It was one of those message moments when the message didn’t slide by, but landed with full force in the middle of your mind.
"We live only as much as our imaginations will allow."
And that line perfectly sums up "Midsummer in Midwinter," the imaginative sojourn being staged by Theatre Gigante through May 17.
The company does the kind of work nobody else in Milwaukee does, and they hit it again with this production, which owes much to William Shakespeare but even more to Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson.
Kralj and Anderson are the dedicated couple that drives this hybrid form of theater, combining dance, text and music. The goal of it all is great theater, and as with any hybrid, sometimes the results can be uneven.
Not in this one.
The story is familiar to anyone who knows a bit about "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." But the script, written by Kralj and Anderson, has its own twists and turn.
There are two couples, Kralj and Anderson (who are really married) and John Kishline and Deborah Clifton (who are also really married). Each couple had a child. Jimmie, played by Evan James Koepnick, and Tina, played by Megan Kaminsky, are the offspring.
Both sets of parents get divorced and marry the other spouse. To make it clear, Anderson marries Clifton and Kishline marries Kralj.
The kids announce that they want to marry each other much to the horror of each parent, and the hilarity completely takes off with searches through a forest, sudden realizations of true love and the running commentary and magic of Puck, played with stunning matter-of-factness by Molly Corkins.
Like Shakespeare’s work, "Midsummer in Midwinter" is an examination of the kinds of folly that love can bring. It’s about choices that we make, both every day and those choices that we might make once in our lifetime.
Bo Johnson takes a turn here as Nick, and he explains the process of making choices, with all the confusion that each of us knows all too well. It’s easy to laugh when Johnson is in the middle of the stage, wondering which fork in the road he should take.
One of the perils of this kind of mixed-media production is that you need to be careful that one doesn’t overshadow the other. With a couple of veteran and special actors like Kishline and Clifton in a play, the danger of their talents outshining the rest of the cast is real. But in this production, each piece fits together easily, like a child’s puzzle.
All seven of the actors (the three couples plus Puck) are full of the kinds of delightful presence that Shakespeare created and that Kralj and Anderson have adopted. The dancing is both sensuous and chaste, with Edwin Olvera and Jessie Mae Scibek creating roles that not only have substance but are an integral part of the production. And the music, composed by Frank Pahl, is a straightforward engine that moves the story down a forward path.
With Daniel Mitchell on guitar and vocals and the serene Amanda Huff on ukulele and vocals, the moments between the frantic action onstage are clearly moments when we catch our breath and catch up to what’s going on.
Eric Appleton both designed the spare set and the incredibly effective lighting that created mood and attention.
When you hear the phrase "musical theater," it obviously conjures up visions of shows like "Phantom of the Opera," "The Music Man" and "Cats."
What Theatre Gigante does is also musical theater, but with the kind of unique approach that makes them such a vital and valued member of the world of theater in Milwaukee.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Dave Begel
Published Feb. 26, 2015
After losing a half-million-dollar judgement, the City of Milwaukee is looking at ways to avoid paying the money. One of the solutions being explored is granting Silk a license in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.
Published Feb. 24, 2015
Sports movies are among the greatest films ever made, so what better time to list the top 14 sports movies of all time than right after the Oscars?
Published Feb. 20, 2015
"God of Carnage" is a biting comedy about two couples who turn from civilized to animals before our very eyes. But when two of the actors can't remember their lines, the evening turns out to be a real dud.
Published Feb. 19, 2015
The owners Silk Exotic today won a big victory in federal court as a jury awarded them a judgement of almost half a million dollars for revenue lost because the city would not grant them a license for a Downtown strip club.
Published Feb. 19, 2015
Domestic violence is something that most of us think doesn't touch those close to us. But in fact this familial violence cuts across all economic, social, geographic and ethnic boundaries.
Published Feb. 17, 2015
Bo Ryan has been coaching for 30 years in Wisconsin and he's had success wherever he's been. What's more, he's done it with a unique coaching style that features a deliberate offense and a tenacious defense that has the Badgers ranked among the best teams in the country.
Published Feb. 15, 2015
"Bare: A Pop Opera" is a play that seems to have some potential. But when you actually see it, the story seems so dated that it's hard to grab onto the message.
Published Feb. 14, 2015
"The Amish Project" is a play about a murderous shooting in a one-room schoolhouse that took place in 2006. The message behind the play is the incredible sense of forgiveness of the community that had been so victimized. It makes you wonder how each of us would react.
Published Feb. 12, 2015
Scott Walker is busy running for president and that campaign means he's got to curry favor with rich guys. Sheldon Adelson, the casino emperor, is a rich guy who hates the idea of a casino in Kenosha. And Governor Walker is trying to keep this guy happy.
Published Feb. 10, 2015
He's 39 years old and shot an 82 just a week ago. Tiger Woods seems worn out, by injury, the spotlight, the scandals and the constant coaching changes that resulted in swing changes. It may well be that we have just about seen the last of him.