As the holiday season gets underway, there are a myriad of new productions opening at theaters throughout Milwaukee. Lake Effect contributor and local theater critic Dave Begel, regularly joins us to talk about shows on stage around Wisconsin and some of the big topics impacting theater around the world. Begel offers his opinions on the latest round of theater openings and the must-see productions this season.
1. Annie, Skylight Music Theatre -- November 17 through December 27
"It's a production that is spectacular. These kids, the orphans, are spectacular," says Begel. "There was a moment in this play when the orphans were doing a song - not 'Hard Knock Life,' but they were doing another song and dance - and the audience spontaneously sprang to their feet and started clapping."
2. A Christmas Carol, Milwaukee Rep -- November 29 through December 24
Begel says, "[It's] the second year of the Mark Clements adaptation, we'll see what changes he made. That's always a popular thing."
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas, First Stage -- November 24 through December 31
"If I had to pick one Christmas show to take my family to, it would be A Charlie Brown Christmas at First Stage," says Begel.
4. Miracle on South Division Street, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre -- November 22 through December 17
"It's a great performance of a lousy play," says Begel. "I hate to say it. It's just - it's a play that's like a one joke play, it's like stand-up comedy... And it's too bad because I think the concept behind the thing is really, pretty good."
5. Holmes and Watson, Milwaukee Rep -- November 14 through December 17
"It's as interesting a play as you'll see this year, something totally unexpected. I mean, I went in and I'm rarely really, really surprised. This one surprised from beginning to end," says Begel.
6. The Secret Mask, Next Act Theatre -- November 16 through December 10
"It is a performance for the absolute ages," says Begel. "He's a man who's suffered a stroke, and his son who he hasn't seen in 40 years... comes in. It's their relationship. It's definitely a father-son show, but it's also a mother-daughter show. It's about the relationship between a parent and a child... and what it takes to keep that relationship going."