VISIT Milwaukee Blog
| Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
There are an abundance of messages hurled at us in this performance-enhanced era of the Information Age. During the holidays, the tweets, updates and texts seem to quadruple to overload status. It’s the perfect time to visit the Todd Wehr Theater at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, turn off your smart phone and be bombarded with nothing but “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
The “best” looks like the worst when mom Grace Bradley gets thrown into directing the annual Christmas pageant at her children’s school. Worst turns to nightmare when the Herdman kids – the town’s local bully family of five – decide they not only want to be in the play, they want all the main parts.
The entire town is in uproar – and not just because this First Stage Children’s Theater classic has gone 80s (“Thriller” dance number to “Walking Like An Egyptian” - hands down my favorite part of the show!). No one is feeling the spirit of the season – especially the Herdmans. But, as they learn more about the pageant’s story of how Jesus was born, the season begins to grow in them and affect all gathered at the town church to witness the “Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
Fun Alert: in the second half of the play, all in attendance are part of the “church” where the pageant is performed and will be forced to sing and have fun. And, having fun is what a First Stage production is all about. It’s also about a bevy of fine performances by First Stage regulars Niffer Clarke (Grace Bradley) and Todd Denning (Bob Bradley) and a host of incredible young actors (we saw the Cosby cast) who have the privilege of attending one of the finest children’s theaters in the world.
A couple times during the play, I sneaked peeks at the children attending in the audience, their mouths agape in wild wonder. No iPads. No HDTVs or angry fowl games. Just kids sharing a great story with other kids. Definitely share it with yours.
For a look back stage with students from First Stage, Milwaukee Ballet School and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, see the Dear MKE film, "HIGH ART."
| Thursday, December 05, 2013
By Margaret Casey
Public Relations Coordinator
“Shopping local” has never been more fun than at Christmas in the Ward this Friday and Saturday in the Historic Third Ward. Where else but in Milwaukee would Friday night’s official tree-lighting program on Catalano Square range from the Milwaukee Police Band, to the Trinity Irish Dancers, to fireworks over the river, up to…wait for it…the Milwaukee Ukelele Club! Mrs. Claus and her live reindeer will be on hand for the kids, and Santa himself will be welcoming all and giving out cookies at Jolly’s Outdoor Gingerbread House.
Twinkling Christmas lights, decorative shop windows and horse-drawn carriage rides will provide more holiday magic and the music of brass bands and choirs will fill the air. From hot chocolate and apple cider to cocoa cocktails, “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” and festive fare in the many Third Ward restaurants, you’re sure to get in the spirit along the streets of the Ward. Check out the numerous locally-owned shops for special deals and discounts on all those unique holiday gifts from Milwaukee you’ll be proud to give.
Of course, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) is at the southern end of Catalano Square, but have you ever been there? Take the opportunity to stop by this Friday evening and Saturday afternoon for the MIAD Student/Alumni Art & Design Sale. Find out more about this nationally-renowned arts school as you browse through paintings, photography, prints and sculpture for sale, with all proceeds going to the participating artists.
So if you’re visiting our city, looking for an extended holiday happy hour after work, or looking for a fun, outdoor activity for the kids, head to Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward – where the shops and businesses will be spreading their own brand of Christmas cheer.
And your holiday season just wouldn’t be complete without sipping your hot cocoa to the strains of the Milwaukee Ukele Club’s “Jingle Bell Rock,” right?
Only in Milwaukee!
Christmas in the Ward
Friday & Saturday, Dec. 6-7
MIAD Student/Alumni Art & Design Sale
Fourth Floor Gallery
Preview Party: December 5, 6-9 p.m., $20
December 6, 5-9 p.m., Free
December 7, 12-5 p.m., Free
| Wednesday, November 27, 2013
By Kerry Burke
You know that feeling when you’ve purchased the perfect gift? Just knowing that you nailed it this year and that NO ONE is going to top your present? It’s that time of year when giving can make you feel so much better than receiving and we have plenty of ideas on where to find that unique, jaw-dropping item that they’ll remember for years to come!
For lovers of fine spirits, Great Lakes Distillery offers award-winning, locally-made products like vodka, gin, absinthe, whiskey, rum and brandy, all crafted using old-world methods for optimum flavor. Make this an easy buy during the busy season and purchase them online!
Perhaps you know a Julia Child wannabe, always cooking up amazing dishes. Help add a little spice to her stocking this year and inspire her in the kitchen with a gift from the Spice House! Gift sets come in a variety of flavors and themes including traditional Mexican, Asian and Italian seasonings and even an Ethnic Chicago Neighborhoods Spice Blends box.
For your relatives and family that are homesick for good ole Milwaukee during the holidays, ship them the “3rd Street Cheese & Sausage Gift” to brighten their mood. With not one, not two, but four different kinds of Usinger’s sausage and three cheeses from the Wisconsin Cheese Mart, give them a taste of home! Don’t worry about sending it through the mail. The Wisconsin Cheese Mart’s website automatically configures your shipping method so that it arrives before it could spoil!
George Watts & Sons with the crème-de-la-crème of home accessories and decor since 1870 makes shopping for your loved one (or inadvertently-yourself) a piece of cake. With candles, ornaments, dinnerware, jewelry and more, it’s got it all. Best of all, its super easy to pick up any of these great items online with a click of a mouse.
Share your true Milwaukee pride with the grand-daddy of collector items, Milwaukee Downtown’s annual holiday ornament. This year, the iconic skyline giant, the U.S. Bank Building, is the featured landmark. It’s not too late to start collecting them for yourself since all of the ornaments, starting from 2001, are available on their website. With all of those ornaments, you could have the finest looking tree on the block if we say so ourselves.
Happy holidays and good luck during the busy shopping season!
| Monday, November 25, 2013
By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
America has long been cemented as the entertainment capital of the world, producing many an entertainer who needs only one name to be recognized by millions. Elvis, Marilyn, Bogie, Madonna, Cher, Sammy, Bing and more possess unique star qualities known the world over. Then there’s the ultra unique: Groucho. Perhaps no other figure in American entertainment history told his story, and America’s, so uniquely as Groucho Marx.
With a raise of his brow and a puff of his cigar, Groucho made you laugh, think and so much more all at once. And, so much more of Groucho is what you’ll get from “Groucho: A Life in Revue” playing now through Dec. 8 at Milwaukee’s Next Act Theatre.
“Groucho: A Life in Revue” is just that, a review of a lifetime revue. From early-childhood bedtime stories (he and his brothers shared a bed as the family struggled to make ends meet) to vaudevillian scamping, then major Hollywood stardom and finally a fixture on television sets nationwide, Groucho Marx and his brothers were America. Rags to riches, family to famely, Norman Moses (Groucho) and David Cecsarini (Chico) lead a splendid cast (Chris Klopatek steals every scene as Harpo and Alexendra Bonesho sizzles as Groucho's stable of ladies) in song, dance and slapstick with style, grace and just the perfect amount of emotional touches.
Director Pam Kriger and her cast expertly touch on the tale of two brothers as told by Arthur Marx (Groucho’s son) and Robert Fisher. Groucho and Chico’s bond as brothers and partners, yins and yangs until the end had the audience all in from curtain to bows. Especially entertaining was the light-hearted Grouchesque banter with the audience when a gag needed a lift or a brother needed a reprimand. It reminded all how important it is to laugh, especially at one’s self.
The great songwriter Irving Berlin quipped, "The world would not be in such a snarl, had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl." Well, the world would also snarl a lot less after they spend a couple hours at Next Act Theatre watching “Groucho: A Life in Revue.”
“Groucho: A Life in Revue” at Next Act Theatre
November 14 - December 8