I’m from Appleton, Wisconsin. So is big-name Hollywood actor Willem Dafoe. He moved Appleton to Milwaukee to study acting at UWM...and then went out to New York to win an Academy Award and then become the Green Goblin. Milwaukee is a transitional market. Our talent pool feeds terminal markets like LA and New York...where good talent goes...to die.
Seriously though: there are talented actors are leaving town every year. As the title of the horror film says...y’know...”Sometimes They Come Back,” but there’s always more talent leaving town than coming back in any given year.
Fresh Faces for Shakespeare
In light of the talent drain, it’s always fun to stumble across a cast list for a show featuring a whole bunch of names I haven’t heard of yet. See young actors while they're making early appearances and you'll have that much more time to hang out with them from a theatre seat before they leave town. Young talent can sometimes be found huddling together in tiny, little productions on small stages in some of the more pleasant margins of the city. Such is the case with Original Practices Milwaukee’s production of As You Like It on the East Side this coming weekend. Nearly half of the actors in the show are almost completely new to me.
Hey: I know THESE people
Even the names I recognize in the cast list look relatively fresh. By far the most recognizable name in the cast is Zach Woods, who has worked with Kohl’s Wild Theater, the Skylight, First Stage and has featured rather prominently at the Brumder...this guy gets around. He should. He’s a charismatic talent onstage. Also appearing in the cast are Bryant Mason and James Sevens: a couple of guys of reasonably advanced experience. It’s nice to see Jim Donaldson listed in a show as well. He’s great for light Shakespearian comedy--a genuinely funny guy with some of the most distinctive facial hair I’ve ever seen on an actual human being.
And then there are relatively new actors
The other 3/7 of the cast is a complete unknown to me and it makes me wish I could make the show (which runs this weekend only.) No idea what to expect here.
I may well have seen Jordyn Stewart onstage with my kids during a Kohl’s Wild Theatre performance not too long ago. She’s also a teaching artist at Lake Country Playhouse and performed in Bliss (or Emily Post is Dead!) last December for Renaissance Theaterworks “Groundworks” emerging artists’ series. (She’ll be appearing in the July 12th performance of As You Like It.)
Megan Orcholski is a PhD student at UWM who directed the weird alt-sitcom short Roommates that appeared in Cooperative Performances’ shorts festival earlier this summer, but I don’t believe I have ever seen her onstage. (She’ll be appearing in the July 14th performance of As You Like It.)
And this is the first time I’ve ever seen the name Paige Bourne, but in my defense, she looks young enough to have been in kindergarten when I started reviewing theatre. So I believe I can be forgiven for not having seen her onstage before. These three shiny, new actors are a big reason I regret that I am unlikely to be able to attend the show.
(I went to three shows last week. I’m going to three shows next week. There’s no way around other obligations this week. I will, however, be hanging out with Edgar Allen Poe in the Company of Strangers under Wisconsin Avenue on Friday the 13th. Look for a review of THAT show on Saturday morning.)
It’s First Folio Style So It’s Fun
It’s going to be an intimate show. When Shakespeare gets close, it can be fun. Here they’re performing the light comedy of As You Like It in a first folio style that engages the audience that is so very close to all of the action onstage. Women will disguise themselves as men. Identities will be mistaken. Love will be complicated and convoluted. And everything will work out in the end. Not a bad evening’s entertainment for a weekend in July.
Two Performance. Two Venues
The first performance will be on July 12th at 6:30 p.m. at the Villa Terrace Museum on 2220 N Terrace Ave. It’s a gorgeous space for Shakespeare. (I’ve seen his work there before.) There’s a very classy and classical feel about the space that pairs well with the poetic dialogue.
Then the show closes with its second performance on a Saturday, July 14th matinee at 3:30 p.m. a couple of days and 0.8 miles from when and where it opened. Its a second and final performance is at a second museum: the Charles Allis on 1801 N. Prospect Avenue.
Tickets are $10 each and available at the door before the performance. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook page.