Blog

Archive for Blog

FOLK MUSIC TRIBUTE AT THE SIDENOTES CABARET

FOLK MUSIC TRIBUTE AT THE SIDENOTES CABARET

Legendary folk artists will be honored at Sunset Playhouse as the SIDENOTES CABARET SERIES presents DON’T THINK TWICE, IT’S ALL FOLK, March 20-24, 2019 in the Marla Eichmann Studio Theater. Singer/musicians SARA HUBERTZ, DON LOBACZ, HAL MILLER, and CASEY OLSON celebrate an American genre that had its roots in bluegrass, gospel, and the blues. This unique, powerful music was the foundation of country-western, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll and made international stars of performers like Pete Seeger, The Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul and Mary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SARA HUBERTZ has been performing for many years and appears locally with ACOUSTICATS, a guitar/vocal duo. DON LOBACZ is a popular singer/actor, known for his appearances with area theater groups and BtW, a classic rock band.  HAL MILLER is a freelance bassist who has performed with national and international jazz artists.  CASEY OLSON is rapidly becoming Sunset’s in-house musician, playing and singing in both the SideNotes Cabarets and the Musical MainStage Concert Series.

 

 

 

 

Performances of DON’T THINK TWICE, IT’S ALL FOLK are Wednesday through Saturday, March 21-23 at 8:00 PM and Sunday, March 24 at 3:00 PM.  The Wednesday performance has been added to the line up due to sell outs of the original four performances.

Technician Sponsorship for this cabaret is provided by TOM and KATHY SCHMIT.

Sunset Playhouse is celebrating its 59th season and, in addition to the six SideNotes Cabarets, offers eight productions in the Furlan Auditorium, six Musical MainStage concerts, four shows in the new After Sunset series, and three shows in the bug in a rug Children’s Theater series.  To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit sunsetplayhouse.com. For group sales, contact Stephanie at 262-782-4431, ex. 291.

DON’T THINK TWICE, IT’S ALL FOLK

SideNotes Cabaret

March 20-24, 2019

Sunset Playhouse

VALENTINE’S DAY TREATS AT THE SIDENOTES CABARET

VALENTINE’S DAY TREATS AT THE SIDENOTES CABARET

 

 

In celebration of hearts, flowers, and romance, the SideNotes Cabaret presents FRANKLY SENTIMENTAL, February 14-17, 2019 in the Eichmann Studio Theater at Sunset Playhouse. Backed by the six-piece SWING EXPLOSION combo and featuring popular vocalist PETE SORCE, performances will be filled with memorable vocals and instrumentals from the Great American Songbook.

PETE SORCE has worked with a “Who’s Who” of legendary entertainers including Les Brown, Nelson Riddle, Mel Tormé, and Duke Ellington. He attended Lincoln High School where he sang with his friend, Al Jarreau, and also worked with popular rock groups Big Apple and Toll Free. THE SWING EXPLOSION SEXTET includes Jeff LaBarge (leader/arranger and saxophone), John Rose (trumpet), Dave Smith (trombone), Chris Klinkhardt (keyboard), Jeff Hoormann (bass), and Jim Ryan (drums). 

Sunset’s SideNotes Cabaret Series offers a unique assortment of musical entertainment presented by talented professionals in an intimate, relaxed setting. Performances of FRANKLY SENTIMENTAL are Thursday through Saturday, February 14-16 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 17 at 3:00 p.m. Technician Sponsorship for this cabaret is provided by TOM and KATHY SCHMIT.

Sunset Playhouse is celebrating its 59th season and, in addition to the six SideNotes Cabarets, offers eight productions in the Furlan Auditorium, six Musical MainStage concerts, four shows in the new After Sunset series, and three shows in the bug in a rug Children’s Theater series.  To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit sunsetplayhouse.com. For group sales, contact Stephanie at 262-782-4431, ex. 291.

Meet the cast of BILLBOARD’S BEST – Musical MainStage

Five of the area’s busiest performers will kickstart the new year with Billboard’s Best–a salute to some of the music industry’s biggest, chart-topping hits:

ALISON MARY FORBES’ credits include work with Skylight Music Theatre, First Stage Children’s Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, In Tandem, Bunny Gumbo, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Optimist Theatre, and Off the Wall. A Musical MainStage regular, she’s also appeared in the SideNotes Cabaret productions SONGS OF THE SILVER SCREEN and THE HARMONETTES.

 

TOMMY LUECK was featured in our very first Musical MainStage concert and many more over the years. He’s probably best known as the front man vocalist for Swing Nouveau and as one quarter of the Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets, but he’s also a remarkable director of musicals, both at Sunset Playhouse and for his students at Brookfield Central High School.

CASEY OLSON, singer and guitarist extraordinaire, has quickly risen to cult status around the Playhouse, with credits that include YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND: A TRIBUTE TO CAROLE KING & JAMES TAYLOR; HOMEWARD BOUND: SIMON AND GARFUNKEL; and QUEENS OF COUNTRY. This season brings half a dozen more appearances for both the SideNotes Cabaret and Musical MainStage series. 

It’s always fun to introduce a new performer to our family. This time around we welcome HAYLEY SAN FILLIPPO. With a BFA in Theater Performance from UW-Whitewater, her area credits include work with First Stage Children’s Theatre, All in Productions, ComedySportz, Soulstice Theatre, Alchemist Theatre, Greendale Community Theatre, and Sunset Playhouse.

In her second Rising Star appearance, we welcome back KYLEE HENNES, who has wowed our audiences with her talent as both vocalist and bass guitar player. Recent credits include THE BAD SEED (Sunset), ANNIE and VIOLET (Skylight Music Theatre), and THE SOUND OF MUSIC (Lyric Opera of Chicago). KyLee also rocks out with her sisters in the BAND Hennes.

On keys will be superstar music director KERRY HART BIENEMAN. She’ll be joined by our resident drummer-man, TIM KARTH, along with Susan Loveridge and Bob Hirschi in the play-by-play chairs. You’ll be All Shook Up if you miss this one!

Theater RED Invites Milwaukee to “Be Italian!” with NINE the Musical

January 25-27, 2019

Directed by Theater RED’s New Artistic Associate, Eric Welch

Che bello! Theater RED proudly announces a new addition to the company! Eric Welch joins Theater RED as Artistic Associate following his collaboration with the company in June of 2018 for the Wisconsin premiere of I’LL EAT YOU LAST: A CHAT WITH SUE MENGERS. Eric Welch directed this one-woman comedic romp as a co-production with his theater company, Untitled Productions.

The great secret of NINE is that it took “81⁄2” and became an essay on the power of women by answering the question, ‘What are women to men?’ And NINE tells you: they are our mothers, our sisters, our teachers, our temptresses, our judges, our nurses, our wives, our mistresses, our muses.

– Maury Yeston

Be Italian! New Theater RED Artistic Associate Eric Welch will direct NINE the musical, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and book by Arthur Kopit, in January of 2019. Reimagined with a cast of nine (9) women and one (1) man, NINE brings Theater RED alumni and newcomers together for a courageous, no-frills production that brings the core of Guido’s crisis to audiences up-close in Sunset Playhouse’s intimate Studio Theater.

Based on Italian director Federico Fellini’s comic masterpiece of biographical filmmaking, “8 1⁄2”, Yeston’s sultry musical follows the life of world-famous film director Guido Contini as he prepares his latest picture. Contini is also, after recent box office failures, drifting towards a nervous breakdown. Contini has turned 40 and faces two crises: he has to shoot a film for which he can’t write the script, and his wife of 20 years, film star Luisa del Forno, may leave him if he can’t pay more attention to his marriage. As it turns out, it is the same crisis. Luisa’s efforts to talk to him seem to be drowned out by voices in his head: voices of women in his life, speaking through the walls of his memory: insistent, flirtatious, irresistible, potent. These are the women Guido loved, and from whom he derived the entire vitality of a creative life, now as stalled as his marriage. As his sanity disintegrates, he drifts into nostalgic reverie, eventually focusing on the formative sexual encounter of his life, which occurred at the age of 9.

Dates (three performances only): Friday, January 25 at 7:30 PM Saturday, January 26 at 7:30 PM

Sunday, January 27 at 2:00 PM

Tickets: $20 General Admission
Order online at https://sunsetplayhouse.com/shows/nine or by calling 262-782-4430

Location: Sunset Playhouse Studio Theater, 700 Wall Street, Elm Grove, WI 53122

Stage Direction:

Music Direction:

Choreography:

Eric Welch

Lydia Rose Eiche

Ashley Patin

Featuring:

Timothy J. Barnes as Guido

Marcee Doherty-Elst as Serraghina

Jennifer Larson as Mama Maddelena

Rae Elizabeth Paré as Luisa

SaraLynn Evenson as Lilliane Le Fleur 

Hannah Esch as Our Lady of the Spa

Samantha Sostarich as Carla

Laura McDonald as Guido’s Mother

Carrie Gray as Lina Darling

Kara Ernst-Schalk as Claudia

Marcee Doherty-Elst as Stephanie

 

About NINE

NINE is a musical, initially created and written by Maury Yeston as a class-project in Lehman Engel’s BMI Music Theatre Workshop in 1973. It was later developed with a book by Mario Fratti, and then again with a book by Arthur Kopit, music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. The story is based also on Frederico Fellini’s semi- autobiographical film 81⁄2. It focuses on film director Guido Contini, who is dreading his imminent 40th birthday and facing a mid-life crisis, which is blocking his creative impulses and entangling him in a web of romantic difficulties in early 1960s Venice.

The original Broadway production opened in 1982 and ran for 729 performances, and starred Raul Julia. The musical won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical and has enjoyed a number of revivals. The 2003 Broadway revival featured a star-studded cast: Antonio Banderas, Mary Stuart Masterson, Chita Rivera, Jane Krakwoski and Laura Benanti, and won 2 Tony Awards itself, including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (Jane Krakowski).

The movie [81⁄2] has a phenomenal impact on me when I saw it as a teenager when it first came out. I was fascinated with Guido who was going through his second adolescence when I was going through my first! As I grew I began to realize that there was room to explore the reacting of the inner workings of the women in Guido’s wake…I think that’s what opened the gateways of creativity for NINE – to hear from these extraordinary women.

– Maury Yeston to the New York Times

About the Title

Fellini entitled his film 8 1⁄2 in recognition of his prior body of work, which included six full-length films, two short films, and one that he co-directed. Yeston’s title for the musical adaptation adds another half-credit to Fellini’s output and refers to Guido’s age during his first hallucination sequence. Yeston called the musical NINE, explaining that if you add music to 81⁄2, “it’s like half a number more.”

Getting There

The intimate 88-seat Studio Theater is located at Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove, WI and is the sister performance space to their larger 299-seat Furlan Auditorium. Sunset Playhouse is in the heart of the Elm Grove shopping district at 700 Wall Street with ample free parking available in their spacious parking lot. Sunset Playhouse is easily acceptable for patrons coming from all corners of the world (even Italy!). Visit https:// sunsetplayhouse.com/contact/map-directions for detailed, localized directions from the West, North, South, and East of Southeastern WI.

About Theater RED: Theater RED produces theater in Southeastern Wisconsin. Each production addresses three founding tenets: Substantial roles for women, growth in craft for artists, and support for new playwrights.

For more information: www.theaterred.com and www.sunsetplayhouse.com Be Italian with Theater RED in January 2019!

Sunset’s CHRISTMAS BELLES rings in the season with hilarity

By MARILYN JOZWIK

 

 

 

 

 

If you thought the Christmas pageant depicted in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” was over the top, wait until you see the one in Sunset Playhouse’s “Christmas Belles.” Think of “Christmas Belles” as the adult version of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” with a sackful of fun. If you’re looking for some laughs this holiday season, this show delivers in bunches.

From a tipsy version of the Christmas Story to an Elvis sighting, the pageant in Fayro, Texas, is one for the ages. But the lead-up to it is full of surprises and humor as the Futrelle sisters gather for one of the most unusual unplanned reunions you’ll ever see. In the hours before the pageant you’ll see them as far apart as the state of Texas and then finding just how much they need each other.

Honey Raye Futrelle, the town floozy, has taken over Tabernacle of the Lamb Church’s Christmas pageant from Miss Geneva, who directed the show for 27 years. Honey Raye has a Vegas production in mind for the show, complete with a guest appearance by a fourth wise man (a local celebrity who will be bringing her butternut squash lasagna for her gift), as well as a part for an Elvis impersonator. It’s sure to be the talk of the very small town for years, but, when things go very wrong and secrets are revealed before the show even starts, the play careens hilariously out of control.

The strength of the show, directed by Becky Spice, is its strong, well-defined characterizations by Sunset’s choices for the Futrelle sisters: Tamara Martinsek as Honey Raye; Heather Reynolds as Twink; and Diane Gard as Frankie. Twink has been incarcerated after setting a fire to avenge her husband’s cheating, but the sheriff is allowing her to see her sister’s pageant. Frankie, along with husband Dub, is expecting twins any minute, a late life second family as they have a grown daughter, Gina Jo (Nicole Gross), who is being romantically pursued by the church pastor, Justin (Keith R. Smith). Frankie and Gina Jo also come to support Honey Raye’s directorial efforts.

 

 

There are such fun folk in this show, and the comedy is almost non-stop. You meet Frankie’s husband (Paul Pfannenstiel), who is playing Santa at the town’s big department store for some extra cash, giving lots of opportunities for humor when he is dealing with a (ho-ho-ho) kidney stone – scenes which Pfannenstiel milks wonderfully. The pastor plays his reindeer helper. Then there’s the 10-gallon hat-wearing town sheriff (Parker Cristan), who has a soft spot for inmate Twink. Parker gives his bombastic sheriff a sort of Barney Fife likeability, while really letting it all out for his Elvis bit.

Nearly every scene ends with a zinger. And this cast knows how to deliver a zinger.

 

 

Martinsek as the dramatic Honey Raye, who wants to name her big-production Christmas pageant “Bethlehem Lalapalooza,” seems to be at the center of every scene with her big red hair, her thigh-high, leopard print boots and her big Southern personality. When she vents her anger by saying, “I am so furious I could spit nails,” it sounds like something she’s said time and time again. Martinsek is just a joy to watch.

Reynolds and Gard complete the sister act to perfection. The three are in sync with one another and the whole cast.  Gross’s Gina Jo is just so sweet, while Cheryl Roloff as Rhonda Lynn, who keeps everyone fed in the church kitchen during play rehearsals, fits in nicely. Beverly Sargeant gives Miss Geneva a no-nonsense attitude as she provides a steady hand through the pageant’s shenanigans.

There are several smaller roles that have big moments in the show that get big laughs, including Joyce Sponcia, playing Patsy, the nosy, intolerant church benefactor. Sponcia is hilarious as she delivers an unconventional Christmas story, while Susan Zuern as Ozella makes the most of her unique solo in the pageant while playing the ukulele. Jacob Cesar as Raynerd, who insists on playing his role in the Christmas pageant with a Batman backpack, is convincing with his oft-proclaimed, “I just love Christmas,” and then saves the pageant with his touching sincerity.

 

 

A concluding singalong at the church pageant – and in the auditorium — puts a cherry on this delicious holiday production.

Who: Sunset Playhouse

What: “Christmas Belles”

When: Through Dec. 23

Where: 800 Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove

Tickets/Info: sunsetplayhouse.com; 262-782-4430

SEASON’S GREETINGS FROM ROSIE & BING, A SideNotes Cabaret

 

 

 

 

SEASONAL FAVORITES AND MUSICAL MEMORIES

AT THE SIDENOTES CABARET

 

Award-winning vocalists ELLEN WINTERS and JOHNNY RODGERS welcome the holiday season with music and memories in SEASON’S GREETINGS FROM ROSIE & BING at the SideNotes Cabaret, December 12-16, 2018, in the Studio Theatre of Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.

 

WINTERS and RODGERS reunite after their smash hit cabaret ELLA MEETS MEL, this time in a tribute to Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby, written and directed by PEGGY PETERSON RYAN. Backed by a top-notch combo of Sam Steffke on piano, Steve Rindt on bass, and Jim Ryan on drums, audiences will be treated to timeless duets, seasonal favorites, and many of Rosie and Bing’s signature songs.

 

ELLEN WINTERS has appeared at Sunset Playhouse many times in the SideNotes Cabaret and also as part of the Musical MainStage Concert Series, most recently in FRANK & ELLA & FRIENDS.  She has won numerous awards including Jazz Musician of 2017 from the Shepherd Express “Best of Milwaukee.”  Winters is sought after as a vocalist and cabaret singer throughout southeastern Wisconsin and the U.S., and also works as a clinician, adjudicator, and arranger.  JOHNNY RODGERS is an internationally-celebrated singer, songwriter, pianist, Broadway star, and recording artist.  He has been described as an “Ambassador of American music” and has won songwriting awards from the Billboard and The Great American Song contests, as well as the ASCAP Foundation. Rodgers spent several years touring with Liza Minnelli as a featured singer, dancer, and pianist and continues to tour the world presenting concerts and cabarets.

 

Writer/Director PEGGY PETERSON RYAN is well-known to audiences from her many appearances with local theatre companies and from her work with the SideNotes Cabaret Series since its inception in 2008.  In addition to her work onstage and behind the scenes, she also has served as playwright and lyricist for the production of VICTORY FOR VICTORIA at Milwaukee Opera Theatre.

 

Music Director SAM STEFFKE is a three-time WAMI award-winning pianist and a graduate of Berklee College of Music.  He plays with several local bands and maintains a teaching practice. Double bassist STEVEN RINDT is a freelance bassist with the Wisconsin Philharmonic and Festival City Symphony and with several classical and jazz groups. Drummer JIM RYAN has been playing regionally for decades, appears regularly with big bands and smaller combos, and maintains a private drum instruction studio.

 

Performances of SEASON’S GREETINGS FROM ROSIE & BING are Wednesday, December 12 through Saturday December 15 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 16 at 3:00 p.m.

 

Sunset Playhouse is celebrating its 59th season and, in addition to the six SideNotes Cabarets, offers eight productions in the Furlan Auditorium, six Musical MainStage concerts, four shows in the new After Sunset series, and three shows in the bug in a rug Children’s Theater series.  To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit sunsetplayhouse.com. For group sales, contact Stephanie at 262-782-4431, ex. 291.

Meet the cast of A JOHN DENVER CHRISTMAS

Musical MainStage celebrates the holidays with that mellow fellow, singer-songwriter John Denver. Our talented singers and musicians will cover both his Christmas tunes and his classic hits. Meet the cast:

A big welcome back to LYDIA ROSE EICHE, whom we first met exactly ten years ago when she was a Rising Star! Her Sunset credits include Babette (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) and Rapunzel/Cinderella’s Mother (INTO THE WOODS). Also: Yitzhak (HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH) with All In Productions, Milica (SVADBA—WEDDING) with Milwaukee Opera Theatre, and Ensemble for SWEENEY TODD at Skylight Music Theatre.

CARRIE GRAY is also back for her second Musical MainStage concert. Her many credits include work with Skylight Music Theatre, First Stage Children’s Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, and Greendale Community Theatre. Carrie’s favorite roles include The Baker’s Wife in INTO THE WOODS for Sunset and Diana in NEXT TO NORMAL with All In Productions.

 

TOMMY HAHN, one of your favorite performers, is back in his 14th or 15th or 16th appearance—we’ve lost track! Local credits include Milwaukee Rep (MAN OF LA MANCHA) and Skylight Music Theatre (RENT, LES MISERABLES, MUSIC MAN). Regional: Fireside Theatre (PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES, ROCKIN’ AT THE FIRESIDE), Marriott Theatre at Lincolnshire (PHANTOM, EVITA, MISS SAIGON), Northlight Theatre (SIDE SHOW), and DEE SNIDER’S ROCK & ROLL CHRISTMAS TALE (Broadway Playhouse, Chicago.)

 

CHAD LARGET, who made his Broadway debut in the ‘97 revival of CANDIDE, directed by Harold Prince, makes his Musical MainStage debut. Other credits include PIRATES OF PENZANCE (Frederic), DIE FLEDERMAUS (Dr. Blind), and MOST HAPPY FELLA (Pasquale), all for Skylight Music Theatre, featured soloist with the Milwaukee and Racine Symphony orchestras, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Florentine Opera. At Sunset: MARY POPPINS (Bank Chairman) and SHE LOVES ME (Kodaly).

Our Rising Star is Divine Savior Holy Angels High School sophomore CLAIRE BECKER. Her credits include the school’s production of Les Miserables, along with performances for the Hartford Players, Lake Country Playhouse, and Falls Patio Players.

In addition, we have KERRY HART BIENEMAN on the keys, CASEY OLSON on guitar, and JASON LOVEALL on violin. As always, Susan Loveridge and Bob Hirschi will offer the play-by-play.

Start your holidays out right by letting those country roads take you home!

A JOHN DENVER CHRISTMAS

December 3, 2018, 7:30 pm

December 4, 2018, 2:00 and 7:30 pm

Note:  Performances are almost SOLD OUT.  We are considering adding a performance on Sunday, December 2nd at 7:30 or Monday, December 3 at 2:00.  If you are interested in attending one of these shows if added, please call our box office ASAP at 262-782-4430

A TRIBUTE TO COUNTRY MUSIC ROYALTY at the SideNotes Cabaret

The classic songs of country music icons will be center stage as vocalists KELLI CRAMER and SARALYNN EVENSON star in a cabaret titled THE QUEENS OF COUNTRY, June 14-17, 2018 in the SideNotes Cabaret at Sunset Playhouse. The show will trace the careers of several popular female singers who have risen from their humble beginnings to the heights of international stardom.  Written and directed by Becky Spice, THE QUEENS OF COUNTRY will feature some of the greatest hits by Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Kitty Wells.

 

 

Audiences throughout the Midwest are familiar with KELLI CRAMER from her portrayals of Patsy Cline at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Waukesha Civic Theatre, and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center.  For her performance of the title role in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN at the Oakbrook Drury Lane Theatre, Cramer received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actress.  SARALYNN EVENSON recently appeared with Skylight Music Theatre in ZOMBIES FROM THE BEYOND! and is known to Sunset audiences from her appearances in the Musical MainStage concerts and its recent production of SHE LOVES ME. Evenson spent many years appearing in New York jazz clubs and regional theatres.

 

Music direction and accompaniment will be provided by LINDA NOEL HALVERSON, who served in that capacity for Sunset’s recent production of ANYTHING GOES. Other Playhouse credits include GODSPELL and THE FANTASTICKS. Halverson will be joined by Sunset favorites CASEY OLSON on guitar and JIM RYAN on drums.  Both Olson and Ryan have been featured in SideNotes Cabarets and Musical MainStage concerts, and often appear with other groups in clubs and venues throughout the greater Milwaukee area.

 

Performances of THE QUEENS OF COUNTRY are Thursday, June 14th through Saturday, June 16th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 17th at 3:00 p.m.  Call 262-782-4430 or click HERE for tickets

 

 

Sunset puts on a delicious comedic romp in ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner’

Sunset puts on a delicious comedic romp in ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner’

By MARILYN JOZWIK

 

Everyone loves the Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First” skit with its cascading array of misinterpretations.

Imagine a similar bit going on for a little over 100 minutes, adding lies, purposeful confusions, hidden infidelities, as well as a host of misinterpretations, and you have the heart of “Don’t Dress for Dinner.”

The show, Sunset Playhouse’s current offering, is a dizzying series of farcical conversations meant to cover up a couple of affairs. Sunset’s cast, under the direction of Michael Pocaro, has successfully met this monumental challenge thanks to an ensemble of six who can handle the quickly developing situations and snappy dialogue expertly.

I realized early on that the show is remindful of “Boeing, Boeing,” which Sunset also successfully staged in recent years. The similarities are due to the fact that Marc Camoletti wrote both shows. Robin Hawdon adapted “Don’t Dress for Dinner.”

While “Boeing, Boeing” relies a lot on the classic farce device of people hiding behind and popping out of doors, “Don’t Dress for Dinner” is almost strictly a linguistical romp. Time and again the characters must utter a whole series of misunderstandings to cover up for themselves or someone else.

The story is set in 1960 in a country home – actually quite a tastefully renovated farmhouse – outside of Paris. Married couple Bernard (Keith R. Smith) and Jacqueline (Lori Nappe) are preparing for Jacqueline to spend the weekend away with her mother. Meanwhile, Bernard has invited his mistress Suzanne (Allison Chicorel), while his wife is gone, and arranged for Suzette (Ella Folkerts) from an agency to cook a romantic meal. Bernard’s friend Robert (Tyler Peters) has also been invited, as an alibi.

The plan looks like a good one for Bernard, until Jacqueline learns that Robert – who ironically happens to be her secret lover — is spending the weekend with Bernard. So, Jacqueline cancels her weekend with her mother in order to reunite with Robert.

Bernard finds out too late that his wife will not be gone for the weekend, but his friend as well as his cook and his lover are all on their way to his home with no chance of anyone’s stopping their arrival (these are the days before cell phones!). 

Bernard convinces the unattached Robert to pretend that Suzanne is actually his – Robert’s– girlfriend, which sends Robert into a tizzy as he had hoped to share a secret liaison with Bernard’s wife that weekend. Complicating the complicated matters, Robert mistakes the cook Suzette for Bernard’s mistress Suzanne. And so on and so on.

While there’s lots of movement, most of this show’s comedy comes from the witty dialogue and fast-paced repartee. When Bernard asks Robert, “Is the coast clear?” he responds, “I don’t know about the coast, but it’s darn foggy around here.”

 

Director Pocaro has the players in a near constant state of motion, taking on all sorts of poses all over the couch and all over the room. Their movements are purposeful as they strut and run around the ample living room, ramble up and down the stairs, saunter into the kitchen or off to bedrooms that were once a cow stall and a piggery, stop frequently at the bar for libations and cower at accusations. There is not a dull moment as the attempts to mask the infidelities create a mountain of lies and some of the most preposterous conversations and situations, which end up with the men getting pummeled and even – in Bernard’s case – battered with a variety of liquids, prompting him to deadpan that he’ll “put on (his) wet suit.”

This is an amazing ensemble cast, with my favorites being Peters’ Robert and Folkerts’ Suzette. The two are perfectly cast and easily handle all the tricky dialogue and physical comedy. Their loopy tango – at which point Suzette is believed to be Robert’s niece — during the dinner party to open Act II is great fun. In that scene, Suzette is told to pretend she is Robert’s niece, which moves her to deliciously deliver the line: “You’re quite a dishy hunk, unc.”

Peters is perfect as Robert – expressive, but not so much as to look cartoonish. At one point his adept retelling of a laundry list of lies elicited applause from the audience.

Folkerts’ cook character is asked to play several characters – for which she insists on money up front from Robert and Bernard in a funny running bit – in order to conceal the affairs. Folkerts whisks among her dinner party incarnations with great comedic flair, at one point telling her employers: “I should get an Oscar for this.” Indeed.

Smith and Nappe as Bernard and Jacqueline are also quite adept. I loved their characters’ straight-faced confessions looking out at the audience, stock-still, in Act II, a perfectly timed pause — albeit short one — in all the madcap madness that only added to its effectiveness.

I’ve seen Chicorel, who played Bernard’s model-girlfriend, play this sort of role a number of times and she is always spot-on with her timing and audience engagement, just as she is here, jockeying between moments of bemusement and lividity. Nick Zuiker as Suzette’s husband George makes a brief, but pivotal appearance toward the end of the show that really wraps things up nicely.

Nick Korneski and Matthew Carr designed a good-looking, wide open stage, adding stone accents for the farmhouse feel and allowing performers lots of room to roam and romp. And they needed every inch of it.

If you go:

Who: Sunset Playhouse

What: “Don’t Dress for Dinner”

When: Through May 6

Where: 800 Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove

Info/Tickets: 262-782-4430; www.sunsetplayhouse.com

SIDENOTES CABARET PRESENTS A LIVELY TRIBUTE TO COLE PORTER

Milwaukee favorites BECKY SPICE and JACK FORBES WILSON star in a tribute to Cole Porter titled IT’S TOO DARN HOT, May 17-20, 2018 in the SideNotes Cabaret at Sunset Playhouse. The duo was such a hit in their previous SideNotes show, RED HOT MAMA, that they have reunited to create a show with a festive party atmosphere where they and their special guests will present an evening of Porter’s witty and clever songs.

 

 

 

BECKY SPICE has performed in many of Sunset’s Musical MainStage concerts, most recently in a tribute to Elton John titled ROCKET MAN. She also is familiar to SideNotes audiences from her appearance in last season’s HOLIDAY BELLES. This past summer, Ms. Spice was featured as the Old Lady in CANDIDE at Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay.  For more than 30 years she has been a regular at Skylight Music Theatre where favorite roles include Reno (ANYTHING GOES), and Eliza (MY FAIR LADY). Ms. Spice has performed many solo cabaret shows at venues such as The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center, Skylight, and other civic and corporate events.

 

 

Local audiences know JACK FORBES WILSON from his many appearances in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Stackner Cabaret including his widely acclaimed performance in LIBERACE.  Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Mr. Wilson came to Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received a Master’s Degree in music.  A talented music director, singer, actor, pianist, and teacher, Mr. Wilson has worked with American Players Theatre, Next Act Theatre, Third Avenue Playhouse, Madison Rep, and Skylight Music Theatre. Mr. Wilson also contributes his many talents to the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, where he serves as Resident Artist.

 

Performances of IT’S TOO DARN HOT: THE SIZZLING SONGS OF COLE PORTER are Thursday through Saturday, May 17-19 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 20 at 3:00 p.m.

Sunset Playhouse is celebrating its 58th season and, in addition to the six SideNotes Cabarets, offers eight productions in the Furlan Auditorium, six Musical MainStage concerts, four shows in the new After Sunset series, and three shows in the bug in a rug Children’s Theater series.  To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit www.sunsetplayhouse.com.  For group sales, contact Stephanie at 262-782-4431, ex. 291.

JUDY GARLAND TRIBUTE AT SUNSET PLAYHOUSE

Singer and pianist KERRY HART BIENEMAN pays tribute to the work of musical giant Judy Garland in a concert titled C’MON GET HAPPY on May 12th and 13th at Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove. Often described as one of the world’s greatest performers, Garland was an international star who won multiple awards for her work in film, television, and recording. C’MON GET HAPPY will showcase many of the singer’s most famous and beloved musical triumphs.

 

 

A favorite of Sunset audiences, Kerry Hart Bieneman is an accomplished performer who currently serves as Music Director for the theater’s popular Musical MainStage Concert Series and has been featured in several of its SideNotes Cabarets. With a Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University, she recently worked with Skylight Music Theatre as music director for its critically-acclaimed production of TALES OF HOFFMANN. 

 

 

Joining Bieneman on the Furlan Auditorium stage will be internationally-celebrated singer-songwriter and pianist JOHNNY RODGERS. Rodgers’ many credits include worldwide tours for the U.S. Department of State, as well as performance awards from numerous theaters and cabarets across the country. He also adds a personal element to the show, having spent 18 years as Music Director and singer for Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli.

Bieneman and Rodgers will pay homage to Garland and her exceptional career with a lineup of songs that includes “The Man That Got Away,” “You Made Me Love You,” and “The Trolley Song.”

Mother’s Day weekend performances of C’MON GET HAPPY: A JUDY GARLAND TRIBUTE are May 12th at 7:30 p.m. and May 13th at 2:00 p.m. Tickets may be purchased by visiting sunsetplayhouse.com or calling the box office at 262-782-4430.

SideNotes Cabaret Series Features “Milwaukee’s Manhattan Transfer”

Stylish arrangements and intricate harmonies will fill the air as BOYGIRLBOYGIRL presents an evening of musical entertainment March 22-25, 2018 in the SideNotes Cabaret. SideNotes is continuing its tenth season in the intimate Studio Theatre of Elm Grove’s Sunset Playhouse.

Featuring DON LOBACZ, TOMMY LUECK, LAURA MONAGLE, and MICHAELA RISTAINO, BGBG has been crowned “Milwaukee’s Manhattan Transfer.” LOBACZ and LUECK are well known to Midwest audiences thanks to their many appearances with Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets and other local theatre companies.  MONAGLE appears regularly with Boulevard Theatre, The Fireside Theatre, Off the Wall, and Children’s Theatre of Madison.  RISTAINO has appeared in Milwaukee with Skylight Music Theatre and currently performs with Choral Artists of Sarasota in her hometown on Florida’s Suncoast.

The talented quartet will be backed by two exceptional musicians, Mark Mrozek and Tim Karth.  Mrozek serves as resident music director for Sunset Playhouse and is Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Bruno’s. In addition to his work with Hal Leonard Music Publishing, Karth performs with several local vocal groups and theatre companies.

Performances of BOYGIRLBOYGIRL are Thursday through Saturday, March 22-24 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 25 at 3:00 p.m.

 

15585

Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to hear about shows, events, and ticket deals.

15856