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Ben George, Tamara Martinsek and David Ferrie  star in "City of Angels."
Ben George, Tamara Martinsek and David Ferrie star in "City of Angels." (Photo: Windfall Theatre)

Windfall's "City of Angels" is a ponderous evening of complex storytelling

"Out of all da dames in the woild who cudda walked inta my office dat day, why did it hafta be dat dame?"

That line, and versions of it, has been uttered by hundreds of private eyes, each time setting in motion a story that unfolds mystery by mystery by mystery.

That line comes to mind watching the ponderous musical "City of Angels" that opened over the weekend at Windfall Theatre.

This comic opera – and I use the word "comic" loosely and the word "opera" in all its overwrought and confusing storyline – was supposed to be a magic trip back to the days of film noir. No such luck.

The production is loaded with good actors and singers. But they seem trapped in a story, or stories, that develop so slowly that at some point it became easier to cry "uncle" and just sit back and wait for it to come to an end.

This play features two stories.

One is about a writer named Stine, who is working on a screenplay while trying to maintain his artistic purity. The second is the story that Stine is writing – a private eye named Stone gets hired by a hot dame to find a missing girl.

The play moves back and forth between these two stories, moving each one along at a snail’s pace until we get to the end where some long winded exposition tries to tie up all the loose ends and clue the audience in on what really happened.

Doing a play like this is enough of a challenge, but when faced with a too warm theater, a first act that lasted one hour and 35 minutes and a play that asked us to sit still for three hours, it was almost too much to expect this to hold together.

Or to hold my attention.

I really had high hopes for this show. Carol Zippel, the producing director at Windfall, directed this show, and she has long had a great touch with musicals.

What this needed, more than anything else, was a scalpel. There was just too much. Too much music, too much talking and not nearly enough precision.

There are jokes in this script but the overwhelming reaction to them was that…

Jenna Vik, Michael T. Black and Rachael Zientek star in In Tandem's "Little by Little."
Jenna Vik, Michael T. Black and Rachael Zientek star in In Tandem's "Little by Little." (Photo: Ross Zenter)

In Tandem's "Little by Little" is full of love and joy

When Percy Sledge died recently, there was an obituary tribute to him on NPR.

It started with the announcement that he had died, and you knew exactly what was going to happen in this story and where it was going: You’d get some details, and it would end with "When a Man Loves a Woman," the iconic ballad Sledge sang. And while that’s just what happened, it didn’t lessen the joy of hearing that song at all.

That story is kind of what it was like seeing "Little by Little," the musical that opened at In Tandem Theatre Company Friday night.

It’s a story about three friends, two women and one man. Friends since childhood. Love between two of them, then none of them, then two others.

You can see where this story is going from miles away.

But like Sledge and his song, the obvious, even trite, nature of the play doesn’t matter one single bit because of the delightful production, highlighted by three young actor/singers who give breath to this play and make it fly.

The characters in this play are Man (Michael T. Black), Woman #1(Jenna Vik) and Woman #2 (Rachael Zientek).

The three are friends in childhood. As they grow older and hormones begin to intrude, Man and #1 start to flirt, date and become a couple. All the while #2 harbors a love for Man that remains a secret.

Throughout the growth of their relationship, #2 covers for and counsels both of her friends, never letting on how she really feels. And she suffers her secret with a troubled willingness.

The Man and #1 grow tight but then they have to be apart on an important evening, and they ask #2 to fill in and pretend to be #1. See what’s coming?

There’s a kiss and an awakening by both Man and #2. When #1 comes back, the kiss becomes the thing that drives all three of them apart and into lives and individuals. But, and we knew this would happen, in the end friendship wins out, and the three of them walk off holding hands together.

There is a clear moral to this play. Love is wonderful, but in its …

Everything was sparkling fresh and the whole thing had a nice kick to it, but nothing too explosive.
Everything was sparkling fresh and the whole thing had a nice kick to it, but nothing too explosive. (Photo: Buddha Lounge)

Buddha Lounge banh mi is a great take on a traditional sandwich

Ordering food to be delivered is always a crapshoot, but if the sandwich I got from the the relatively new Buddha Lounge is any indication a dine-in visit is in my future.

The banh mi – born of the French influence in Vietnam (the French brought the baguette and the Vietnamese did the rest) – is currently the hot sandwich in Milwaukee restaurants, with all kinds of places serving their own version of this Vietnamese delight.

The version I had was built around a fresh 14-inch baguette cut into two loaves. At the heart were slices and chunks of tasty roasted pork. Then came the the rest: cilantro, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, as well as a couple of jalapeños and house mayo.

Everything was sparkling fresh and the whole thing had a nice kick to it, but nothing too explosive.

The sandwich is accompanied by an interesting take on French fries: a bowl of fried potatoes mixed with a light nacho cheese, bacon chips and jalapenos, topped with a fried egg, sunny side up.

Delivery was quick and ordering online easy. And at $12 it ended up being a pleasant bargain.

You can check out the menu and get information on location and hours here.

"Peter and the Starcatcher" is a magical evening of live theater at the Rep.
"Peter and the Starcatcher" is a magical evening of live theater at the Rep. (Photo: Sandy Underwood)

Rep's "Peter and the Starcatcher" shows just how easy it really is to fly

Night has come, and the day is done. We cuddle in our pjs and hold our dearest stuffed animal close. Our head rests gently on the pillow, and we are ready.

Now is the time for the bedtime story.

A great bedtime story will make us giggle, it will make us wonder, it will help us get ready for dreams and, perhaps most of all, it will help us realize that we are safe in this world.

That’s the kind of story being told at the Milwaukee Rep, where "Peter and the Starcatcher" opened this week.

It’s a story that is full of laughter, some of the funniest stuff scene on a Milwaukee stage this season. It’s got everything that a bedtime story should have. There are heroes and villains, there is a secret mission, a secret treasure, a boy and a girl, threats, drama on the high seas, good and evil, and a happy ending as you close your eyes and drift off to a gentle and warm sleep.

The play is based on a novel written Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. The adaptation by Rick Elice had a nice run on Broadway and won Tony awards. It's a story that carried an opening night audience on the wings of imagination.

The story is a prequel to the wondrous life of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up.

It’s such a simple story. A 13-year-old orphan with no name and no home takes off into a life filled with joys and sorrows, fear and courage. And as the play moves on, he gets a name, a name that gives full identity to the legend that he becomes.

This large cast of actors is sublime. They take turns moving the play along with bits of narrative that both seduce and amuse. The story bounces along on the a collective sense of humor where everyone laughs at the same time.

There is such joy in the humor, potty humor of flatulence and burps and sophisticated humor that takes much of it from our current lives.

We are transported to distant lands where an island king serenades us with a modern day rap, to ships being tossed by a roiling sea.

Se are fa…