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The Friday Five for April 11, 2014
Solos, opera stars and Superman.

A big weekend and week ahead with lots to choose from. From Milwaukee’s “fringe” theater scene, there’s Quasimondo Physical Theatre’s Bottle 99 and Mary K. Ryan’s Use No Place Soon at Alchemist Theatre. The much-loved and much-toured dance group, Pilobolus performs two shows at Brookfield’s Wilson Center for the Performing Arts. And it’s classic movie night in town, with The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra playing live behind Judy Garland and Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz.

But if you’re looking for something a little different, here are my picks for the week ahead.

#5: Early Music Now presents Four Nations Ensemble at the UWM Zelazo Center.

Why? Because we’ll always have Paris. Yes, the Paris of 21st century's less-than-monagamous Prime Ministers. And the Paris of the past, too. For almost 30 years, the acclaimed Four Nations Ensemble has been playing music of the 17th and 18th centuries, and they visit Milwaukee to perform a special tribute to the musical life of early 18th-century Paris. Jean-Philippe Rameau, Jean Marie Leclair and others. A trio of violin, cello and harpsichord is joined by soprano Dominique LaBelle.

#4: Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Lend Me a Tenor at the Broadway Theatre Center.

Why? Because the MCT typically deals with theater of subtler emotions, but every so often the group lets down its hair and jumps into a full-fledged farce. There is none better or more popular than Ken Ludwig’s 1986 comedy about the arrival of the great opera tenor Tito Merelli to Cleveland to sing Verdi’s Otello. There is jealousy, “high-spirited” Italians, impersonations, and an occasional door slam. C. Michael Wright directs a first-rate cast including Steven Koehler, Rick Pendzich, Alexandra Bonesho and Drew Brhel.

#3: Alverno Presents “Solo Flight.”

Why? Because AP’s David Ravel is terrific at bringing artists together in interesting collaborations. But this time, it’s synergy of a different sort. A week-long festival of solo performances features bass saxophonist Colin Stetson, performer/spoken word artist Jeanine Dunning, and choreographer/dancer Morgan Thorson. There are a variety of venues, including the Lynden Sculpture Garden. And all three performers will gather for a panel discussion with UWM Inova Gallery Director Sara Krajewski.

#2: Present Music at the Turner Hall Ballroom.

Why?  Because Milwaukee’s celebrated contemporary music ensemble again goes for the big picture, in a program called “Life, Love and Death.” The title actually refers to the pieces on the program. “Life,” is a collaboration between composer Louis Andriessen and film artist Marijke van Warmerdam, a piece in which “the fantastic repeatedly emerges from the mundane,” according to the New York Times. Donnacha Dennehy’s “Grá agus Bás,” (“Love and Death”) features a contemporary ensemble fronted by Iarla Ó Lionáird, who sings in the traditional Irish style known as Sean-nos. The piece’s 2011 Nonesuch recording received plaudits from around the world. A potent combination.


#1: The History of Invulnerability at the Milwaukee Rep.

Why? Because it doesn’t take much to encounter beefy guys in colorful tights these days—usually accompanied by millions of dollars worth of explosions and special effects. But The Rep’s production of David Bar Katz’s play reaches back into the history of superhero comics to tell the story of Jerry Siegel, the creator of Superman, who saw his creation as a fantasy of invulnerability during the rise of Nazi Germany. Rep Artistic Director Mark Clements directs a national cast that includes some familiar Rep faces, including Gerard Neugent, Kelly Faulkner, Angela Ianonne and Michael Kroeker. 

Photo by Michael Brosilow

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