Murder, Mayhem, and the Modern World, The Milwaukee Rep’s 2020/21 Season

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater announced their 2020/21 season back in February. But I was waiting to have An Intuitive Perspective up and running before I wrote about it. I would have gotten lost in the original wave of articles anyway. But now that we are in the heart of the Age of Pandemic and the remainder of the 2019/20 season has been canceled, it is a pleasure to look ahead to next season with hope and excitement!

Murder you say? Well, yes, the Quadracci Powerhouse will feature Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express from November 10 to December 13, 2020! I imagine everyone will be looking forward to this classic of theater. And who can ever get enough of Hercule Poirot?

And Mayhem? Yes the mayhem of the sinking of the Titanic, as Titanic, The Musical opens the Quadracci Powerhouse season from September 15 to October 25, 2020. The winner of five Tony Awards, Titanic continues the Rep’s tradition of opening with a blockbuster musical.

And the modern world? By all means! I am going to outline the rest of the season by stage!

Also at the Quadracci Powerhouse:

Toni Stone which was named Best New Play of 2019 by the Wall Street Journal. Hey, this one’s about baseball…one of the most attended sports in Milwaukee. So certainly this play displays a portrait of America by discussing America’s pastime. But it also is going to bring to the fore some of the divides in society prevalent for much of the nation’s history. Toni Stone is a talented baseball player who becomes the first woman to play in the men’s Negro Leagues. So certainly this story is fraught with her struggles to be accepted and to be treated like an equal. A very tough act in the male-dominated arena of baseball and in a racially divided nation. Toni Stone runs from January 12 to February 7, 2021.

For a short run in March, John Proctor Is The Villain. This is being billed as a Rolling World Premiere. I am just going to lift the tagline from the Rep here: This challenging, contemporary post #metoo response to “classic” literature explores the power of young girls who fight to tell their own stories. The classic lit they are describing here is “The Crucible” as it is being studied in a present day Appalachian high school.

And the closing feature at the Quadracci, is William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, running from April 20 to May 23, 2021. But there’s a twist or maybe a Twist. The locale is 1960’s British Columbia with cross-dressing lovers and mistaken identities and mishaps and laughs. And the Twist? Well the play will feature 20 songs from the Beatles. This should get interesting.

Now, I will admit that the Stiemke Studio has been my favorite stage at the Rep for years. Not only is the theater intimate but it usually features the most stimulating and challenging plays of the season. So don’t miss these:

The Tasters opens the Stiemke season – September 22 to November 1, 2020. To protect high ranking government officials, three women are employed to taste their food…well until one of them goes on a hunger strike…how appropriate? Billed as equal parts Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Food Network, this is a dark little comedy to enjoy!!

And after the holidays, Tender Age brings us into contemporary America as Martin takes a job at a refugee detention center, where children have been separated from their parents. And when this was written, it could have hardly anticipated the events of 2020, but the story intensifies when an epidemic starts to sweep through the center. Billed as a harrowing, unflinching portrait of modern-day America, it will certainly reverberate even more with the audience than originally planned.

And then everyone’s favorite, the Stackner Cabaret! And don’t forget to make dinner reservations for pre-show…the food is simply delightful here.

But opening the season is My Way and you’ll never guess the subtext: A Musical Tribute To Frank Sinatra. So, you’ll get to hear the best of Frank in a cabaret setting. What simple magic that’s going to be. And I bet there are going to be some signature cocktails on the menu. And you won’t have to go to Vegas or New York, New York to enjoy!  Frank holds court from September 17 to November 8, 2020.

And this next one will be a story for all of Wisconsin and will bring heartfelt joy to some families and maybe a bit of dismay or regret to others…but it all sounds like fun. Dad’s Season Tickets tells the story of inheritance…of dad’s season tickets to the Green Bay Packers! This is one of the most popular plays from Northern Sky Theater and I am sure that it will translate well in Milwaukee’s Packersland.

And then an encore performance of Blues In The Night. A Tony and Olivier Award nominated musical that illuminates the songs of Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen and more. Just the perfect cure for Wisconsin mid-winter blues from January 22 to March 21, 2021. This visited the Stackner in 2012.

And then the season finale is the perfect bookend to My Way, as Get Happy plays from March 25 to May 30, 2021. A bookend to Frank? My goodness, yes, Get Happy = Angela Ingersoll Sings JUDY GARLAND. This is the live stage performance of Ms. Ingersoll’s Garland PBS concert.

Well there you have it! But if feels like I am missing something.

Oh wait! Yes, I almost did. The Milwaukee Repertory Theater is staging its 45th Anniversary Production of A Christmas Carol at Milwaukee’s historic Pabst Theater. And to lend an additional special cache to the 2020 version, Milwaukee favorite, Lee Ernst is returning as Scrooge in the Mark Clements adaptation of the story. He hasn’t played the role at the Rep since 2006. This will be a special treat this year.

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