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In Like a Lion
The Friday Five for March 1.

Paco Peña brings his flamenco troupe to Brookfield's Wilson Center. 

A busy month starts with a slate of events with a particularly international flavor. 

#5: Paco Peña’s Flamenco Vivo at the Wilson Center for the Arts.

Why? Because either you’ve seen good flamenco before, and don’t need any persuasion from us. Or because you’ve never seen it before, and don’t realize that it’s one of the most exciting and vibrant forms of dance in the world. One of the legends of flamenco guitar, Pena knows that his art form isn’t simply about the music, so he’s bringing musicians and dancers to perform an authentic flamenco event, a sort of dance-music improvisation that is saturated with passion and power.

#4: Marisol at UWM Peck School of the Arts Kenilworth Studio.

Why? Because Jose Rivera’s apocalyptic comedy created quite a stir when it was first staged over two decades ago. And no wonder. Here, angels descend on a crumbling world to announce that, well, we’ve messed up enough, and they’ll take it from here, mija. Marisol Perez isn’t having any of it. And so begins her journey into an underworld that Orpheus could only dream of. This UWM Labworks production is directed by Michelle Lopez-Rios and Alvaro Saar Rios, and features a talented crew of UWM theater students.

#3: Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Plaza Hotel Ballroom at the Broadway Theatre Center.

Why? Because MCT continues to nurture and sponsor the work of Wisconsin playwrights, and the results—such as recent productions of Gwen Rice’s A Thousand Words and Kurt McGinnis Brown’s Broken and Entered--have been fabulous. Playwright Alice Austen has been widely produced in Chicago, New York and London, and her latest play has already had readings around the country. Here, Austen’s tale of a journalist stranded in a foreign, luxury hotel amid world calamity is part of the Montgomery Davis Play Development Series, a staged reading open to all. It’s a chance to see a work-in-progress that might just show up as a full production in a future season.

#2: Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Marcus Center.

Why? Because everybody loves Sergei. And we’re not talking about a new TBS sit-com. Sergei Rachmaninoff’s soaring and lyrical melodies keeps him high on the top-ten lists of classical dabblers and connoisseurs alike. And this varied program marks the end of MSO Music Director Edo de Waart’s five-concert survey of Rachminoff’s works for piano and orchestra. Pianist Joyce Yang returns to play the Piano Concerto No. 1. And de Waart wisely pairs it with a less-popular work of the Russian master, The Bells, a “choral symphony” that features Lee Erickson and the Milwaukee Symphony Choir.

#1: Beast on the Moon at In Tandem Theatre.

Why? Because 18 years ago, a young actress from Chicago came north to audition for a part in Richard Kalinoski’s celebrated new play, which was receiving its Milwaukee premiere. Now, Mary McDonald Kerr is not quite right for the part of the Armenian “child bride” that’s at the center of Kalinoski’s powerful play, but now she’s one of our area’s most sensitive directors. And a perfect choice to introduce the play to another generation of theater-goers. Her first-rate cast includes Michael Cotey, Robert Spencer and Grace DeWolff. 

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