#5: Flashdance at the Marcus Center.
Why? Because you vaguely recall the post-MTV movie musical, leg warmers and all. And because its “you-can-dance-if-you-want-to” story seems to find a new vehicle every decade, from 42nd Street to Saturday Night Fever to Billy Elliott. We’re not sure why it took 30-plus years to create a Broadway-style musical of Adrian Lyne’s tale of a welder who dreams of dancing. This version started in London, and was slated for a Broadway opening this summer, but producers kept it on the touring circuit instead. And so Milwaukee gets a pre-New York peek at the show’s high energy dancing, courtesy of the award-winning director/choreographer Sergio Trujillo.
#4: Laughing Stock at UW-Milwaukee Theatre.
Why? Because you may remember Chuck Morey’s affectionate and hilarious comedy from the Milwaukee Rep’s production a decade ago. A New England version of the backstage farce (a la Noises Off ), it tells the story of a down-and-out summer stock company and its ambitious plans to stage a triple feature: Hamlet, Dracula, and Charley’s Aunt. Michelle Lopez-Rios directs a cast of talented UWM students.
#3: Juancho Herrera at Latino Arts.
Why? Because he’s one of the most sought after sidemen in the Latin jazz scene, accompanying the likes of Branford Marsalis, Johnny Pacheco and Nestor Torres. And because he brings an electric edge to the traditional rhythms of his native Columbia and Venezuela. He’ll certainly be playing tunes from his latest recording, Banda, and filling the United Community Center auditorium with infectious rhythms and grooves.
#2: Bel Canto Chorus at the Basilica of St. Josaphat.
Why? Because Bel Canto director Richard Hynson has paired two of the most beautiful choral works of the last 25 years in one program. James MacMillan's orchestral tone-poem, The Confession of Isobel Gowdie was recently played by the Milwaukee Symphony. His “cantata” setting of Seven Last Words from the Cross offers a rich second helping from this Scottish composer. Morten Lauridsen is a much-lauded American composer (he received the National Medal of Arts in 2007) whose work reflects the tranquility of the Northwest’s San Juan Islands, where he lives and works. One reviewer said of his Grammy-nominated Lux Aeterna, if you don’t know it, “your life is poorer for it.”
#1: Temptation’s Snare at Next Act Theatre.
Why? Because concept isn’t everything, but this concert idea has great promise on paper. Start with a much-loved piece of 20th-century chamber music—Igor Stravinsky’s Faustian fable, The Soldier’s Tale. Throw it over to the acclaimed Brooklyn composer collective, Sleeping Giant, and ask its members to riff on the themes and ideas (Timo Andres, a familiar guest at past Present Music events, is a member). Then throw it all together and let the musicians of Present Music have at it, creating an evening-length work that melds the past with the future. Add an actor (Jason Powell), a choreographer (Dani Kuepper) and the performers of Danceworks Performance Company, and you have a good chance that the idea will turn in to something magical.