Theater

Marcus Center / Facebook

Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe first opened its doors in 1959, and in the more than half century since, the franchise has made a fine art of improvised sketch comedy. The list of folks who have worked there at some point in their careers reads like a who’s who of American comedy. 

Tanya Dhein

For decades, holiday variety specials on TV offered audiences a doorway into the living rooms of big celebrities like Perry Como, Andy Williams and Bing Crosby. Of course, the living rooms were really soundstages and the family moments a bit over-scripted; but all the same, these shows were a special part of the season for families around the country.

Jenny Plevin

When Black Nativity opened in New York in 1961, Langston Hughes had been a published poet and essayist for 40 years. It was one of the first plays by an African American to be staged off-Broadway. And it has received productions around the country ever since.

NIAID / Wikimedia

You are currently surrounded by microbes. These single-cell organisms are the oldest life forms on earth and are by far the most abundant. And although they can’t be seen with the naked eye, microbes are the force behind all life on earth. 

It’s this hidden world all around us that inspired Animolecules, a sci-dance show conceived and created by Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theater and co-directors Jenny Reinke and Brian Rott. 

Michael Brosilow / Milwaukee Rep

For more than four decades, the Milwaukee Rep has presented an annual production of the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.  For many of those years, the show has moved from the usual Milwaukee Rep stages to the historic Pabst Theater. This year is no exception.

This time of year finds many theaters and performing arts groups producing holiday fare, from “A Christmas Carol” to “Black Nativity” to “The Nutcracker”, to more tongue-in-cheek performances like “Holiday Hell: The Curse of Perry Williams.”

Theatre RED / facebook.com

At a time when only men were allowed to have adventures, some 18th century women had other ideas.

Milwaukee’s Theatre RED produces the world premiere of local playwright Liz Shipe’s Bonny Anne Bonny. It's a female pirate adventure based on real people - Anne Bonny and Mary Read. "It's highly fictionalized...we use the ideas and the spirit of these characters, but we use them to tell this really fun high seas adventure story," explains Shipe.

Itzhak Andres / Wikimedia

The rise of digitization has made archiving and sharing scholarly information much easier than it once was, especially for subjects with a selective appeal. Such is the case with Yiddish theater.

The Yiddish theater flourished in 19th and early 20th Century Europe and, towards the end of its heyday, in the United States. The subject matter ranged from the humorous, to the melodramatic or even political. No matter the central topic, Yiddish theater was wildly popular for Jewish audiences around the world.

The Boulevard Theatre / Facebook

It’s been more than 50 years since the last streetcar roamed through Milwaukee. But some Milwaukee-natives, like Mark Bucher, still remembers them.

Renaissance Theaterworks

The plot reads like something out of a tabloid. Over the course of three years, three women all marry the same man. Not at the same time, of course. But they befall the same fate - murdered for their trouble. The fact that this is a true story just adds to the intrigue.

Renaissance Theatreworks opens their season with The Drowning Girls, based on the true stories of "The Brides in the Bath" murders in England, during the early 1900s. 

Photo by Stephanie Berger / sistercarrie.com

Theodore Dreiser was one of America’s great novelists in the early part of the 2oth century. His books reflected a changing America as the country and the world became a less rural and more urban place.

Among the themes he explored was the changing role of women, far before the modern feminist movement. Sister Carrie is an early Dreiser novel and follows Carrie from rural Wisconsin to Chicago as she seeks to make a new life.

Tanya Dhein

Milwaukee's InTandem Theatre is known for its love of comedy. And the play opening Thursday falls square in the realm of comedy.

Local playwright Michael Neville wrote Dracula Vs. the Nazis a couple decades ago, and InTandem put it on ten years ago. It’s a two-person, quick-change show that sees each actor take on multiple roles.

Michael Brosilow

  

When Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, it was a huge step forward in the role of African-Americans in professional sports. But big-time, professional sports had a much earlier story of integration in this country.

Next Act Theatre / facebook

Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those others that have been tried." That sentiment that democracy is beautiful, messy and worth the fight is at the core of Lauren Gunderson’s 2013 play, The Taming.

The play opens Friday at Next Act Theatre, and features an all-woman cast that travels back and forth between present day and the 1787 Continental Congress.

alchemisttheatre.com

David Mamet is one of this country’s great playwrights.  From plays such as American Buffalo to Glengarry Glenross, to Oleanna and Speed the Plow, Mamet’s is a particularly American voice.

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