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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Soulstice Theatre's "Blithe Spirit" opens this weekend.
Soulstice Theatre's "Blithe Spirit" opens this weekend.

Coming soon: "Blithe Spirit"

One of the funniest plays in the American theater is "Blithe Spirit," written by Noel Coward and debuted in 1941.

The play opens this weekend at Soulstice Theatre for a run until Nov. 17.

The comedy focuses on socialite and novelist Charles Condomine, who invites the eccentric medium and clairvoyant Madame Arcati to his house to conduct a seance, hoping to gather material for his next book.

The scheme backfires when he is haunted by the ghost of his annoying and temperamental first wife, Elvira, following the seance. Elvira makes continual attempts to disrupt Charles's marriage to his second wife, Ruth, who cannot see or hear the ghost.

Featured in the role of Madame Arcati is Liz Mistele, one of the funniest actors in Milwaukee.

Ticket information is available at SoulsticeTheatre.org.

The Rep's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" opens Oct. 26.
The Rep's production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" opens Oct. 26.

Coming soon: "The Diary of Anne Frank"

"The Diary of Anne Frank" is a little like going to the dentist.

Even though there's nothing particularly new you are going to learn, you go just to be reminded of something important, like caring for your teeth.

The story of Anne Frank is one we all know, but seeing it now and then is a good idea because it reminds us of how inhumane some people can be and how noble others are. Both are within us.

That's why a visit to the Milwaukee Rep production of "Anne" is such a good idea. The play opens on Friday, Oct. 26 and runs until early December.

The play features some Milwaukee favorites who are members of the new Rep Associate Artists roster, including Laura Gordon, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Lee Ernst, Deborah Staples and the wonderful Jim Pickering.

"The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the greatest testaments to living in the present that I've ever read, and it never fails to move me to tears, says Artistic Director Mark Clements.

"The story may be set against one of history's grimmest eras, but out of that comes incredible light and incredible hope from the strength of Anne's spirit. This is a story that every generation needs to hear, and we're honored to tell it."

Tickets are available at The Rep's website or by calling the box office at (414) 224-2490.

"A Steady Rain" welcomes back its original actors as the award-winning show visits Next Act Theatre this weekend.
"A Steady Rain" welcomes back its original actors as the award-winning show visits Next Act Theatre this weekend.

Coming soon: "A Steady Rain"

Milwaukee is clearly in the grip of a growing controversy over its police department, with the death of a young boy at the heart of the clamor for reform in the police force.

In an example of how art mimics life, or the other way around, Milwaukee will be graced with a rare touring production of one of the great plays of recent years as "A Steady Rain" has a too-brief four-day run at Next Act Theatre.

The award-winning play is about two police officers who are involved in the death of a young boy. The focus of the play is on the two officers, Denny and Joey, and their perceptions of the incident and the fallout that rains down on their lives.

Most plays that tour and come to Milwaukee are the big musicals like "Wicked" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie." This is an unusual chance to see a world-class serious play that certainly touches on Milwaukee today.

"A Steady Rain" was born in Chicago by playwright Keith Huff and nurtured to the stage by well-known director Russ Tutterow, who is the artistic director at Chicago Dramatists. Tutterow directed the original incarnation of the play and eventually sent it off to Broadway, where it starred Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig and played to universal critical and box office success.

The play has now been revived with the original director and original cast, actors Randy Steinmeyer and Peter De Faria.

"This play was such a hit that bringing it back was the logical thing to do," Tutterow said. "The reception from audiences has been wonderful.

"Keith Huff has family members who are cops and he was obviously moved by the whole Jeffrey Dahmer thing," he added. "That played a role in creating this wonderful work.

"This is not a play about police, though. It's a play about two individual, very flawed people, who happen to be cops. It's so interesting that people are just going to love it. They do love it."

The run is Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and are…

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Off The Wall Theatre presents "Trainspotting" beginning Oct. 25.
Off The Wall Theatre presents "Trainspotting" beginning Oct. 25.

Coming soon: "Trainspotting"

In its ongoing efforts to bring plays with uncomfortable subjects to Milwaukee, Off The Wall Theatre will open "Trainspotting" Oct. 25 in its tiny space on Wells Street.

"Trainspotting" is the story of drugs in a horribly depressed area of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Four heroin addicts who have given in to the drug are the characters in this bitter play, which is based on a movie directed by Danny Boyle (which was, itself based on a novel by Irvine Welsh) that has been called one of the 100 best British films of all time.

This show is frightening and takes a brutal look at addiction. The language is beyond extreme and caused a mild sensation and debate about censorship in England.

Director Jeremy Welter has put four actors into the play in order to play the 14 characters. This promises to be a difficult evening of theater, but an interesting look at a side of life foreign to many of us.

Tickets are available by calling the box office at (414) 327-3552.