Culture Club 10-10

Where I’m Going….

Ha! As if I could be in three places at once! Just as things get a little bleak out there in the real world, Milwaukee artists and presenters step in to offer a little respite: escape, reflection, ironic distance—you choose.

Theater moves into classical mode with two openings this weekend:

The usually women-centered Renaissance Theaterworks offers, I guess, a version of the deer-hunting-season all-male review. But The Persians—despite the toga-ed beefcake—is more serious stuff. Aeschylus’s play, newly translated by Ellen McLaughlin, is said to be the oldest surviving play in the West. In the days of the Greeks, the play was an elegy for a lost great civilization. Hmmmm….I wonder why the women of Renaissance thought it would be interesting today?

On the lighter side, In Tandem Theatre offers a tour of the classics: via Cliff Notes and the Marx Brothers. All the Great Books is one of several zany send-ups by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, touring through dozens of civilization’s written landmarks in less than 90 minutes.

It’s big music weekend in Milwaukee, featuring ditties and dissonance from everywhere along the stylistic spectrum. Starting a few centuries back, Early Music Now offers an evening of Vivaldi—surely a soothing tonic for these troubled times. Recorder virtuoso Marion Vanbruggen (she sure sounds like a recorder virtuoso, doesn’t she?), is backed up by members of Nicolas McGegan’s acclaimed early music group,  the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

Travel west to hear some riffs by Rossini. Richard Hynson leads the Bel Canto Chorus in the great Italian’s final major work, the Petite Messe Solennelle.  No barbers or “Figaros” here, but it still is Rossini after all—I dare you not to think of Bugs Bunny at least once during the evening.

Alverno goes back to America’s Golden Age of songwriting with a tribute to one of the masters, Cole Porter. Unlike retro-minded cabaret performers like Michael Feinstein or Bobby Short, singer-pianist Patricia Barber isn’t afraid to put her own spin on Porter’s classics. Just listen to her tear through “Just One of Those Things” on her latest recording.