Call it a cornucopia. Or just call it a whole lotta stuff goin’ on. Whatever your description, it’s clear that the holidays approach: big shows, small shows, crowd pleasers, acquired tastes. We’ll let you decide which is which. But in honor of abridged Shakespeare, we’ll present the possibilities with the fleetest of phonetics and concise-est […]

Call it a cornucopia. Or just call it a whole lotta stuff goin’ on. Whatever your description, it’s clear that the holidays approach: big shows, small shows, crowd pleasers, acquired tastes. We’ll let you decide which is which. But in honor of abridged Shakespeare, we’ll present the possibilities with the fleetest of phonetics and concise-est of consonants. In other words: real quick. Rank them according to your own special preferences.

Harvey at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

Why?  Elwood P. Dowd, that’s why. Jonathan Gillard Daly, that’s why. A six-foot-tall invisible rabbit, that’s why. Daly gently sinks his teeth into a role that fits him to a tee, and a host of familiar Rep actors are along for the ride: Pickering, Halverson, Birmingham, Staples, Gordon, Faulkner. KJ Sanchez directs.

Skylight Music Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz at the Broadway Theatre Center.

Why? Because it’s likely the only place you find a rainbow in these parts. So why not leave the frozen Midwest behind, hitch a ride on that passing tornado, and travel to a place where the streets are paved with gold, rather than credit default swap derivatives. The cast is rampant with familiar talent from past Skylight shows, including Susan Wiedmeyer, Ryan Cappleman, Doug Clemons and Andrew Varela. Linda Brovsky, known for her work in both theater and opera worlds, is the director. Pssst—the monkeys are only pretend.

Duetted/Connected at Danceworks Studio.

Why? Quirky moves and dance explorations by Monica Rodero and Dan Schuchart, our very own first couple of postmodern movement. Two shows in repertory. One weekend only.

Michelle DeYoung and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Marcus Center.

Why? Because she’s got three Grammys to her credit, and is ready to warm up the town with the lushly romantic Seven Early Songs by Alban Berg, which make a nice companion to Richard Strauss’s early tone poem, Death and Transfiguration. Round it off with a symphony by Robert Schumann. Asher Fisch conducts.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised] at the Broadway Theatre Center.

Why? Because baseball season is over, but you can have fun keeping score as this feckless foursome traverses the entire oeuvre of The Bard. Crazy Lady Macbeth: check. Woods whispering Rosalind: check. Kingdom à Horse: check. Sure, the MCT has assembled an awesome arsenal of comic talent (Chris Klopatek, Rick Pendzich, Chase Stoeger and Marcus Truschinski), put the crackerjack Ray Jivoff in charge, but don’t let them get away with “complete” until you hear from every duke and lord from Henry VI, 1, 2 & 3.

Present Music’s Thanksgiving at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Why? Singers, drummers, handbells, more singers, brass. And Kamran Ince, PM’s frequent composer-collaborator. PM’s Kevin Stalheim loves to use the big-spaced acoustics of the cathedral to it’s maximum effect, and that shouldn’t be a problem with Gavin Bryers’ stirring gospel-ish anthem, “Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet.”

Frankly Music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Why? More “church music,” but this ensemble is a little less rollicking than the throngs of Present Music’s celebration. This concert celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss, but it hews to the quieter side of Mr. Also Sprach Zarathustra. Frank Almond has assembled the usual group of stellar musicians to play Strauss’s sextet from the opera, Capriccio, and the septet arrangement of Metamorphosen. Along with one of Mozart’s exquisite string quintets.

Uprooted Theatre’s Full Frontal Doherty and Everything Elst at Next Act Theatre. 

Why? Because you haven’t heard that “sisters” song in a while, and it’s bound to be on the bill of this one-night-only cabaret evening featuring Kelly Doherty and Marcee Doherty-Elst, who explore the who’s, how’s and why’s of sisterhood.

Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody at Turner Hall Ballroom.

Why? Because you’ve devoured all the books, seen all the movie trailers, and found out everything you always wanted to know about Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, the actors set to portray the slap-happy couple in the film version of E. L. James novel. This touring show parody should offer a chance to whoop and chuckle a bit before the whips and chains come out. 

Wizard of Oz photo by Michael Sears. Duetted/Connected photo by James Barsalou.

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