UPAF Presents: Your Fall Performing Arts Guide

Use these listings to find the most exciting musicals, plays and concerts happening in Milwaukee this Fall.

Dear Readers,

 

The 2022-23 performing arts season is starting, and we want to see you! United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) Members and Affiliates offer something for everyone, from thought-provoking plays to awe-inspiring symphonies to beloved musicals to performances specifically for kids and families to share together. These groups face a steep recovery, and your attendance and donations are crucial to sustain our performing arts community. We hope this guide inspires you to buy tickets or season subscriptions – and save even more with a UPAF SMART CARD, presented by Associated Bank. You can find details on upcoming performances for each day of the week at UPAF.org. See you in the theater!

 

Sincerely,

Patrick Rath

UPAF President and CEO


Event Spotlights

Presented by United Performing Arts Fund

1. The Spitfire Grill 

SEPT. 8-25 | SUNSET PLAYHOUSE, 700 WALL ST., ELM GROVE

This September, Sunset Playhouse is producing The Spitfire Grill: A Musical. Percy, a feisty parolee, follows her dream to a small town in Wisconsin where she works at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill. The Grill is for sale, but since there are no takers, Hannah decides to hold a $100-an-entry essay contest to give it away. The musical is a heartwarming and inspirational tale of redemption, perseverance and family. Use code MKEMAG for $5 off tickets.

2. Unforgettable: John-Mark McGaha Sings Nat King Cole

SEPT. 9-NOV. 6 | MILWAUKEE REPERTORY THEATER AT THE STACKNER CABARET, 108 E. WELLS ST.

Milwaukee Rep’s 2022-23 season begins with the extraordinary talents of John-Mark McGaha in a live concert event celebrating the legendary Nat King Cole. Cole’s album Live at The Circle Room was recorded right here in Milwaukee in 1946, just a few blocks away from the intimate Stackner Cabaret. Experience the closest thing you might ever get to being at the Circle Room that historic night when you grab a drink and settle in for a soulful concert of jazz classics including “Unforgettable,” “Route 66,” “L-O-V-E” and “Mona Lisa” this fall. Presented by Artists Lounge Live.

3. Dances: At the Edge of Understanding

SEPT. 15-16 | WILD SPACE DANCE COMPANY AT THE WAREHOUSE GALLERY, 1635 W. ST. PAUL AVE.

Wild Space Dance Company founding director Debra Loewen and co-artistic director Dan Schuchart present a site-specific performance, inspired by the ideas of South African visual artist, William Kentridge. Dances: At the Edge of Understanding explores and draws upon Kentridge’s distinctive art-making process and his world of ideas. Performed in the parking lot of The Warehouse Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition of Kentridge’s work on view there, the performance unfolds in a choreography of translation – or some would say mistranslation. A collage forms and falls apart, fragments fly into action, a big drawing happens, gestures sweep, dancers are erased. Dances evolve from peripheral thinking, mistakes are beloved, everything repeats, sort of. Created as a triptych, the dances are performed simultaneously with audiences relocating in the sequence of their choice. Live musical accompaniment provided by Tim Russell.

4. Titanic The Musical 

SEPT. 20-OCT. 23 | MILWAUKEE REPERTORY THEATER AT THE QUADRACCI POWERHOUSE, 108 E. WELLS ST.

This incredible smash hit musical returns for a limited run this fall in the Quadracci Powerhouse! With a soaring score and stunning emotion, Titanic tells the unforgettable tales of the real-life heroes and bold romantics on board the ship of dreams, from third-class immigrants dreaming of a better tomorrow to first-class passengers living a life of fame and fortune. This spectacular production delighted audiences and critics during its original run this past spring. (Milwaukee Magazine’s Brianna Schubert raved: “A marvel to watch!”) And you won’t want to miss this blockbuster production’s breathtaking music, epic set and costumes and star-crossed stories from the most famous ship in the world.

Milwaukee Rep’s Titanic the Musical; Photo by Michael Brosilow, courtesy of UPAF

5. Fiesta de Orquesta Para Niñas

SEPT. 21 | MARCUS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER IN THE BRADLEY PAVILION, 929 N. WATER ST. 

Festival City Symphony celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month with a free, one-hour Pajama Jamboree pops concert for children and families featuring the music of Arturo Marquez, Leonard Bernstein, and Zequinha de Abreu. The concert is best suited for children in K4 through fifth grade, and pajamas, teddy bears, and blankets are welcome! Festival City Symphony’s mission is to extend the reach of classical music by presenting free and engaging concerts in formats that embrace people of all ages. Visit the FCS website to learn more about its two free concert series, Saturday Classics and Pajama Jamborees.

6. Kill Move Paradise 

SEPT. 22-OCT. 16 | NEXT ACT THEATRE, 225 S. WATER ST.

In a space somewhere between past and future, between now and never, four Black men meet. Isa, Daz, Grif and Tiny have been torn from the lives they knew and thrust into limbo, just to find out they are only four names on an ever-growing list. Their time waiting for others to arrive turns into an electrifying fusion of words, movement, combat, music, dance and play that expresses both profound grief and radical joy. Far from merely cold statistics of slain Black men and women, 2022 Pulitzer Prize winner James Ijames sketches moving portraits of vibrant lives cut short in this play. Directed by Marti Gobel and featuring Ibraheem Farmer, Dimonte Henning, Marques Causey and Joseph Brown Jr.

7. Mamma Mia!

SEPT. 23-OCT. 16 | SKYLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE, 158 N. BROADWAY

Travel to a Greek island paradise for this ultimate feel-good show! Hit music from the supergroup ABBA tells the humorous and touching story of a young woman’s search for her birth father on the eve of her wedding. A mother. A daughter. Three possible dads. 23 songs. And a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget! Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Skylight Music Theatre; Photo by Mark Frohna, courtesy of UPAF

8. Noche de Gala 2022 Passport to the Arts

OCT. 1 | LATINO ARTS, INC., 1028 S. NINTH ST.

Let your senses explore a journey through Latin America as Latino Arts celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with an elegant evening of Latin cuisine, art, music and dancing to benefit the Latino Arts Strings Program. The evening is a “passport to the arts,” full of authentic cultural experiences that will take you away for the night, including tequila tasting, delicious tapas and dancing to the beat of salsa, cumbia and more with local Latin jazz band N’Samble Latino. Support Latino Arts’ community of young artists, and you may even win a custom-themed raffle basket, one of the featured auction items or perhaps both! Celebrate and experience Hispanic heritage and support Latino Arts at this gala. 

9. Roméo et Juliette

OCT. 14, 16 | THE FLORENTINE OPERA AT UIHLEIN HALL, 929 N. WATER ST.

Experience the rush of first love in Shakespeare’s Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod, performed in English. Unfortunately, the star-crossed lovers are doomed from the start. Florentine Opera & Chorus, backed by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, kicks off the season with lush costumes and a grand set in a sweeping production that is not to be missed. 

Florentine Opera; Photo by Mike Miller, courtesy of UPAF

10. The Sound of Music

OCT. 7-9, 14-16 | FORTE THEATRE COMPANY AT THE SABER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 8222 S. 51ST ST., FRANKLIN

The hills are alive! Join Forte Theatre Company for one of the most beloved musicals of all time. In Austria, 1938, an exuberant young governess brings music and joy back to a broken family, only to face danger and intrigue as the Nazis gain power. With music by Richard Rogers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, this is a theatrical experience for the whole family! Forte Theatre Company is the first professional theater in Milwaukee’s Southwest suburbs. Its mission is to enrich and engage the community through professional musicals and quality theater education programs.

11. Tchaikovsky No. 5

OCT. 21-22 | MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AT THE BRADLEY SYMPHONY CENTER, 212 W. WISCONSIN AVE.

Italian conductor Jader Bignamini leads the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in this concert full of passionate melodies and technical feats. Guest artist Blake Pouliot applies his “immaculate, at once refined and impassioned” (ArtsAtlanta) style to Paganini’s strikingly complex violin concerto, while Coleridge-Taylor’s sweeping Ballade conjures a lush, romantic theme. Tchaikovsky’s soul-stirring Symphony No. 5 showcases the full orchestra in the second half of this spectacular performance.

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; Photo by Jonathan Kirn, courtesy of UPAF

12. Day of the Dead Concert Son Rompe Pera

OCT. 28 | LATINO ARTS, INC., 1028 S. NINTH ST. 

Born and raised in the outskirts of Mexico City, the Gama brothers are keeping the legacy of marimba music strong through their latest musical group, Son Rompe Pera! Their fresh and forward take on the marimba genre pushes its limits into the 21st century with a garage band/punk vibe that mixes urban sounds with cutting edge cumbia rhythms and beats. This concert will include a special opening performance by the Latino Arts Strings Program. Arrive early to check out the Day of Dead Ofrendas exhibit in the Latino Arts Gallery! 

13. Ravel & Chopin

NOV. 18-19 | MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AT THE BRADLEY SYMPHONY CENTER, 212 W. WISCONSIN AVE.

Conductor David Robertson and pianist Orli Shaham first met through performing a Chopin concerto together and are now an accomplished married couple, presenting Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Ravel’s Une Barque sur l’Ocean (“A Boat on the Ocean”) is a beautiful work filled with sweeping motility, while his grand La Valse (“Waltz”) brings the program to an explosive conclusion.

14. A Jolly Holiday ­– Celebrating Disney’s Broadway Hits

NOV. 18-DEC. 31 | SKYLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE, 158 N. BROADWAY

Ring in the holidays with a brand-new musical revue featuring 30 favorite songs from Disney’s biggest Broadway hits. A cast of phenomenal singers including an ensemble of talented youth performers will celebrate the season in style with a festive holiday party for the ages. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

15. The Tin Woman

NOV. 23-DEC. 18 | NEXT ACT THEATRE, 225 S. WATER ST.

Receiving a heart transplant gives Joy a new lease on life. Her second chance, however, comes with a question: how to avoid squandering this new gift. A complex web of laughter and grief entangles Joy and the family of her transplant donor as they grapple with what comes next. Based on a true story, The Tin Woman is a heartfelt, humorous look at the importance of family and what it means to live fully. This heartwarming play, which received its world premiere at Door County’s beloved Peninsula Players, is perfect for the holiday season. Directed by Edward Morgan and featuring Alexandra Bonesho, David Cecsarini, Deborah Clifton, Meredith Noël, Jordan Watson and Zach Thomas Woods.


On the Radar

Presented by United Performing Arts Fund

The Marcus Performing Arts Center

The Marcus Performing Arts Center (MPAC) is Milwaukee’s premier performing arts community gathering space, bringing world-class arts and cultural programming to the region for all to enjoy. In addition to the touring Broadway Series sponsored by Johnson Financial Group, MPAC also offers Dance, Jazz and National Geographic Live Series and individual performances throughout the season. Highlights for the 2022-23 season include MasterChef Junior Live!, BAT: A Meat Loaf Celebration, The Hip Hop Nutcracker (featuring Kurtis Blow!), Les Misérables, Step Afrika!, Legally Blonde the Musical, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Hairspray, SIX the Musical, Disney’s Frozen and many more. Traditional subscriptions as well as Build Your Own packages offer savings and flexibility, and single tickets to many shows start as low as $25! Performance tickets can be purchased online, through the MPAC box office or by calling 414-273-7206. Groups of 10 or more can receive special discounts and service by calling 414-273-7207.  For the complete season lineup or more information, please visit marcuscenter.org.

The Milwaukee Jazz Institute

The Milwaukee Jazz Institute (MJI) was created by influential musicians and passionate supporters who are dedicated to preserving jazz music and passing it on for future generations to develop. MJI offers performances and educational opportunities for all ages. They present concerts year-round at venues throughout the Milwaukee area. Performances this fall will feature MJI’s resident ensemble We Six, international trumpet and vocal star Benny Benack III, the acclaimed trio of Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart, and more. In addition, MJI monthly residencies at the Jazz Estate, Bar Centro and the Jazz Gallery feature faculty performances, student recitals and community jazz jam sessions. Educational opportunities for youth and adults include weekly ensembles, online improvisation and theory courses, Jazz Circle events (free to the public), an annual educational jazz festival and summer camps. For more information, visit and subscribe to milwaukeejazzinstitute.org.

The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts

The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts’ 2022-23 season is filled with artists who will amaze and surprise you, who will take you back in time to reminisce, and who will share with you the endless possibilities of imagination and invention! The season opens on Oct. 28 with a performance by Third Coast Percussion. The season will also include three Main Stage performances and four Classical Progressions shows. Returning performers include Lee Lessack in James Taylor Revisited, Frank Almond and Anthony Nunziata. The Canadian Brass will join the Center again after a lengthy absence, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will perform in December – always a holiday favorite! The Center will also host three matinee performances which continue to be very popular. The Club Series features some great artists performing on eight Friday evenings throughout the year. Bring your friends and head to the Dawes Studio Theater with cabaret style seating (and bar service) for a wonderful way to kick off your weekend. Purchase tickets online at wilson-center.com or call the box office at 262-781-9520.


Fall Calendar

Presented by United Performing Arts Fund

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre; Photo courtesy of UPAF

SEPTEMBER: 

First Stage; Photo by Paul Ruffalo, courtesy of UPAF

OCTOBER: 

NOVEMBER:

Black Arts MKE’s Black Nativity; Photo courtesy of UPAF

DECEMBER: 


Performances as of 7/21/22. For complete listings, visit upaf.org.


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s September issue.

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