Spring opens-up on Milwaukee stages this year with a great deal of music. This coming month: a composer, a couple of bards, a bubble boy and quite a lot more greet local audiences attending small stages in and around Milwaukee.
Bubble Boy The Musical
Bombshell Theatre Company opens the month with the warmly comic musical Bubble Boy. Sweetly lovable Joey Chelius plays Jimmy Livingston--a young man born without much in the way of an immune system. His sterile world is turned upside down when he falls in love with the girl next door (played by the stunning Rae Pare.) It’s a weird musical love story featuring a couple of really impressive romantic leads. The show runs April 1st - 10th at Inspiration Studios on 1500 S. 73rd St. in West Allis. For ticket reservations and more, visit Bombshell Theatre online.
Jill Anna Ponasik and Ruben Piirainen have put together an evening with legendary composer Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff courtesy of composer/lyricist Dave Malloy. A young Rach’s first piano concerto has debuted to disastrous response. Now he’s got to pull himself together and develop what future generations will consider his greatest achievement: his second piano concerto. The cast features Joe Picchetti, Jenny Wanasek, Joel Kopischke and more. The show runs Apr. 1 - 9 at the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin on 813 E. Kilbourn Ave. For more information, visit Milwaukee Opera Theatre online.
One of the best stage dramas to come out of the 20th century powerfully overshadows a few projects that rest in its shadow. It’s interesting to not that there was an early 1970s musical adaptation of the powerful story. Raisin was originally staged back in the early 1970s. A mixture of jazz, gospel and 70’s pop that fuses into Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun this month in a production brought to the Broadway Theatre Center by Skylight Music Theatre. The show (which runs Apr. 8 - 24) is directed and choreographed by Kenneth L. Roberson. For more information, visit Skylight online.
Shakespeare RAW: Antony and Cleopatra
Boozy Bard follows-up its sword and sandals staging of Julius Caesar with what it’s referring as its “even sword-ier sequel” Antony and Cleopatra. The fast-paced, informal and vastly underprepared roll with Shakespeare makes it to The Best Place Tavern and the Historic Pabst Brewery Apr. 11 -13. The 7-10 pm show is a fun opening to the week to those who can make it. Actors pick roles at random. There will be beer. And togas. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook page.
It’s actually a pretty clever idea for a story. A couple of Shakespeare’s contemporaries learn a little bit about the future. Discovering that the biggest shows of tomorrow will feature singing, dancing and acting all at the same time, they decide to do something a little bit ahead of its time. The show debuted on Broadway back in 2015. This coming April, Sunset Playhouse stages a production from its home in Elm Grove April 21st - May 8th. For more information, visit Sunset Playhouse online.
The Amazing Lemonade Girl
First Stage closes-out the month with a playwright James DeVita’s adaptation of a true story. Molly Rhode directs the story of Alexandra “Alex” Scott--a little girl suffering from cancer who raised money for childhood cancer research with a simple lemonade stand. The inspiring story runs April 22 - May 15 at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater. For more information, visit First Stage online.
Refugees flood out of Ukraine. They aren’t alone in the winding march of history. The countless masses of people marched out of their homes is appalling. This Spring Theatre Gigante looks to add a little aid to those suffering from the current crisis with the aid of Italy’s Teatro delle Albe. The two theatre companies are presenting a dramatic monologue online to benefit Ukrainian refugees. Beyond being a noble cause, Teatre delle Albe’s Rumore di acque (Noise in the Waters) is a compelling look at darker side of human consciousness. It’s chilling, darkly comic and deeply, deeply iconic.
It all begins in silent darkness. Alessandro Renda approaches a darkened stage...eyes masked in sunglasses...body masked in a military uniform. He’s the general. He has come to address his own insecurities with a powerful show of force. He’s suffering, but he’s doing so with white gloved fists in an impeccable military uniform. There are some remarkably haunting moments in the narrative. The horrors of refugee migration come across vividly as expected. The numbers are a bit of an unexpected shock. Numbers are projected behind the General...everyone of them is a life.
The General serves in the middle of the water between Italy and North Africa. Refugees brave treacherous waters in hopes of escaping to Italy. It is the General’s job to keep track of it all from an island in the middle of an ocean. It’s not an easy job. He’s losing his mind, but he’s doing it in style. He’s bathed in light from some photonic cannon as he writhes around defiantly in an attempt to show some sort of strength to the darkness which surrounds him.
The monologue was written by Marco Martinelli, who also directs. It is performed in Italian with English subtitles. An original score composed by Fratelli Mancuso punctuates the action. Moods are amplified and mutated by the voices of a couple of men in the shadows. The show has the feel of a nightmare. An Italian voice strikes out from the darkness describing horrors in dark tones. In an hour it is finished. But it’s not over. It’s never over. People continue to flee from their homes. The forced migration continues as it echoes back into the recurring nightmare of history.
Theatre Gigante and Teatro delle Albe present Rumore di acque (Noise in the Waters) on Vimeo online through Apr. 3rd. Codes for the online presentation can be accessed through donations to the United Nations Refugee Agency for Ukrainian Refugees. For more information, visit Theatre Gigante online.