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The Rep performs "The Mountaintop" starting Sept. 26.
The Rep performs "The Mountaintop" starting Sept. 26.

Coming soon: "The Mountaintop"

The life and death of Martin Luther King Jr. has provided fodder for books, television, plays and movies, and the fascination with this icon never seems to wane.

The Milwaukee Rep joins the list Sept. 26 when the theater mounts a production of "The Mountaintop," an appealing and offbeat play about the civil rights hero.

The play takes place on the eve of King's assassination in Memphis. He's in a hotel room after delivering a huge speech when a feisty, young hotel maid pushes King into a discussion that confronts some of his doubts and fears.

The play, written by Katori Hall, will be directed by Rep Artistic Associate May Adrales who directed "Yellowman" last year.

"'The Mountaintop' isn't a biography, per se, but rather a very smart, very funny, very moving and very respectful exploration of the ideas that were occupying Dr. King's mind on the night prior to his death," says Artistic Director Mark Clements. "The maid character is essential to this innately theatrical play, but impossible to describe without giving away a clever twist that the audience will absolutely lap up!"

A review of the New York production said:

"Playwright Katori Hall takes us into the room to reveal what it might have been like to be in the Memphis room in April 1968 on the night before the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. In the room, we watch a civil rights icon flirt, curse, get rattled by lightning, smoke Pall Malls, sip booze, acknowledge his stinky feet and even have a pillow fight with a young woman."

The play runs from Sept. 26 to Nov. 4 and tickets are available at The Rep's ticket office at (414) 224-9490 or in person at 108 E. Wells St.

Boulevard Theatre's "Life (X) Three" runs Sept. 21-Oct. 14.
Boulevard Theatre's "Life (X) Three" runs Sept. 21-Oct. 14.

Coming soon: "Life (X) Three"

French Playwright Yasmina Reza is the author of one of the most performed plays in recent years, "Art," the enchanting story of a piece of all-white art and how it has an impact on the relationship of two friends.

It's been done several times in Milwaukee, most notably a few years ago by the late Cornerstone Theatre in what was – and remains – one of the top plays on stage in Milwaukee history.

Reza comes back now to Boulevard Theatre with a production of "Life (X)Three," her comedy that features a misbehaving 6-year-old who is never seen onstage.

It's a play about relationships and love and lust and rivals and struggling for attention and behaving in a manner not fitting for civilization. Sounds a lot like life, doesn't it?

The play is being directed by the steady and creative hand of Mark Bucher, who has ridden hard on Boulevard for 27 years, struggling against the odds to put on high-quality plays and give opportunity to new and emerging artists. If Milwaukee had a Mr. Theater award, he would be in the running.

"Life (X) Three" opens Friday, Sept. 21 and runs through Oct. 14. Tickets are available at (414) 744-5757.

"Broken and Entered" runs Sept. 28-Oct. 14.
"Broken and Entered" runs Sept. 28-Oct. 14.

Coming soon: Milwaukee Chamber Theatre's "Broken and Entered"

One of the things that everyone involved in the theater world in Milwaukee says is that they wish there were more opportunities for Wisconsin playwrights.

The fact is that smaller companies, like those in Milwaukee, operate on a slim margin, and so they have to try for shows that will bring in an audience and not take too many risks.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre will step out on that limb of risk when they open "Broken and Entered" by Madison playwright Kurt McGinnis Brown Sept. 26.

The play is about two brothers who return to their family home in a crumbling inner-city community. They begin to burglarize houses in a nearby upscale neighborhood when Wally falls for a wealthy neighbor.

Talking about his play, Brown said, "It became a play in which I wanted to explore unusual motivations for crime. It's about struggle, an attempt to get even. In which race is involved but it's really about class. It's about a logical madness involved in trying to get even with the world and to eradicate one's past."

Suzan Fete, the co-artistic director of Renaissance Theaterworks, where she directed the memorable production of "Reasons To Be Pretty" a couple of years ago, directs the production.

The play features the exquisite Marti Gobel in the role of the wealthy neighbor. Andrew Voss and Jonathan Wainwright play the brothers in a tempestuous pairing that should provide sparks. Voss is busy making a real name for himself in Milwaukee's theater community.

The play runs Sept. 28-Oct. 14. Tickets are available at the box office in the Broadway Theatre Center, by phone at (414) 791-9800 or online at milwaukeechambertheatre.com.

Skylight Music Theatre presents "Avenue Q" Sept. 21-Oct. 14.
Skylight Music Theatre presents "Avenue Q" Sept. 21-Oct. 14.

Coming soon: Skylight Music Theatre's "Avenue Q"

It wasn't all that long ago that the Skylight Music Theatre was known for opera and Gilbert and Sullivan light opera.

Look out folks, here comes "Avenue Q," complete with dancing puppets, real live young people and enough angst to fill a psychiatric office for weeks.

The long-running Broadway hit begins its run at Skylight Sept. 21-Oct. 14. If these were still the days of George Carlin, the show would be closed down by police after half an hour.

"Avenue Q" tells the story of a bunch of young people who find themselves in a daily scrap to survive on the outskirts of New York City on an Avenue named Q. The show comes complete with real people and some fuzzy puppets (which are not your mother's "Sesame Street" heroes).

They use a colorful vocabulary that will make some blush, some cringe, but almost everyone laugh. The humor is actually funny and the music captures much of the humor and pathos of the young caught in the middle of being a kid and being a grownup.

A Variety magazine review of the production captured its essence:

"While the musical's core journey is the rocky transition from college to financial independence and emotional maturity, the adversities faced by its puppet and human characters are familiar to any age group. They also seem especially keyed into the recession zeitgeist – bills to pay, a low-paying job or no job at all, housing worries, education qualifications that prove useless in the real world.

"The news that all this struggle and dissatisfaction is "Only for Now," to quote the show's closing song, is an unusually droll and grounded consolation for a musical, a genre more traditionally given to sweeping optimism. But the affirmation of transience in this context is somehow its own unorthodox source of uplift."

This show is expected to be a real hoot.

For further information and tickets, see the website.

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