Milwaukee’s Fall Arts Preview 2018

Where to go and what to see this season


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Davit Hovhannisyan and Luz San Miguel of Milwaukee Ballet will perform in Dracula. Photo by Eric Olson.
At the age of 18, Luz San Miguel – whose petite frame belies her super-sized stage presence – was already a working ballerina. By 28, she’d danced in Spain, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal and several cities in the United States.

The Madrid-born dancer eventually joined Milwaukee Ballet, in large part because she admired artistic director Michael Pink’s work. “When I was still living in Europe, I remember reading a review of his Dracula, raving about how great it was,” she says.

Fittingly, San Miguel’s first role with the company was in Pink’s moody, macabre retelling of the vampire story. And before she hangs up her tutu for a final time this October after 14 seasons with the company, she will reprise the role once more. “It’s really hard for a dancer to retire,” she admits. “There’s definitely a grieving process.”


Oct. 25-28
Marcus Center
For tickets and information, go to

But San Miguel says she still has much to look forward to, because Pink has invited her to continue working with the company as its ballet master. In the new role, which she has been gradually taking on over the last two years, she’ll help Pink perfect his choreography and teach the steps to company members.

In accepting the role, San Miguel has ensured that she’ll have a place at the company, and in Milwaukee, for many years to come. “If a dancer finds their home,” she says, “they stay for a long time.”

The Dance Must-Hit List

Against the Grain: The Life & Times of Levi Fisher Ames

Oct. 20-21 and 25-28
Danceworks Studio Theatre

Acts of Discovery

Oct. 24-27
Art Moderne Warehouse

New Dancemakers

Nov. 28-Dec. 1
Mitchell Hall

Image by Kym McDaniels

Folk artist Levi Fisher Ames made intricate wood carvings and peddled them from town to town across Wisconsin. The creators of this Danceworks performance imagine Ames on the day of his death, reflecting on his life’s work.

Photo by Tom Bamberger

The tiled walls and terracotta floors of the Art Moderne, once a warehouse owned by Dairy Distributors Inc., will serve as the backdrop for Wild Space’s latest performance, in a circular room in the 1946 building that lets audiences circle the dancers, musicians and guest artists.

Photo by Mark Frohna Photography

Nine of UW-Milwaukee’s most accomplished undergraduate dancers consider the concept of placemaking as it relates to the human body and movement, choreographing energetic, physically demanding new works.

Web extra:

Flying Steps Presents Flying Bach

Oct. 23
The Pabst Theater

At the intersection of hip-hop and ballet you’ll find the German dance crew Flying Steps. The group performs to live mash-ups of Johann Sebastian Bach’s classic compositions and contemporary electronic music.[/toggler]


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Rise Up!

Courtesy of the Marcus Center
Last year, The Milwaukee Repertory Theater opened its season with Guys and Dolls. It’s a classic, to be sure. But it’s also, in 2018, the vanilla ice cream of theater: staid and conservative, as easy on the (musical) taste buds as it is on the mind.

But May Adrales, who joined The Rep as new associate artistic director in spring of 2017, didn’t come to Milwaukee to maintain the status quo. She came to break it.

With this fall’s In The Heights, she hopes to do just that.

The show Lin-Manuel Miranda created before Hamilton, In The Heights rocked the 2008 Tony Awards, creating a new kind of contemporary classic by embracing hip-hop and salsa over standard song-and-dance numbers, emphasizing timeliness over timelessness. And yet the material is as prescient as ever, a story still dying to be told. And in Adrales – whose lengthy directorial resume of bold, progressive, new-age theater makes her a near-perfect stylistic match – it seems to have found a fitting storyteller.

In The Heights

Sept. 18-Oct. 28
Quadracci Powerhouse Theater
For tickets and information, go to

“It was so empowering to see people of color in these rich, fun, very complex roles,” says Adrales. “It’s one of the few musicals that I really love.”

She hopes the show’s run in Milwaukee will draw new faces into The Rep, whose audiences aren’t typically “representative of the city as a whole,” she says. “But this musical does represent the entire community of Milwaukee. My hope is that it’s an invite to people who don’t often experience theater.” — BRIAN BOYLE

Gender Bender

The Florentine Opera kicks off its 85th anniversary season with a production of Prince of Players, a show set in 17th century England but with a decidedly contemporary gender politics twist: When King Charles II makes a decree “a he shall no longer play a she,” an actor who once monopolized roles such as Juliet and Lady MacBeth must suddenly reconsider his career.

The show’s Milwaukee run marks a regional premiere, and The Florentine is also capturing the production’s first-ever live recording. Florentine staple Keith Phares stars while original composer Carlisle Floyd serves as artistic advisor.

Prince of Players

Oct. 12 and 14
Marcus Center
For tickets and information, go to

The Theater Must Hit List


Skylight Music Theatre
Nov. 16-Dec. 23
Broadway Theatre Center

“You Can’t Stop the Beat” of this Broadway sing-along. Skylight is set to cast over a dozen local high schoolers to fill out the ensemble for this big-haired, big-hearted show set in Baltimore in the 1960s.

Something Rotten!

Broadway at the Marcus Center
Oct. 16-21
Marcus Center

It’s a comedic musical about inventing musicals: The Producers with a Renaissance twist. Two would-be playwright brothers living in London in 1595 craft the very first song-and-dance musical in history – or try to, anyway.

“Something Rotten!” Courtesy of the Marcus Center.

Web Extras

Nate the Great

Oct. 12-Nov. 11
Marcus Center

Kid detective Nate the Great has a case to solve: Who stole his friend Annie’s prized painting? First Stage is mounting the world premiere of this family-friendly musical, recommended for theater lovers four and up.

Native Gardens

Oct. 19 – Nov. 11
Renaissance Theaterworks

They say that good neighbors make good fences. And this explosive comedy of manners, about neighbors fighting over the boundary of their property line, proves that old adage hilariously true.

Hear What’s in the Heart

Oct. 24-28
Next Act Theatre

Earlier this year, Anthony Crivello and Steve Scionti mounted a production of this heartwarming one-man show about love and family. It was so successful that the dynamic duo are putting it on again this fall.



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2018 is shaping up to be one of the best years for live music in Milwaukee in decades. Wondering which bands you should see this season, and which of their songs you should add to your Spotify rotation? We’ve put together a playlist featuring touring artists visiting the city this fall.

Neko Case. Photo courtesy of Red Light Management.

Neko Case

“Bad Luck,” Hell-On
Sept. 5
Pabst Theater

Allison Krauss

“rockaballad,” Windy City
Sept. 14
Riverside Theater

Lupe Fiasco

“Jump (Feat. Gizzle),” Drogas Light
Sept. 15
The Rave-Eagles Club

Maroon 5

“Best 4 U,” Red Pill Blues
Sept. 16
Fiserv Forum

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco

“Jesus, Etc.,” Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Sept. 19
Pabst Theater

Liz Phair

“Mesmerizing,” Exile in Guyville
Oct. 12
Turner Hall Ballroom

Foo Fighters

“The Sky is a Neighborhood,” Concrete and Gold
Oct. 17
Fiserv Forum

Ed Sheeran

“Happier,” ÷
Oct. 23
Miller Park

The Music Must-Hit List

The future of Present Music

Present Music Founder Kevin Stalheim will be retiring at the end of the company’s 2018-19 season, after 37 years. “It’s an amazing experience to have a vision and have so many people contribute and help out in various ways to achieve that vision,” he says. “So going into the last year is bittersweet. I’m really thankful to the amazing people that have helped me along the way.”

For his final season-opening concert, Stalheim is teaming up with conductor David Bloom (co-founder of new music ensemble Contemporaneous) to take audiences on an auditory odyssey that spans time, space and musical styles. – CALVIN SKALET

Leon Bridges

Sept. 23
BMO Harris Pavilion
It’s been two years since the legendary R&B artist visited. Now, he brings his Good Thing Tour – and his soulful swagger – to the BMO Harris Pavilion on the Summerfest Grounds.

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra: Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto

Sept. 15-16
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
Listen to one of the world’s most accomplished classical pianists, Boris Giltburg, play Sergei Rachmaninoff’s most enduring concerto.

Bel Canto: Great Mass in C Minor

Oct. 14
West Performing Arts Center
New Berlin
Since 1931, Bel Canto’s members have been singing in perfect harmony for audiences around Wisconsin, and the wider world. Tonight, a 35- piece orchestra accompanies the choral group, and three members deliver stirring solos.

Web Extras

The Killers with Violent Femmes

Sept. 4
Fiserv Forum

The Violent Femmes may be Milwaukee’s most famous local band, so it’s only fitting they’ll be the first group to play at the Fiserv Forum. And immediately after, of course, the Killers – who continue to churn out critically acclaimed, commercially adored power pop ballads at a steadier clip than just about anyone else in the music industry – will take the stage. If you see only one concert this season, make it this one.

Neko Case

Sept. 5
The Pabst Theater

Twenty-some years after Neko Case first graced the airwaves with her searing, soaring indie pop, she’s just as relevant, and just as beloved, as she’s always been. In fact, her latest album, “Hello-On,” may be one of her best.

MYSO’s annual Playathon

Oct. 21
Bayshore Shopping Center

Every one of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra’s ensembles will play at this family-friendly event. That means you’ll be able to listen to the city’s best and brightest young musicians playing in orchestral ensembles, jazz duos, steel bands and more.



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“Seer (Alice ll)” 2005 by artist Kiki Smith, part of Sculpture Milwaukee 2018. Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki.
For Milwaukee Art Museum Curator Monica Obniski, choosing a favorite piece out of the upcoming “Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America” exhibition is not a decision she makes lightly. In her opinion, the art objects in the show – furniture, textiles, toys, films, posters and ceramics from more than 40 designers – look best when viewed together. “One thing can’t function on its own,” she says. “It needs a mass to make more sense.”

Serious Play

Sept. 28-Jan. 6
Milwaukee Art Museum

Push a little harder and she settles on Alexander Girard’s colorful, geometric textiles. For the exhibition, she’s taken cues from Herman Miller and hangs them as they were displayed in the famed furniture designer’s New York City storefront in the 1960s.

Obniski hopes the objects on view will attract audiences of all ages. “I’m trying to appeal to every generation,” she says. “I think that different generations will be drawn to different things.” – OLIVIA JONES

The Art Must-Hit List

Fred Stonehouse

Sept. 14-Oct. 13
Tory Folliard Gallery
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
Milwaukee’s very own Fred Stonehouse works both humor and horror into his vividly colored surrealist paintings.

Family Albums: Kith and Kin in Focus

Through Nov. 11
Museum of Wisconsin Art
Creating a scrapbook of life’s most cherished moments, photographers Tom Bamberger, Lois Bielefeld, Dick Blau, Kevin Miyazaki and filmmaker Emir Cakaroz chronicle unique perspectives on family life.

Made and Connected

Through Feb. 17
John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Garry Noland and daughter Peggy Noland display art side by side – Garry employs everyday materials to make sculptural works; Peggy designs colorful, wearable works of art featured in The New York Times and many magazines.
“Made and Connected” by Peggy Noland
“Zach’s Tower” by John Henry. Photo by Kevin Miyazaki.

Sculpture Milwaukee

Through Oct. 21
Wisconsin Avenue

There’s still plenty of time to take in this free outdoor display, showcasing 21 works along Wisconsin Avenue from Sixth Street to the Northwestern Mutual campus. To find out about lectures and other related events, go to




Web Extras

“Wisconsin Photography 2018”

Aug. 26-Nov. 24
RAM’s Wustum Museum

Every year, RAM’s curators put together a picture-perfect exhibition of photographs by Wisconsin artists. And this year, a dozen of the 52 featured artists – including Azure Mahara, Dennis Darmek and F. Fischer – call Milwaukee home.

“Tyanna Buie: ImPositioned”

Aug. 26-Nov. 25
Lynden Sculpture Garden

Visual artist Tyanna Buie sets off this summer as a newcomer to the “Call & Response” project at Lynden where she responds to the work of other artists of color in exploration of the radical black imagination.

“Sable Elyse Smith”

Aug. 17-Jan. 27
Haggerty Museum of Art

In a multi-medium exhibit, Sable Elyse Smith analyzes different limitations and freedoms humans experience through the incarceration of her father. Her personal testimony speaks to more than just an absent father, but probes the topics of race, family and internal struggle.

“Forward 2018”

Nov. 15-Apr. 14
Charles Allis Museum

Wisconsin takes the lead in “Forward 2018” as Wisconsinites submit recent artwork for the spotlight. With minimal guidelines, this showcase will be one that surveys the art created in the state within the last two years.



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Buck Up

Fiserv Forum – aka the new home of the Milwaukee Bucks – officially opened in August. And even though the team won’t start playing in the new arena until October, fan excitement is already through the (dramatically arched, zinc-shingled) roof. Tickets (and season tickets) are selling at an impressive rate, according to Bucks president Peter Feigin, and the arena’s general manager, Raj Saha, expects to book an unprecedented number of concerts for the 2018-19 season, including several headlined by A-listers like Justin Timberlake, who will be playing his first Milwaukee show in 15 years on Sept. 21. – LINDSEY ANDERSON


Giannis Antetokoumpo’s stomach evidently matches his stature – the 6’11,” 222-pound “Greek Freak” has taken to Twitter to gush about his love of American junk food. A few of his most toothsome tweets:

The Entertainment Must-Hit List

Jim Gaffigan

Sept. 22
Fiserv Forum
For years comedian Jim Gaffigan – whose wife and frequent collaborator, Jeannie, is a Milwaukee native – has played to sold-out crowds at the Pabst Theater on New Year’s Eve. So it’s fitting that he’ll be one of the first entertainers in the new arena.

Milwaukee Film Festival

Oct. 18-Nov. 1
Multiple Venues
Hundreds of films will screen at five theaters during this citywide festival, now in its 10th year. Nearly 85,000 attended in 2017; at least as many are expected this year.

Jodi Picoult

Oct. 21
Sharon Lynne Wilscon Center for the Arts
Best-selling author Jodi Picoult’s latest novel, A Spark of Light, is set in a women’s reproductive health clinic being held up by a desperate gunman. Ticket-buyers will receive signed copies and have a chance to pose for a photo with Picoult after hearing her speak.

Web Extras

Shining Brow Awards

Oct. 19
Taliesin Estate, Spring Green

Once a year, the Taliesin Preservation throws a black-tie dinner and award ceremony to honor those who embody the innovative spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright. Chef Luke Zahm, of the Driftless Café, lends his talents to the kitchen staff for the evening.

Dia De Los Muertos Ofrendas Group Exhibition

Oct. 26-Nov. 16 (Opening Reception Nov. 2)
Latino Arts Inc.

Consider Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” a celebration of life. And the opening reception for this group exhibition of local Latino artists will certainly be lively – visitors are encouraged to bring food for departed loved ones and stay to listen to the many live music performances taking place throughout the evening.


“Fall Arts Guide” appears in the September 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning September 3, or buy a copy at

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