In Arts & Entertainment

The famed musical (pictured here as the 1961 Best Picture-winning movie) will make its Rep debut this season. (PHOTO: West Side Story Facebook)

"West Side Story," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" lead The Rep's 2019-20 season

This week, artistic director Mark Clements and executive director Chad Bauman announced the Milwaukee Rep's lineup for the 2019-20 theater season – featuring 15 shows scattered across the company's four stages.

"This is my tenth season with Milwaukee Rep, and in that time, I've directed countless productions, implemented a new mission, started a family, became a U.S. citizen, but most importantly I've made Milwaukee my home," said Clements, in a press release.

"This season is full of plays deeply aligned in tolerance that add a layer of thought to how we as a community can come together in a shared experience through highly entertaining theater. It has been a true privilege to lead Milwaukee Rep these past 10 years, and I look forward to continuing to serve the community by bringing an artistic vision that reflects our city's rich diversity.

"With 15 productions and nearly 700 performances in a 10-month span, The Rep is the most prolific performing arts organization in Milwaukee in terms of numbers," added Bauman in the release.

"This season especially will push the envelope with productions that ask important questions and engage the community in a meaningful way."

In addition to the excitement of the works themselves – including big-name shows like the classic "West Side Story," the four-time Tony Award winner "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," a play written by "Black Panther" standout Danai Gurira and two world premieres – 50 percent of the productions, along with more than half of the talent on the stages, will come from female and diverse voices and faces.

Here is the Milwaukee Rep's 2019-20 theatrical season:

"2 Pianos 4 Hands"

When: Sept. 6-Nov. 3

Where: Stackner Cabaret

What: Two performers plus two pianos plus four hands plus dozens of characters plus one pleasant story about friends trying to make it big tickling the ivories plus several hit songs from the likes of Bach, Beethoven, Billy Joel, Jerry Lee Lewis and more equals ... well, nothing resembling math but definitely something resembling a great way to start The Rep's 2019-20 season.

"West Side Story"

When: Sept. 17-Oct. 27

Where: Quadracci Powerhouse

What: Tonight, tonight; it all begins tonight. The powerhouse combination of Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim finally makes its Quadraccci Powerhouse debut this fall with this iconic retelling of "Romeo and Juliet," as told through two star-crossed lovers from two rival New York City neighborhoods.

"The Niceties"

When: Sept. 25-Nov. 3

Where: Stiemke Studio

What: A black college student and his white professor debate his most recent paper – which grows into a debate about the Revolutionary War, slavery, race in America and much more in this heated, thought-provoking two-hander from up-and-coming playwright Eleanor Burgess.


When: Nov. 8-Jan. 12

Where: Stackner Cabaret

What: "Nunsense" isn't just some nun pun fun under the sun. It's also a comedy about a gaggle of nuns putting on an impromptu variety show – complete with quizzing, dancing and hopefully no ruler-slapping – after a culinary mishap wipes out most of the convent.

"The Nerd"

When: Nov. 12-Dec. 15

Where: Quadracci Powerhouse

What: A favorite of The Rep's receives a revival with "The Nerd," Larry Shue's wacky comedy classic about a gang of friends attempting to help our protagonist get rid of a former party guest turned unwanted houseguest. And as one might predict, things don't go smoothly – but they do become quite silly.

"A Christmas Carol"

When: Nov. 26-Dec. 24

Where: The Pabst Theater

What: Come on, as if you need a description. Charles Dickens' Christmas classic will once again take its place on the Pabst Theater stage as a beloved Milwaukee holiday tradition teaching timeless lessons for young and old.

"The Legend of Georgia McBride"

When: Jan. 14-Feb. 9

Where: Quadracci Powerhouse

What: "The Legend of Georgia McBride" tells the story of a down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator who thinks he's out of a gig when his only venue – a burned-out bar – replaces him with a drag show. Or so they think, as he turns his weak Elvis act into a drag show dynamo.

"Chasin' Dem Blues: Untold Story of Paramount Records"

When: Jan. 17-March 22

Where: Stackner Cabaret

What: Formerly produced under the name "Grafton City Blues," this revival brings a local icon to the spotlight, telling the story of Wisconsin's own Paramount Records and its pioneering, progressive role in recording artists of color – including Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey and more – and introducing them to wider audiences during the heyday of jazz and blues.

"Hedwig and the Angry Inch"

When: Jan. 28-March 8

Where: Stiemke Studio

What: Based on John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's beloved turn-of-the-millenium cult rock musical – which Mitchell himself adapted into a movie in 2001 – this four-time Tony-winning, now Broadway-approved production follows the irrepressible Hedwig, a transgender punk rock phenom from East Germany who tours America telling her story of loves (and songs) lost and found.


When: March 3-29

Where: Quadracci Powerhouse

What: Written by "Walking Dead" and "Black Panther" on-screen standout Danai Gurira, the Tony-nominated "Eclipsed" tells the story of five women bonded through their quest to survive during Liberian Civil War and hopefully create a new world after.

"Antonio's Song: Dreaming of a Son"

When: March 24-April 12

Where: Stiemke Studio

What: Making its stage debut, "Antonio's Song" is the latest theatrical experience from Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith ("Until the Flood"), chronicling a man's journey into becoming a father and into understanding his own life, experience, self and place in modern America.

"Hootenanny: The Musicale"

When: March 27-May 24

Where: Stackner Cabaret

What: Actor, musician and tune historian David Lutken is no stranger to The Rep ("Woody Sez," "Back Home Again: On the Road with John Denver"), but his latest work is unlike much the theater's ever seen. A tribute to the tradition of communal music-sharing, "Hootenanny" shares stories and famed folk songs throughout history before opening up to the audience in the second act, allowing for viewers to become performers in their own right, singing and playing along with those on stage.

"Rep Lab"

When: April 16-20

Where: Stiemke Studio

What: Celebrating a decade bringing developing voices to the stages, "Rep Lab" will once again bring an eclectic and wholly unexpected lineup of short works into the spotlight – all featuring The Rep's Emerging Professional Residents.

"Destiny of Desire"

When: April 21-May 17

Where: Quadracci Powerhouse

What: The soapy, heated world of telenovelas comes to the theater stage in "Destiny of Desire," an off-the-wall comedy about two baby girls, born into very different lives and circumstances, switched by a villainous, power-hungry former beauty queen. Because of course.

Professional Training Institute

When: July 18-21, 2019

Where: Stiemke Studio

What: The show's particulars are still to be announced.

For information on tickets and subscriptions, visit the Milwaukee Rep's website.


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