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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

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Bob Tai photographed Milwaukee Bucks games since 1969.
Bob Tai photographed Milwaukee Bucks games since 1969. (Photo: Milwaukee Bucks)
Bob Tai had been a fixture at Bucks games.
Bob Tai had been a fixture at Bucks games. (Photo: Milwaukee Bucks)

Remembering Bob Tai

Milwaukee Bucks game are never going to be the same again as one of the longest running fixates at the games is no longer there.

Bob Tai, a diminutive Chinese photographer, has been snapping pictures of game action, fans, little kids and all kinds of subjects for over four decades for the team.

Tai died last week. He was 87 years old.

Tai was hired by Jim Foley to work at Marquette and when Foley moved to the Bucks in 1969 he brought Tai along with him to the new NBA team. You could see him scurrying around the sideline, looking for shots, stopping to snap off a couple, then moving again.

He was like a little bug moving quickly and never getting in anyone's way.

He frequently took pictures of children and I treasure a picture he took of my two daughters, when they were about nine and six with a 3-year-old Johnny Steinmiller (son of the Bucks' vice-president) standing in the middle, with all three holding basketballs.

Tai, who lived in Whitefish Bay for many years, taught math at Marquette and also taught math and photography at MATC.

Every now and then I'd ride a bus downtown and occasionally I'd see Bob with his camera case perched on a seat next to him. He'd always greet me with "Hello, Mr. Begel." I always replied "Hello Mr. Tai." And he'd laugh like crazy.

Bob Tai wasn't a well known public figure, but if you are a regular at the Bucks games, think back and I'm sure you'll remember the little guy with the cameras around his neck hustling for a picture.

He'll be missed.

Felicia Boswell (Felicia) and the national touring cast of "Memphis."
Felicia Boswell (Felicia) and the national touring cast of "Memphis." (Photo: Paul Kolnik)

Coming soon: "Memphis"

The question of when rock and roll really began has been argued about for decades.

Bill Haley and the Comets get some of the credit, but most music historians believe the music that became rock and roll began on Beale Street in Memphis and spread out to the rest of the world.

The story of Beale Street is coming to Milwaukee with the Jan. 8-13 run of the award-winning "Memphis" at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

The Milwaukee Rep has just finished a very successful run of "Blues in the Night," a searing story of the evolution and meaning of the blues.

"Memphis" carries the theme a bit further.

The story the writers tell is not unique. A white boy in a black club falls for a black singer and their trials, tribulations and triumphs follow, set against a backdrop of soul-stirring music.

The story, though, is not the critical element of "Memphis." It's the music and the dancing that has set feet tapping and hearts thumping since the play opened on Broadway in 2009. The play won the Tony in 2010 for Best Musical, and it's still a tough ticket in New York.

The show features a brand-new Tony-winning score with music by Bon Jovi's founding member and keyboardist David Bryan with lyrics by Bryan and Joe DiPietro ("I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change"), who also wrote the musical's book.

One of the best and most accurate reviews of "Memphis" came from the distinguished Elizabeth Cincentelli in the New York Post.

She wrote: "Memphis is a zippy, exuberant musical – one that relies exclusively on steadfastly 'classic' values: catchy songs, heaping spoonfuls of inspirational moments and tear-jerking schmaltz, and committed performers at the top of their game."

Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Ticket prices start at $30 (subject to change) and can be purchased in person at the box office at 929 N. Water St., by phone at (414) 273-7206 or online

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The Milwaukee Repertory Theater's production of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" opens Dec. 11.
The Milwaukee Repertory Theater's production of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" opens Dec. 11.

Coming soon: "Sense and Sensibility"

Two sisters, one walking in the woods, sprains her ankle. She is rescued by a rapscallion who gives speeches about art and music and poetry. Her sister cautions her about getting too caught up with this mysterious stranger, but she falls for him like a ton of bricks.

If it sounds like the latest romance novel on the bestseller charts, it should, because Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" is a romance novel in its truest form.

And the Milwaukee Rep will open a production of this wonderful, funny and touching story Dec. 14, with a run until Jan 13.

Lucky holiday playgoers will be able to watch two of The Rep's favorite associate artists – Jonathan Gillard Daly and Laura Gordon – in the production, along with a wide swath of newcomers to The Rep.

Art Manke, a director with a long list of impressive credits, is directing, and the period costumes have been designed by Angela Balogh Calin, who has designed all over the country.

"Sense and Sensibility" is my favorite of Jane Austen's wonderful works," says Artistic Director Mark Clements.

"I love the relationship between the two sisters – their contrasts, their journeys, their growth throughout – and how this 200-year-old story still resonates. We all fall in love, we all have our hearts broken, we all go through periods where our lives are suddenly turned upside-down, and Austen's beautiful prose manages to get right to the heart of those moments and makes us feel and say 'Wow, I know that, I felt that, I understand that.'"

Ticket information is available online, or at the box office at (414) 224-9490.