April may be the cruelest month, but it's chock full of great concerts and plays, including season finales from Present Music, Milwaukee Rep, In Tandem, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Early Music Now.
Molly Rhode directs an impressive roster of actors in Milwaukee playwright Gayle Childs Daly’s adaptation of Charles Dickens beloved story. Josh Krause plays the young hero Pip, and is joined by Jonathan Gillard Daly, Karen Estrada, Chike Johnson, Deborah Staples, and Zach Thomas Woods.
Choreographers Maria Gillespie, Nguyen Nguyen, and Erik Speth collaborate on a project that explores memory and personal histories through movement, sound and video.
April 13 & 15
The circus comes to town with In Tandem’s production of Michael Stewart and Bob Merrill’s 1961 musical, based on the famous Leslie Caron vehicle, Lili. It’s the theatre’s biggest production to date, with the charming Susan Wiedmeyer, Keegan Siebken, and Steven Koehler leading the pack.
April 20-May 14
The talented director Leda Hoffman convenes the “found spaces” Luminous Theatre again for a scrappy, DIY production of a play that needs to be seen in town. The New York Times asked of Anne Washburn’s 2012 play: “When was the last time you met a new play that was so smart it made your head spin?” You can bet your Smithers that Hoffman can make it work.
April 20-May 8
After an all-Scandinavian program last season, Estonian conductor Anu Tali leads the MSO in a couple of solid pleasers. After 25-year-old prodigy Behzod Abduraimov plays Rachmaninoff’s gorgeous Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, she’ll lead the orchestra in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. With the new MSO music director still unannounced, the guest conductor you see today may be the new leader tomorrow.
The always interesting dance-theater troupe collaborates with Alverno College to offer a theatrical meditation on “birth, love, the cosmos and everything in between.” Composer Frank Pahl, a frequent Gigante collaborator, composed the music. And the cast includes Isabelle Kralj, Mark Anderson and Ron Scot Fry.
If you thought whodunnit’s were only on the menu at dinner theaters, EMN’s season finale has a surprise. Infusion Baroque—winners of the 2014 Early Music America Baroque Performance Competition—present a program called Who Killed Leclair?, a musical investigation into the murder of Baroque composer Jean-Marie Leclair.
In 2001, audiences watched Anna Karenina shadowed around the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre stage by an ominously gesturing dark figure and a mysterious cellist, which musically beckoned her to tragic fate as the story unfolded. That’s the combination of music, movement and theater one can expect from the work of Great Britain’s Shared Experience Theatre, deploys imaginative language words and dramatic movement to tell the stories of classic novels and plays. This month, The Rep turns to another Shared Experience adaptation, Polly Teale’s telling of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë’s dark psychological tale of a young governess’s life at Thornfield Hall, the estate of the mysterious Edward Rochester. Reviewers have called the original English production a “masterpiece of storytelling,” and director KJ Sanchez has an impressive roster of actors to spin the tale, most of whom are new to Milwaukee audiences.
April 25-May 21
Present Music is known for taking its show on the road, and sometimes that road leads to some pretty wonderful places. Three years ago, they played John Luther Adams’ expansive aural adventure Inuksuit over several acres of the Lynden Sculpture Garden. They sent their musicians into the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum for various audio-visual interactions with paintings and sculptures. And they even tried to “talk” to the animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo. For this month’s “exploratory concert” Time, Nature, Culture, Sound, PM’s music director Kevin Stalheim animates several Milwaukee Public Museum environments with live, contemporary music. The result of a year-long collaboration between the MPM and PM, the concert will feature world premiere’s created for such beloved spaces as the museum’s rain forest exhibit and the Soref Planetarium. The group will leave a permanent mark on the museum with a sound installation created by percussionist Julio Pabon, which will be installed in the Pre-Colombian and Pacific Islands exhibit. Read my review in this month’s Agenda.