Darrell Grand Moultrie brings his "Simply
Sammy" to the Milwaukee Ballet.
#5: First Stage Milwaukee’s Jackie and Me at the Marcus Center.
Why? Because 66 years ago this week, Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher (with lots of encouragement from Branch Rickey) penciled the name Jackie Robinson into the starting lineup for the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, and initiated one of the most inspiring stories in the history of sports and the history of America. Steven Dietz’s play, based on the book by Dan Gutman, looks at Robinson’s life and career through the eyes of Joey Stoshack, who uses a magical Robinson baseball card to travel back in time and witness the events in person. Opening alongside the Hollywood film about Robinson, 42, Dietz’s play is a chance for younger kids to hear Robinson’s story—without some of the saltier, PG-13 language. And a chance to see it live. Chauncy Thomas stars as Robinson, and Jeff Frank directs.
#4: The Milwaukee Ballet at the Marcus Center.
Why? If three new (or newish) pieces by contemporary choreographers isn’t enough to bring you in from the cold, wet April, how about these three words: Sammy Davis Junior. Perhaps taking cues from Twyla Tharp’s “Sinatra Songs,” Darrell Grand Moultrie has created “Simply Sammy,” a tribute to the pluck and pizazz of the sometime Rat Packer. And since Davis, Jr., was a hoofer in his own right, the piece wouldn’t be complete without a tap-dance number, and Moultrie abides with guest tap master Marshall L. Davis, Jr. Also on the program, Amy Siewert’s dramatic “Mozart Requiem” and MB Choreographer in Residence Timothy O’Donnell’s exploration of Berlin night life, “Children of the Wall.”
#3: Milwaukee Choral Artists at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Wauwatosa.
Why? Because it’s the end of an era for Milwaukee choral music as Sharon Hansen conducts the final concert of her acclaimed choral group. Fitting for an ensemble that has brought several world premieres to town, its final concert includes a world premiere by the acclaimed Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo (pronounced YAY-lo), who will be here to accompany the piece on piano. In addition, the group is sure to include some of the signature music from its fifteen-year history.
#2: Present Music’s Judgment of Midas at UW-Milwaukee’s Zelaso Center.
Why? Because you don’t get to hear a world premiere opera every week, or even every season. And PM’s presentation of Kamran Ince’s new work is sure to make waves in music circles around the United States. Inspired by stories of mythological music contests between Pan and Apollo, Ince’s opera sends two 21st-century lovers back to ancient times, where they witness the song contests on Turkey’s Mount Tmolus, and learn to hear the world in new ways. And he captures their awakening with music that embraces pop, folk, ethnic and classical styles. Featuring a 25-piece orchestra with traditional Middle-Eastern instruments, and soloists and chorus of the Milwaukee Opera Theatre, this is one of the season’s biggest music events.
#1: Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Jeeves in Bloom at the Broadway Theatre Center.
Why? Because Downton Abbey be damned, there’s never been a juicier exploration of the old Upstairs-Downstairs world of British gentry than P.G. Wodehouse’s stories about Bertie Wooster and his Main Man Jeeves. MCT returns with another episode of Jeeves’ adventures (in 2010 it staged Jeeves Intervenes), again featuring Matt Daniels as the unflappable butler. Tami Workentin, who knows her way around a punchline, directs a comically credentialed cast, including Norman Moses, Karen Estrada and Chase Stoeger.