#5: Broadway’s Elite at the Wilson Center for the Performing Arts.
Why? Because you’re a Broadway Baby! You love your Cats, you love your Beauty and the Beast. And you even like some shows that feature people rather than animals and talking teapots. This concert tour features the legendary Donna McKechnie (Chorus Line), Ken Page (the original Deuteronomy in Cats) and Lee Roy Reams (The Producers), swapping stories, singing songs, and doing the sort of thing Show People do.
#4: The Bel Canto Chorus at the Milwaukee Center.
Why? Because Carl Orff’s choral classic is just the thing to pump you up for the summer. In fact, you will certainly hear strains of its most popular “tune,” “O Fortuna” during a battle scene of a summer blockbuster. Here, Richard Hynson and his excellent chorus take you through all 24 songs that make up Orff’s cantata, also known as “songs to be sung together with instruments and magic images.” We’re not sure of the magic pictures, but we’re sure that Hynson and his singers will create some audio magic for their last concert of the season.
#3: Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Fortuna the Time Bender vs. the Schoolgirls of Doom! at the Alchemist Theatre.
Why? Because it’s the show so nice they staged it twice. Forget about X-Men, Superman and the other spandexed movie stars waiting to take over a multiplex near you. Here, comic book superheroes and super-villains speak in Gilbert & Sullivan-style patter songs, courtesy the musical mind of Jason Powell. The cast includes Nathan Wesselowski, Samantha Sostarich, Rana Roman, Jonathan Stewart and Diane Lane. And it’s all staged in the intimate confines of the Alchemist Theater, where the bar is always open.
#2: Skylight Theatre’s Hair at the Broadway Theater Center.
Why? Because you may think of Galt MacDermot’s “tribal love-rock musical” as a quaint bit of nostalgia, a chance to see tie-dyed shirts and big leather vests outside of the racks at Urban Outfitters. But recent revivals (notably Diane Paulus’ Broadway hit staged in 2009) have found teeth and electricity in this 1967 tribute to youth culture. We’re betting that the Skylight’s Ray Jivoff (director) and Viswa Subbaraman (music director) will do the same, buoyed by a large cast lead by Alex Mace, who has played Berger, the ringmaster of the evening, in several revivals.
#1: Milwaukee Ballet’s Mirror Mirror at the Marcus Center.
Why? Because the unveiling of one of Michael Pink’s new story ballets is always one of the big events of the dance season. As he did with Peter Pan, Dracula and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (known as Esmerelda), Pink spins a visual story with the help of his superb company and composer Philip Feeney’s original score. Be warned that this isn’t necessarily the Disney version of the Brothers Grimm’s classic fairy tale. No dwarves. No "Whistle While You Work." Just a psychic battle between a wicked stepmother and a pure maiden.