Rain” at Next Act Theater.
Why? Celebrations of American music pioneer John Cage are everywhere these days, as musicians celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday (September 5th). But this concert, featuring some of the most talented and adventurous of Milwaukee musicians, should be extra special—mostly because these players have been honoring Cage for most of their careers. The roster includes Hal Rammel, Thomas Gaudynski, Heather Warren-Crow and Amanda Schoofs, who you may remember as the haunting voice in Wild Space Dance Company’s on-site performance at the Pritzlaff Building in 2011.
Why? Because a new theater space in town means more possibilities, including this “touring show” from Chicago that is in town for only a weekend. Chicago playwright Keith Huff’s play was accomplished enough to have Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman give it a spin when it played Broadway in 2009. Dan and Hugh aren’t available for the Milwaukee run, but the play is in the fine hands of director Russ Tutterow, who helped shepherd it as director of Chicago Dramatists. Randy Steinmeyer and Peter Defaria star as two Chicago cops whose friendship is put to the test by circumstances that will sound very familiar to anyone around town when the Jeffrey Dahmer case hit the news.
Why? Always drawn to interesting collaborations, Present Music reaches out to create new dance pieces by some of the city’s best choreographers. Kevin Stalheim selected contemporary music for Simone Ferro and Dani Kuepper of the UW-Milwaukee Peck School Dance Department, and for Petr Zahradnicek and Tim O’Donnell of the Milwaukee Ballet. And each choreographer assembled a company, often with dancers they had never worked with before. They will all be performed with live music this weekend.
Why? Milwaukee Rep Artistic Director Mark Clements continues to tackle Big Ideas with his programming, and they don’t come much bigger than the young Dutch girl’s inspirational and World War II-era story. Winner of several prizes when it premiered in 1956 (the Pulitzer, the Tony), the story is well-known via its middling film adaptation and the continued prominence of Frank’s diary in high school classrooms around the world. The Rep’s knockout ensemble cast—including Rep veterans James Pickering, Laura Gordon, Lee Ernst, Jonathan Daly and Deborah Staples—should make the familiar story as fresh and inspiring as it was when it was first performed.
Why? It’s big. It’s hot-blooded. It’s French—and sort of Spanish. And it’s Grand. The Florentine opens its 2012-13 season with a popular favorite, and director Dean Anthony is sure to ratchet up the excitement. Known for his physical agility as an actor-singer, he’s brought a similar liveliness to his directing projects. Singing opposite Florentine regular Audrey Babcock (Carmen), tenor Noah Stewart (making his Florentine debut) should add his own brand of excitement— with matinee idol looks and a best-selling crossover album on his resume. His 2011 recording Noah hit number one on the British classical charts in 2012, the first black soloist in history to do so.