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1. Theatre Unchained's "Trailer Park Musical" hits all the wrong notes
Theatre Unchained has had a couple of great productions this season but their Christmas offering doesn't come close to matching what they have done. It's a story that's trite, confusing and doesn't belong in anyone's Christmas stocking.
2. New theater company debuts with a spectacular "The Last 5 Years"
All In Productions is a new theater company that made its debut with a wonderful production of "The Last 5 Years." The musical is a romantic and intelligent story of a relationship, with one side told from the end to the the beginning and the other side telling the story in reverse
3. "Who Killed Santa" proves again there's never too much raunchy fun
The sixth edition of "Who Killed Santa" by the Umbrella Group has become a highlight of the holiday season in Milwaukee. But unlike almost all the other traditions, this one not only takes the gloves off, it never even had any gloves. If you like your humor both funny and raunchy, this show is just for you.
4. World's Stage takes a long subway trip to nowhere in "Dutchman"
A 50-year-old play about race seems like a perfect fit for the discussions raging across American today. And while the play has lessons, they get lost in too many amateur moments in the production by World's Stage Theatre Company.
5. Lakefront IPA named in "The 35 Most Hipster Things That Happened in 2014"
BuzzFeed posted "The 35 Most Hipster Things That Happened in 2014" and Fixed Gear American Red IPA by Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewery is No. 8.
6. Catching up with the Cratchits from The Rep's "A Christmas Carol"
When it comes to the classic story of "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge has always been the star. But just as important to the story are the Cratchits, who embody the Christmas spirit and the human spirit so essential to Dickens's fable. For the past few years, the two characters have been played in the Milwaukee Rep's annual production by the same two Milwaukee actors: Jonathan Wainwright and Marti Gobel.
7. Skylight Music Theatre receives National Endowment for the Arts grant
This morning, National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) chairwoman Jane Chu announced that the Skylight Music Theatre received an NEA Art Works grant. The $20,000 grant will support Skylight's upcoming world premiere of "The Snow Dragon."
8. NEA supports recording of Florentine's "Wuthering Heights"
Carlisle Floyd's iconic American opera will be recorded for the first time in a live concert performance -- right here in the Milwaukee area -- through support from the NEA.
9. First Stage proves that Rudolph can transform lives in this theater
First Stage's mission is to transform lives through theater. With "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Musical" on one magic opening night the lesson is driven home with a couple of six-year-old girls who found things that took them to places they'd rarely been before.
10. Ladies lead the way in the hilarious "Cudahy Caroler" at In Tandem
Trying to get the choir back for one final performance is a task of immense difficulty, but four of the ladies provide enough laughs to make any holiday Merry. In Tandem stages "A Cudahy Caroler Christmas" for the last time and it's sad to see them go.
11. Chamber stages all 37 Shakespeare plays in just under two laugh-filled hours
Hard to imagine, but four college chums go through all 37 of Shakespeare's plays in just under two hours. It's a laugh-filled romp onstage at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre that has frat party mixed with the Three Stooges as models.
12. Skylight's "Wizard" takes a wonderfully imaginative trip to Oz
"The Wizard of Oz" on stage at the Skylight is a warm and wonderful journey into the Emerald City and beyond. The search for the wizard who can get Dorothy home and a heart, courage and brain for her three friends gets a creative treatment good for the holiday season.
13. "Frankenstein" is constantly intense but could use a break or two
"Frankenstein" has all of the intensity and drama you'd expect from the creation of a monster, but the pace is relentless and that can wear you out. It would have been helpful to have a little bit of room to breathe and sit back in your seat.
14. "The Lion King" roars triumphantly into Milwaukee Theatre
"The Lion King" has sold out on Broadway for almost 15 years, and they've brought that caliber show to the Milwaukee Theatre. It's a spectacular pageant that's wonderful for the entire family.
15. "Liberace!" hits all the right notes in a delightfully honest production
When you set out to tell the story of a man, there are at least two ways to go about it. One is to focus on something sensational, some single aspect of the man's life and build your story around it. This approach is exploitive and rarely captures the story you hope to tell. The other way to to do it honestly, upfront with everything. That's the kind of honesty that fuels the remounting of "Liberace!" which opened over the weekend at the Milwaukee Rep.
16. Soulstice's "Moon Over Buffalo" is an eclipse that doesn't quite shine
When you produce a farce, you want to come out with high energy and get the audience laughing in the early going so that they are used to it and will laugh along the rest of the night. Unfortunately, Soulstice Theatre's production of "Moon Over Buffalo" doesn't get going until there are only about five minutes left in the play. By then, the urge to laugh has left on a train to nowhere, and it's hard to get into the mood after all this falderal.
17. New stars are born at Milwaukee Ballet's "Don Quixote"
One of the major commitments Michael Pink has as the artistic director for the Milwaukee Ballet is to provide opportunities for dancers to stretch and move into roles where they are challenged to progress in their careers. As a result of that commitment, it is possible to sometimes see a star being born. That was the case Thursday night when the ballet opened Pink's "Don Quixote" at the Marcus Center.
18. AIGA celebrates 100 years with "Futura Extra Bold"
The Wisconsin chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, marks its 100th anniversary with an interactive musical and visual celebration called "Futura Extra Bold." The event takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13 at Turner Hall.
19. Next Act combines dinner, wine and a provocative play in one package
What could possibly deliver more fun than a night of cool food, great wine selected just for you and an evening of wonderful theater? That's the idea behind the Saturday Date Night package created by David Cecsarini's Next Act Theatre.
20. MAM hires Obniski as new curator of 20th and 21st century design
This morning, the Milwaukee Art Museum announced the appointment of Monica Obniski as the museum's next Demmer curator of 20th and 21st century design.
21. Chappelle packs the Pabst
After nearly 10 years of more or less being off the radar with only the occasional stand-up gig, comedian Dave Chappelle decided to embark on an earnest comeback tour and many presumed - although some questioned if - he could bring it back.
22. Milwaukee's Druecke contributes "Art Dividends" to Temporary Art Review
Milwaukee writer and artist, Paul Druecke, published the first in a series of articles about Brew City art on Temporary Art Review, an international art blog, on Friday.
23. Dysfunctional family lies at the heart of Splinter Group's "Gamma Rays"
One of the greatest American plays ever written, "The Glass Menagerie" is about a controlling, difficult mother and her two children, both trapped by their own devils. Take that famous play, shoot it full of steroids and you've got "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds," the Paul Zindel play currently getting a striking and emotional treatment by Splinter Group.
24. Milwaukee Ballet dances "Don Quixote" into the Marcus Center
Michael Pink, the artistic director of the Milwaukee Ballet, is an artist who has a great respect and affection for the literary and musical giants of past, just has he has a diligent commitment to encouraging and producing new works. But more than anything else, Pink is a storyteller, a man in love with a good yarn that tells a tale of romance, adventure and the forces of good and evil.
25. Gigante's "My Dear Othello" is a spare, to-the-point production of a classic
Betrayal, revenge, a little more betrayal, a little more revenge, then even more revenge and a white lace handkerchief. That's about all you have to know about "My Dear Othello," the Theatre Gigante production opening tonight at the Kenilworth Studio 508 Theater.