An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere


Science is Fun, Cooperative Performance, Fruition of a Delusion

Going back to the future with some Duran Duran playing in the background, pre-engineering major Ruby (Molly Corkins) has entered her mind palace. Once there, her imagination reanimates some of science’s greatest minds to group problem-solve her core values and her life purpose. She searches for her true inner-being in a world of shallow platitudes, self-interest, irresponsible power mongering, global doom and blatant disregard for facts.

My Posse Loves Science

Taking on novel personalities, Fruition of a Delusion protagonists Marie Curie, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Robert Montgomery, Nikola Tesla, and Albert Einstein take turns between comedic bits and purposefully corny dance routines to recount their bouts with genius. Their stories unravel as parables to guide Ruby’s blossoming mind.

Marie Curie (Anna Lee Murray), a pioneering chemist and vociferous believer in scientific discovery, portrayed as flighty and slightly naive, freely experiments in a time when as woman thinking beyond child bearing and housework would have been taboo. She ultimately puts her own safety secondary to her curiosity. To her own detriment, her contributions to science duly receive history’s praise.

We find out gifted intelligence can be destructive. Writers Kelly Coffey and Don Russell recast Oppenheimer (Selena Milewski) in a stormy, death metal and occultish caricature. Milewski deftly summons a cold inaccessible presence that could conceive a technology able to kill 100,000 people in the blink of eye, yet possessing mysterious charm.

With a pipet of irony, Montgomery (Eric Scherrer) reveals that accidental brilliance can save humanity from something more dangerous than atomic weapons. Do IQ and social adjustment correlate? Coffey challenges the audience here, with Scherrer adding multiple doses of off-color humor. An epic breech of the forth wall brings Montgomery’s addition to the annals invention to bear, assisted by a low-tech Rube Goldberg machine.

Oft-noted local performance artists Sarah Ann Mellstrom and Ben Yela have serially trounced happily in the indie theatre scene and continue their proficiency here by grounding this play with well-rounded and interesting mannerism and movement. Yela, touting the exploits of Nikola Tesla’s seminal inventions that transformed the possibilities of transporting electricity without insulated wires, takes his character toward comedic lunacy. We learn even the best ideas can threaten powerful interests and be suppressed at the expense of humanity.

Introducing synchronicity, Einstein (Mellstrom) opens our thoughts to the possibility of natural harmony, even among objects of obvious discord. In the process, Einstein settles the debate of the solubility of geekiness and cool.

Techno Chango

Fruition of a Delusion brings Cooperative Performance Milwaukee together with students of Marquette U’s school of engineering. With that arrangement come some fancy toys to digitally assist the production. The school’s visualization lab gives the production a virtual set, a 3D projected environment (Chris Larkee) that turns a 4 x 15 alcove into a 1,550 square foot foyer. Imagine a video game transplanted out of a television set.

A live music ensemble provides the soundtrack for most of the musical numbers and scene interludes. Julianne Frey gives direction for Elizabeth Smith, Scherrer, Lizzy Biermann (Arrangement), Matthew Mueller to play the tunes live.

Rattle and Roam

Fruition of a Delusion tumbles through a rambling and prolix script relying heavily of the random access memory of Corkins, and the rest of the ensemble, to sharply deliver a succession of quip and obscure references to pop culture, philosophy, science factoids and terminology. In this task the ensemble passes the test, switching between the script and movement choreography (Daniel Burkeholder) with ease.

The costume design (Colby Breyfogle) follows the nontraditional casting, offering non-sequitur interpretations of style sense exuded by the scientists’ portrayed. Sydonia Lucchesi saw to the stage management.

Fruition of a Delusion is performed in the 3D Visualization lab of the Marquette University Opus School of Engineering, on the corner 16th and Wisconsin Ave. with remaining performances Friday February 17th and Saturday the 18th at 8p, and Friday February 24th at 8p, and closing the 25th with performances at 3p and 8p.

Fuken Zoeberfloten, Milwaukee Opera, Quasimondo, Zie Magic Flute

Centered in an ornate and improvised theater round, paper cut puppets (Anja Seiger) flutter mystically over a piano, depicting a cautionary ordeal of a prince, his confidant, his love jones and a serpent; an ordeal that hapless wanderers may undertake, and well-tempered town dwellers would dare not. So we gaze on.

This back-lit picture show, a classical spoof of scandal-lusting would-be medieval human interest news, wets the audience’s imagination for live theatre. Pianist Paula Foley Tillen accompanied by two-thirds of Cadance Collective, on cello (Alicia Storin) and flute (Emma Koi), deftly plays Mozart’s rapid immersion to the libretto of Mozart’s final composition and its 225th anniversary adaption: Zie Magic Flute.

Call to Cavort

A trio of Valkyrie (Tiana Sorenson, Erin Sura, and Jackie Willis) submerge us further, belting upper range octaves admonishing in song the two unenviable subjects of this tale; this is an opera. Charged to deal evenly and mercurially in all their worldly affairs, frien-emies Tamino (Benjamin Ludwig) and Papageno (Nathan Wesselowski) learn of the plight of fair princess Pamina (Jennifer Hansen), locked away by her maniacal father Sarastro (Mark Corkins).

The ladies tantalize Tamino ’s imagination, producing a fetching portrait of Pamina (Jennifer Hansen) for him to view with help from futuristic technology. Convinced to secure refuge for this fair damsel Tamino and Papageno set off, not without having been first equipped with Zie Magic Flute.

In their quest, Tamino separates from Papageno when Papageno becomes distracted by a nature’s fowl (Crystal Wagner). Happenstance brings Papageno to Pamina, who breaks her shackles in a unexpected burst of cunning. En route to escape, the Valkyrie accost Papageno and Pamina in service to the Queen of the Night (Sarah Richardson) and entrust a dagger to Pamina so that she might dispatch her father Sarastro.

Ram in the Bush

Meanwhile, Tamino has come across a humble wise man presenting himself as a commoner. Tamino , discouraged from his arduous trial, confides his purpose with the stranger. Having wisdom betraying his appearance the commoner warns Tamino of serving hidden intentions of the benefactor whose cause he bears.

Fates find joy when the spirits (Jessi Miller, Jenni Reinke, and Andrew Parchman) bring Tamino to Pamina . Doused in desire their chemistry is combustible, they want their burning to become an eternal flame. As any father might, Sarastro noticed his daughter’s escape and has easily tracked her with his fatherly instincts.

Sarastro confronts Tamino , Pamina, and Papageno disentangling them from the Queen of Darkness’s plot to have him killed. Trials of wit, human nature and determination issued by King Sarastro will divine clarity of everyone’s lot. Unexpected encounters with sinister elderly women, chalices filled with suspect tincture, the sea, and of course a mystical beast lay in wait.

A dagger and magic flute threaten to undo or bring salvation, but voice and persuasion, worldly and netherworldly, win the day. After flirting with tragedy, love reigns. In the end Tamino takes Pamina, Papageno does Papagina (Wagner) and as for Sarastro…. how now with the Queen? Don’t worry these aren’t spoilers, they give you half a chance to know what’s going on if you are not familiar. And after all this is a 225 year old story.

A Triumph for Artistic Manage Trois

Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Cadance Collective got together to bring Milwaukee this wondrous adaptation of The Magic Flute. These companies contain some of the brightest artistic minds Milwaukee has in Jill Anna Ponasik and Brian Rott. The choice to add Cadance Collective placed a sharp performative accent on the production.

Cadance Collective tether classically trained string and woodwind musicians together with interpretive dance, through Crystal Wagner’s powerful technique to the ensemble performance, and Storin and Koi’s musical virtuosity. Ponasik, a versatile and visionary artistic director in her own right, deserves a lot of credit for taking opera out of moldy places and into the light of contemporary tastes. Rott and his band of gypsies has held the spotlight for upstart and experimental theatre for a solid 5 years running.

Nice Choices

While this opera generally finds a proscenium, these conspirators chose an octagonal foyer in the Tripoli Shrine Center, as a nod to Mozart’s affiliation and knack of the libretto’s author to thread this story with Masonic imagery. A stunning back drop of geometrically patterned mosaic glass and tile from floor to ceiling, provided ornamentation for this theatre in the round. The staging’s close quarters with the audience and the dimension added by the balcony was used fully by the production ensemble.

The three piece music ensemble led by Paula Foley Tillen filled the space amply and dutifully. Dance, props, low-tech special effects, and kitsch comedic bits, hallmark elements of physical theatre, begged the audience’s imagination to participate in this story assisted by crude material representations earthly items and resourceful stage lighting design. Large format puppetry bestows even more fantasy upon this play. Born at the hands of Sally Duback, this production apparently awoke a ghastly beast from a 15 year hibernation.

Although an opera, the accessibility of this piece should comfort novice opera goers. Parochial opera patrons may find the upstart physical elements offensive to high minded sensibilities, but likely not. The performance gives you the snooty esteem I imagine pervaded high society engagements of Mozart’s time, snooty, cheeky, snide, absurd and mildly lewd. Corkins’ strength of presence grounds the attention of everyone in the room, and the voices of Richardson, Hansen and Sorenson carried it to the clouds. I really wished I had a powdered wig for this one.

Daniel Brylow completed the translation for Zie Magic Flute, Jason Fassl conceived the lighting design, Nikki Maritch fitted the costume design, Andrew Parchman designed the promotional artwork, and Jim Padovano saw to the stage management.

Zie Magic Flute runs through January 28 with remaining performances tonight (1/27) at 7:30p and weekend matinees Saturday and Sunday the 28th and 29th at 1:00p at the Tripoli Shrine Center on 30th and Wisconsin Ave. Tickets are $28 with a student/artist discount available. The admission is on the pricey side and fitting for this lovely spectacle of the arts. Secure, off-street parking is available.


Pub Poetics, Alan Bunde, Milwaukee Breweries: The Poem

A bounty of microbrews have reached full fermentation in Milwaukee 2016. If a doubt lingered about what city is the beer mecca, the new brews on the scene have put those doubts to rest. 

You shouldn’t have had a hard time convincing your relatives to come to MKE anyway, so I’m sure you’re scratching your head about what to get into on the night before Christmas eve. If you can decipher these heartfelt lines of beer soaked poetry from long time home brewer, and self-proclaimed Ambassador of Beer, Alan Bunde, you’ll have a written treasure map to swilling delight.

A Toast to Milwaukee Micro Breweries 2016

BAVARIAN BIERHAUS, Glendale blitzkrieg
BIG HEAD, small space, Wauwatosa, State St.
BILOBA is expanding it’s Brookfield presence
BLACK HUSKY now on Locust St., Riverwest

BRENNER, brewing art studio, Walkers Point
Coming to Menomonee Valley CITY LIGHTS
COMPANY BREWING, was Onopa, Stonefly

DISTRICT 14 located off KK on South Howell
ENLIGHTENED another startup in Bay View
New Southridge Mall Brewpub EXPLORIUM
Hwy 60, Cedarburg, THE FERMENTORIUM

In old Crank Daddy, on Farwell, GOOD CITY
MILW. BREWING Second St., an offshoot of
MILW. ALE HOUSE, a Third Ward Brewpub

MOBCRAFT on West Virginia, Conejito’s block
PABST planning complex brewpub comeback
RAISED GRAIN, Waukesha, Bluemound Rd.
RIVERSIDE brewpub on Main St. West Bend

ROCK BOTTOM is downtown on Plankinton
SILVER CREEK Cedarburg old mill building
SPRECHER BREWERY fortified in Glendale

THIRD SPACE, West St. Paul in old factory
URBAN HARVEST on the south side, 5th St.
WATER STREET is established beyond downtown
Soon West Allis brew saloon WESTALLION

Did you make it?

Liver and Chips, Theater RED, Bonny Anne Bonny

A jovial sneer reaches the corner of Anne Bonny’s mouth. A surly fellow known as Blackbeard, convincingly played by James Carrington, has unexpectedly encroached upon her flighty courtship of Calico Jack (Zach Thomas Woods). No strangers to trysts, Anne Bonny (Alicia Rice) and Blackbeard clearly had a thing going. In the present day, a little yelling would do. In the pirate days, a lover’s quarrel deserved a little more action, possibly swords, explosions and a stolen pirate ship?

Rough Water Tales

Delightfully romping through a tale of love, lust, adventure, camaraderie, swashbuckling and deception, Theater RED’s premier of Bonny Anne Bonny, an original piece written by Liz Shipe and directed by Christopher Elst, treats theater goers to a fast-paced, witty and all around fun performance.

Bonny Anne Bonny centers on two seawater drinking shipmates Anne Bonny and Mary Read (Rae Pare), and their never-ending hedonistic escapades, a life’s calling to separate bounty from the hands of fools, dodge capture, and horrific untimely death.

On the lam after her ship is blown up and en route to unfolding her latest plan, Anne Bonny is the hand from the past that knocks at Josiah Addams’ (Bryan Quinn) door asking for help. Josiah, known to Anne as ‘Biscuit’, tries to shield his niece Lila’s (Jessica Shultz) ears and youthful will from fulfilling her fantasy to live a pirate’s life. Lila naively jumps head long onto Anne’s coat tails. Having been forced into hearing the favor of this old friend, Josiah aides Anne Bonny in forming a rag tag crew, from a batch of wayward and not-so-seaworthy souls.

Little does Anne know, that a conniving and unscrupulous military officer Captain Presley (Thomas Sebald) has enlisted some of Anne’s past and recently earned enemies to end her run of petty outlaw pillage. Satisfied only with complete annihilation of Anne Bonny, Presley finds himself gleefully using every tool at his disposal, including jealousy that has seeped into Anne Bonny’s ranks.

All the while, Anne Bonny follows the course of her plan to nab enough riches to sail off the high seas of England for good. Wielding strength and cunning, Anne Bonny tries with every thread of her being to hold all the pieces of her tattered and frayed world together.


Arms and Fists

Anne’s adventures lead her to ‘Heartless’ Jane Bristow, a well-weathered and crude pub matron well-performed by the play’s author Liz Shipe. Heartless Jane’s establishment gets a lot of action and gives the perfect backdrop for some of the plays best action scenes.

Bonny Anne Bonny’s director Christopher Elst has made weapons and stage combat a signature element of many of Theater RED’s productions. He incorporates this element frequently and fittingly for a play about pirates. Fisticuffs, grappling and sword fighting settle impromptu disagreements throughout the play’s acts.

In other more intense situations, Lighting Designer Aaron Seigmann deftly nudges our imagination of fire and explosions. The scenic design of Christopher Kurtz gives it all a place to live, a multi-level modular design that allows wood, ropes and steel to become a functional pirate ship, able to withstand highly physical blocking and aerial elements.

Bonny Anne Bonny is packed with quip dialog, that melds low brow humor, double entendre, conventional wisdom, campy slap-stick humor and cynicism into a story that can be digested by nearly all ages without worry.

Bonny Anne Bonny puts many talented actors in the spotlight with performances from Drea DeVos, Sean Duncan, Jennifer Glueckstein, Corey Hagen, Brandon Haut, Macie Laylan, Marah Nitz, Leah Northrop, Joe Picchetti, Grace Thompson, and Madeline Wakey.

The balance of the production team deserves applause for composing a set of highly polished theatrical design elements not often experienced in an independent show. Liz Shipe and Katlyn Rogers (costume), Alicia Rice (choreography), Katelynn Bowen and Marcee Doherty-Elst (props and scenic decor), Christopher Elst and Nichole Bartsch (sound design), and Andrea Burkholder (aerial choreography).

Bonny Anne Bonny is directed by Christopher Elst and Nichole Bartsch, managed by Julia Xiong, Libby Adelmayer, and Maria Carter and produced by Marcee Doherty-Elst, Christopher Elst, Jay Sierszyn and Simon Provan.

Theater RED brings you Bonny Anne Bonny at Wisconsin Lutheran College’s Raabe Theatre, 8815 W Wisconsin Avenue, with remaining performances Thursday, November 10 through Saturday November 12, 2016 with all showtimes at 7:30p.

Power of Life, Cooperative Performance MKE, Cambrian

Ex-post primordial
Sampled evolutionary specimens
Still figuring
A mass without mass
Weighing ages to come

Matter without mind
Electric only in the sense of latent magnetic pulse
Innate urgency animated

A quake, did it tremble?
A tenuous balance revolved
Axis before axiom
Atomic, molecular plenty

Hell, overtly engorged terrestrial heat
Scortching core reaching the surface level cooled by the mixture
Brittle crust chipped, visual maybe, tactile

Immediate revelry, time scrapped by
Time left an untouched wall marred, beginning and ending with stone’s precursor

Whirring, writhing, withering
Noise emulates music overtaking the silence forgotten

Immolation accidental, the rubber tree burns atmos-spherical perpetution
Pin point projection embraced
Modulation, synth pre-digital crude

Process unaware inherent, deliberate
Radiance angular, a reflection on a plane dimensional, minimal degrees separate

Fragility, steadily craving primal ignorance
Focus waxing in traumatic spectacle
An appendage to paddle, a foot
Thoracic concavity, convex abdominal anterior abnormality

Fading through appearance of spectacle
Moribund trappings, intention escaped vapor
Elements expound

Weather Reaction

Brennen Steines launched season one of Coopertive Performance MKE in stellar fashion, devising and delivering Cambrian through the bodies of Kelly Radermacher and Don Russell. An escapade of process art, within Cambrian, Steines cites art forerunner Richard Serra as an influence. 

Cambrian employs human movement interacting with visual art media and sound design to interpret the Cambrian eon of earth’s archeology. The piece calls on the audiences’ imagination to  concieve 50 million years of organic chemistry at work in time-lapse, played back in a compact and quite desciplined interpretive physical theatre duet. 

When asked of the choice of visual art media Stienes shares, “The choice of media gave the performance the primal feel I wanted to convey.” 

Tectonic Art Movement

Cambrian’s perfomance follows a choeragraphic outline envisioned by Liz Faraglia, expounded upon during the fluid three act with movement improvisation of Russell and Radermacher. 

Steines offers that the subjects perpetualy add to the set design, “Each performance has it’s own unique qualities. Even the set and canvas backdrop evolve with each performance, adding to their overall appearance. We started in rehearsals and let the set take on whatever the performers add to it, without deliberately altering them.”

At the end of the run, a canvas will hold the emotional and creative energy of each performance. 

Sound Escapist 

Claranetist Olivia Valenza, sat behind a small tray topped with a turntable. At her other hand, a controller running to a syth pedal serves to complete her tool set needed to orchestrate a live soundtrack to Cambrian.

Valenza’s claranet envolops the performance in an ambient haze, blended with warped textures of digital and analog undertones. Her accompaniment completes the extensive immersion into this prehistoric world the audience experiences.

End of the Epoch

Cambrian will close this weekend, show times are 6:30p and 8:00p tonite Saturday November 5, and closing performance Sunday November 6, 2016 at 12:00p on the 5th floor of the Marshall Building in the Third Ward, 207 E Buffalo Street.

The performance is viewed in roughly an 18 ft by 18 ft whitebox studio, the director prompts the audience to view the performance as one might a sculpture.

Cooperatice Performance MKE functions as and artist coop, where collectively an artist board selects project pitches from working artists.