Most Beloved Musical:
It’s a bloody show, any way you slice (or dice) it. But the Skylight Music Theatre managed to wring more than blood from Stephen Sondheim’s melodramatic script. Their production was genuinely moving, thanks in large part to lead actors Andrew Varela (Todd) and Christina Hall (Mrs. Lovett). Lucky for us, Varela returns to Skylight again this season for its reboot of Annie, opening November 17.
Best Cultural Collaboration:
Florentine Opera & Milwaukee Ballet; La Bohème
In 2012, the Milwaukee Ballet premiered artistic director Michael Pink’s wordless reinterpretation of La Bohème.
This year, the Ballet brings Pink’s vision to life again, November 2-5. But this time the company will invite Florentine studio artists to deliver stirring renditions of some of the most popular songs from Puccini’s classic nineteenth-century opera before each performance.
Best Collaboration of Local Talent
The Footlight Awards
Standing ovation, please! This city’s first, and only, performing arts awards ceremony debuted in June, shining a spotlight on Milwaukee’s best theatrical artists and awarding 32 nominees in 16 categories.
Best Way to Listen Local
88Nine has long championed local music, and this year the station launches 414Music.fm, a channel that broadcasts the cream of the Cream City crop around the clock. Tune in for fresh tracks from bands like New Age Narcissism and GGOOLLDD, or stream them through your phone or computer at 414music.fm.
And don’t forget to hum a few bars of “Happy Birthday” for 88Nine, turning 10 this year.
Best Live Acts
Headphones can’t compete with the sonic onslaught you’ll experience in concert.
Paul Spencer wants to assure you: He does not play smooth jazz. Most Saturdays, you can hear the ratatat of his drumming at Caroline’s, a club owned by his wife, Caroline Rubitsky.
The crowd goes wild when violinist Frank Almond takes the stage with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where he’s played for 20-plus years and currently serves as concertmaster.
She may have been born stateside, but Robin Pluer croons French chansons like a true Parisienne. See her act at Bastille Days, where she has performed every year for over two decades.
We’re lucky to have Grammy winner and Present Music pianist Cory Smythe in Milwaukee. Watch him perform in the company’s “Give Chance a Piece” Concert series, February 22-24.
Americana master Zach Pietrini released a new album in February and has been playing packed house shows ever since, breaking hearts nightly. Catch him at Club Garibaldi on October 13.
Saturday Best Bets
Check out all of this year’s winners!