Eugene Mirman, John Hodgman & Kristen Schaal at the Pabst Theatre
Why? Because if you have to stray into the world of “alternative comedy” (as the act is being called) to get to the kind of creative, off beat stand-up practiced by this trio (and, of course, to avoid Dane Cook), then we’re all for this label. And all for this show, which should offer a blend of cutting-edge satire and surreal loop-de-loops. They’re good, and they’ve got the YouTube clips to prove it. But if you just watch them on your computer, you won’t experience the lovely aroma that fills the hall whenever they are on stage. Really.
Reaching for the Moon
Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival
Why? Because your appetite for interesting international films doesn’t end just because the Milwaukee Film Festival goes away. The 28th edition of the festival spans just a weekend, but is filled with films of all stripes—features, documentaries, shorts and classics. Highlights include Bruno Barreto’s Reaching for the Moon, about the poet Elizabeth Bishop’s love affair with (and in) Brazil. And the award-winning (at Cannes, no less) Stranger by the Lake, an explicit and suspenseful “eventual thriller” by Alain Guiraudie.
Alvaro Saar Rios
Uprooted Theatre’s “Stretch Marks” at Next Act Theatre
Why? Because it’s one of the most ambitious New Play initiatives ever mounted in Milwaukee. In honor of the late Sally Marks—a former Hollywood child actor who appeared on Milwaukee stages in her later years—the series presents readings of six different plays from now until Nov. 3. Playwrights include familiar Milwaukee names like Dave Begel (Six Days of Grace) and Alvaro Saar Rios (Blue Bullets), and national and international writers (like South Africa’s Zwai Mgijima). Each play will be given two performances, so there’s no excuse to miss any of them.
Renaissance Theaterworks’ The Belle of Amherst at the Broadway Theatre Center
Why? Because it’s one of the landmarks and chestnuts of the stage. Before the one-person show became a common sight on American theater schedules, William Luce’s bio-play about Emily Dickenson became a signature role for Julie Harris, and this Renaissance production is a nice way to commemorate her theater legacy (she died in August). It’s also a way to celebrate and experience the work of Jenny Wanasek, who stars as the reclusive poet.
Alverno Presents’ “The Hinterlands: The Circuit” at the Pitman Theatre
Why? Because The Hinterlands is one of the most inspired and original performance troupes in the country, and its last visit to Milwaukee, performing Manifest Destiny (There Was Blood on the Saddle) was memorable. Here, the group’s attention moves forward a few decades, setting its sights on Vaudeville. As always, Hinterlands plays with conventions and history in ways that are both beautiful and insightful. Be prepared.