Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre closed in 1989 and reopened its doors in 2001 after city funds helped 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee. But its most notable feature is the 2,200-pound chandelier, which gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.
The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences introduces yearlings of all ages to the joy of live musical theatre, enchanting audiences with lavish musical productions of popular works. This season, the Marriott unveils a new musical entitled For the Boys, a story based on the Twentieth-Century Fox Film starring Bette Midler of two charming performers who entertained the American troops for more than 30 years. During Seussical, a young boy with a large imagination and unlikely friends brings together a cast of loveable Dr. Seuss characters that includes Horton the Elephant and the Cat in the Hat.
The Music Theatre Company's production of Merrily We Roll Along, a Stephen Sondheim composition based on the 1934 Kaufman and Hart play, weaves a show biz success story in reverse. The musical begins with Franklin Shepard’s wild fame as a film producer before unraveling nearly 20 years of his past to uncover countless love affairs, missed opportunities, and humble dreams.
During the day, the concrete heights of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts tower over the waters of the Milwaukee River like an imposing, postmodern fortress. As night falls, however, and patrons meander toward their evening's entertainment, the building’s façade glows with colorful, scintillating lights that hint at the eclectic performances inside. The elegant Uihlein Hall regularly hosts such august organizations as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Florentine Opera Company, whereas smaller, more intimate venues such as the Todd Wehr Theater situate audiences close to the stage so they can immerse themselves in dramas or hear the wail of a set builder who smashed his thumb with a hammer.
Summerfest is the pride and joy of Milwaukee's music scene, attracting between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people a year with bands playing on 11 stages. The first day of the festival features a variety of general-admission shows, with the first Groupon listening opportunity kicking off at 4:15 p.m. with the Mechanical Kids on the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage. Headlining acts that begin at 8 p.m. include Tokyo Police Club and Colbie Caillat. At 10 p.m., the big hitters emerge from the bullpen with the sultry rhythms of Sheryl Crow, the smooth jamz of The Wailers, the electro-fun of Passion Pit, and more, creating a musical-chairs game of concert options. Check the Summerfest website to view the full music schedule for June 24 (please note that your general-admission ticket does not get you into the Tim McGraw performance in the Marcus Amphitheatre).
The much-lauded Driving Miss Daisy, which garnered a Pulitzer Prize as a play and four Academy Awards as a film, follows the unlikely friendship between a stubborn elderly Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur. Set in Atlanta from 1948 to 1973, the play elbows into sensitive, urgent issues, from racism to religious prejudice to backseat driving. Ruth Schudson plays the title character with garrulous, willful zest in her 65th production with the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, excavating Miss Daisy's complex growth as she ages from her sixties to her nineties. As the sixth production in Milwaukee Chamber Theatre's Pulitzer Prize series, Driving Miss Daisy rides the energy of past award-winning scripts such as Rabbit Hole, Picnic, and Curious George Learns the Alphabet. Audiences can arrive early to enjoy the grand design of the European-styled Cabot Theatre, where a shimmering chandelier illuminates arched, gilded balconies and 360 cushy sapphire seats.