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#5: Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra performs Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at Calvary Presbyterian Church. Why? Because Giovanni Baptista Pergolesi was the “original” deathbed composer (sorry Amadeus), penning his final work at the young age of 26 while tuberculosis ravaged his body. And because Music Director Richard Hynson has also included John Taverner’s meditative Cantus Mysticus (offering clarinetist […]

#5: Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra performs Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at Calvary Presbyterian Church.
Why? Because Giovanni Baptista Pergolesi was the “original” deathbed composer (sorry Amadeus), penning his final work at the young age of 26 while tuberculosis ravaged his body. And because Music Director Richard Hynson has also included John Taverner’s meditative Cantus Mysticus (offering clarinetist Bill Helmers some tasty, jazzy solos). And Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, which reimagines several of Pergolesi’s melodies in a 20th century neo-classical style.”

#4: Next Act Theatre’s Four Places at Tenth Street Theatre.
Why? Because Theater X alum Flora Coker makes only occasional stage appearances since the demise of that company in 2004, and Joel Drake Johnson’s drama puts her center stage. As Penny, Coker faces off with her two adult children (Mary MacDonald Kerr and Mark Ulrich) over her recent “unorthodox behavior” at the nursing home.

#3: Present Music at Turner Hall.

Why? Because scandal-ridden politicians aren’t the only ones who retire to “spend more time with my family.” Philip Bush, the pianist who over the years has commuted to Milwaukee from all over the U.S. to perform with Present Music, will play is last PM concert. And he’ll go out with a flourish, playing György Ligeti’s polyrhythmic hoedown of a piano concerto. He shares the bill with Gabriel Prokofiev and his “Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra.” Just imagine what grandfather Sergei would think. We think he’d probably dig it.

#2: Skylight’s Dames at Sea at Broadway Theatre Center
Why? Because the Skylight had great fun with last season’s nostalgiac Day in Hollywood, a 1968 off-Broadway gem that hearkened back to 1930s movie magic. Skylight’s season opener goes back to that decade to parody and honor the Busby Berkeley musicals of that day. It was the first big show of the young Bernadette Peters who played Ruby, the Utah girl who comes to New York with “nothing but tap shoes in her suitcase and a prayer in her heart.” Pam Kriger and Bill Theisen are hoping to draw on their last tap-dance success, White Christmas, and we have every confidence they will.

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#1: Cabaret at the Milwaukee Rep.
Why? 

Because the long-awaited debut of the theater’s new artistic director, Mark Clements, is at hand, andit’s a doozy. The first Broadway-style musical in the Rep’s history, it features the largest Rep cast ever, and Lee Ernst as the sinuously sleazy Master of Ceremonies. There will also be lots of new faces onstage as well, as well as choreography by the Milwaukee Ballet’s Michael Pink.

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