Bollywood in Milwaukee with Disco King Bappi Lahiri at the Pabst Theater
Why? Because Bappi Lahiri practically invented the Bollywood film, or at least pioneered the use of electronic disco beats on the movies’ pulsing, dance-machine soundtracks. And he’s got the track suits, chains and Ray-Ban’s to prove it. Lately, he’s added his own singing to his music mix, and the $100 top ticket price at his first Milwaukee appearance shows he’s no novelty act.
David M. Lutken
The Milwaukee Rep’s Woody Sez at the Stackner Cabaret
Why? Because the Milwaukee Rep’s productions in the Stackner give you the best of both worlds: accomplished performers and an intimate “you’re-right-there” venue. There’s no better example than Woody Sez, David M. Lutken’s award-winning bio-musical about the legendary Woody Guthrie. It received praise and awards when it was mounted 3 years ago in London’s West End, and Lutken himself is here (along with director Nick Corley) to lead the quartet in a suite of 25 of Guthrie’s best-known songs.
Doc Severinsen and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Marcus Center
Why? Because that dandy of 70s late-night is still going strong at age 86, and you can bet his wardrobe will match the flashy sky-high trumpet playing that has become his signature. The former Pops director of the MSO returns for a reprise engagement, aided by conductor Steven Reineke and vocalist Ashley Brown. Expect lots of snappy jazz standards, and some fond reminiscences, too.
War Horse at the Marcus Center
Why? Because before Steven Spielberg turned it into a Hollywood blockbuster, Michael Morpurgo’s beloved Young Adult novel was a hit London stage production, courtesy of the savvy script by playwright Nick Stafford, but mostly due to the ingenious puppetry of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company. It’s the story of a young boy and a horse, and their eventually meeting in the cavalry of British forces during World War I. The spectacular staging and puppetry—creating full-size horses onstage—are a treat, though it remains to be seen how well it will translate to the big stage in the Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall.
Skylight Theatre’s El Cimarron at the Broadway Theatre Centre
Why? Because you may have heard of Hans Werner Henze, the iconoclastic German composer who died in 2012, but you probably have not heard one of his music-theater pieces performed live. And that’s a shame. But the Skylight Theatre’s new music director, Viswa Subbaraman, offers a rare chance to hear and see Henze's imaginative way with sound and story. The piece is based on the autobiography of Estaban Montejo, a Cuban man who was sold into slavery as a boy, and later escaped and remained free to fight in the 1895 Cuban revolution. Henze’s music is adventurous and embraces any number of styles from jazz to atonality, and this one-person dramatic cantata should prove a great vehicle for baritone Eric McKeever, last seen in the Skylight’s Fidelio.