Photo: Jade Ehlers
If your favorite coffee shop had a daydream set in Baraboo, it might sound like Phox, the assured and rhythmically nuanced six-piece from the central Wisconsin town. Another analogy might suggest that the band would be well-suited for a baby soap commercial, which isn’t necessarily an insult, and might capture how whistling and clapping sometimes hurry along the act’s lilting-yet-crisp stylings. Phox had a good year in 2013 playing off these accents, and could be headed for even bigger things than the track it recorded for a Wes Anderson tribute album, I Saved Latin, released in May. (Matt Hrodey)
➞ Phox (Aug. 6). Turner Hall Ballroom. 1034 N. Fourth St., 414-286-3663, turnerhallballroom.org.
Tired of hearing about all the great underground comedy in Milwaukee and not knowing where to find it? Good news: The returning Milwaukee Comedy Festival offers you the easiest opportunity of the year to get your laugh on, with multiple shows to choose from during the four-day event. Now in its ninth year, the festival has the gravitas to draw in some of the most talented stand-up, improv and sketch comedy artists from across the country. But we all win thanks to the surprisingly large number of local artists able to merit inclusion in those ranks who’ll stay in town to tickle your funny bone long after this year’s festivities wind down. (Matthew Reddin)
➞ Milwaukee Comedy Festival (Aug. 7-10). Next Act Theatre. 255 S. Water St., 414-939-4464, festival.milwaukeecomedy.com.
The Cocktail Party by Alfred Leslie. Photo courtesy of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University and the St. Louis Art Museum
Meditations in an Emergency
What better way for a poet such as Frank O’Hara to die than to be run down by a dune buggy on Fire Island? One of the great clairvoyants of “old” New York life, O’Hara was both too fleet of foot and journalistic for romanticism, and Alfred Leslie, a painter, filmmaker and sometimes collaborator, turned to a kind of realism to depict the moments of O’Hara’s death and those that came shortly thereafter. Each leg and elbow is on fire with its role in the drama, and the paintings, to be exhibited at the Haggerty Museum of Art Aug. 20-Dec. 23, could be mistaken for propaganda for the working man, if not for the reverent corpse. (Matt Hrodey)
➞ Alfred Leslie: The Killing Cycle (Aug. 20-Dec. 23). Haggerty Museum of Art. 530 N. 13th St., 414-288-1669, marquette.edu/haggerty.
Wear the Rainbow
Sometimes fashion is dubbed wearable art, but Charlotte Kruk’s body of work – like a robe made of Godiva chocolate wrappers and a pair of pedal pushers made of Snickers packaging – is a very literal interpretation of that descriptor. These garments often make intricate, bedazzled statements about how we “package” ourselves, and the clothes, like the ideas behind them, are fascinating. Racine Art Museum will play closet to Kruk’s wardrobe for nearly a year, which will give you plenty of time to chew on her message. (Claire Hanan)
➞ Charlotte Kruk (Aug. 1-July 26, 2015). Racine Art Museum. 441 Main St., Racine, 262-638-8300, ramart.org.
In the history of modern opera, no figure elicits swoons and fury like Maria Callas. Opera fans celebrated her dynamic stage presence and intensely emotional acting, while others thought her voice didn’t measure up to her status. Whatever your take, there are sure to be grand pleasures in the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s production of Master Class, Terrence McNally’s 1995 play that plumbs Callas’ story and explores the character of America’s great diva. Based on the classes the singer taught at Juilliard, the play has attracted some of the world’s great actresses over its history, and here, the brilliant Angela Iannone returns to revisit a part she’s played many times, including the 1999 MCT production. (Paul Kosidowski)
➞ Master Class (Aug. 7-24). Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Broadway Theatre Center. Cabot Theatre. 158 N. Broadway, 414-291-7800, chamber-theatre.com.
This article appears in the 2014 City Guide in the June 2014 issue of