Our performing arts critic recommends foregoing the beach to see these productions.
➡ As jam bands spread across the city for park concerts and Summerfest revelry, the place to be for classical music is the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Zelazo Center, where the Fine Arts Quartet presents its Summer Evenings of Music series (Sundays through June 28). As always, there are distinguished special guests (violinist Gil Sharon and clarinetist Michel Lethiec), and the programs range from Mozart and Haydn to 21st-century pieces by David Del Tredici and Guillaume Connesson.
Other groups have extended their seasons into June, including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, which brings baroque specialist Nicholas McGegan back to play a program of Haydn and Vivaldi (June 12-14), and reunites former music director Andreas Delfs with the MSO for Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (June 19-21) at the Marcus Center. The contemporary music wizards at Present Music wrap up their season at Hot Water Wherehouse with Present Music Nation (June 5), a program that was selected via an online poll of PM fans.
➡ Dancemakers take to the great outdoors again this year, with the Lynden Sculpture Garden serving as a backdrop for two performances. Alverno Presents brings Milwaukee native Reggie Wilson’s Fist & Heel Performance Group to town to perform his “brilliant” Moses(es) (July 18). (That’s The New York Times’ adjective, not mine). Also at Lynden, Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Danceworks collaborate to make Fairy Queen Fantasy (June 19-20), an al-fresco adaptation of Henry Purcell’s baroque masterpiece. But for those who prefer their dance indoors, Danceworks stages Get It Out There, a showcase for small-scale work that includes pieces by Christal Wagner and Gina Laurenzi (June 6).
➡ For theatergoers, summer means Shakespeare, and thousands make the trek each summer to Spring Green, the home of one of the finest classical companies in North America, American Players Theatre. With two theaters (one indoors and one outdoors), it’s easy to fill a weekend with a full slate of great performances, including works by Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Noel Coward and Edward Albee. Highlights of this season include Othello with Chike Johnson in the title role and Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, with Tracy Michelle Arnold as Blanche DuBois.
Closer to home, Optimist Theatre once again brings Shakespeare to the great outdoors, performing the woodsy A Midsummer Night’s Dream at its beautiful spot in Kadish Park (July 9-19). Ron Scot Fry directs a cast that includes Tom Reed, Malkia Stampley and Chris Flieller. And as always, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre allows us to get a jump on the theater season with its August production at the Broadway Theatre Center. This year, it’s Boeing, Boeing, a door-slammer of a farce that features Brian J. Gill and Marcella Kearns, and is directed by former Youngblood director Michael Cotey.