Passengers on the Iroquois, Vista King, and Voyageur cruise ships have passed under century-old raising bridges and laid eyes on history-rich chunks of Milwaukee skyline. However, they've also sat under squadrons of F-18s performing barrel rolls over Lake Michigan. Licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard to perform tours and charters on the lake, Jake Chianelli and his captains offer their passengers a unique perspective on the city's waterside events. They also partner with the nonprofit organization Historic Milwaukee by using their trained docents to lead history tours, which include facts and anecdotes from the arrival of the first fur traders up to modern day.
With kitchen facilities and a full bar on board, each of the three double-decked ships are equipped for tours as well as a range of corporate events, wedding-rehearsal dinners, and Moby Dick-themed improv shows. Climate-controlled lower decks give passengers shelter in all weather, and open upper decks house a stage space where local indie-rock bands play during a summer concert series.
As vaudeville heaved its last breaths in the late 1920s, RKO's Riverside Theater opened in 1928 and served as a performance hall for just a few years before Warner Brothers took it over to screen their films. Decades of neglect followed, reaching a nadir in 1966 when a carelessly tossed cigarette butt incinerated the proscenium's drapery, prompting the cash-conscious owners to replace the opulent teal velour with workmanlike duvetyn. A slated demolition in 1982 nearly replaced the theater with a shopping mall before a coalition of citizens convinced philanthropist Joseph Zilber to save the space. In the subsequent renovations, craftsmen installed plush red drapery, overhauled the obsolete lighting, and repainted the faded French Baroque gilding of the auditorium, restoring the elegant space to its former glory and inspiring it to get back out on the theater dating scene.
From their vantage point inside the InterContinental Milwaukee Hotel, diners at Kil@Wat can treat themselves to panoramic vistas of the city, including the bright lights of the neighboring Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Inside the kitchen, chefs use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible to craft elegant meals fit for the awe-inspiring views. This focus on freshness and seasonality translates to a menu of upscale American comfort dishes such as pan-roasted whitefish from Lake Superior and braised short ribs with roasted garlic mash and wild mushroom jus. A staff pastry chef puts her own inventive twist on dessert, concocting delicacies such as peanut-butter-and-chocolate cheesecake with pretzel bark for an added crunch.
These gourmet morsels unite with the restaurant’s elegant décor to forge a luxurious, memorable dining experience. Vibrant chartreuse accents compliment orange suede chairs and crisp white tablecloths. Large light boxes cast a soft glow over people as they sip wine from the extensive list or pose as window washers to get in without a reservation.
The King of Rock and Roll never relinquishes his throne as four of the country’s top Elvis impersonators team together for Elvis Lives, a multimedia musical tribute to one of music’s premier icons. Endorsed by Elvis Presley Enterprises, which holds the copyright on blue suede shoes, Elvis Lives stars a quartet of bona fide dead ringers, all of whom are winners of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest and pay homage to four memorable eras of the pompadour-sporting legend’s career. Fans can swoon and shout as they catch a glimpse of tadpole Elvis and his centrifugal pelvis, movie-era Elvis, leather-jacket “comeback” Elvis, and shimmering, sequined-jumpsuit “Vegas” Elvis. The lavishly-produced show quantum leaps across a memorable career with classic songs sung spot-on, delighting fans and warming the heart of the real Elvis as he watches from the rafters.
On Saturday, September 22, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett will gather local businesses, community leaders, and citizens between the two bridge houses of the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge. There, he will ceremonially raise its steel structure and announce a mission to revitalize the street. Following the ceremony, more than 20 motorboats and sailboats will surge down the river and under the bridge, each decked out in Milwaukee-themed decorations and bright colors. Near the bridge, Historical Society members will stage a reenactment of the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845 and initiate a game of tug of war across the street; on the bridge, meanwhile, trainers from Gold’s Gym will lead lightly sweating groups through yoga poses.
Visitors drink and dine to the sounds of live music and multicultural dance performances as well as the sights of a one-act play on two stages on the Riverwalk. They can browse local vendors at a craft market, explore permanent sculpture installations, and stroke their chins while gazing at art pieces in paint, photography, blown glass, and other media from more than 50 local artists at booths along both sides of the river. As the crowd mills about throughout the event, artists from the Plein Aire Painters’ Association make art live, painting the beautiful city skyline and buzzing groups of people. A complimentary water taxi runs between both Riverwalks throughout the day’s festivities.
Until science allows customized breezes to play concertos through trees and tuned blades of grass, people must fetch their concertos from live musicians. Today's Groupon sings to the ears with premium orchestra-seat tickets to Ohlsson Plays Chopin by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for $20, a $57 value. In two performance dates at the stunning Uihlein Hall on Friday, April 2, and Saturday, April 3, at 8 p.m., pianist Garrick Ohlsson will capture and tame Frédéric Chopin's famous Piano Concerto No. 2 and two other solo piano pieces in celebration of Chopin's 200th birthday.