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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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You probably have plans for Labor Day, but what about after your day off?
You probably have plans for Labor Day, but what about after your day off?

The top 11 things for everyone in Milwaukee to do after Labor Day

Labor Day is one of the saddest holidays of the year since in this neighborhood it means the end of summer. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do.

Sure, the fun and frolic of summer is gone, but there are plenty of opportunities after the celebrating has ended. Here are the top 11 things you can do after Labor Day.

1. Go to a school, walk into the principal’s office and tell them you are here to volunteer. It could be anything from supervising a playground to tutoring a kid who is having trouble reading or doing math. This is one that will make you feel proud, make you feel good and also do a lot of good.

2. If you have plants, a lawn or or anything that grows beside your kids, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to do as the weather grows colder. You can get a bunch of advice online, but if you want the real pros, call the UW-Extension office in Milwaukee County. The number is 256-4600. Just tell them you want to talk to an expert about your plants, and they’ll fix you up. Plus, unlike garden centers, they won’t try to sell you anything.

3. Take your snowblower to National Hardware’s shop on 4th and McKinley downtown. They’ve got the best and most reasonable tune-up shop I’ve found. Nice guys who will make sure that when the snow builds up on your walk, you won’t be left standing there with a snowblower that won’t start. Plus, it won’t cost you and arm and a leg. No matter how old your machine is, they can get it ready for winter.

4. Find a class to take. You are going to have more time on your hands now that the beer gardens in the parks are closing. Learn to cook, dance, speak a foreign language or even how to make your own beer. You can find tons of classes online, but for cooking, I’ve always loved the Milwaukee Public Market classes.

5. Plan your fall color trip now. Don’t wait until you wake up some Saturday morning and say, "Hey, let’s go look at some trees." The most beautiful part of the state is on th…

Barry Alvarez's Madison cabana has gained national attention.
Barry Alvarez's Madison cabana has gained national attention. (Photo: WISN)

Barry Alvarez's cabana gets major coverage from Wall Street Journal

Barry Alvarez, the University of Wisconsin Athletic Director, got some major props Thursday, not for his astute ability or his coaching success, but for the dazzling cabana at his Madison house and the fact that he likes to listen to Pitbull while floating his his pool.

The spread in the Wall Street Journal's Style & Travel section said the cabana is a retreat for Alvarez after his duties as head of the Badger athletic department.

"I don’t even go in the house," the paper quotes Alvarez as saying of his cabana, surely a rare thing in Madison. "I go straight there."

The cabana has a living area, a kitchen and an eating/bar area. It features an orange couch (his wife, Cindy, says he likes bright colors), and a 70-inch television screen where he intends to watch football games.

One thing you won’t find in the cabana is a pile of sports memorabilia.

"I don’t want to turn my house into a sports bar," Alvarez said in the story.

The cabana does act as a party site for friends, for whom Alvarez mixes his famous Mai Tais and grills sausages he gets from relatives in Pennsylvania where he grow up.

"My grandmother brought the recipe from Spain many years ago," Alvarez said. "As a kid, I used to manually turn the crank to put the sausage in the casing."

The cabana has three insulated walls and during winter they pull down a tarp over the opening and build a fire, although using it in winter is a rare occasion.

"The walk from the house can be arduous," she said. "We couldn’t get to the back door to the cabana because you’ve got eight feet of snow."

American Players Theatre recently named a new managing director.
American Players Theatre recently named a new managing director. (Photo: Carissa Dixon)

American Players Theatre names new managing director

The hits just keep on coming for the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, recently called the best classical repertory theater company in the country.

Now, the company has announced that Carrie Van Hallgren, a highly respected theater administrator, will become the new managing director of the 35-year-old company. The Platteville native will take over the administrative side on Jan. 1, teaming up with new artistic director Brenda DeVita.

Both women will replace David Frank who is retiring after a 30-year run that took APT from a small Madison diversion to a true national powerhouse.

Van Hallgren has a strong background in classical theater, having been managing director of Milwaukee Shakespeare and interim general manager at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. At Yale Repertory Theatre, Van Hallgren served as both associate managing director and company manager. While also at Yale, she completed her management fellowship under the mentorship of Barry Grove at Manhattan Theatre Club during the company’s Tony Award winning 2005 season.

"We were looking for someone very special to be the new managing leader of APT, and we believe we have found that in Carrie Van Hallgren," said Barbara Swan, president of APT’s Board of Directors.

"Carrie grew up in the area and was in a sense raised on APT’s work as well of that of the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival. APT helped to develop her love of Shakespeare and theater and set her on a path to become the talented and experienced theater professional that she is. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring her back to the area and to APT."

The cast of The World's Stage Theatre Company's production of "Seminar."
The cast of The World's Stage Theatre Company's production of "Seminar." (Photo: Nathaniel Schardin and Maria Pretzl)

"Seminar" is cute but goes astray with misdirection

Almost anyone who has ever gone to school, especially at the college level, can relate to a story about the pompous "I'm too good to be doing this" professor who takes a macabre delight in whittling his students down to size.

That’s the essence of "Seminar," the Broadway hit by Theresa Rebeck that opened this week at The World’s Stage Theatre Company and runs through Aug. 31 at the 10th Street Theatre.

The story is about four would-be writers who have paid $5,000 each for a 10-week session with Leonard, a published and formerly popular writer. These four have each paid dearly to have Leonard read their works and suffer the incredible humiliation he seems to love dumping on their heads.

The play is billed as a dark comedy, and the first act is full of cute writing and many funny moments and situations.  

The four students are Kate, a wealthy graduate from Bennington who lives in the glorious apartment where the seminars take place; Douglas, a well-connected writer who has visited many a writer’s colony; Martin, a tortured soul who has tried to get into all those writer’s colonies and failed; and Izzy, a vacuous slut who may not love sex but who clearly understands what a powerful tool it can be.

Leonard, played by a masterful Bryce Lord, quickly draws his viper sword as he reads only Kate’s piece only to the first semicolon before pronouncing it useless. As she tries to retaliate, he offers, "Don’t defend yourself. If you are defending yourself, you aren’t listening."

Kate is the conflicted rock of this group while Izzy, all long legs and sex appeal from Gretchen Mahkorn, lounges on a couch and proclaims to all who will listen, "I am going to be famous." She leaves no doubt that she is willing to use every weapon at her disposal to achieve that fame.

Douglas has a pomposity about him at the beginning that is no match once he comes face to face with Leonard’s bitter act. Martin spends almost the entire play unwilling to let Leonard, or anyone els…