Friday Five for a Lucky Weekend

Theater, dance and music makes it a great weekend to get out and see something. Featuring events at Alverno College, St. Josaphat’s Basilica, the Milwaukee Rep, the Wisconsin Conservatory, and more.

Guys on Ice
Guys on Ice


#5: Guys on Ice at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Why? Because Fred Alley and James Kaplan’s little ice-fishing musical has been delighting audiences since 1998, and there’s no sign it’s running out of steam (or cold brewski’s). Longtime “Guys” Steve Koehler and Doug Mancheski are on hand as Lloyd and Marvin, and Bo Johnson joins the cast as Ernie. Don’t forget to wear your snowmobile suits.

I'm not a Pilot
I’m Not a Pilot

#4: The Festival of Trees and Lights at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

Why? Because the WCM has found a most excellent way to showcase some of its talented students, fete the holidays, and present some of the best seasoned musicians in town. Running through Nov. 21, the music range from indie rock (I’m Not a Pilot) to Flamenco (Marija Temo) to—of course—classical (the Philomusica Quartet, the Prometheus Trio, trumpet virtuoso David Cohen). The festival also allows a chance to stroll through the Conservatory’s historic McIntosh-Goodrich Mansion, complete with custom decorated trees and holiday shopping.

Christopher Tramantana and David Cecsarini in Bravo, Caruso! Photo by Timothy Moder
Christopher Tramantana and David Cecsarini in Bravo, Caruso!
Photo by Timothy Moder

#3: Bravo, Caruso! at Next Act Theatre

Why? Because there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is the postponement of Next Act’s world premiere production of John Kishline’s Unsilent Night. But in it’s place Next Act will bring back this William Luce bioplay, which stars Artistic Director David Cescarini as the legendary tenor, Enrico Caruso. Luce has made a Broadway career out of putting larger-than-life figures like Lillian Hellman and John Barrymore (not to mention the likes of humble Emily Dickinson). And Cescarini got major raves for his performance 13 years ago, when Next Act first staged it. It should be una grande notte a teatro.

Francesco Lecce-Chong
Francesco Lecce-Chong

#2: The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at St. Josaphat’s Basilica

Why? Because those who were lucky enough to get tickets (both performances are sold out) will hear some sublime music in an appropriate setting. Anton Bruckner’s Te Deum is a masterpiece of choral writing–from the explosive opening to the thundering conclusion. Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 is one of the transcendent pieces of the late 20th-century—ethereally beautiful music that seems destined to be performed in a space like the basilica. Francesco Lecce Chong, who conducted many innovative programs at St. Josaphat’s over his years with the MSO, returns as guest conductor.

ODC's "Boulders and Bones"
ODC’s “Boulders and Bones”

#1: ODC at Alverno College’s Pitman Theatre

Why? Because Milwaukee hit the daily double when it comes to distinguished San Francisco dance troupes. A few weeks ago, the Alonzo King Lines Ballet wowed an audience at Brookfield’s Wilson Center. And this weekend, Alverno Presents offers ODC’s Boulders and Bones, Brenda Way and KT Nelson’s multimedia event based on the work of landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy. The music is by Zoë Keating, who will play live, electronically sampling and looping her cello in ways that make it sounds like an orchestra. Another not-to-be-missed event at Alverno.



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.