First Stage’s “BIG, The Musical” is a joyous and heartfelt love letter to musicals and to growing up, as well as the neo-classic Tom Hanks movie it’s based on.
“BIG, The Musical” follows middle-schooler Josh, who wishes he was tall enough to ride a carnival roller coaster, old enough to win the affections of the cutest girl in the seventh grade and mature enough to shrug off his mom’s nagging and chores. He visits the fateful Zoltar carnival contraption and voila, his wish comes true! The play has lots of fun seeing Josh adjust to his newfound adult status (his swanky new job at a toy company mainly involves drinking Coca-Cola and playing with Nerf guns).
There are some great performances in this musical and awesome musical numbers to match. First Stage favorite, Todd Dening, is great fun as the toy company’s cantankerous vice president and both incarnations of Josh (child and adult) are endearing and successful. Other standout characters include Josh’s adult romantic interest, Susan, as well as his loudmouth, best bud Billy. The entire cast joins as one in a delightfully imaginative dance number that ends the first act with a bang - and the play ends on a remarkably poignant - and heart-warming note.
Photo Credit: Mark Frohna
Performances this past Friday and Saturday were marked as Dream Big Costume Contest days, and excited children turned out in full Halloween regalia for the occasion. The winner on Friday was dressed as a fashion designer, while a group of girl scouts came dressed as girl scout cookies. Everywhere, parents and their children were sharing the wonder and magic of live theater.
With this new musical, First Stage continues its trend of great family entertainment that gives both parents and children a lot to laugh at and talk about. Families are in love with First Stage’s delightful mixtures of dance, music and comedy, proving that the theater experience remains alive for young Milwaukee theatergoers.
I’m willing to bet the kids in the audience will look back at their theater-going experiences as fond memories and hopefully First Stage will still be producing plays like “BIG, The Musical” for their children in the years to come.
“BIG, The Musical” runs at the Todd Wehr Theater at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts until November 11. It’s a fantastic theatrical experience for everyone ages seven and up.
By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
Looking to inject some life into a Halloween routine that’s a little…..dead? There’s no reason to settle for a long night in a clown suit at your co-worker’s costume party, or the shame of hiding at home and stealing all the peanut butter cups out of your kid’s trick or treat bag. Milwaukee has plenty of unique Halloween happenings that deliver a “monstrous” amount of bone-chilling fun!
Why not do the time warp again in a whole different way at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge’s annual Mad Men Halloween Party on Saturday, Oct. 27? Open since 1938, Bryant’s is Milwaukee’s oldest cocktail lounge. From the exotic lighting to the plush velvet walls, Bryant’s is the perfect backdrop for all Don, Roger, Pete and Joan wannabes. The bartenders have a passion and talent for mixology, which began with original owner Bryant Sharp, credited for inventing both the Pink Squirrel and the Banshee. It’s sure to be a night of swinging hi-fi music, mid-century cocktails and sharp-dressed cats with smooth-talking style.
Milwaukee Food ToursTrick-or-Chocolate Halloween Bus Tour puts a great new spin on an old favorite. This three-hour, family-friendly tour runs only during the Halloween season! It features a haunted city tour by bus with ghost stories through the Third Ward, along Brady Street, down Wisconsin Avenue in the Concordia neighborhood, and even through a historic cemetery. Plus, you'll have a chance to Trick-or-Chocolate your way through Milwaukee for some spooktacular treats with stops at several local chocolatiers along the way.
The Milwaukee Domes offers an evening of ghostly fun with goblins and treats Oct. 26 and 27 at Ghosts Under Glass! There’s a Dome for every level of fright at this family-friendly event that takes you on an unexpected journey with scares and thrills in the BLOOM AND DOOM DOME! Little ones will love meeting familiar Milwaukee team mascots, and enjoying kid-friendly treats and entertainment. For those of us who remember Little Shop of Horrors, a word of advice: stay clear of any flora labeled “Audrey II…..”
There are beasts of a different sort to be found at the Milwaukee County Zoo’s annual Halloween Trick-or-Treat Spooktacular on Oct. 26 and 27. Kids will enjoy trick or treating while checking out their favorite zoo animals. A costume parade, live music, storybook characters, a lightshow in Wolf Woods, a ghostly rain ride and the popular Haystack Maze are guaranteed to make this, well, SPOOKTACULAR!
For a party that’s way too cool for the clown costume, check out Radio Milwaukee’s Made in Milwaukee Halloween Party October 27th at Turner Ballroom. If you’ve never been, the Ballroom itself is a trip back in time with plenty of spook factor. Add in the “Creatures and Creators,” which includes high energy live music from local bands, a Michael Jackson vs. Prince Dance Party, Made in Milwaukee Fashion Show and displays by local artists and you have the making of one totally MKE Halloween experience!
Click here to go to the VISIT Milwaukee events calendar for a full listing of Halloween events.
By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
We all need to get away at some point. From work. From home. From homework. A week, a weekend or just a night, traveling seems to be what our species was born to do.
Recently, my family and I took a daycation to the Four Points Sheraton Milwaukee North in scenic Brown Deer (its fall colors make it more like Brown, Red and Burnt Orange Deer now), just 10 minutes from downtown Milwaukee. While the autumn air was a bit damp and dreary outside, the hotel was warm and inviting, abuzz with a wedding and partygoers.
We arrived to a photo shoot at the front door. A bride sat upon her groom’s lap on a quaint bench near the entrance, a photographer snapping smile after blissful smile. We soon opened the door to our king suite and found similar bliss in a lovely welcome letter propped against a chilled bottle of wine and two glasses. Work and work at home (a yard full of those burnt orange beauties) seemed so far away.
My son and I made a beeline (I’ve seen them fly, but never in a line - hmmm) for the pool and had it all to ourselves. What a luxury to swim and then soak in a hot tub while it’s 40something and gray outside. The pool room is more like a pool gymnasium, with an adjacent workout room if one felt like actually going to the gym as well.
He had to get going to a movie date (Bayshore Town Center and the Fox Bay Theater is just five minutes away) and my wife and I had to get going on our date to 8900 Bar & Bistro, the hotel’s restaurant and lounge just off the lobby. First course was two martinis – a Hawaiian Punch and an Antifreeze (blue as the liquid you pour into your car, but a lot safer to imbibe). We quickly warmed to both and awaited our appetizer – the Eggplant Parmesan Tower – lightly fried eggplant served with marinara and parmesan. If Rapunzel was stuck in this tower, she’d roll up her hair and stay.
We rolled up our sleeves for the main course. I chose the filet (certified Angus beef matched with sautéed wild mushrooms and horseradish mashed potatoes – insert drool here) and she opted for the crab cake sandwich (two lump crab cakes, lettuce, tomato and lemon garlic aioli – it will leave a lump in your heart yearning for more) and both were incredible.
As was the sight of the new bride and groom celebrating their nuptials in the Four Point’s Grand Ballroom. The music, chatter and warm embraces of the reception filled the entire hotel. Even though we weren’t a part of the wedding, we felt like we were and that made our stay all the more enjoyable, as did the renovated rooms, free parking, free Wi-Fi and offer of free shuttle service to and from Milwaukee-area corporations, perfect for the business traveler.
Our perfect night at the Four Points Sheraton Milwaukee North ended with entertaining conversations with wedding guests who spilled over into the hotel’s bar. A man from New York rooting for his Yankees (evidently not hard enough), a woman from Indiana rooting for her Hoosiers and two women from southwest Wisconsin celebrating their weekend away from “nowheresville,” as they said before salt, lime and tequila.
So, whether you’re in town from the coast, looking for “somewheresville” or just procrastinating raking, give the Four Points a shot. The work will always be there for you to go back to. And so will the Four Points.
By Bill Prange
Web Marketing Specialist
The 12th Annual Milwaukee River Challenge splashed into Milwaukee on September 15 with its largest participation and amount of spectators ever! Over 750 participants and approximately 170 boats tested their stamina and precision on the Milwaukee and Menomonee rivers.
The single-leg, 3-mile Challenge began at 25th & Canal streets on the Menomonee River at 9:30 am and proceeded east to the junction with the Milwaukee River, then turned north to Schlitz Park just below Pleasant Street. More than a dozen bridges on the Milwaukee and Menomonee rivers allowed spectators intimate views of the racing blade work. Outdoor seating at many riverside restaurants, as well as Schlitz Park, the Milwaukee RiverWalk and the Harley-Davidson Museum grounds, provided spectacular vantage points. The Milwaukee River Challenge is the most accessible rowing race for spectators in the U.S. Nowhere else are spectators as close to the shells when they are racing.
There are no entry fees for participants in this race.
By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
In 1810, King Ludwig I of Bavaria proclaimed the last 16 days of September, ending with the first full weekend in October, to be set aside for feasting and beer drinking in honor of his upcoming wedding. The people of Bavaria had such a grand beer-a-bration (just invented that – you can use it), Ludwig’s nuptials have been celebrated annually ever since. In case you’re wondering, there is no official gift for anniversary number 202, but I’d say a stein of Hofbräuhaus would be appropriate.
It’s also appropriate that this multi-century celebration would be a hallowed tradition in Milwaukee (I believe we’re known for having just a smidge of German heritage/tradition here), which hosts a Bavarian Style Oktoberfest in Pere Marquette Park Friday and Saturday. Events include a bratwurst eating team relay and Masskrugstemmen, which means "beer-stein holding." Contestants must hold a full 1-liter stein at arm's length for as long as possible. I don’t know which is more difficult – holding a full stein at arm’s length for an extended period of time or holding a full stein at arm’s length for an extended period of time…if you get my draft. The contest takes place both Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. Masskrugstemmen and Masskrugstewomen who think they can hold their own can sign up here.
If those two events, plus kegs and kegs of Hofbräuhaus from Old German Beer Hall aren’t enough to entice you, two days of live music from the likes ofThe Squeezettes and The Polkaholics surely will. According to the official Oktoberfest site, “…the spirit of the accordion still breathes in Milwaukee!”
Remarkably, so does the spirit of King Ludwig I, his bride - Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and their wedding of more than 200 years. I’ve been to some awesome receptions (that one in Mauston involved a broken fence), but that must have been some party for people to still be toasting after two centuries and change. It’s something for all of us to aspire to. To celebrate life and love every day. To live like kings and queens in our own little ways. And to never hold a liter of beer at arm’s length unless it’s absolutely necessary.
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