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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

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The American Folklore Theatre's "Guys and Does" is a silly spoof but a study reveals it is persuasive.
The American Folklore Theatre's "Guys and Does" is a silly spoof but a study reveals it is persuasive.

Study reveals musical theater's power to persuade

Maybe the presidential candidates should commission musicals to be written about them. A new study reveals that attitudinal change about social and cultural issues can occur in audiences after they see a show.

The study centers on Door County's American Folklore Theatre and its production of "Guys and Does," an original spoofy comedy about Wisconsin deer hunting. The plot includes a character who follows hunting rules and another who flouts them.

While "Guys and Does" does not promote hunting, it contains positive arguments for it.

The show was co-written by American Folklore Theatre's Frederick Heide, who is a psychologist as well as an entertainer. He surveyed 171 persons who attended "Guys and Does" about their attitudes toward hunting.

An eight-item hunting attitude scale and an instrument assessing audience engagement were used. Natalie Porter and Paul Saito of Alliant International University in San Francisco assisted with the research.

The study revealed those surveyed viewed hunting in a more favorable light after seeing the musical. They were less likely to think of hunting as cruel and more likely to believe it had cultural values worth preserving.

"We often think of musicals as lightweight," Heide says. "But they may also be a promising method for attitude change."

Details of the study have been published in the American Psychological Association journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and Arts.

UWM's Peck School of the Arts will have acoustic guitarist Alex de Grassi in residence next week.
UWM's Peck School of the Arts will have acoustic guitarist Alex de Grassi in residence next week.

Calling all acoustic guitar fans

Acoustic guitar royalty will be in town next week. California-based Alex de Grassi will be in residence at the UWM Peck School of the Arts, which has one of the top finger-style guitar programs in the country.

Three events are open to the public. The musician will play live his score to the Japanese silent film "A Story of Floating Weeds" at 7 p.m. Thursday, appear at a forum on his finger-style guitar method at 10 a.m. next Friday, and perform a variety of music in concert at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.

De Grassi's musical repertoire ranges from jazz and folk to original work. His silent film score was commissioned in 2006 by the New York Guitar Festival. He performs it onstage while the 90-minute movie is screened.

Ticket information can be obtained at this Peck School of the Arts website. Scroll through the events calendar.

Megan McGinnis co-stars in "Daddy Long Legs" opening tonight at the Broadway Theatre Center.
Megan McGinnis co-stars in "Daddy Long Legs" opening tonight at the Broadway Theatre Center. (Photo: Jeanne Tanner)

Skylight takes novel approach to presenting new musical

Going all the way back to its founding visionary, Clair Richardson, the Skylight Music Theatre has a history of coloring outside the lines. Expect the unexpected from the plucky company.

We will see an example of that tonight when the Skylight opens "Daddy Long Legs" in the Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center. It is perhaps the longest- running world premiere production in the history of American regional theater. Let me explain.

"Daddy Long Legs," which has only two characters, is closely based on the 100-year-old novel of the same name, authored by suffragette Jean Webster. The book is a series of letters written by an orphaned teenage girl to the anonymous male benefactor who sends her to college.

Webster's popular novel inspired numerous films and a 1952 British stage musical titled "Love From Judy." The new musical Skylight audiences will first see tonight has a book penned by John Caird, and music and lyrics written by Paul Gordon.

Caird also directed "Daddy Long Legs," and he knows a thing or two about direction. He staged the original productions of "Les Miserables" and "Nicholas Nickleby." Composer-lyricist Gordon's "Jane Eyre" received five Tony nominations when it played on Broadway during the 2000-2001 season.

Six theater companies, including the Skylight, have invested in and are presenting the same world premiere production of "Daddy Long Legs" in their home performance spaces. The show started at the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura, Cal., in the fall of 2009, and it has since been presented with the same cast by Skylight partners TheatreWorks in California's Silicon Valley, the Gem Theatre in Detroit, Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Ill., and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

The Skylight and the others in the consortium will profit from future productions of the show. Because of its small size, "Daddy Long Legs" will probably not go to Broadway, but Skylight artistic director Bill Theisen thinks an Off-Broadway run is a strong pos…

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Fifth grade artist Claire Hanel and Verduras Tea House and Cafe owner Jennifer Nowicki
Fifth grade artist Claire Hanel and Verduras Tea House and Cafe owner Jennifer Nowicki
A sample of Claire Hanel's work
A sample of Claire Hanel's work

Fifth grader gets Third Ward art show

Who is the youngest artist to ever receive a solo exhibition in the Historic Third Ward? It could very well be Claire Hanel, a 10-year-old fifth grader at Hartford Avenue University School.

A show devoted to Claire's work is hanging in the Verduras Tea House and Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant that occupies about 1,800 square feet at the front of the Artasia Gallery & Museum on Broadway. An opening reception will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the restaurant.

Verduras owner Jennifer Nowicki rotates art exhibitions about eight times a year. Facebook connected her with the young artist.

Claire's mom posted some of her daughter's artwork on Facebook last summer, and it was seen by Nowicki's mom, who thought it was exceptional. The idea for an exhibition was born.

The Claire Hanel show will be on display on Verduras' walls until April 15.