Milwaukee theatre openings in March have sort of a three-act plot structure. We open with themes of death at the beginning of the month...then move on to jazz-age dance and music and some light Shakespearian comedy followed by an even-tempered sort of warm-hearted dramas--one based on a beloved book and another featuring a book of an entirely different kind. So three acts: Sadness. Then Dance and Comedy. Then cozy drama. Here’s a look.
Okay, so it’s not exactly about death. It’s about what happens to those death leaves behind. It’s an ensemble piece about three women who meet each other in the presence of their late husbands’ graves. The Cemetery Club graces the stage of the Sunset Playhouse at the beginning of the month. Life moves on even after death in a charming script that should play well at the end of a placid suburban winter. Donna Daniels directs the poignant contemporary comedic drama March 2 - 19 at Sunset’s space on 700 Wall Street in Elm Grove. For more information, visit Sunset online.
This one IS serious drama. Right Before I Go concerns playwright/TV screenwriter Stan Zimmerman (The Golden Girls, Roseanne, The Gilmore Girls) and his journey to understand his friend’s suicide. He’s not able to read his friend’s suicide note, so he reads the suicide notes of others online. The play explores suicide notes of celebrities, veterans and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Erica Case & Sara Kohlbeck direct. All-In Productions and The Medical College of Wisconsin present a two-performance staging of the drama March 3 - 4 at Sunstone Studios on 127 E Wells Street. For more information, visit All-In online.
UWM Theatre lightens-up the late winter with a celebration the ’30s and ’40s. Fran Charnas’ The All Night Strut is billed by Music Theatre International as “an easy-to-produce crowd pleaser, has minimal set requirements and features a small orchestra and a small, flexibly sized ensemble cast.” The dance of the era accompanies songs like “Tuxedo Junction,” “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing.) The Gershwins, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and more swing across the UWM Mainstage one week only March 8 - 12. Steven Decker directs with musical direction and choreography by Ryan Cappleman. For more information, visit UWM Peck School of the Arts online.
Boozy Bard returns the The Best Place Tavern on on 917 W Juneau Avenue this month, They will be presenting a Shakespeare RAW production of As You Like It. A painstakingly adapted script of Shakespeare’s classic comedy is presented with an open, irreverent style that can feel more than a bit like improv comedy. (Actors are chosen for roles at random before the shows starts.) It’s been a lot of fun following the Facebook posts by Bardwriter Andrea Roedel-Schroeder regarding the editing process. Evidently she had to cut the character of Jacques entirely. Touchstone remains in the current edit. (“I’m sorry..." she says, "having 2 separate dingdongs is messing up the scene flow.” She’s posted animated GIFs of a ridiculously large pair of scissors and an enraged Daniel Day-Lewis. It’s a whole thing...) Warmer weather is welcomed by a cozy night with Shakespeare March 13th - 14th. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook page.
The local small stage has been really good to actress Cassandra Bissel lately. She's been really good to it too. She's delivering some impressively intricate emotion in the role of an understandably frustrated professor with Next Act through the end of winter. At month's end, she returns to the exact same stage on 255 S Water St. with an entirely different theatre company: Renaissance Theaterworks. Bissell appears in the world-premiere production of Kristin Idaszak's one-person drama Tidy. Bissell plays a woman excavating her life in a sea of stuff as guided by Marie Kondo's self-help book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The show runs March 24 - April 16. For more information, visit Renassaisnce online.
This month First Stage goes from a post-apocalyptic Middle Earth to the wacky, shiny technicolor of a cel animated Bikini Bottom. (That one opens in a couple of days.) Late this month the children’s theater group shuffles off to a genteel poverty in 19th century Concord, Massachusetts. The talented Karen Estrada directs the stage Kate Hamill adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel Little Women. The warm, emotionally rich drama of the March sisters makes its way to the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center from March 24th through April 2nd. For more information, visit First Stage online.