Since 1960, the nonprofit Sunset Playhouse has grown and flourished alongside the community who helped build it, paying them dividends in lively musicals and family-friendly classics. In Craig Lucas’s Prelude to a Kiss, Rita and Peter’s seemingly perfect wedding takes a turn as unexpected as the end of Titanic, when a mysterious old man interrupts the celebration to request a kiss from the bride. The gesture causes their souls to trade places, leaving Peter to unknowingly take a total stranger on a honeymoon. As the groom realizes his error, he seeks out his beloved, who is now trapped in an aged body, forcing the couple to navigate through unexpected challenges involving commitment, physical appearance, and arguments over how much to tip at Denny's.
In 1947, on New York City's Park Avenue, the first Fred Astaire Dance Studio—cofounded by the eponymous toe tapper himself—opened its doors to the public. More than six decades later, now boasting schools across North America, the dancing institution still adheres to the legendary Mr. Astaire's curriculum and instruction techniques.
Specializing in social ballroom and competitive dances, the schools' current consortium of professional instructors shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through dance lessons that span from classic ballroom and foxtrot romps to the modern steps of salsa, swing, or mambo. In addition to classes, the studio hosts social practice parties where up to 40 students hone newly acquired rug-cutting capabilities. As foot-charming music blares from the speakers, instructors work to cultivate a lively social setting where each guest can dance, mingle, and surgically correct their second left foot without fear of embarrassment.
Aside from being a premier venue for watching sports, Saloon on Calhoun is a bacon utopia with a daily all-you-can-eat bacon happy hour, bacon-infused vodka, and a menu of bacon-accented pub classics. Widescreen TVs speckle the wooden walls throughout, allowing patrons to catch game replays and Martha Stewart knitting segments from the bar, pool tables, or Internet jukebox. As darts bust cork, thin-crust pizzas present guests with slatherings of homemade sauces and bacon burgers, wraps, and beer-battered fish emit puffs of steam in solidarity with the ears of infuriated cartoon characters. In addition to weekly trivia, karaoke, and live blues events, a fully stocked bar with 15 craft beers tests the limits of patrons' tolerance for fun.
Giggles' laughter-rich atmosphere recently earned it a pick as Milwaukee's Best Live Comedy Club on CityVoter in 2009. Upcoming headliners include HBO and Comedy Central veteran Tracy Smith, bringing her sassy blend of honest reality March 18–20. On April 8–10 Giggles will feature its debut of Everybody Hates Chris actor and comedian Mike Estime. The pleasingly varied lineup enables audiences to confidently leave tomatoes at home.
With its half-timber historical façade, Arriba Mexican Restaurant & Lounge wouldn’t be out of place in an Alpine ski village. But step inside and the space practically glows with south-of-the-border charm: walls are swathed in warm magenta and yellow hues, and the original tin ceilings are gilded in gold.
The pleasant incongruity extends to Arriba’s menu, which landed the eatery the No. 10 spot on CityVoter's 2011 list of best Mexican restaurants. Traditional Mexican cuisine, such as shrimp fajitas and deep-fried chimichangas stuffed with housemade chorizo, takes center stage, but the restaurant also hosts Friday fish fries and serves thick burgers piled with southwestern toppings such as chorizo and guacamole.
Arriba's adjacent lounge hosts live music, potlucks, and open mics. Here, guests can sip libations from a vast drink menu that features 18 varieties of tequila, seven flavored martinis, and precisely one flavor of water.
Behind the headlining comic, dots of light slowly change color, a hypnotic alternative to the brick wall of many other comedy clubs. Long tables stripe the dim room, giving guests plenty of space to savor a menu of burgers, salads, steaks, and other pub grub. But what makes the cabaret of Jokerz Comedy Club really stand out is its gallery of larger-than-life caricatures. Lushly rendered and outlined by shimmering gold frames, the portraits of some of the biz's most legendary names serve as muses for the up-and-comers taking the stage: Sam Kinison, Jerry Seinfeld, the Blues Brothers, and even Cheech and Chong's iconically smoky joyride are immortalized in the baroquely rubber-faced paintings.