A hell of a lot of fantasy is coming to inhabit small stages in Milwaukee this month. Fairies, time travelers, nymphs a Shakespearian wizard, a dragon and at least one Hobbit are drawn to small Milwaukee stages this month. The month ends with an opening featuring Cassandra Bissell. It may not exactly be fantasy, but Bissel is kinda magical in her own way. Here’s a look at what’s opening on small stages in February.
Shakespeare. Time travel. Sunstone Studios explores something new with the big premiere of playwright Rick Bingen’s Whirligig of Time. There’s a Shakespeare-themed pub in London. There are Shakespeare-themed drinks. Things happen. (The aforementioned time travel and such.) Sounds like fun fantasy in the intimate space of one of Milwaukee’s smallest theatre spaces. Tim Kietzman directs a show featuring original musical compositions by Kaila Bingen. February 3rd - 18th on 127 E Wells St. Bingen’s script calls for seven actors, which should feel like a relatively large crowd for this month’s trip to Sunstone. (The space has recently been home to smaller casts.) For more information, visit Sunstone online.
I love how ambitious projects can find their way onto even the smallest of stages. Sometimes it’s like...it’s like a hobbit walking into Mordor. This month First Stage presents a small-stage adaptation of a J.R.R. Tolkien classic as it stagesThe Hobbit at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center on 325 W Walnut St. Some 96,000 words are lovingly compressed into a 90 minute stage drama as Bilbo, Smaug, Sting and the One Ring all come to inhabit a cozym little stage attended by parent and children Feb. 3 - Mar. 5. For ticket reservations and more, visit First Stage online.
Music and dance fuse in a cozy space as Danceworks and Milwaukee Opera Theatre present a staging of Antonín Dvořák’s classic story of magic, nymphs, love and the moon. Between the Stage Direction of Jill Anna Ponasik and the choreography of Christal Wagner, this should be a spellbinding experience. The traditional runtime of Dvořák’s opera is like...three hours. I ran into Ponasik recently and she assures me that the show is actually like...one hour long. As I recall, she also assures me that they haven’t abridged it or messed with the fabric of space and time or anything like that. Ponasik didn’t exactly explain to me how they manage this...but she didn’t NOT tell me either. Evidently it has something to do with Jason Powell, who not only adapted the opera for the production...he also plays The Moon. I will not question his powers further. Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Danceworks’ production of Russalka runs February 9-12 at Danceworks Studio Theatre on 1661 N Water Street. For more information, visit MOT online.
Voices Found Repertory chooses the coldest month of the year to go tropical as it presents The Tempest at Inspiration Studios in West Allis. William Molitor plays Prospero in a streamlined 5-person cast that includes charming longtime VFR-er Hannah Kubiak, Chloe Attalla, Grace Berendt and Cory Fitzsimmons. It sounds like kind of a tricky thing to manage, but these guys know what they’re doing. The warmth inhabits the stage for two-hour stretches February 10th - 19th on 1500 S 73rd St. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook page.
The one big non-fantasy to open on a small stage this month is a romance that is delivered entirely in rhyming verse. Cassandra Bissell and Neil Brookshire play a couple of university professors who had engaged in “coitus on a campus green.” They take turns explaining themselves in a romantic comedy that is cute in the best possible way. Playwright Mickle Maher’s There Is a Happiness That Morning Is runs February 23 - March 19th in a production with Next Act Theatre. For ticket reservations and more, visit Next Act online.