Hosted by WBAY's chief meteorologist George Graphos and Frank Hermans of Let Me Be Frank Productions, Starstruck showcases talented local performers in “A Starry, Starry Night." Comprising horns, keyboards, and percussion, Bay City Swing accompanies performers, recalling that golden era of music before the Electric Slide squashed the jitterbug. Audiences can aim ears at St. Norbert College’s Knights on Broadway, an apple-cheeked band of student crooners that don fetching formalwear when oscillating between Broadway showstoppers and holiday ditties. The program features vocals from local talents such as Dino Biloti and Jennifer Stevens, a dulcet remedy for ears still ringing from that morning’s space-shuttle launch, as well as jazz clarinet from Kevin Van Ess of The Talk of the Town.
Keggers creates a lively atmosphere for casual parties and get-togethers. Its outdoor beer garden hosts live music events where patrons can sit at a wooden bar or lounge on the patio and sip a variety of beers including Miller Light, Spotted Cow, and Leinenkugel. For more intimate gatherings, the Lyric Room is available for rental as an event space with a 100-person capacity and entertainment capabilities for bands, DJs, or your fledgling mime act.
There aren't a lot of theater stages that can claim to have hosted presidential speeches—and fewer yet for which that president was William Howard Taft. Opened in 1883, the Grand Opera House has seen performances by the likes of Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, and John Philip Sousa, among other culture-makers of distant generations. Across a century and a quarter, the magnificent auditorium has played the parts of a vaudeville venue and a movie theater, and it wasn't until the mid-'80s that the stage resumed its duties as an opera house. After a sweeping referendum, the city acquired and restored the building, and in 1986 it reopened with a new staging of The Bohemian Girl—the same work that had first lifted its curtains more than a 100 years earlier. Today, 660 can enjoy the opera house's historic magnificence: an enormous, staggered chandelier, cherubic murals across the ceiling and flanking the balcony, and an unmatched ambiance of crimson and gold grandeur.
The Equinox Jazz Orchestra delivers soul to the stage, paying tribute to influential songwriter Johnny Mercer. At the Mostly Mercer Show, the band aurally embraces the audience with classic American songs, including “Fools Rush In,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” and “Blues in the Night.” Ears perk up at the sound of fondly remembered tunes such as “Moon River,” a greater success than either “Star Stream” or “Orbiting Celestial Body Waterfall.” Enjoy the high-octane trumpet wails and southern groove of band leader Jeremy Davis’s professional ensemble as it performs an original arrangement of Mercer’s music, specially commissioned by the Friends of Johnny Mercer to mark the songsmith’s centennial.
Despite its veteran status as Wisconsin's oldest comedy club, Comedy City maintains the sharp wit and punchline-rattling agility of a toddler at its new Sports Corner location. The 90-minute shows are made up of short and long bursts of improvisational comedy, with the troupe of comedians channeling their inner Thalia or Super Dave Osborne on the fly, without the aid of a script or Internet commenters. Audience members will shout out key words or phrases to prompt a theme as the cast crafts an entire skit around the suggestions, similar to the process for creating legislation. With up to five performances each weekend, no show is ever quite the same. Pub grub, such as pizza, wings, cheese curds, potato skins and chicken tenders (all under $8), and a full bar are part of the fun of an impromptu night out with friends. Stretch your cheek muscles and bend your funny bone into a pretzel at Comedy City at the Sports Center. Go online to check out the schedule or reserve your tickets.
Resting beneath natural light from the skylights mounted above it, the hulking figure of the 1.2 million-pound Union Pacific Big Boy cloaks visitors in a shadow that stretches for nearly 50 yards. As guests ascend the monstrous cab of this steam locomotive, they enter the centerpiece of the National Railroad Museum, a chamber echoing with more than 150 years of American railroading history.
After exiting Big Boy, guests can view a computer-generated porter that recounts how African-American rail workers formed the nation's first all-black labor union, and another stop invites passengers to view inside a portion of General Eisenhower's WWII command train. Elsewhere in the museum, various collections are housed with more than 15,000 photographs, archives such as maps and engineering drawings, and more than 5,000 artifacts including uniforms and tools.
The National Railroad Museum has over 60 pieces of rolling stock, including diesel, steam, and electric locomotives, and passenger and freight cars. Among these are some of the most influential and unique pieces in railroading history, including a number of items that pertain to the state of Wisconsin.
Other must-sees of the museum include General Motors’ experimental Aerotrain; the streamlined Pennsylvania Railroad No. 4890, a GG-1 electric locomotive; and the Frederick Bauer Drumhead Collection, the largest, single collection of railroad drumheads known to exist in the United States. Most facilities are accessible, except where rolling stock cannot be altered due to their historic nature. The Museum’s train ride is accessible, and a wheelchair lift is available.
A train ride is offered on a daily basis from May through September and guided tours are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Museum also hosts a variety of special events for all ages.