Here Are Your August Performing Arts Highlights

A new batch of shows at American Players Theatre, the MKE Fringe, Chamber Theatre thrills and chuckles, and “A Chorus Line” “of a certain age.”

There’s still a whole lot of summering to do, but don’t throw back too many mint juleps just yet. Make plans to get off of that front porch for a spell and seek out these performing arts offerings—the second half of the summer season in Spring Green, and a few early bird starts to the fall season.

James DeVita stars in APT’s “A View from the Bridge.”

American Players Theatre’s “Round Two”

 The folks in Spring Green are still holding forth with the five stellar productions that opened in June (see my reviews here and here), but they’ve also been busy readying a new batch of plays that open this month. One of the most anticipated productions this season, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, brings a new director into the APT fold, Eric Tucker, artistic director of the acclaimed Bedlam Theatre. That theater’s inventive approach to the classics has earned raves from press and public alike, and his time-bending approach to one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” should be one of the highlights of the season. Also this month, APT returns to the work of two modern masters, Anton Chekhov and Arthur Miller. William Brown directs Chekov’s story of Russian ennui, Three Sisters, and Tim Ocel directs Miller’s A View from the Bridge, a searing tragedy set in 1950s Brooklyn.

See APT’s website for a complete schedule of the remaining summer season, which runs through October 22.

Di’Monte Henning

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Deathtrap

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre always gets the jump on other theater companies with its August show, performed in the spacious Cabot Theatre. This year, it offers both chills and laughs with Ira Levin’s comic murder mystery, which had everyone on Broadway talking back in the late 1970s. The tale of a fallow playwright who will do anything for a big hit features UW-Milwaukee professor Bill Watson and his former student, Di’Monte Henning. Deathtrap is directed by Michael Cotey.

August 10-27, Broadway Theatre Center.

Catey Ott Dance Collective.

Milwaukee Fringe Festival

The local performance festival is back for its second year, featuring performances by music, dance and theater groups from around the Midwest in three different venues at the Marcus Center. Of course, it leans toward the new and experimental, but there will also be Shakespeare, courtesy of the roving Summit Players; Jason Powell’s musical celebration of New York City from Theatre Gigante; dance performances from familiar locals like Catey Ott, Christal Wagner and Gina Laurenzi; and theater from Cooperative Performance and The Battery Factory.

August 26 & 27, Todd Wehr Theater, Wilson Theatre at Vogel Hall and the Peck Pavilion.

Angela Iannone.
Photo by Mark Frohna.

Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Theatre Red’s A Chorus Line

With many theaters in the throes of rehearsals, it’s a fitting time to revisit that great backstage musical (speaking of the 1970s). Like last year’s Milwaukee Opera Theatre production of 1776, this single-weekend production features a roster of local theater greats, including Jenny Wanasek, David Flores, Doug Jarecki, Angela Iannone, Diane Lane, Karen Estrada, C. Michael Wright, James Zager and Rana Roman. The original pitted young upstarts auditioning for a Broadway veteran director. Here, veteran performers face a young director as they try to get back into the business.

August 27 & 28, Nancy Kendall Theater at Cardinal Stritch University.



Paul Kosidowski is a freelance writer and critic who contributes regularly to Milwaukee Magazine, WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio and national arts magazines. He writes weekly reviews and previews for the Culture Club column. He was literary director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater from 1999-2006. In 2007, he was a fellow with the NEA Theater and Musical Theater Criticism Institute at the University of Southern California. His writing has also appeared in American Theatre magazine, Backstage, The Boston Globe, Theatre Topics, and Isthmus (Madison, Wis.). He has taught theater history, arts criticism and magazine writing at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.