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The Friday Five for May 3
As the theater season winds down, there are some 11th hour treats in store.
Friday Five (n): Culture Club's weekly guide to an arts-filled weekend.

Soulstice Theatre performs "The Memory of Water." 

"The Memory of Water" at Soulstice Theatre and "A Little Night Music" at Windfall Theatre

Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., 3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave., St. Francis / Friday and Saturday, 8:00 p.m., Village Church Arts, 130 E. Juneau Ave.

Because this rainy weekend—summer postponed, still—is a great opportunity to revisit (or get acquainted with) some of the longstanding community theaters in town. And Soulstice and Windfall are cooperating nicely, presenting two great pieces. Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water is a bittersweet Irish comedy that was celebrated in Britain and Ireland before America discovered it (the Milwaukee Rep produced it in 2001). And Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music is one of the most sublime musicals ever written, even if you don’t count the modern classic, Send in the Clowns.

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Marcus Center

Friday 11:15 a.m. and Saturday 8:00 p.m., 929 N. Water St.

Why?  Because Associate Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong—in another one of his innovative programs—pairs the greatest Mitteleuropa composer of the 18th century, Mozart, with the greatest of the 20th century, Richard Strauss. Appropriate to the pairing, Lecce-Chong chooses the post-Romantic Strauss rather than the modern Strauss (of Salome  or Electra), and the wit and dazzle of his suite from Der Rosenkavalier and his early tone poem, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks should be a great complement to Mozart’s suite from the opera Idomeneo and his Fifth Violin Concerto, here played by rising star Augustin Hadelich.

"One Night with Janis Joplin" at the Milwaukee Rep (photo by Janet Macoska)

"One Night with Janis Joplin" at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre

Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., 108 E. Wells St.

Why? Because it’s been a while since you spent a blues and whiskey soaked evening with the queen of acid-blues-rock. Probably a good long while, unless you took your membership in the Woodstock Generation quite literally. Of course, Joplin died in 1970, and reliving one of her classic performances today requires either 3-D technical magic, Disney-style animatronics, or a knockout singer who can channel Joplin’s spirit. Fortunately, the Rep has the latter, hosting a touring production that has already taken audiences by storm in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. Mary Bridget Davies plays Joplin, who shares a few moments with some other soul-blues queens, like Aretha Frankly, Bessie Smith and Etta James.

Jack Forbes Wilson and Kay Stiefel in Skylight's "Sing Me a Story"

"Sing Me a Story" at Skylight Music Theatre

Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, 2:00 p.m., 158 N. Broadway St.

Why? Because Milwaukee doesn’t have an Algonquin or a Café Carlysle, but great cabaret is still alive as long as Jack Forbes Wilson and Kay Steifel are around. Engaging, accomplished, charming, Stiefel and Forbes Wilson have been making music together for quite a while, and their companionate sensibilities are bound to show in this survey of great Broadway music, from Lerner & Loewe, Rodgers & Hart and other dynamic duos.

"Apartment 3A" at In Tandem Theatre

Apartment 3A at In Tandem Theatre

Friday, 8:00 p.m., Saturday, 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., 628 N. 10th St., Milwaukee

Why? Because Jeff Daniels’ play—yes, that Jeff Daniels—has been one of the big hits in the 15-year history of In Tandem. He’s actually a prolific playwright, and runs the Purple Rose theater in Michigan (named after Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo, in which he starred). One of his most popular plays, Apartment 3A is a warm-hearted satire of good ol’ liberal values, and how the verities of life can seem less than veritable when the going gets tough. For the main character, the PBS employee Kathy (Tiffany Vance), that happens when she catches her husband with another woman, an event that leads to desperate PBS fundraising measures: “Give money or Big Bird will die!” And it’s just in time for the Channel 10/36 Auction!

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