Theaters may be closed across the globe, but as the famous idiom goes, the show must go on – and in the case of the Milwaukee Rep, the show must go online.
"Eclipsed," the Danai Gurira-penned drama about five women bonded together trying to survive during the Liberian Civil War, was supposed to run in the Milwaukee Rep's Quadracci Powerhouse through March 29, but due to the coronavirus outbreak and requisite shutdowns, the stage has been dark since March 12. However, the Milwaukee Rep and the exceptional cast and crew of the show teamed up to professionally record a performance of "Eclipsed" for people to watch while social distancing at home, ensuring that their hard work is still seen, its important messages and stories still shared, and audiences are still entertained even during despairing times.
Now through April 1, the recorded "Eclipsed" performance will be available right here on Vimeo for a 24-hour rental. (For the whole experience, viewers can also read the show program and watch the pre-show presentation.) There is an admission charge of $15 – but that only seems fair for a professionally performed and staged theater show. Plus, theaters are just like most local businesses and could use support so that the world we come back to is as full of art, beauty, characters, storytelling and, most importantly, paying jobs for those who provide those experiences as the one we're leaving behind.
The Milwaukee Rep isn't the only local arts group moving online briefly during the outbreak. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra also recorded its program of Beethoven's Fifth, originally scheduled March 13-15, and posted it online for fans to stream and enjoy for free. Because, in the words of MSO president and executive director Mark Niehaus and music director Ken-David Masur, "Music is a balm we can turn to in times of uncertainty."
While we have this dose of local theater and music during the quarantine, let's also do what we can to make sure we have it after the pandemic as well. So here are some ways to donate money and help the Milwaukee arts community:
Donate to UPAF
As noted by the Skylight Music Theatre artistic director Michael Unger in a recent Shepherd Express piece, several theater groups and organizations – large and small – rely on the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) to stay open and provide incredible live entertainment. And since selling tickets for performances is out of the question for the time being, many organizations will need UPAF more so than ever – so please consider making a donation at UPAF's website.
Donate to your favorite performing arts groups
Almost all of your favorite theater organizations have a little tab somewhere on their respective websites that says "Donate" or "Support." Now, more than ever, is the time to use it. Here are several theater organizations' donation pages:
- First Stage
- Florentine Opera
- Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
- Milwaukee Ballet
- Milwaukee Chamber Theatre
- Milwaukee Rep
- Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
- Next Act Theatre
- Off the Wall (just finished a successful GoFundMe, but to still donate, visit their website)
- Present Music
- Renaissance Theaterworks
- Skylight Music Theatre
Buy tickets for a future show
You may not be able to go to the theater now, but as soon as this coronavirus spread is stopped and we're allowed to live something resembling normal life again, you're going to want to see live performances with the electric energy of a crowd again. And even if you were never a theater person before, well, you'll probably want to experience that after being cooped up inside. So buy tickets to a future show – or perhaps an entire season package, if you see a lot from a group that intrigues you. The organizations need it – and after weeks, possibly months stuck in your house, you'll need it too.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.