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Spring Pastiche
The Friday Five for March 22

Genghis Barbie joins the Milwaukee Opera Theatre for "Guns & Rosenkavalier."

#5: The Cooke Book—The Music of Sam Cooke at the Marcus Center.

Why? Because Darrian Ford has been acclaimed around the country for his uncanny impersonation of the man some people call the greatest soul singer of all time. But here, imitation is more than flattery—he captures the spirit and soul of the music as well as the mannerisms and voice of the man who sang it. And because you just can’t hear great versions of “You Send Me,” “Chain Gang,” and “A Change Is Gonna Come” often enough.

#4: Hashtag Mayhem at Alchemist Theatre.

Why? Because this is what Alchemist does best, offers a chance for a local playwright to go from page to stage. Here, it is six short plays by Jeffrey James Ircink, whose work has been performed around the world. The evening is framed by the question, “Everyone has a dark side. What’s yours?” In the cast of characters: an elderly couple with sex on its mind, a Los Angeles businessman with religions on his mind, and a young man with revenge on his mind.

#3: Young Playwrights Festival at Milwaukee Chamber Theater.

Why? Because MCT continues it’s dedication to keeping playwriting alive with this high school competition that receives dozens of submissions from all over the metro area. Three are chosen by the MCT staff, and take the stage with help from local actors and directors. This year, grandparent-grandchild relationships play a big part in two of the plays. And another focuses on a teens attempts to save her little sister from the abusive conditions at home.

#2: Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Marcus Center.

Why? Because it seems to be the weekend for classical mash-ups (see below). Luciano Berio's 1968 Sinfonia was commissioned by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, and it has become one of the landmarks of 20th-century music. It's a “kitchen-sink” (as it has been fondly called) of musical and textual quotations from a whole host of sources—Claude Levi Strauss, Mahler, Beckett, Debussy and a host of others. The Swingle Singers, the group who sang the ’68 premiere (but not the same members) will join Edo de Waart. The concert opens with the MSO’s own Ilana Setapan, who plays the Prokofiev Second Violin Concerto.

#1: Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Guns & Rosenkavelier at the Wisconsin Conservatory.

Why? Let me count the ways. Because you will hear that Figaro guy shred. Because you will hear Alicia Keys in a Brahms state of mind. And you will hear Genghis Barbie. MOT’s eagerly anticipated concert brings together a far flung crew of musicians and composers to explore the proposition that everything—including Faure, Schubert and Strauss—sounds better on a Fender Telecaster (or reasonable approximation). Among the guests are tenor Andrew Wilkowske—who recently sang in the Florentine’s Albert Herring and in Skylight’s “Figaro” double-header—composer John Glover, and Genghis Barbie, the self-proclaimed “leading post post-feminist feminist all-female horn experience.” French Horn, that is. Get ready for a wild ride. 

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