A View From The Bridge at WCT

June 10, 2014

A View From The Bridge at Waukesha Civic Theatre

AJ and I went to see A View From The Bridge at Waukesha Civic Theatre on Friday night. This show was written by Arthur Miller, an American playwright known for heavy, dark dramas like Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. Prior to Friday night, I was not intimately familiar with this show and wasn’t sure if I wanted to sit through heavy drama in a dark theatre at the beginning June, especially as the weather has been nice lately. Boy, I am sure glad that I did.

AJ and I both agree that this is the singular BEST community theatre production that we have seen in years. If you know anything about either of us, you would know that although we enjoy all kinds of theatre, we tend to nitpick the shows that we see. Even the ones that we love. But in this show, we could find nothing to pick on. The set is amazing, the costumes are wonderful, and cast does an amazing job. Their accents are so completely perfect for their characters. Noah Silverstein, the actor that plays the protaganist, Eddie Carbone, is an absolute thrill to watch. And Jacqueline Gosz, who plays his wife Beatrice, is truly believable in her role. The other stand-out in the cast is Ben Ludwig, a local high school senior that plays the Italian immigrant, Rodolpho. Of course, the rest of the cast is fantastic as well.

For me, a show is truly great when I totally forget that I am watching a show and I become invested in what is actually happening to the characters. I start to see them as real people and not actors playing a part. That happened for me on Friday night.

So, here is the deal. I know that it is June and the weather has been nice lately. And I’m sure that the last place that you want to be is in a dark theatre watching a heavy show. But you really, really shouldn’t miss this fantastic show. There are only eight more performances over the next two weekends. Please, please, please do yourself a favor and go out to Waukesha Civic Theatre and support these fine actors. You’ll be glad that you did.

Dramagoon Band Updates

June 3, 2014

Erin and AJ at the beginning of Marching Band season.

I know that I tend to sing the praises of Erin and AJ quite a bit, but I am so very proud of them that I can’t really help it. If the uncontrollable gushing of a proud parent makes you queasy, please stop reading now.

Okay, now that only the hearty souls remain, I will proceed. I have some fantastic Hamilton Charger Band news about each of them. After the coin toss, I have elected to share Erin’s news first. This spring Erin competed with four other individuals for one of the three available spots as drum major of the Hamilton Charger Marching Band. Drum majors conduct the band during the marching band competition season in the fall. The candidates for drum major compete in front of the entire band and the choice is decided with a popular vote by the band members. Two sophomores and Erin (the only freshman) were selected by their peers. Congratulations, Erin! You will be a spectacular drum major.

And now for AJ’s news. Every year, the band director gives out several awards to the outgoing seniors in recognition of their contributions over the past four years. Only three of those awards also come with a $500 scholarship from the band booster organization; the John Philip Sousa Band award, the Patrick S. Gilmore Band award, and the Louis Armstrong Jazz award. At the spring band concert in May, AJ was presented with the Patrick S. Gilmore Band award and scholarship. Way to go, AJ! It has been a joy to watch you play over the years.

Garrison Keillor at UWM

May 6, 2014

Last night, A.J. and I attended a “book reading of sorts” at the UWM Ballroom. Garrison Keillor, the famed host of A Prairie Home Companion, is touring America promoting his new book, The Keillor Reader. He didn’t actually read from his book, however. What he did was much better. He entertained the audience for an a hour and half or more with quaint anecdotes, stories of his life, advice for the future, and even a couple of songs (with audience participation). He followed that up with another half hour of questions from the audience and at least another couple of hours signing his books. And in all that time, I didn’t see him sit down once.

While signing books, he spent several minutes with each individual, talking with them and making them feel special and unique. I don’t believe that I have ever met a more humble, down-to-earth celebrity. He was generous with his time and attention to everyone in the room.

Back in March, 2012, Kristi, Erin, and I got to see A Prairie Home Companion at the Milwaukee Theatre when it was touring. I thoroughly enjoyed myself that night and would recommend seeing that show to anyone. But I have to admit that I had an even better time last night. Mr. Keillor walked through the audience the entire time that he presented and you felt like you really got to know him.

Nancy Drew at First Stage

May 5, 2014

Nancy Drew Set - First Stage

On Sunday afternoon, most of the Magoon family took in a performance of Nancy Drew and her BIGGEST CASE EVER at First Stage. Obviously, we were there to support A.J. in his role as Ned Nickerson, Nancy Drew’s boyfriend. I may be slightly biased but I think he does an amazing job as Ned. It was fun to see him on stage again at First Stage in one last show as a youth performer.

This is an absolutely wonderful show and I would heartily recommend seeing it before it closes. While waiting for the show to begin, it was fun to look at all of the terrific items on the set; some of which were needed for the show and some of which were references to the many Nancy Drew books. The set was just stellar and so useful for the various locations needed in the script. In fact, all of the technical aspects of the show (lights, sound, costumes, and the set) were so great and really enhanced the experience of the show.

All that being said, the cast really made this an outstanding show. The young performers in the Wirt cast are so talented and enjoyable to watch. I would like to specifically recognize the superior performance of the actress that played Nancy Drew, Madison Penzkover. Being the title character, there were scant few moments when she wasn’t on stage. And when she was, she had the majority of the dialogue. Her characterization of what we expect from Nancy Drew was spot on. She handled this incredibly difficult part with ease.

The adult members of the cast, Matt Daniels, Niffer Clarke, Joe Faust, and Jim Fletcher, all turned in the fantastic performances that we have come to expect from the local Milwaukee professional actors. Well done all.

As a reminder, the show runs through Sunday, June 1st at 3:30 PM with public performances on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. If you would prefer to see A.J. in the role of Ned, check out my previous post for his schedule. Even if you can’t make those shows, please go see this original production. You really don’t want to miss it.

Nancy Drew and her BIGGEST CASE EVER

May 1, 2014

Nancy and Ned

You see that attractive couple right there? That is Nancy Drew and her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson. Okay, it isn’t really Nancy and Ned. It is local actors, Madison Penzkover and A.J. Magoon, playing Nancy and Ned in the Wirt cast of the upcoming First Stage production of Nancy Drew and her BIGGEST CASE EVER. That’s right folks, those creative geniuses at First Stage have written an original Nancy Drew mystery by combining the dialogue and plot points from three of her original stories; The Bungalow Mystery, The Quest for the Missing Map, and Mystery at the Ski Jump.

This awesome show opens tomorrow night, Friday, May 2nd at 7 PM with the Wirt cast. First Stage double casts the child actors for all of it’s shows and the two casts (Wirt and Benson) are named for one of the ghost writers for the Nancy Drew Mysteries, Mildred Wirt Benson. The show runs through Sunday, June 1st at 3:30 PM with public performances on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. This is going to be a spectacular show full of mystery, intrigue, and the occasional ski chase.

Those that would like to see the incomparable A.J. Magoon in the role of Ned Nickerson should plan to attend one of the following Wirt cast public performance:
Friday, May 2nd – 7 PM
Saturday, May 3rd – 1 and 3:30 PM
Sunday, May 4th – 1 and 3:30 PM
Saturday, May 10th – 7 PM
Saturday, May 17th – 7 PM
Sunday, May 18th – 1 and 3:30 PM
Sunday, June 1st – 1 and 3:30 PM (Benson Cast performances)

State Solo/Ensemble Festival

April 29, 2014

Erin and Her Euphonium

Back in the middle of March, A.J. and Erin participated in Solo/Ensemble on the district level. The both performed solos, A.J. on trumpet and Erin on euphonium, and they both performed as part of the brass choir. Additionally, A.J. played with the brass quintet and the jazz ensemble. It was a busy day for the Magoon family.

All of A.J. and Erin’s hard work paid off because Erin received a 1* rating on her euphonium solo, Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann and the Hamilton Brass Choir and Hamilton Brass Quintet also received 1* ratings. This rating qualifies the performer to participate at the State Solo/Ensemble Festival. These three scores meant that both A.J. and Erin would be participating in two areas at the State level; Erin with her solo and the brass choir and A.J. with the brass choir and brass quintet.

The State Solo/Ensemble Festival was last Saturday and I am happy to announce that Erin received a rating of 1 on euphonium solo. Way to go, Erin! It was so fun to watch her play and I have been humming Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann for the last couple of days now. Both the the Hamilton Brass Choir and Hamilton Brass Quintet received a rating of 2 on their performances. They all did extremely well and I am proud of the tremendous effort put forth by both A.J. and Erin.

Lend Me A Tenor at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

April 26, 2014

Last night, Kristi and I went the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre to see Lend Me A Tenor. The show is a collaboration between the chamber theatre and the Marquette University theatre department. For several years, the chamber theatre has been doing a show every season in conjunction with a local university. Kristi and I were lucky in enough to see their first collaboration with Marquette University in 2011 when they did The Lion In Winter.

I have to say, first of all, that I love Lend Me A Tenor as a show. This is the third time that we have seen it; first in a community theatre, then in a high school production, and now, finally, in a professional production. When done well, this is an extremely funny show and last night’s performance was superb. The frantic, madcap pace of the show was executed perfectly. The set was beautiful, the costumes were perfect, and the work of the cast was comic genius.

I could probably make glowing comments about every member of the cast. They all brought subtle nuances to their roles that made them just that much better. It was enjoyable to see the two Marquette students in the cast turn in performances equal to the seasoned veterans. Marquette junior Hannah Klapperich-Mueller, in the role of Maggie, was so fun to watch throughout. And Marquette junior Peter Sisto, in the role of the bellhop, brought a sense of playfulness to the show. I expect that we will see great things from both of them in the future.

Of course it was nice to see Marquette alumna, Alexandra Bonesho, in the role of Diana. We have enjoyed her performances on the Marquette stage and elsewhere, including the first MU/MCT collaboration, The Lion In Winter. Without mentioning everyone in the cast, I will say that Rick Pendzich as Max and Drew Brhel as Saunders were so well cast and perfectly played their respective roles. They made the show fun to watch.

Thanks to the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and the Marquette University theatre department for giving us such an enjoyable evening of entertainment. I wish that I could see all of the shows from both organizations every year but time and money probably wouldn’t permit it.

Hamlet at Marquette University

April 11, 2014

Last night, A.J. and I went to see Hamlet at Marquette University. I’m sure that when you hear the name of this show, you think about when you HAD to read it in high school or maybe you recall some mediocre community theatre or high school production that you experienced years ago. But I have to say, without a doubt, that the Marquette Theatre production was simply the most powerful rendition of this classic show that I have ever seen. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that this is the best Shakespearean production that we have seen in quite a number of years. To put that in context, we have seen eight of the Bard’s play in the last three or four years.

The Marquette student actors were incredible. There wasn’t a weak performance in the entire ensemble. And the young man that played Hamlet, Kyle Conner, was extraordinary. The role of Hamlet, when done well, requires the actor to change his mood from happy to sad to angry to melancholy over and over again. Kyle played it so naturally and believable. He looked physically drained during the curtain call.

The naturalness of all of the actors is what impressed me the most. So often, Shakespeare’s plays are presented very stiff and formal. I believe this comes from the actors not truly understanding what they are saying. In last night’s production, the dialogue was so conversational that you forgot that it was written in iambic pentameter. It is so much easier to understand Shakespeare when the actors’ emotions and actions are completely in sync with what they are saying. Well done cast.

I don’t want to spoil anything for those that intend to see one of the three remaining performances but the treatment of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy was fantastic. It was one of many terrific directorial choices made in the staging of the show. This is just another element to add tremendous power to the show.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the set and costumes. The set is a very nondescript unit in the center of the stage with columns, arches, stairs, and levels. Its openness allowed you to see all the way to the back wall of the theatre. It uniquely accommodated the various locations in the play. The costumes complimented the set as the cast was dressed in no particular style or time period. Generally, they were in muted shades of black and gray with a splash of color to denote the families to which they aligned.

This was the fifth production that A.J. and I have seen at Marquette in the last few years. Their production quality is always incredible. I am so happy that A.J. has chosen to attend Marquette University in the fall as a Theatre Arts major. We will hopefully see him up on that stage soon.

Inherit The Wind

October 20, 2013

 

I have been remiss in mentioning that I am currently in rehearsal for the show, Inherit The Wind, at Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove. In fact, the show opens this upcoming week. It runs from October 24th to November 10th, 2013. All the details about the show can be found on Sunset Playhouse website.

This has been a fantastic opportunity for me. It is my first time working at Sunset and I can say that it is as nice as any other community theatre that I have worked. Also, I have the opportunity to work with an exceptional cast and crew. I am so proud to be associated with these fine people. I hope to be able to work with them all again in the future.

Please come out and see the show. You won’t be disappointed.

Here is the cast list:

  • Tom Davenport: Randall T. Anderson
  • Mr. Goodfellow: Rick Borger
  • Melinda: Danielle Bujanovich
  • Rachel Brown: Allison Chicorel
  • Elijah: Jonathan Curvin
  • Reuters Man & Radio Man: Jim Donaldson
  • Bertram Cates: Sean Duncan
  • Judge: Ralph Frattura
  • Mr. Bannister: John Galobich
  • Meeker: Ralph Garcia
  • Mrs. Loomis: Lucy Hilgendorf
  • Mrs. Blair: Diane Kallas
  • Mrs. McLain: Mary Krauss
  • Mrs. Krebs: Marge Kurtz
  • Jessie Dunlap: Kurt Magoon
  • Rev. Jeremiah Brown: Spencer Mather
  • E. K. Hornbeck: Matthew J. Patten
  • Henry Drummond: Michael Pocaro
  • Hurdy Gurdy & Hotdog Man & Hawker: Tom Raidy
  • Mayor: Doug Smedbron
  • Mrs. Brady: Joyce Sponcia
  • Matthew Harrison Brady: Paul Troglia
  • Sillers: Glenn Villa
  • Howard: Cole Winston

As You Like It

July 14, 2013

On Friday night, A.J. and I went to see As You Like It performed by Optimist Theatre in Kadish Park. This was our second “Shakespeare in the Park” production; last year, we saw Optimist Theatre perform Macbeth.

This was an absolutely phenomenal production. I would have gladly paid a normal ticket price to see a show of this caliber and they lovingly presented it for free. As is always the case for this company, the cast and production staff was a veritable “Who’s Who” of Southeastern Wisconsin professional theatre. The quality that they bring to the table is unmatched. Particular standouts for me were Todd Denning as Touchstone (the fool), Genesee Spridco as Audrey (his love interest), and Christopher Elst in his various roles (especially the wrestler).

The staging and direction from Tom Reed was unique and inspired. There is the perfect blend of the Shakespeare text with modern concepts and accents that gave the show an almost contemporary feel. That feeling was complimented by the costumes, set, and props.

Personally, for me, the only negative aspect of the show was the venue itself. I know that the staff and board of the theatre are very proud of finding this excellent outdoor setting for their future endeavors but I don’t think that it works for this type of production.

When you arrive the scene is almost idyllic. The venue is set on hill in Kadish Park overlooking the Milwaukee cityscape. It looks absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, the hill is very steep. I witnessed no less than six people slip and/or fall on their way to their seats throughout the night and this was when the ground was dry. Also, being high above the rest of the city in an open area allowed for a lot of the city noise (fire trucks, loud cars, music playing in adjacent apartments, fireworks) to disrupt my attention from the show.

The biggest flaw with the venue, however, is the sound. The stage itself is wide open with no backdrop, natural or man-made. This allows for the sound to be carried in all directions instead of being directed toward the audience. Although, there is a big, wonderful hill to accommodate a large audience, only those sitting right up front can adequately hear the dialogue on stage. I hope that they consider moving to a different venue next year or maybe even back to Alverno College.

In spite of all that, I would strongly encourage you to go see this fantastic show. Plan to arrive at 2 hours before curtain to ensure great seats up front and you will have a magnificent time. In fact, take a picnic dinner or a bottle of wine to pass the time before the show starts. You won’t regret it.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 269 other followers