Archive for the ‘AJ’ Category

Anything Goes at Marquette Theatre

April 7, 2017
Anything Goes

Kristi, Erin, and I just got back from seeing Anything Goes at the Helfaer Theatre on the Marquette University campus. Normally, I would wait until the morning and then post something on Facebook or Twitter letting all of my friends know how much I enjoyed the show and reminding them to get tickets if they can. Instead, I decided that this message can’t wait. Tonight, I saw one of the best shows that I’ve seen in quite a while. And that is saying something because I’ve been very impressed with the whole season at MU this year.

Over the years, I’ve seen Anything Goes no less than four times. The first being at the Helfaer Theatre in 1985 (the last time MU performed this show) when my college roommate, Wally Schmidt, played one of the sailors in the show. I have to say that, without a doubt, I enjoyed tonight’s performance more than any of the others. The music was well performed, the set was clean and functional, and the costumes were just short of phenomenal. But it was cast and their acting, singing, and dancing that impressed me the most.

With A.J. being a junior at Marquette, I’ve seen many of this show’s performers in other productions and I am always impressed with how they practice their craft. All of the principals in this production are so very good and I could name something amazing about each of them, but I won’t. It is obvious that the actress playing Reno, Aileen O’Carroll, has put in a lot of work preparing for this role. She was a joy to watch. Also fun was watching the chemistry between Billy and Hope (Nick Parrott and Lindsay Webster). They really clicked. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the comic antics of A.J. Magoon as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh stole the show for me. I may be slightly biased but he was perfect for that role. The last two that I will call out for their comic genius were Michael Nicholas and Caroline Norton as Moonface and his sidekick/girlfriend, Bonnie. The two of them never dropped their NY accents and were a delight to watch even when they weren’t the focus of the scene.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to see this extraordinary show. There are two more performances this weekend, Saturday night and Sunday matinee. And then they take a week off for Easter and have five more performances, April 19th through the 23rd. I’ve already got tickets to see it at least one more time. Go! Get your tickets! You won’t be sorry.

To Kill A Mockingbird at Marquette University

November 13, 2015

On Thursday night, My Dad and I went to opening night of To Kill A Mockingbird at the Helfaer Theatre at Marquette University. And as I have come to expect, the cast and crew did a fantastic job putting this show together. To illustrate just how well they told this iconic story, as the lights came up at intermission, my Dad mentioned to me that it had felt like the show had started just five minutes earlier when, in fact, an entire hour had passed.

The entire cast of twenty-five performers did such an amazing job that it will be difficult to single out only a couple of the truly remarkable performances. That being said, I was very impressed by the student actors that played the children: Jem, Scout, and Dill. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be nearly twenty years old and believably play a role half your age without it becoming a caricature.

I was simply awed by Madeleine Farley, the young women playing the role of Scout. The physicality and mannerisms that she brought to the part reminded me so much of my kids when they were that age. As always, I need to add a disclaimer that my son, A.J., is a sophomore in the MU theatre program. In fact, he plays the role of Jem Finch in this show and I couldn’t be prouder of his performance. And the last of the children, Dill Harris, was well-performed by Amelia Strahan. Her child role was further complicated by also having to believably play the opposite sex as well.

While I would love to go into detail about the portrayals of Atticus Finch by Micheal Cienfuegos-Baca, Heck Tate by Ben Braun, Calpurnia by Zandra Starks, and Rev. Sykes by Terry Lee Watkins, I fear that this post would get way too long. Suffice it to say that they were spot on. I will, however, mention two more truly wonderful performances. Mackenzie Possage and Annie Kefalas played Miss Maudie and Miss Stephanie respectively. These two characters really act as the narrators of the story. These two could not have been better cast and I really enjoyed the way they helped to keep the audience informed about what was going on.

Finally, I hope that you can see in the attached photos just how amazing the set, costumes, lighting, and sound were. They really took this show to the next level. There are still two shows left this weekend and another five shows next week starting on Wednesday. Please go and support these fantastic student actors. You won’t be sorry that you went.

AJ’s Busy Theatre Schedule

October 15, 2015

As a disclaimer, I should mention that this post will contain quite a lot of fatherly pride and may even border on being a bit braggy. Okay, who am I kidding? It is going to be very braggy. I wouldn’t blame anyone if they decided to bail right now.

Is anyone still there? Good. Let’s get started. I’m sure that I’ve mentioned it before but if you’ve forgotten, my son, AJ, is studying theatre at Marquette University and last year was his freshman year. We were very proud that he was cast in the ensemble for In The Red And Brown Water last November and was chosen to play the role of Philiste in The Liar in February. That’s him as Philiste in green in the adjacent photo.

Normally, at the end of the spring semester, Marquette holds auditions for the first show of the fall semester because rehearsals have to start before the semester does. This past spring was a little different in that they also held auditions for the final show of the season in April as it is going to be a collaboration with Renaissance Theaterworks in downtown Milwaukee. As luck would have it, AJ was cast in both shows.

You may recall from a previous post, AJ was cast as the “enjoyable awkward” Eric Richards in Loose Lips Sink Ships, a musical comedy about women shipbuilders in Sturgeon Bay during World War II. The adjacent picture is from that show. The other role that he was cast in last spring was that of the Artillery Trainee in Censored On Final Approach at RTW next spring. Getting cast in both of those shows for this season before school year even started was pretty amazing and I couldn’t have imagined a better way for his sophomore year to turn out.

On the first two days of class in the fall semester, Marquette holds auditions for the November show and the January, kid-centric, show. As both of these shows rehearse at the same time in the second half of the semester, a student can only be cast in one of them. Fortune again smiled on AJ as he was chosen to play the role of Jem Finch in the iconic To Kill A Mockingbird, the November show. And, now, as I thought things couldn’t get any better, I just got news that the results of the auditions for the final show to be cast were announced this week. AJ was cast as Silvius in the February show, Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

So if you are keeping count, that’s a total of four shows this year while also carrying a full load in college. I’m not sure when that boy actually sleeps. All I can say is that I am very proud of that young man and I’m glad that he is having so much fun.

Loose Lips Sink Ships at Marquette University

September 26, 2015

Last night, we got to see Loose Lips Sink Ships, another fantastic show at the Helfaer Theatre at Marquette University. This is the university’s first show of a season celebrating Strong Women. This musical tells the story of the women that took jobs in the shipyards in Sturgeon Bay during World War II. It is a light and fun look at the changes in responsibilities and relationships that happened during that historic time. There were a couple of sad moments, as there are during a war, but on the whole, humor, fun songs, and dancing helped to tell this charming tale.

As a disclaimer, I must point out, as I have in the past, that my son, A.J., a sophomore in the MU theatre program, played the role of Eric Richardson in the show. So my feelings for this show are naturally biased. And I am okay with that.

The entire cast did an absolutely superb job. The three young women, Chloe Hurckes, Anna Otto, and Annie Kefalas were lovely singers and poured their souls into their performances. The vocal performance by Chloe was especially well done. The five young men also did a tremendous job. They were all well cast and suited to their roles. Daniel Callahan and Michael Nicholas really stood out in their singing numbers and Peter Sisto truly has a knack for humorous dialogue.

I am, obviously, very proud of the performance turned in but my son, A.J. Magoon. I thoroughly enjoyed his bubbly, energetic antics as the nervous, young highschooler looking forward to his first date and getting ready to join the war effort on the front lines. Physical comedy involving tripping over objects, dropping things, and double-takes can be very hard to make look natural but A.J. really made it look easy.

All in all, it was a fun night of theatre. If you see it, you’ll go home tapping your toes with a smile on your face.

The Liar at Marquette University

February 19, 2015

Last night, I had the opportunity to go see The Liar at the Helfaer Theatre at Marquette University. The Liar is a 17th century comedy by Pierre Corneille that was adapted and translated by David Ives in 2011. The whole show (mostly) is delivered in modern-language rhymed iambic pentameter and it is extremely funny. Once again, the Marquette University Theatre Department does not disappoint in delivering an outstanding show.

As a disclaimer, I must point out that the role of Philiste was portrayed by my son, A.J., a freshman in the MU theatre program. So I may have a slight bias when it comes to my feelings for this performance. That being said, I think that the entire cast did a tremendous job in the show. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that, of the eight characters in the show, six were played by seniors, one by a junior, and one freshman. Over the past several years, we have seen many of these actors in multiple shows on the MU stage and they are all very good. The two main characters in the show are Dorante (played by Ben Braun), a young lawyer that is a practiced liar, and his servant, Cliton (played by Armando Ronconi), who can do nothing but tell the truth. It was just so much fun to watch these two young men interact on stage. They really made this show a success.

I will mention a couple other outstanding performances as well. Kyle Conner played Alcippe, the main rival of Dorante in the show. We have previously seen Kyle in several MU productions including the lead in Hamlet last season. His portrayal of the enraged, jealous fiancé was a joy to watch. Additionally Hannah Klapperich-Mueller portrayed Dorante’s father, Geronte. A challenging role for a young woman and she executed it with ease. It was interesting to see her in this role after having enjoyed her performance as Maggie in Lend Me A Tenor with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre last spring.

Finally, I need to give a huge shout-out to A.J. Magoon and his performance as Philiste, the quintessential renaissance fop. His affectations and his walk were pure comic genius to me. I couldn’t help but chuckle every time he showed up on stage. Hopefully, we will see him many more times on the MU stage and I will be bursting with pride every time.

Kudos to everyone involved in this show. You should be very proud.

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.

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.