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The diverse array of performances and exhibitions in Milwaukee this month are sure to help you stave off the cold and survive the rest of winter.

Popular musicals and intimate family dramas dominate the stage this month. Meanwhile, choruses and dancers bring classics to life and illuminated manuscripts are, well, illuminated.

Visual Arts

French Book of Hours, ca. 1475; from the collection of Miles Vilski

The Art of Devotion: Illuminated Manuscripts From Local Collections

Milwaukee Art Museum
March 1 – June 16

Back before the printing press and iPads, illuminated manuscript — handwritten and illustrated books often used for religious purposes — were the name of the game for both common folk and clergy and kings. Per curator Catherine Sawinski, the museum is not often able to showcase these manuscripts because of their fragility, so she decided to scour MAM’s archives, as well as others throughout Milwaukee, to find manuscripts to put on display.

The manuscripts Sawinski chose originate from the 13th through the 16th centuries, many of which are called “books of hours,” private books used for prayer. These books are often decorated with biblical scenes that helped illiterate medieval folks pray.

“When seeing images from these books, which are sometimes called ‘painted prayers,’ people can imagine a religious person praying and step into their shoes, and I think that’s really powerful,” Sawinski says.

Like books of hours, all manuscripts on display are religious in nature, as Sawinski wanted to show how creating and using illuminated manuscripts was a form of personal worship. To learn more about these manuscripts and how they were originally used, attend the gallery talk led by Sawinski on March 19 at 1:30 p.m.

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Theater

Photo by Matthew Murphy

The Phantom of the Opera

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts – Uihlein Hall
March 6 – March 17

This creepy classic has received a facelift from prolific producer Cameron Mackintosh and is coming to Milwaukee as part of a new North American tour. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to get “All I Ask of You” out of your head, even as you wonder how anyone can call the Phantom and Christine’s relationship romantic.

All My Sons

Mainstage Theater (UW-Milwaukee)
March 6 – March 10

UW-Milwaukee students are bringing Arthur Miller’s first successful play to life this month. Like his famous Death of a Salesman, All My Sons explores conflicts between business and ethics and tense relationships between fathers and sons. And like Death of a Salesman, this one’s a heartbreaking tragedy, so you might want to grab a palliative beer in UWM’s student union at Gasthaus after the show.

Legally Blonde: The Musical

The Pabst Theater
March 30 – 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

There’s a reason Elle Woods’s story has remained alive over the years in musicals, sequels and a recent Ariana Grande music video — it’s endlessly fun and inspires people to achieve goals others call impossible. I don’t know about you, but I sure am excited to see the classic Bend and Snap put to music.

The Potting Shed

Concordia University Todd Wehr Auditorium
March 1 – March 10

You won’t want to miss the Acacia Theatre Company’s production of prolific novelist Graham Greene’s psychological drama. Although it was written in 1957, The Potting Shed’s plot reads like a modern-day soap opera, with mysterious estranged family members and memory problems.

Things I Know to Be True

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater
March 5 – March 31

The Rep’s production of this intimate Australian drama is the first in America and will present more family drama than most will experience in a lifetime. Thing I Know to Be True centers around the trials and tribulations of the Price family as its four adult children wrestle with their relationships with their parents, each other and themselves.

Photo by Michael Brosilow


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Choral

The Coronation of Poppea

The Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall
March 22 – March 31

A delicious love triangle is at the center of this famous opera, as an emperor’s mistress jockeys for the throne and longs to get rid of her lover’s wife. The Florentine Opera Company’s production is accompanied by an authentic Baroque instrument ensemble that will put nefarious deeds to a heavenly soundtrack.

Carmina Burana

Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center
March 15 – March 31

The Skylight Music Theatre, Danceworks Performance Company, Chant Claire Chamber Choir and Milwaukee Opera Theatre are collaborating to bring to life these Medieval poems set to classical music. The performance will awe audiences with its cast of more than 60 dancers, singers and musicians, as well as an offstage choir, so it’s not one to miss.

Rehearsal for Carmina Burana; photo by Chrystal Wagner Photography


Orchestra

Yin // Yang

St. Sebastian’s Parish
March 11, March 23

With the dual concert series Yin // Yang, the Concord Chamber Orchestra is striving to understand how opposite forces, like love and hate, are interconnected. On March 11, the frigid Scandinavian climates will be pitted against the heat of Spain with North // South, featuring composers from those regions. Its second iteration, Hard // Soft, will pit romanticism against a neo-classical iteration of Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev.

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