Best of Milwaukee 2017: Entertainment

16 of the best entertainment options our city has to offer

Most Beloved Musical:
Sweeney Todd

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, 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

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
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. 

Frank Almond
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.

Robin Pluer
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.

Cory Smythe
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.

Zach Pietrini
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

Best of Milwaukee 2017


Best of Milwaukee 2017

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‘Best of 2017’ appears in the October 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning October 2, or buy a copy at

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