The Milwaukee Debate League trains students for rigorous academic debate to help them strengthen their mental faculties and improve their self-esteem. Completing research in preparation for debates informs them about the world, and engaging in debates with their peers builds communication skills that translate to future careers. The centerpiece of the program, seven citywide debate tournaments, pits students against other teams to debate a specific policy topic and share their ideas about social issues. The Milwaukee Debate League also hosts other opportunities for students to learn research and articulation skills, including a summer institute, a leadership council, and the MDL Scholars Program, which engages high-school students in high-level research at Marquette University. Following a period of declining participation, the Milwaukee Debate League relaunched in 2011 and now works with 14 high schools in the area.
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ComedySportz showcases sidesplitting talents in team-based improv spats on Fridays and Saturdays. In the signature ComedySportz shows ($8–$12/person) and ComedySportz Kidz matinee show ($7.50/person), comedic squads square off against one another in a some-holds-barred refereed stage match that is surprisingly appropriate for all ages. In an effort to keep humor clean, referees and audience members can call for the brown-bag foul, which puts offensive performers into bagged timeouts to think about both what they've done and what it feels like to be a grocery item. Each show is unique, with catalyzing situations ranging from rambunctious elimination rap battles to time-twisters that flash-forward and rewind as per the ref's arbitrary calls. ComedySportz encourages audiences to toss in suggestions throughout the performance to keep improvists on their witty toes and off their humorless heels. The laugh-riot arena hosts 180 unobstructed views to witness unscripted feats of farce. In between giggles, onlookers can nab some fermented ales at the on-site full bar or snag an order of fresh eats from the Howie's Restaurant menu featuring comfort fare such as hot dogs, deep-fried Twinkies, and boiled afghans.
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.
Amid Centercourt’s 14,000-square-foot hardwood haven, people entertain their eyeballs with 20 flat-screen TVs, their ears with frequent live music, and their taste buds with a hearty spread of pub grub and brews. Centercourt fields a full team of wines and spirits, in addition to the 16 on-tap offerings and 30+ bottled beers awaiting their release. Sports enthusiasts can create an edible lineup with build-your-own sandwiches or Hobo fries (spud spears smothered in cheese and beef gravy; $4.95)—an appetizer that can be customized with bacon, chicken, or steak (up to $3.95 each). For a meal as light as a globetrotting eccentric’s hot air balloon, there are salads ($3.95–$9.95) and a roasted-vegetable wrap ($8.95).
Walking a mile in someone else's shoes can be very educational, especially if the shoes belong to Mandy Carlisle, a professional dancer. As a competitive American Rhythm Style ballroom dancer, Mandy has toured the country and racked up awards—she's been ranked among the top 13 dancers in the United States, placed second in the United States Professional Rising Star Rhythm Championship, and conducted an undefeated run as the Fred Astaire National Rising Star Rhythm Champion. In her spare time, she has earned teaching certifications in more than 13 styles of dance (among them, classic ballet, hip-hop, and jazz) and opened her own studio, Aspire Dance.
Mandy and her staff of 12 instructors hone the skills of young dancers, providing a reception area for parents to wait and witness progress. For adults, the teachers conduct fitness-focused classes. Latin-inspired Zumba classes boost cardiovascular endurance, whereas yoga sessions cultivate flexibility and balance so that you can finally touch your toes while standing on stilts.
Most of MOCT's patrons start the experience with an appetizer of Serbian-style sliders (ground pork and beef with kamjak, a feta and red-pepper spread, $6) or O.G. wings (classic buffalo sauce, $7) and a $4 draft of any of the seasonal beers on tap. One of the special imports such as Big Nik Serbian beer or Strongbow ($6 each) pairs well with a 14-inch MOCT pizza (Serbian sausage, mushroom, and onion, $13) or beef burek (ground beef and onions layered in phyllo dough, $12) before you move on to liquid desserts such as a blackberry margarita ($7).