (Michael Guthrie), henpecked constantly by his daughter Masha’s bratty antics, ignorantly goes about his business as his wife Polina (Jennifer Reinke), a violinist in the Kiev chamber falls for Sorin’s doctor Yevgeny (Kirk Thomsen). She eventually makes passionate love to the doctor, gracefully, through an interpretive dance routine accompanied by a stanza of Russian opera performed impeccably by Sarah Mellstrom singing in Russian. Yevgeny tosses her aside when he has had his way.
Sorin laments his desire to live, and eventually dies, though not easily. He’s forced comically into a casket on stage by a personified Death (Chris MacGregor). Mid-scene Sorin pops back up to sing a number about his want for life, before Death, Irina, Ilya, and Polina coral him back into the casket so that death can tap dance on top.
Nina pursuing her dreams runs-off to Kiev, Boris sappily chases behind. His wife Irina, succeeds in beguiling Boris to wrap himself back around her finger. Konstantine raves about, unable to attain Nina, obsessing over his disdain for Boris. With the help of his conscience, personified by MacGregor, we understand the madness overcoming Konstantine.
In one scene, MacGregor manipulates a seagull hand puppet in full view of the audience, tormenting Konstantine, gripping Konstantine’s head while he orates his disdain for Boris to his mother. The rabid seagull in his conscience turns then to Boris, gnawing evilly on his head, who is in view of the audience but not to the other characters in the scene. Konstantine does the only thing he can do to spite Nina, blasts the seagull she adores from her window. When that doesn’t work to win Nina’s attention, he blasts himself offstage, presumably with a Nintendo Duck Hunt Light Gun.
No Wasted Space
Doing theater in a studio space can be challenging, but Quasimondo makes the most of it. The set uses simple, arrangeable stationary set pieces. In this case, wooden platforms and bare mattresses prove Lego-like. Platform and mattress combinations are placed in front, to the right flank and behind the the audience. The players make unorthodox entrances to scenes from in front, behind, on top, underneath or from within various implements, i.e. the dimensions of the play live up to he billing, “3D”. A heavy cache of props, give portable devices for the players to accentuate their performances with, especially suitcases, tons of old suitcases.
The production’s pace was relentless, even scene changes turned into brief vignettes. During a memorable moment to emphasize the 3D element of the show, a highly pixelated drawing of seagull extends into the air on mounted on a long sick. Its wings jut out from the body, flapping up and down under the control of a string pulled by the handler. Swooping to the middle of the crowd, the seagull lightly pecks an audience member on the head, a diversion from a scene change.
To capture different moods of the story, scene changes entertain, but also convey vital information and highlight dynamics between the story’s characters. Semyon (Evan James Koepnick) a bland school teacher, pesters an aspiring performer Masha (Megan Kaminsky) until she marries him. Her resistance to Semyon stems from her sexually charged fascination with Konstantine. As Masha pines for Konstantine, Rott illustrates Semyon’s dutiful daily monotony to her and their baby with a clever scene interlude.
Backstage someone hoists a box over a faux wall, strangely reminiscent of those that bestow magic mushrooms to the Super Mario Brothers. Semyon repeatedly runs to and fro as a hand from backstage hands him a large Mario coin. He grabs it and runs it back upstage to five or more beckoning hands reaching out behind a screen. Opening the second act, Masha and Konstantine clutch and gnaw at each other ravenously covered in dim light, Konstantine swiftly disappearing as Semyon enters.
What’s Fun is Fun
With plenty of antique, cheeky and dark humor, the ensemble mustered plenty of antics to leave the audience duly entertained, if not confused. What the hell, its theater.
Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre doesn’t take much time off, their next production the Halloween Tree opens this Friday October 26th at 8p and closes November 3rd.
Over nerve-tingling live instrumentation, One Self in truly pro-fashion kicked out a jam, proclaiming the ability to feel something unexplainable and unseeable in the troposphere. A vet to the live performance circuit, One Self graciously set the tone for a Monday eve show, showing hip-hop has a few lives left before it hits nine. At the Hotel Foster, previously notorious for mustaches, ugly eye glasses, inadvertently styled hair, and generally worn-in feelings, the falling leaves outside did’t matter, the one’s budding inside did.
All Around the Beach Ball
Live music holds a special place in the legacy of Hotel Foster‘s space, and its nice to see the old glory of performances past continuing on its unearthed stage that was buried for so long. Milwaukee’s own Klassik added a its musical thread to the memorable one’s spun by troubadours of countless genres that have come before. Klassik dropped an online album in late September called In the Making, bringing with him exceptionally talent heavy vocalist Toni Martin and the prodigious Kevin Hayden Trio to give the album’s songs life when played live (who each could just as well had their own solo performances lined-up).
Enough, Just Up Start
Klassik is uncanny spawn of post scene-ster hip-hop and local conscience flavor, an old soul expressing musical freedom from solitarily confined 808 drum kits and samples, nursing on the essence home-brewed spoken-word and R&B underground usually found only west of Holton Avenue. Striking the most resounding chord, Klassik makes it all his own, with heaping appeal and a lot of heart; a consummate artist to please your ears with.
One Self and Klassik soothed the pain of the start another work week Monday night with a highly respectable showing Monday, and definitely deserve a venue on a weekend night. You probably won’t see Klassik for a little while locally, he’ll be pond jumping for a well deserved mini-tour in Europe. Only one place for this kid to go and its not down.
Find Klassik‘s latest album In the Making on Band Camp, where back catalogs also await for your enjoyment.
Check a little ditty video with a little range by One Self entitled What Do We Know feat Kerri.
M C Oneself “What Do We Know?”
via Scott A. Baldwin on vimeo
One Self performs live with a ton of others at Made in Milwaukee’s Creatures and Creators Halloween Bash at Turner Hall October 27.
Suede Glove Slapping, Hotel Foster, One Self, Klassik
Cramming activities into the last clement days of the year isn’t too difficult in Milwaukee and no neighborhood rises to the occasion quite like Bay View. There’s the South Shore Farmers Market and The Frolics. There was Pabst Fest and Bay View Bash, Art Beat, that other crap I’m missing, and now Bay View Gallery Night, which kicks off tomorrow night. Yes, a Gallery Night so cool it happens a full month before the rest of the City’s.
On the serrated butter knife’s edge of this madness, Made in Milwaukee and Alchemist Theatre safely press their pointy little teeth into Milwaukee’s penchant for creative to-do’s du jour. Bay View’s abundance of venues and pop-up cultural dioramas basically will allow you to just walk down KK without a plan. But here are a few places and artists to see.
They co-sponsor the night and will have photography of Shane Gardner on the walls and music of Todd Richards and the Surround Sound Experiment in the ether. What’s coolest about this stop? The Alchemist Theatre has a chic/cheeky dive concept lounge rarely open when no show is on-stage.
If you’re not sure about theatre, you can at least absorb one of the best social atmospheres Milwaukee has to offer without committing a couple hours to stage entertainment. If you like it enough, you can vamp back in for the Alchemist’s upcoming Hollowed Eve themed freak-you-out live theatrical production The Alchemist Eye.
Usually all sorts of craziness goes on at the Hide House like church services and improvised musical shows. Most of that will probably still be going on tomorrow night and among others Amanda Iglinski’s works will perch on the Hide House’s interior vertical planes as a part of the first floor display. She’s a tremendous pop artist with intriguing vision that melds social commentary to the craft of picking images, motifs and colors to blend.
Resident artist Jenie Gao will open her space to feature artwork of her contemporaries Steph Davies, Laura Macias Barrera, Zina Mussman, Rachel Quirk and live music.
Gao Gallery occasionally offers instructional art workshops. Stop by during Bay View Gallery Night and you’ll be able to screenprint a ready made design on one of your own garments or a T that you can purchase there. Jenie Gao’s star as a fine art purveyor is in full bloom and something to gaze upon for seeing what it looks like to go beyond just having talent in a particular medium.
Ink’s abound in this town, why stop now? I see calf tats are in. Shogun Tattoo & Body Piercing will wet their needles publicly for the grand ole’ first time, opening on BVGN’s expressive ocean swell. The Mil can’t get enough ink, how can you blame us, most of us live where our bodies are at the moment anyway.
The Rest Are The Best Anyway
If I were to drop a few more names for thirst quenching pit stops let’s jus throw Studio Lounge, Black Bird Bar, Boon and Crockett, Hector’s and Club Giribaldi out there arbitrarily. Bay View Gallery Night’s website has the full listing happenings complete with proper addresses and other vital information. I also hear that the new super brilliant Alterra will have a parking lot extavaganza of sorts to top it all with a mango.
Incarnating the falling action of Stephen Sondheim’s musical story Assassins, Lee Ernst finally reveals himself unmistakably through an amazingly new gravely voice, taking himself up a notch from his deliberately muted early scenes. He’s ranting in a Santa suit about why the White House deserves an unexpected guest arriving in a Boeing 747. In his crescendo, coincidentally, Ernst gets to roll with a Sondheim reference to worn-down American dream-seeker Willy Lowman from Death of a Salesman.
Penning Assassin’s in 1991, an absurdist reconstitution of America’s most harrowing and somber historical events, John Weidman and Sondheim remembered a failed plane hijacking aimed at President Nixon’s Oval Office in 1974. How did our intelligence community fail to see the legitimate threat that a sufficiently conniving crazy person in an aircraft could be. Exactly 10 years from Assassins’ publishing, the entire world found out.
A Few Good Thoughts
The Milwaukee Reparatory Theatre has a run of Assassins opening its Fall 2012 season. What contributes more to a good discussion than timely commentary? With Assassins, Sondheim fixed history’s lens on the people who have personified the pinnacle of disillusionment and aimed it square on the President. Yep that guy, the man with the spoon stirring the pot, doling out meat and potatoes to some and the salty broth to others, whatever his discerning eye decides.
Sondheim helps us hear the singing voice of the people who couldn’t push their way in line, follow directions on how to get a bowl, or even get in the mess hall, and their praises of exercising the 2nd Amendment as a fall back plan. As we see in Assassins, it’s mostly personal rather than political, a moral of Sondheim’s story still ringing clear as a bell 20 years later in the current Presidential election season.
The World on Stage
As we’ve come to expect, Clements utterly transforms his set and players, to create that magical place that is live theater. Brian Stills (Giuseppe Zangara), Chris Peluso (Lee Harvey Oswald), Sarah Litzsinger (“Squeaky” Fromme), and Evan Herrington (John Hinckley), with notable presence, bring the tortured souls of would be, and successful, assassins into the auditorium. They twirl around a concentric dual-carousel stage in search of their unwitting targets, Presidential and otherwise.
Having just enough time enough time before their brushes with demises, James Garfield and Gerald Ford make memorable cameos played by Ray Jivoff and Jonathan Altman, Ford being the luckier of the two. Luke Brotherhood (Billy) makes several appearances, as a kid, subtly contrasted with Jonathan Gillard Daly’s role as Proprietor of the world fair carnival quiz show where the musical drums up the past.
Emma Goldman (Melissa Joy Hart) appears, in a markedly humane moment of the story, while being futilely courted by Leon Czolgosz (Steve French) before he offs President McKinley. J.R. Yancher gives a fittingly aloof version of Secretary of State James Blaine bearing witness to Garfield taking lead. Mark Price’s performance as Garfield’s assassin worked really well, as his exaggerated gestures accentuated the edges of Charles Guiteau’s character, forming it into a fitting caricature.
Caroline O’Conner, in her role as Sarah Jane Moore, all play long vigorously working herself up to going after Jerry Ford, basically caught fire while wearing a polyester blend pant suit from the time she stepped on stage, incinerating the New Jersey Turn-Pike Nancy type-cast until nothing was left but ashes.
Master of Ministry
Through Adam Monley’s performance, John Wilkes Booth likably turns into an effete dandy capable of significant vanity-driven wickedness, a rare combination of Jack Merridew, Jack Sparrow and Prince John from Disney’s Robin Hood. Booth centers himself as the ring leader of this historical lineup of notorious suspects.
Subject to Booth’s insidious instigation, all of the assassins have just the right buttons pushed to unlock their innermost superior sore loser. They play carries on with remarkable levity as one by one each of our nation’s darkest hours are relived. In some cases, these moments threaten the overall artistry of the play.
In other scenes, the production loses opportunities to really capture the intrigue of such grand events as Presidential assassinations by relying too heavily on multimedia effects, rather than keeping the live theatre special effects interacting with the players. Shortcomings aside, the play’s inherent asymmetry and non-linearity overbear the acting in some places, however not enough to completely throw the show out of orbit.
More than the Rest
Clement’s deploys a chorus to bolster the performance of the ensemble, sung by Hart, Jivoff, Yancher, Altman, Alex Kelper and Kelly Faulkner. Steve French delivered a moving baritone during the Ballad of Czolgosz worth mentioning. The intern ensemble did well in their supporting roles played by Emily Berman, Lamar Jefferson, Toni Martin, Jessi Noel, Tyrone Phillips, Jess Pritchard, Jamie Rezanour, Teddy Spencer, Bri Sudia, Trequon Tate and Mercedes White.
The Real Miss
One event in history conspicuously absent in Sondheim’s musical, involves the ever famous Theodore Roosevelt. While campaigning for President on the Bull Moose Party ticket on October 14, 1912, Roosevelt left the Gilpatrick Hotel to deliver a stump speech. He carried in his coat pocket his wire rimmed glasses, a tough piece of buffalo hide gum, and his 50 page speech manuscript.
A deranged bartender from New York City named John Schrank followed Teddy Roosevelt to the Mid-west, under the pretense that he was hunting for a bounty of Squab. Schrank approached Roosevelt and shot him. As fate would see fit, the pages of Roosevelt’s long winded speech and steel case for his glasses slowed the bullet’s entry into his chest.
Against the doctor’s orders, a wounded Roosevelt insisted that he should deliver the speech to spite the attempt on his life. He did so with blood seeping through his shirt at the Milwaukee Auditorium. On the original footprint of the the former Gilpatrick stands a hotel to this day, The Hyatt. Inside the the Hyatt’s eastern entrance vestibule, on 3rd Street, a historic marker enshrines the near miss.
Technically, Teddy Roosevelt was running for Office again, after becoming the youngest President in our nation’s history when President McKinley was assassinated in 1901. During his next 8 years of Presidency, Roosevelt successfully founded the Progressive Movement, a concerted push to make sure that big corporations didn’t trample the American public. Come on Sondheim that should be close enough!
Assassins blazes its barrels onstage until October 7th at The Rep, with audio described performance Tuesday September 11th, cast talk back on Thursday on September 13th, and lunch matinee and talk back with props director Jim Guy on September 26th.
At Bay View’s Alchemist Theatre, their current production Help Wanted slickly looks at the cult of mid-20th century’s corporate class and doesn’t pull punches or hide the sexy back-room cogs that kept the profit machines running. Typical of Artistic Director Aaron Kopec‘s productions, the audience is treated to a show that transcends the stage, delivering high impact performances from the players that linger with you after the show.
For local theater enthusiasts, Help Wanted continues to be buzz-worthy even a couple of weeks into its run, and makes the stage arts accessible to new blood. As you follow the traipses of Rand Dandrich (Clayton Hamburg) and Majory Lotus (Anna Figlesthaler), Help Wanted extends the audience a business handshake followed by a teasing kiss on the hand, with a wise-ass inappropriate pat on the butt, before it socks you in the gut, slaps you in the face and leaves you so agasp that you’re turned on by it all. You’ll want to stock up on pencils, yes that’s right pencils and ah, Scotch.
Last fall the Alchemist gave us Faust, a sprawling narrative that guided audiences on an eerie journey throughout the Alchemist Theatre space, venturing on the surface of reality and daring patrons to go below. This time with Help Wanted, the Alchemist Theatre furnishes a hot summer show that successfully weaves comedy, sexuality, and intrigue into a sleek polyester-blend frock accented with nice pumps. Help Wanted features performances from Michael Keiley, Sydonia Lucchesi, Randall Anderson, Erin Hartman, Jake Mallony, Zack Brickman, and Aaron Kopec.
Help Wanted runs tonight Thursday June 21 and June 22, before closing Saturday, June 23. All shows begin at 7:30p.
Patrick Noth left the Milwaukee for the big pond, NYC, and instead of being chewed up he ground out a little space for himself in the improv comedy scene. With intensions of using his first passion for that music of beats and rhymes, he’s melded both with a solder of wit and lyrical skills.
He’s worked with Jim Gaffigan, been a part of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre comedy troop, and also had one of the top College Humor videos this year titled Hardcore Casual Gaming Rap… Check it out here!
Another oldy but goody classic right here Hold My Chain.
An intensely focused brand of chaos sort of missed the New Kids on the Block when they debuted 21 years ago, luckily creative forms aren’t left solely in the clutches Artist and Repertoire directors anymore. Brian Rott is distinguishing himself quickly as a visionary expanding the limits of traditional stage-bound theatrical performance. Founder and Artistic Director of Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre, Brian Rott’s upcoming run of Paper or Plastic strings together a thread of scenes that rely nearly entirely on movement and stage direction, rather than dialog, to create a duskily humored, absurdist and variety filled fun-time. Paper or Plastic opens June 15 at the Quasimondo Theatre Space at 100A E. Pleasant Street, and has additional shows June 16, 21, 22 and 23 all at 8pm. Take a gander at the theatrical trailer…
Before the show, the house received preface that the cast had not run a full dress rehearsal of the second act. Ut oh… The action that ensued on stage warranted the hedge, however unneeded. Delving into the original play on race, The Rep’s Creative Director Mark Clements continues his reputation for fearless confrontation of theater’s most difficult subject matter with a singeing rendition of Shakespeare’s Othello. Clements leaves little doubt that he has done his part to keep The Rep’s seats warm.
Whether viewed as a mirror or as reinforcement of prevailing sentiments on human social order in a western context, take it for what you will. Irrevocably, Othello transforms the Rep’s Resident Actors into rugged and utterly unrecognizable players mastering the stage, with guest actor Lindsay Smiling leading the way. All opportunity for liberties taken, aside from the script, Clements’ production of Othello runs whole hog for three hours tonging the audience’s ear with Shakespeare’s knack for intrigue and all things rhetorical, while shaking them with imaginative set design, special effects, and attention charming costumes, choreography and props.
Reaching the top early and often, although couple characters teeter over at times where subtly might have dutifully taken the place of contemporary comedic influences, the players deliver an entertaining performance while clearly having fun in their craft. Familiar faces cloak themselves in ample stage method and a few faces make new memories out of their scenes.
By intermission, although it didn’t register when referencing his previous roles, thriving beneath the veneer of Cassio (the venerable and unlikely pawn in Iago’s treachery) I finally notice Reese Madigan in great form, per usual. Lee Ernst duos as Brabantio, vitriol and father to Desdemona, and Montano the Venetian underboss in Cyprus. Desdemona, played on a pedestal by Mattie Hawkinson, accepts the courtship of the Venetian war hero Othello (Lindsay Smiling), which would have been okay but he’s… well… “the Moor”.
Other Key Ingredients
The wedding of Desdemona and Othello doesn’t just enrage her father but also conjures the ire and envy of Rodrigo (Jonathan Wainwright), Desdemona’s secret admirer. In effort to get to Desdemona, Rodrigo unleashes Iago‘s (Gerard Neugent) socio-pathic predisposition on Othello, which in a course of unfortunate events wreaks havoc on the newly weds and all of the rest Venice, to the consternation of the Duke of Venice played like a true bad-ass by James Pickering.
As hero and foil, Smiling and Neugent charismatically pace the production fluidly and effortlessly on book, highlighting Shakespeare’s story with intonation and gesture; Smiling accepting his curtain call almost too humbly.
For the Less Patient
Don’t care for a bunch of fancy unintelligible iambic pentameter, Clements has you covered there too. His production crew built an extremely stimulating visual experience that encompasses everything you might imagine in a motorcycle club themed Shakespeare production, oh I guess I didn’t mention that part. Tooling up of for their summer exhibition Worn to Be Wild at the Harley-Davidson Museum, Harley-Davidson pitched in for some cool surprises pumping adrenaline fueled modernity into the production. Iron, leather, fire and skin provide a little garnish.
Othello’s cast of bandits includes seasoned actors Micheal Kroeker (Lodovicio) and Deborah Staples (Emilia), rising stars Melissa Graves (Bianca) and Alexander Pawlowski IV (Herald) and the Repertory Ensemble N’tasha Anders, Eva Balistrieri, Tyler Burnet, Cody Craven, Nathaniel French, John Jernigan, Eric Lynch, Thomas Novak, Elizabeth Telford, and Jenna Vik.
Othello chops the stage until May 6th opening Friday, April 6th at 8p, running daily except Tuesday with weekday and weekend matinees.
Waiting for the next snow storm won’t make the Spring come any quicker, I get the feeling people can sense the season coming anyway. Don’t be so hard on yourself you earned it. By the end of the week, you’ll be ready for a few entertainment options provided by a few of Milwaukee’s brightest unsung talent. Okay, maybe this “talent” is a little further away from the mainstream Galaxy than most, but the Easter bunny cometh, so some options other than the Bar should spark some interest.
Thursday March 1, 7:30p
Alchemist Theater, Bay View
Friday March 2, 7:30p
Milwaukee Area Composers & Artists (MACA) Showcase 4
featuring Stand By a Quasi Mondo Production
Marian Center Auditorium, Bay View
Saturday March 3, 8:00p
Astral/Subastral at the Riverwest Follies
Polish Falcon, Riverwest
Live original composition jazz meets experimental performance theater at the Marian Center for Non-Profits for one night only on Friday March 2.
Milwaukee Area Composers & Artists (MACA) jazz collective, led by Milwaukee grown Jazz composers and saxophonists Steve Gallam and Blake Manning, will perform in tribute to their first CD Release of Live Jazz performances. Solo, duet and quartet sets will create melody, as Mike Neumeyer navigates the marimba, Steve Gallam on Bass Guitar duals with Nathan Dill on violin, and Blake Manning corners a quartet of sax, drums, violin, and bass. MACA’s musicians all benefit from formal training but maintain their artistic warrant, clearly paying homage to their golden age of Jazz heroes in their works. This show should be a real treat for jazz enthusiasts who may be concerned about the future of the music, the MACA residents are all barely approaching 30 years of age.
Quasi Mondo Productions artistically directed by Brian Rott (formerly of Loose Canon Productions) pours a night cap/second-wind starter with its experimental theater trial Stand By that distills movement, props and illusion to tell a story. A subset of short acts from its parent production A Night of Something or Other, Stand By will play with elements designed to leave the audience room to narrate their own sub-text filling the space left by the production’s deliberate omission of spoken dialog. Visually intriguing and at times a bit nonsensical, Stand By aims to satiate the theater scene’s taste for something slightly askew of the typical flavor spectrum. Stand By enlists the talents of artistic consultant Jessi Miller, Lamont Smith and several other budding performers.
The Marian Center for Non-Profits Auditorium provides the stage for MACA part IV and will begin at 7:30pm. Proceeds or the $5 cover at the door go to offset the cost of space rental.
The Marian Center for Non Profits is located just South of Oklahoma Avenue on South Superior Street in the old St. Mary’s High School across from Bay View Park. The Marian Center for NonProfits is a mission of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Francis Assisi that provides affordable office space for non-profits and rent-able space for events.
Alive Week, Three Fingers-Plus of Weekend Performance Happenings,
Marian Center for Nonprofits, Bay View Compass
The Alchemist Theater swings full tilt into its 2012 season with its upcoming opening of 1984 this Thursday. This adaptation of the ubiquitous George Orwell classic, comes at the hands of Michael Gene Sullivan and directed by David Kaye.
The cast includes several veteran upstarts including Jeremy Eineichner who currently moonlights a regular stand-up comedy act at EastTown’s Karma Bar with Caste Killers Comedy Comedy Collective and Clayton Hamburg, a cast member of Carte Blache’s great run of Refer Madness last fall.
The gist of the story Sullivan tells and Kaye brings to life, fast fowards to Winston Smith’s arrest at the hands of The Party, where from his confinement, the audience will vicariously experience Winston’s struggle through politically motivated torture and programming as told from the perspective of his diary. Christopher Elst, Michael Keiley, Marcee Doherty, and Erin Hartman round out 1984‘s cast.
1984 will seek, capture and alter audience expectations opening on Thursday March 1 and closing Saturday March 17 (show runs Thursday thru Saturday). Tickets are $12 online and $15 at the door.
Alive Week, Three Fingers-Plus of Weekend Performance Happenings,
The festivities of the Riverwest Follies continue for the 7th year this Saturday at the Polish Falcon. The Riverwest Follies offers an evening of family friendly entertainment including crafts, music and other antics insured by the MC/Host of the evening Sir Pinkerton of Dead Man’s Carnival. This year the Follies commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the Riverwest Currents, the neighborhood’s community paper.
Headlining the Riverwest Follies, Milwaukee’s resident world-music rockers Astral/Subastral orchestrate a live conglomeration of harmonies, rhythms and sounds brought together through generous instrumentation and reaching vocals that encourage soul-seeking movement, or just content head-nodding.
Astral/Subastral delivers hints of Purvian, Celtic, and possibly even Flamenco syncopation, behind a solidly folk-rock inspired lead vocalist. Astral/Subastral takes an fresh look on an often overlooked recipe: a crowd pleasing paella of musical influences from around the globe, easily enjoyed by groups of friends and family with an appetite for a potluck of good company and conversation.
The Riverwest Follies kick-off at 8:00p Saturday, March 3 at the Polish Falcon on Clarke and Fratney Streets in Riverwest. The $5 donation at the door will benefit the Riverwest Currents.
Alive Week, Three Fingers-Plus of Weekend Performance Happenings,
They used to fix cars in there. Today the bay doors decorate the sitting area of Sherman Perk , still functional, a prime example of urban adaptive reuse of real estate. Sitting on the base of the triangle formed by Roosevelt, Keefe Avenue, and 51st Street if there was a Gold Coast within any neighborhood, you might not expect it to be in Sherman Park.
From Sections to Intersections
The Western end of Sherman Park much like Washington Heights, historically provided a destination for economically mobile immigrant and emigrant classes, first Europeans and later African-Americans, a neighborhood providing an intersection for both racial and economic class experiences in Milwaukee like none other in the city. Fittingly, Sherman Perk played host to ExFabula‘s most recent installment of the Terminal Milwaukee series confronting the theme Intersections.
Setting the stage for stories told by Milwaukeeans with a connection to the neighborhood, John Gurda painted a rhetorical backdrop with historical vignettes. Of several told, Gurda recounted the story of East European Jews and other European immigrants settling during the 1920′s and 30′s in what was known as Haymarket Square, the area just west of the 6th and Walnut street locus of old Bronzeville, before gradually moving to Sherman Park.
Migrating further into the city, the entrepreneurial spirit of Jewish immigrant settlers left Jake’s Kosher Delicatessen on 17th and North Avenue. Jake’s, famous for its corned beef, still stands today (although under new management). Mid 20th century Milwaukeeans also left the Settler’s Cookbook. Interestingly enough, the compilation of homemaker secrets found in the Settler’s Cookbook, not limited to just food recipes, but also medical remedies and home troubleshooting tips, made it a national best seller more popular than early Betty Crocker and Good Housekeeping publications.
Haymarket Square, during the close of the first quarter of the 20th century was also know as Rabbi Row on account of having more Synagogs than any other area in the city. The pillars of immigrant Jewish communities’ migration to Sherman Park still stand as well kept bungalows and revival architecture properties, uniformly lining the streets between Roosevelt and Keefe at 51 street, giving foundation to the oldest Orthodox Jewish community in Milwaukee.
Legacy of Public Education
Washington High School sits on a tough corner of Wright Street and Sherman Boulevard. Up to the rise of the suburbs in the 1960′s and reactionary de facto segregation that ushered gradual divestment in the Milwaukee Public School system, after Brown versus the Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Washington High School anchored Milwaukee Public Schools as the premier secondary school in the City. MPS also received nationally recognition. During ExFabula’s event John Gurda revealed some of the MPS’ famous graduates including Sen. Herb Kohl, Major League Baseball Commissioner and Former Brewer’s owner Bud Selig, Gene Wilder, and Wisconsin Governor Lee Dreyfus.
Although not shared at the Terminal Milwaukee event, the last known, famous graduate of Washington High is former National Basketball Association (NBA) great Latrell Sprewell, who helped the New York Knicks to get the NBA finals in 1999, among other dubious distinctions chronicled on wiki-whatever. Urban legend also has it that over-sized chrome spinning automobile rims, know as “Sprewells” were also invented in Milwaukee after being commissioned by their namesake [Latrell Sprewell].
Duh, Don’t Forget the Stories
The Terminal Milwaukee crowd enjoyed a bunch of great stories about people and places fondly occupying memories of Sherman Park. A man named Russ grew up in the neighborhood and worked for a laundry mat in the area as a kid. The story became interesting as he recounted how he learned not to test blind people.
Well, the owner of the laundry mat was blind and as the story goes, Russ could never figure out how the guy was getting around cleaning up, folding clothes and generally keeping up the shop. On one particular shift it was just he, and the owner. Tending to his laundry Russ accidentally knocked over a cap full of detergent. Russ took the moment to test whether the owner was really blind.
Instead of wiping up the spill, Russ decided to just stand there quiet. The owner didn’t say anything, and by the moment the store got quieter and quieter. The owner stood even more still yet. Finally, Russ ended the stalemate and began cleaning up his mess. From across the room the owner speaks loudly saying “Hello, who is there?” Russ replied that it was just him. Hearing the owner vaguely proclaim his knowledge of Russ’ presence disaffirmed Russ’ intuition. He decided never to test the blind owner again.
What Bus do you Ride?
At Terminal Milwaukee’s Sherman Perk edition, there were just too many great stories to recount. From central character Tom Crawford reconciling his demonic childhood tendencies to Rabbi Borsuk’s, a longtime journalist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, description of nearly missing a news story but for overcoming his dislike of coffee, ExFabula amplified the pulse of Milwaukee. The video above produced by ExFabula recounts portions of many of the stories but I will add the preface to one of my favorite stories told that night to enhance the clip.
The father of kindergartner Joe Lang was responsible for dropping Joe off at school in the morning before heading to work at A.O. Smith. As a factory worker, he would be docked pay for arriving even a minute after starting time. On this morning he was running late. To make up time, he decides to take Joe through a short cut that required jaunting up a hill and few non-routine twists and turns.
Mid-route Joe stops his dad and asks him, “Dad do you know why were are not Chinese?” Dad says no, pauses and figures Joe has something to share and inquires “Do you?” Dad calmly recalls Joe explaining that God puts everyone on a bus before they are born and allows them to choose where they want to get off. So Dad says to his son, so you wanted to be born Joe Lang in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The son replies yes, but next time I’m not making the same mistake.
ExFabula‘s next stop is Kochanski’s Concertina Bar in Burnham Park, this Saturday, January 28th at 8pm with stories around the topic of “Generation Gap”.
Nestled on 5th and Washington, on a surprisingly quiet strip in Walker’s Point, Carte Blanche Studios continues to imprint it’s butt on Milwaukee’s rogue theater scene. Carte Blanche’s current production Reefer Madness:The Musical enters it’s last weekend on Friday November 18th at 8pm, a stage adapted lampooning of the 1936 alarmist propaganda campaign against ganja Tell Your Children (Reefer Madness).
It’s a slapstick comedy with mega-doses of high jinks and quip humor that pits the active eyebrows of Michael Traynor (portraying the omnipresent shape-shifting conscious of America narrating the story, also serving as maestro of musical interludes) and his pitiful fictitious citizenry from Anywhere, USA, against overly concerned Carte Blanche audience members who play the role of Anywhere High School’s PTA. Okay Carte Blanche‘s audiences my not be overly concerned, even so our funny bones didn’t have a chance.
The Green Brick Road
The story centers around Jimmy (Chris Jones) and Mary Lane’s (Karrisa Lade) infantile teenage romance culminating with Jimmy asking Mary to the High School dance. Jimmy, after building up the guts to ask Mary Lane to the dance, realizes with horror he lacks rhythm.
Vulnerable, Jimmy comes across the path of Jack (Derek Woerpel) the local weed man, who offers him dance lessons as a thinly veiled ploy to lure a new customer into his web. Jimmy takes Jack up on his offer and Traynor dubbing as “America’s Conscious” gets many “I told you so” moments to taunt us with, as Jimmy’s experience on “Marihunana” swiftly turns him into a junkie, eventually dragging Mary into the smoke.
Mae (Samantha Paige), Jack’s pot jonesing girlfriend, melodramatically tries to urge the kids not to go down her path to burnout hussy-dom, but is foiled again and again by Jack, his best customer Ralph (Clayton Hamburg) and his resident floozy Sally (Emily Craig), and her own urges to keep toking. Jimmy and Mary Lane’s peers pop-up regularly as spunky teens of the town, by day, and dancing weed zombies by night… or day, played by Mara Mcghee, Mica Chenault, Andrew Parchman, Jessi Miller, and Caitlin Alba.
It’s plenty entertaining! Even before the lights went up, Michael Traynor’s entrance alone was so on spot to the period that I was already laughing out loud.
Carte Blanche now has a cafe called Cafe Bizzare that will eventually maintain regular business hours even when a show is not going on. There’s art on the walls, wood on the floors, great furniture, brews of caffeine and malted grains, what more could you want!
Carte Blanche Studios closes Reefer Madness!: The Musical, Sunday, November 20 and opens a one-nighter Lucky13 Open Mic Comedy the next day at 8p.
Reefer Madness: The Musical, Bunny Gumbo’s Blog, Bunny Gumbo
Carte Blanche gets bent: Reefer Madness! The Musical, The Examiner, Jeff Gryngy
Reefer Reviews!, Lisa Golda Blog, Lisa Golda
Milling goes on in the Alchemist’s cozy Bay View Lounge before the show, tension in the air? Maybe. Tonight Faust: A Night at the Mephisto Theatre opens. Aaron Koepec’s latest opus, an undertaking certainly. Using the infamous “e” word would belittle the production. Groundbreaking? No not quite the connotation to apply, although the show does reveal the extent to which a production’s content can challenge audiences’ sensibilities.
Something keeps taking me to that scene from Time Bandits where that animated bald head chases real people down a hall way and they dive through a wall to a whole different dimension and you say “What!?” Until that point, my young eyes had never seen anything like it in special effects.
Only Boring People are Bored
The Alchemist’s Faust counts on the audiences’ willingness to move around and follow an abstract story line that takes place in different settings staged throughout the theater space. Third Coast Digest provides a good synopsis of Faust, a few additional notes should be taken with you.
Entering the show with a stationary spectator’s mentality will leave you dissatisfied, as well as being claustrophobic, socially awkward or immature. It’s an actor’s play, in the same way George Clooney is a man’s man. Actively following characters through the show and receiving limited instructions about reconciling missing information in the story in real-time, presents real life challenges to the audience both physically and psychologically that actors tend to embrace naturally.
As an audience member that is a part of the actors world but not in it, one can have a lot of fun with Faust just taking the “fly-on-the-wall” approach to social situations. Audience members are provided a masquerade to assist in this transformation, sorry no teleporter machines created by Seth Brundle to help you out.
The sets mimic five primary locations: a bedroom, a parlor room, a movie house, an alleyway, and a church. Neutral semi-scenes take place in the lounge and theater space proper where audience members can take a break if the story becomes to intense. In the lounge, Prohibition era crooners give ambiance for libations. In the theater, Sammy Dittloff and Beth Lewinski mock Faust in a radio show themed series of skits.
Burning Moral Coals
Alchemist’s Faust dabbles in the degenerate and absurd. In the play, the lead actor of the Mephisto Theatre tries his darndest to keep the acting stable committed to the Theatre’s operation, but the forces of doubt, temptation and greed manifest and the meek-minded receive nurturing from the devil himself. A German aristocrat investor further enables the devil’s deviance and lures other characters into lurid circumstances. The dark forces personified in the play gnaw at the veil of civility and quaintness that shrouds everyday life and eventually tears it down. By the end, no character escapes complicity in the devil’s frolics.
Dissuading Viewer Regression
Scenes reach a fever pitch amongst the players at certain points in the production, and adult situations do occur. Most great acts of art take risks without abandon. The Alchemist’s Faust makes no exceptions. Take this play in with a dirty martini and civilly-rogue attitude.
Faust: A Night at the Mephisto Theatre still had tickets for tonight’s show (10/7) last I checked, but the rest of this weekend is sold out. The show runs Thursday through Saturday until October 29th.
The players of Faust are Libby Amato, Randall Anderson, Grace DeWolff, Sarah Dill, Sammich Dittloff, Anna Figlesthaler, Joe Foti, Melissa Freson, Lindsay Gagliano, Erin Hartman, Beth Lewinski, Gracie Liebenstein, Rob Maass, Laura Meyer, Sharon Nieman-Koebert, Mike O’Toole, Rebecca Segal, Amber Smith, Lineve Thurman, Liz Whitford, Gwen Zupan.
Set in the Capitol Heights neighborhood for Terminal Milwaukee’s current episode, ExFabula teamed up with the owners of the oldest Barbershop lineage in Milwaukee, Satin Wave, to host an evening of storytelling revolving around grooming experiences.
ExFabula and Satin Wave deserve major kudos for breaking uncharted ground. Let’s look at it this way. I over heard a 17 year-old African-American young woman (well okay, my niece), noticing the scene at the event, immediately pipe up “White people in the ‘hood, oh this is so exiting!” Her sentiment expressed genuine surprise and feelings of encouragement that where she lives isn’t place where only Blacks care to be.
Her reaction was gut and essentially summed up my grand anticipation for what ExFabula was doing on this night, a willing and unprompted effort to extend and mutually share creative conscious across the deep racial divide that prevails in Milwaukee. It’s not an everyday occurrence, and couldn’t occur as successfully impromptu, but a highly commendable effort to bring a group of people together to mutually enjoy the company of those from a different background (and at an event far from the Eastside, Downtown, or Third Ward).
Let’s have some Fun
ExFabula centers on story telling and the stories reached a variety of experiences with the hair grooming process. One story accounted the fabled barber for who you dread being next, in line to receive the hasty wrath of his clipper. Another set of stories told of the venerable barber’s ability to impart discomfort on kindergarten age children. Depictions of the tactics deployed by the barber to quell adolescent fits ranged from pysch-ward restraints to Donald Duck voices, revealing that the Barber can be jack of many trades and hopefully master of at least one.
A Faithful Effort
Likening the group at Terminal Milwaukee, collectively, to the 5,000 seeing to Joshua Glover’s freedom may be a bold statement, but the thought conjures up the gravity of progressive possibilities made offered by events that aren’t designed make proclamations of values, rather the event itself presents the value.
ExFabula continues their path through Milwaukee in Sherman Park with Intersections. Take a look at ExFabula’s Recap of the night at Satin Wave!
Drink the Well, ExFabula, Terminal Milwaukee,
Pt. 1 Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop
Pt. 2 ExFabula, John Gurda on Capital Court History
Pt. 3 ExFabula, The Sherrill’s, A Black Business Legacy
Pt. 4 ExFabula, Sunshine and Rain
Pt. 5 ExFabula, Tom Crawford, a Thankful Trim
Pt. 6 ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals
You can try to sit there with a straight face, but as Broadminded guarantees stolid faces may rip or tear. Another way to look at it, if you’re not laughing, their jabs at reality may land closer to you than you may care to admit. Darn ladies of Broadminded with their knack for wit and entertainment!
In Broadminded’s latest effort, Blood is Thicker than Liquor, Stacy Babl, Anne Graff DeLisa, Melissa Kingston, and Megan McGee breakout the industrial sized clothes hamper and pull out a dozen and a half sketches based on memories of their family and friends. A host of concocted characters humorously navigate everyday life situations like moving into a new apartment, court mandated counseling or getting revenge in innocuous ways.
The Broadminded troop exhibits extraordinary chemistry on stage, very adeptly weaving improv and sketch comedy into their current production. Babl and McGee both graduated from the Second City Conservatory and all four ladies are Comedy Sportz veterans. If nothing else, Blood is Thicker than Liquor gives a clinic on how to pace and structure a comedy performance.
For $10 you get an hour and a half comedy onslaught on weird mannerisms, social ignorance and taboos and great stories. Tonight, Friday June 24th, June 25th at 8:00pm and Sunday June 26 at 4:00pm are your last chances to join the Broadminded family at the Alchemist Theatre.