‘Good People’ and ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’

Two big plays headline this week’s Friday Five.


#5: The Concord Chamber Orchestra at Nicolet High School.

Why? Because the CCO gets small with this program of chamber music. Conductor Jamin Hoffman is calling this program “Tapas,” and it features orchestra members playing a wide range of music from the 17th to 20th centuries. It includes favorites such as Ravel’s “Pavane pour une infante defunte,” and instrumental excerpts from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” As well as rare pieces like Gyorgy Ligeti’s “Six Bagatelles for Woodwind Quintet” and a string quartet by the classical era’s Simon Sechter, who some say was the most prolific composer who ever lived.

#4: Milwaukee Ballet II at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.

Why? Because the “farm team” of the Milwaukee Ballet has grown in to one of the great dance ensembles of the area. And this is a rare chance to see them perform outside of their many school and community concerts. The program bridges the classic (MBII Director Rolando Yanes’s staging of Mikhail Fokine’s Russian classic Chopiniana) and a piece by Adam Sterr, a Green Bay native who now dances with the Portland (Maine) Ballet.

#3: Richard Goode and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Marcus Center.

Why? Because Richard Goode isn’t flashy, but you will never hear a pianist play with more insight and balance—balanced voices, balanced dynamics, and balanced emotions. He’s a perfect match for the MSO’s Edo de Waart, who will conduct Goode and the orchestra in Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 18.” And because a change in program makes this a classical feast. Instead of the scheduled Shostakovich symphony, de Waart will conduct Schubert’s “9th Symphony,” one of the great—and not often enough heard—symphonies.

#2: Renaissance Theaterworks’ The Kreutzer Sonata at the Broadway Theatre Center.

Why? A few names: Ludwig van Beethoven, Leo Tolstoy, James Pickering, Marie Kohler, Jillanna Ponasik. They all come together in Irish playwright Nancy Harris’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s 1889 novella about Pozdnyshev, a man who has much to say about love, marriage, and the nature of men and women. Harris combines Pozdnyshev’s story with excerpts from Beethoven’s famous violin sonata, which plays a big part in the events in the story. Pickering plays Pozdnyshev, and the music is played by Colleen Schmidt and Joe Ketchum.

#1: Good People at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

Why? Because actor Laura Gordon is one of Milwaukee’s treasures, and she was at her best as Margie in Forward Theater’s production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s comedy about the haves and have-nots in Boston. Now, even if you didn’t travel to Madison in 2013 to see Gordon, you can experience this great contemporary play and performance on a Milwaukee stage. Kate Buckley directs the Rep’s production, with a supporting cast that includes Tami Workentin and Laura T. Fisher.



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.