May 2, 2013
It’s Opening Night!! Tonight is first performance of Midsummer Jersey at Hamilton High School in Sussex. The show will run tonight through Sunday.
Wait?!?! What???? You’ve never heard of Midsummer Jersey? This comedy is a fairly recent creation of Ken Ludwig, the genius that has brought us wonderful shows like Lend Me A Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo and many others. Just think Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream meets Jersey Shore. I know, I know. I was skeptical at first too. But last night, Kristi and I went to the parent preview and it was awesomely funny.
The play starts out just prior to the wedding of Governor Athens to his girlfriend, Hippolyta. Mia and her boyfriend Lyle take off for Canada where they plan to be married. They are followed by Mia’s old boyfriend, Dennis, and her BFF, Helene. As the story progresses, we meet Oberon, Titania, Puck, and a host of fairies making mischief on the Jersey beach. On top of that, we see a band from a Jersey hair salon rehearsing an abbreviated version of Romeo and Juliet that they hope to perform the Governor’s wedding celebration. Sound familiar?
I have to admit that I have read the original play by Shakespeare a couple of times and seen it at least once. It is quite possible that knowing the show makes some of the humor all that much funnier. Even so, the performances of the students really sold it for me. Is this the best high school production I’ve ever seen? Probably not. But the strong script and the extra effort of these budding thespians really make it a show I can heartily recommend to my friends.
To me, the best parts of the show are the banter between Oberon (A.J. Magoon) and Puck (Sree Karri) and the arguments between Oberon and Titania (Grace Thompson)… but then again I may be a little biased there. The four lovers (Mia, Lyle, Helene, and Dennis) are played by relative newcomers to the stage and they do an outstanding job of portraying New Jersey teens in love. Kudos to the entire cast and crew. I can’t wait to see it again on Friday night.
December 3, 2012
On Friday night, we continued a family holiday tradition by going to see Candy Cane Tales and Holiday Carols at the Waukesha Civic Theatre. This is the fourth year in a row that the theatre has presented this musical variety show for the holidays and we all agreed that this year was best one so far.
When the idea of this show was first conceived, the intention was to put together a live performance similar to the old holiday TV specials that were hosted by Bing Crosby and Perry Como in the 70s. The show was developed by John Cramer and he did a phenomenal job the first few years putting together a structure that allowed for a variety of songs and sketches to be switched out each year to keep the program fresh. This year, Jacob Sudbrink and Jes Hancock, enhanced the format by adding an underlying story to connect the individual pieces together. Additionally, they added several of the new humorous songs that had the audience in stitches.
Not to take away anything from the performances of previous years, but I have to say that this year’s show is extremely well cast. Paul Burkard as the father, Mark Cage as the Snow Miser, and Isaiah Reynolds as the Grinch were my favorites. Additionally, Martin Graffenius was absolutely superb with his solos of White Christmas and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. And let’s not forget the one individual that has been in it every year so far as WCT’s very own Santa Claus, Jim Volden.
If you have seen it before and were thinking about skipping it this year… DON’T! If you haven’t seen it yet, call the theatre now or go online to get your ticket your right away. You don’t want to miss the chance to start your own holiday tradition.
October 26, 2012
Tonight is Opening Night for Carmen at the Florentine Opera Company.
Erin was once again able to earn a spot in the children’s chorus in an opera with the Florentine Opera Company. Last year at this time, she was in Puccini’s Turandot and this year she is in Bizet’s Carmen. On Wednesday night, Kristi and I had the opportunity to attend the Orchestra Dress Rehearsal and it was incredible. I’m sure that the experience was enhanced by the fact that we were lucky enough to be in box seats as well.
This is only the second opera that I have ever been to and after the rigidness and formality of Turandot last year, I wasn’t sure that Opera was an art form that I could fully embrace. Wednesday night completely changed my mind. Carmen was riveting, seductive, and full of action and I was amazed at how quickly those three hours flew by. And what made me really proud was how much energy the children’s chorus brought with them in their two brief appearances on stage. As a proud Dad, I was focusing mostly on Erin when she was on stage. It was impressive to watch her and the rest of kids put so much life into their characters.
The show only runs for two performances at Uihlein Hall at Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (Tonight at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:30pm). If you ever had an interest in seeing an opera, this is the one to see. I know that I am looking forward to seeing it again on Sunday.
October 13, 2012
Last night, I went to the Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee’s Walkers Point neighborhood to see Microcrisis. All of the other Dramagoons had plans already, so I went alone. Before I talk about the show, I have to say that I really like Next Act’s new theatre. It is a 150 seat theatre with a thrust stage, making for an intimate experience for every patron. In a time when other local theatres are struggling to make ends meet, it is nice to see someone build a beautiful brand-new facility. I wish them all the luck in the future.
The show itself, Microcrisis, was fantastic. It is an edgy, satirical look at the banking and investment industry. It plays off of the recent economic crisis and shows us that situations like that could happen again if we aren’t careful. Having worked at two separate investment companies, I found the show profoundly funny. The characterizations by the actors and their dialogue was spot on. The three main actors, David Cecsarini as the sleazy investment banker, Alexandra Bonesho as the naive intern turned micro-loan entrepreneur, and Michael Cotey as the nerdy Harvard student with aspirations of grandeur, were wonderful to watch.
On a side note, the edginess of this show might turn off your typical theatre patron. The language and actions of the characters mimicked something that you might see on the big screen. The number of F-bombs alone was staggering. Being the type of person that sees “a lot” of community theatre, I was a little shocked at first. After a while, I realized that is exactly what live-theatre needs. I’ve have talked at length with others in the theatre community about finding ways to get more people to come to the theatre. While I don’t want to alienate current theatre audiences, I think that these edgy shows that expose a glimpse of real life might be just the thing to draw in a new type of theatre-goer.
August 18, 2012
Kristi, Erin, and I went to see Once On This Island at the Waukesha Civic Theatre last night. It was an amazing show. The music was beautiful, the dancing was fun and energetic, and the story was compelling. All of the performers in the show did a superb job. I’m so glad that we got the opportunity to see it.
Because I am on the Board of Directors at the theatre, I have access to the attendance numbers for many of the shows. Unfortunately, this wonderful show hasn’t been as well attended as the theatre had hoped. I’m sure that it was a combination on the great weather recently, the various other entertainment options, and the fact that this show doesn’t have the name recognition of other, more popular musicals.
I would like to make a plea to all of my fantastic friends. There are only three more performances left; 2pm and 6pm today, August 18th, and 2pm tomorrow, August 19th. Please go see this beautiful musical. I’m sure that you aren’t familiar with the title but trust me when I say that you won’t regret making the effort. The 2pm performance is the scheduled “Pay What You Can” performance. You pay whatever you can afford. There is no better way to see live theatre when your cash is running low. The ticket price for the other two performances is only $10 if you mention the special coupon code: Daniel. An amazing bargain for such an excellent piece of musical theatre.
August 10, 2012
Tonight begins the final weekend of Fiddler On The Roof with Imagination Theatre of Germantown at Brown Deer High School. That means that there are only three performances left; 7pm tonight, tomorrow night at 7pm, and Sunday afternoon at 3pm.
Last night during the brush up rehearsal, we got the chance to sit in the theatre and watch those parts of the show that we aren’t in. It was the first time that we’ve able to watch since “tech week” began almost two weeks ago. I have to say that it has become quite a charming show. I’ve always known that it was a great production but it was nice to see how much everyone has tweaked their characters and made them so believable.
The chemistry between Rick Richter as Tevya and Kristen Mickie as Golde is so genuine. You can feel the tenderness just under the harsh bickering that would come from being married for 25 years. Additionally, I would say that the three younger couples (Rae Pare and Matt Wiemeri as Tzeitel and Motel, Meg DeMunck and Austin Ritchie as Hodel and Perchik, and Rachel Proite and Ben Johnson as Chava and Fyedka) also do an excellent job at making you truly believe that they are young people in love.
Erin and I have really enjoyed getting to be a part of this fantastic show. If you are looking for something to do this weekend, please come out and enjoy live community theatre at its finest.
August 3, 2012
Erin and I have made it through “tech week” with the help of Kristi working back-stage as a kid-wrangler for a couple of days. Tonight is Opening Night for Fiddler On The Roof! This show has really come together over the last week and it is going to be wonderful.
There are going to be only six performances over the next two weekends. You can get more information and purchase tickets online at the Imagination Theatre of Germantown website. Please consider coming out to see this charming classic.
July 30, 2012
Oy! I can’t believe it. We are less than a week away from the opening night of Fiddler On The Roof with Imagination Theatre of Germantown and I just realized that haven’t posted anything on the Dramagoons blog. To catch you up, Erin and I were cast in the show back in late May. Erin is in the chorus and I will be playing the Rabbi.
For the last couple of months, Erin and I have been enjoying our summer “tradition” of rehearsing a musical together. We now find ourselves at the beginning of tech-week and a mere 5 days away from opening night. I have to say that this is going to be a wonderful show. The individuals in the lead roles are all so perfectly cast. It has been so enjoyable to watch them create their characters in rehearsal. I’m sure that you will find them just as endearing as I do.
This is the second summer for Erin and me to be in a show together. And although our characters don’t interact directly on-stage, it is fun to work with her in the show and watch her grow as a person and a performer. If you have the chance to be in show with your kids, do it! It is a bonding experience that neither of you will ever forget.
The only downside of this whole experience is that I had to grow beard during the hottest summer on record. I last shaved on May 28th and I am looking forward to reacquainting myself with my razor soon.
Please come out and see this amazing show at Brown Deer High School. It runs for six performances over two weekends, August 3rd through August 12th. Go to the Imagination Theatre of Germantown website for more information and to buy tickets.
June 8, 2012
I am officially finished with 10% of the plays in the Dramagoon Shakespeare Challenge. On Monday, after nearly 3 weeks, I finally made it through The Merry Wives of Windsor. It was the fourth play in the “challenge” and the last of the initial set of plays that I purchased when starting out on this adventure. I had initially given myself three weeks per play to allow for when other things pop up. This was the only one so far where I needed all three weeks. In fact, I have been averaging close to two weeks per play. For some reason, I had quite a bit of difficulty making it through The Merry Wives of Windsor. If I tried reading it before bed or in a quiet room, I would soon nod off. And this is odd to me because I saw the play several years ago and really found the performance quite exciting.
It is possible that I was affected by the reviews of the play that I had previously seen. Most of them talked about how poorly written this play is. I have to say that I wasn’t wild about reading it. It is rumored that Queen Elizabeth liked Falstaff in Henry IV, Part I and Henry IV, Part II so much that she requested that Shakespeare write a play about Falstaff in love. For some reason, I found reading this one to be dull and boring.
The premise is that this buffoonish, fat knight, Falstaff, think so much of himself that he make romantic overtures by letter to two separate married women in Windsor (Mistresses Page and Ford) and assumes that they will cheat on their husbands to be with a man such as he. He doesn’t count on them confiding this fact to each other and comparing letters. The remainder of the play consists of the two wives finding ways to abuse Falstaff for being so self-important. Shakespeare also adds the “B” plot where Mistress Page’s daughter is courted by three separate men. I’m not actually sure why that is included in this play other than to fill time.
If the rumor about Queen Elizabeth requesting the play is true, I would assume that she might have been very upset. The only person that Falstaff is in love with in this story is himself.
Next up in the challenge is The Taming of the Shrew. I started reading it on Monday night and I like it much better. For those keeping track or wanting to join the challenge, the next one after that will be Troilus and Cressida. Wish me luck on that one. I don’t believe that I even know the premise of the story.
May 16, 2012
Last night, I finished reading the third play in the Dramagoon Shakespeare Challenge, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This was the first of these plays where I had only limited knowledge of the play ahead of time. I was worried that without an awareness of the story-line, the language might be too difficult to follow. I was happy to find out that was not the case. In fact, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is probably one of the most complex plays ever written and I was able to keep it all straight. This gives me hope for the remainder of this challenge.
The Shakespeare scholars tell us that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play that confronts us with the mysteries of love and romantic desire. And the bard does this with no less than four or five overlapping story-lines. It is quite confusing to keep it all straight. It all works together in the end but as I was finishing reading the other night, I had another idea about how this convoluted play really came together.
With all of the various plots and story-lines, I imagined that this play was written by a committee. In my imagination, I see Shakespeare and a bunch of the actors of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men sitting around at a pub one night and Shakespeare is telling them about his new play about the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. He explains that he is having writers block about how the story should play out. Can’t you just see the interaction at the table? One actor says “I know, add a love triangle for Theseus to officiate over… with an overbearing dad that wants his daughter to marry this guy but she wants to marry this other guy.” And then another actor chimes in with “Oh, and give the girl a friend that is madly in love with that first guy. And then later on… have both guys fall in love with her due to some weird magic gone wrong.” Then someone chimes in “Speaking of magic, you should have this epic battle between the King and Queen of the fairies where some innocent humans get caught in the crossfire, maybe even some of some those lovers.” Another actor speaks up with “You know what would be really funny? You should have a play within the play. A really bad, tragic play… with really bad actors… no, not actors… laborers pretending to be actors… oh and they don’t know anything about theatre so they keep stepping out of character to explain what they are doing to the audience. That would be hilarious.”
I could go on with this dialogue to explain the whole play but I think that you get my drift. What do you think? Is it a plausible explanation? I could totally see it happening that way. It probably didn’t but you never know.
For each one of Shakespeare’s plays that I have read so far, I have had the opportunity to view it in some other form either while reading or shortly thereafter. With Much Ado About Nothing, I saw the Kenneth Branagh version of the movie and with The Comedy of Errors, I saw it performed live at Marquette University. For this play, I have chosen to view it in graphic novel form. Brooke McEldowney, the creator of the Pibgorn and 9 Chickweed Lane comic strips, has developed a graphic novel of A Midsummer Night’s Dream set like a 1930s Busby Berkeley gangster movie. He has cast the characters from his comic strips as the characters in the play and made some slight adjustments accordingly. The mechanicals are changed into group of chorus girls and Robin Goodfellow is a young woman that enjoys a “special” relationship with Oberon. It is quite an interesting interpretation of the play.