#5: The Splinter Group’s Mr. Marmalade at The Marian Center.
Why? Because Noah Haidle’s 2005 play is an apt, off-the-beaten-track offering for this relatively new theater group. A biting satire/indictment of media culture, it shows us a toddler who invents an imaginary friend. But her fictitious Mr. Marmalade mirrors the violent and sexualized media world which surrounds her, so he isn’t your usual childhood tea party guest. Karen Estrada plays little girl Lucy. And Zach Thomas Woods is the title character in a production directed by Splinter’s Artistic Director, Jim Farrell.
#4: The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Pabst Theater.
Why? Because “three’s a charm” and there should be plenty of charm in the final installment of the MSO’s Beethoven festival. Charm in Beethoven’s spritely dance rhythms. Charm in the free-flowing solo lines of John Adams "Violin Concerto." And certainly charm in Stravinsky’s “Symphonies of Wind Instruments,” with its echoes of Rite of Spring. The charming and talented Leila Josefowicz is featured in the Adams' concerto.
#3: Renaissance Theaterworks’ Skin Tight at the Broadway Theatre Center.
Why? Because Gary Henderson's play was one of Renaissance's memorable productions when it was staged in 2004, and the company has decided not to mess with a good thing, bringing back the director (Laura Gordon) and actors (Leah Dutchin and Braden Moran) to re-stage it again. Call it a revival? A re-examination? With actors and a director of such keen intelligence, this Skin Tight should be much more than a reprise. But it will certainly feature the same choreographic physicality and poetic beauty that was in full evidence 10 years ago.
#2: Three Views of the Same Object at Next Act Theatre.
Why? Because Henry Murray is not exactly a household playwright (these days, who is?), but his 2012 play received rave reviews in Los Angeles, and its engagement with knotty contemporary issues make it a perfect fit for Next Act. The story concerns an elderly couple who must decide whether to honor a pact to end their lives when faced with terminal illness, and Murray looks at the decision from different perspectives, using different actors to tell the different stories that unfold from the situation. The play has attracted a top-notch list of actors, including Jim Pickering, Flora Coker, Jenny Wanasek, John Kishline, Laurie Birmingham and Susan Sweeney. Shawn Douglass, a company member of Chicago's acclaimed Remy Bumppo Theater, directs.
#1: The Milwaukee Ballet at the Marcus Center.
Why? Because Michael Pink and the MB know a good thing when they see it—or a great choreographer, that is. This year’s Spring Series of repertory offerings brings two previous dancemakers back for a return engagement. Last season’s Mozart Requiem by Amy Siewert was stately and romantic. And Matthew Neenan’s The Last Glass wowed audiences here in 2012 (it also wowed New York critics the following year). Both Siewert and Neenan will be back with new works for this concert. Also on the program is Vincente Nebrada’s Our Waltzes, the late Venezuelan choreographer’s signature work, a blend of waltz and Latin styles that features live piano music.