Teddy Roosevelt took a bullet in the chest outside the Milwaukee Theatre in 1912, but he was so enamored with the place that he plugged the hole with his thumb and marched back in to give an 80-minute speech. Built in 1909 over the same space where the Milwaukee Industrial Exposition Building once stood, the cultural center has persevered to become one of Wisconsin’s most colossal and elegant theater destinations. The venue sports two-tiered seating with optimal sightlines from each of its 4,086 patrons' seats.
Established in 1926, The Eagles Club was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places 60 years later. Today, the theater’s six distinct venues, from the vast, opulent Eagles Ballroom to the gritty and intimate Rave Bar, leave room for a half-dozen acts every night, and more on nights when the musicians spontaneously embark on solo careers midshow.
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.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood tickle ribs in an evening of improvised comedy. Starting with suggestions form the audience, Mochrie and Sherwood fashion witty sketches that free guffaws from bellies and remind sad clowns what they've given up for their craft. Interactivity spices up the evening, with the comedic pair calling audience members to the stage to assist in chuckle-making scenes. The Hemmens Cultural Center ensconces guests in main-floor seats guaranteed to be within 100 feet of the stage, affording straight sightlines to onstage action and comfortable distance from the occasional gargoyle infestations of the balcony.
For the students of To The Pointe Performing Arts, no dance step is just a dance step. Because the school follows a holistic approach to learning dance, every step comes with a bounty of knowledge—its place in the style, its cultural origin, the muscle movements it requires, and the discipline required to master it. Whether they're 6-year-olds encountering their first tap shoes or high-school students refining their skills in Russian ballet technique, the team of experienced dance instructors make it their business to forge not only great dancers but educated citizens of the world. In addition to youth classes, the studio also offers DanceFit and tap classes for adult students.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction and demonstrations.