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Eccentrics Unite!
The Friday Five for Jan. 25

Avner Eisenberg brings his simple theater wizardry to The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.

Get out of the cold and into a nice warm theater—there are five (plus one) reasons this week. 

#6: Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Eurydice Project II at Carroll College.

Why? Because writing a new opera—or music theatre piece—is a tough job, particularly when you’re dramatizing a story that’s been tossed around and tackled by composers like Monteverdi, Schubert and Ricky Ian Gordon. Never fear. MOT’s Jill Anna Ponasik and her brave band of singers present the next installment of the group’s exploration of the Orpheus and Eurydice story, featuring a chronology of Eurydice-themed works from the 17th century to the present, including three commissioned premieres by composers Joel Boyd, Nathan Wesselowski and Joanna Kerner.

#5: UW-Milwaukee’s Winterdances at the Mainstage Theatre.

Why? Because UWM’s annual winter concert is always filled with present surprises, and this year’s is no exception: new works, reconstructed works, and alumni returns. There is new or recent work by Milwaukee Ballet choreographer Petr Zahridnicek, Katie Sopoci Drake, Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner and Luc Vanier. And former Pilobolus dancer Edwin Olvera joins Simone Ferro for “Magnetic Field.”

#4: First Stage Theatre’s To the Promised Land at the Marcus Center.

Why? Because Jonathan Gillard Daly’s new play brings together elements of Milwaukee history to educate and inspire. It’s the latest installment of First Stage’s “Wisconsin Cycle,” a series of world premieres that about the people of Wisconsin. Daly’s new play tells the story of an African-American girl who negotiates the challenging years of civil rights struggles by finding inspiration from the life of Golda Meir.

#3: Avner Eisenberg at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.

Why?  Because they don’t call him “The Eccentric” for nothing. The legendary mime, juggler, magician and old-school vaudevillian presents his latest show, Exceptions to Gravity, in which he makes nary a sound, but finds ways to inspire his audience to peels of laughter and affectionate “Awwws.”  A lovely and charming antidote to entertainment overkill.

#2: Skylight Theatre’s Edith Piaf on Stage at the Broadway Theatre Center.

Why? Because Leslie Fitzwater has brought a host of great characters to musical life on Milwaukee stages, but none have been more compelling or beloved than her affectionate and stirring tribute to the great French chanteuse. Originally created for the Skylight in the late 1980s, Fitzwater’s tribute has been seen in a variety of venues, but never in the big house—the Cabot Theatre—where her voice can soar right up to gallery. Fitzwater has announced that this is the last time she’ll be performing this vocally demanding piece. That’s fourteen “La Vie En Rose’s” and counting.

# 1:  The Milwaukee Symphony at the Marcus Center.

Why? Because it’s been a while since we've seen the maestro. MSO music director Edo de Waart has been absent from the Uihlein Hall podium since September, but he’ll return with one of the most anticipated concerts, featuring the music of his revered countryman, Anton Bruckner. In this program, Bruckner’s massive and romantic Fourth Symphony is paired with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22, played by frequent Milwaukee visitor, Joseph Kalichstein, whose refined lyricism should bring make the piece sing. 

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