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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, July 25, 2014

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Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom Of The Opera" runs from today through Aug. 3.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom Of The Opera" runs from today through Aug. 3.

5 pics that zoom in on "Phantom"

I had the chance to get behind the scenes of "Phantom Of The Opera" today to check out the famous, one-ton chandelier – created by Howard Eaton who designed the five fiery Olympic rings seen at the 2012 London opening – as well as a few of Phantom's props and costumes. 

While there, company manager Joel Herbst shared a few fun factoids about the show like there are 155 wigs and all but five are made from human hair. He also said there are 1,500 costumes and some of the actors change nine times during the performance.

"It gets a little crazy, but luckily I have a ‘dresser’ who helps me," says Julia Udine, who plays Christine Daaé.

During this U.S. tour, the script and the score are the same, but the set is new. Read more about that here and check out five of my favorite shots from today’s sneak peek:

1. Beads 'n' bling.

2. A closer look.

3. A portion of the Phantom's cape.

4. Another costume close up.

5. Props! Think the Phantom plays sheepshead?

The show runs through Aug. 3 and tickets, which are still available, start at $27. Go here to grab some

Tom Barrett gets the big scissors. Because he's the mayor, of course.
Tom Barrett gets the big scissors. Because he's the mayor, of course.
Julilly Kohler was instrumental in the process. And she has been spotted swinging on the swings.
Julilly Kohler was instrumental in the process. And she has been spotted swinging on the swings.
This is what it's all about.
This is what it's all about.

The swings are back!

At 11 a.m. today, Mayor Tom Barrett – along with a group of city officials, designers, organizers and citizens (including my two sons) – cut the ribbon on the new swings at the Marsupial Bridge.

"The city is challenging itself to have more fun," Barrett told the crowd, which also included DPW Commissioner Gassan Korban and Julilly Kohler from the Brady Street Business Improvement District (BID) #11.

The new swings are a collaboration between the City of Milwaukee, the Brady Street BID and the grassroots organization beintween. Public artist and advocate Sara Daleiden was also recognized as integral to the process.

The park now has a total of 11 swings, including a wheelchair-accessible swing and baby swings. The ground is now covered in soft pieces of shredded tires.

No one knows exactly what to call the park. Some call it "swing park," others call it the "pop-up park," but it doesn’t matter. If anything, the lack of an official name seems appropriate because it mirrors the park’s unoffical start.

With the help of seven or eight others, Keith Hayes – a trained architect / "urban space pioneer" who heads beintween – hung the swings in the middle of the night on Sept. 9, 2012. 

"It was done in a really guerilla fashion," says Hayes. "It was a social and civil experiment."

His group maintained and repaired the swings – made mostly from repurposed materials – until January 2013 when the city acquired the space through a Common Council process.

The swings started to show signs of wear and tear and were determined potentially dangerous. By the end of 2013, the swings were gone. But certainly not forgotten. 

"The city could have chopped ‘em down. The city could have said this wasn’t in the plan and it isn't even technically legal – and maybe if we would have noticed it right away we would have done that – but fortunately the mayors’ daughters … were on these swings, everyone was on these swings," says Ald. Nik Kovac. 

Hayes says th…

Alissa loves Meenie best. (Shhh, don't tell the others.)
Alissa loves Meenie best. (Shhh, don't tell the others.)
The cuteness. Oh, the cuteness.
The cuteness. Oh, the cuteness.
Raccoon formula. It's a thing.
Raccoon formula. It's a thing.
Safety in numbers.
Safety in numbers.
Baby raccoon joy.
Baby raccoon joy.

Human mom raising baby raccoons

Alissa Gonyea, a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher, planned to have a lesiurely summer that included travel and camping adventures with her son and nephew.

Instead, she is caring for four baby raccoons.

"If you would have told me two weeks ago I’d be doing this, I wouldn’t have believed you," says Gonyea.

A few months ago, a Madison-based friend of Gonyea's posted on her Facebook page that Wisconsin WildCare was looking for people to foster litters (sometimes called "kits") of raccoons.

Gonyea, who lives in Riverwest, responded that she was interested, but did not hear anything back until last Sunday when a group representative informed her there was a litter waiting for her.

So Gonyea picked up the critters and named them Eeenie, Meeney, Miney and Moe. (Miney and Meenie are girls; Eenie and Moe are boys.)

Through the organization, Gonyea is licensed to house the raccoons who were vaccinated for rabies.

After their mother died of an unknown cause, the baby raccoons were too young to feed themselves and quickly became malnourished. Once rescued, they've been primarily bottle fed with raccoon formula.

Yes. Raccoon formula.

Gonyea purchased it from a man in Illinois who specializes in concocting formula for myriad creatures from shrews to  humpback whales. She paid $83 for approximately a two-week supply and had the formula overnighted to her Riverwest home. The raccoons eat four times a day.

Because she exclusively breastfed her son, Gonyea had never made a formula bottle before. 

"It was all new to me," she says.

Every day, the raccoons spend time outdoors in Gonyea’s enclosed backyard. They enjoy climbing the tree and "bathing" in a dishpan filled with water.

Gonyea will keep the raccoons until they are 10 pounds – they are currently two pounds – which experts estimate will be mid-September or so. 

Once the creatures are old and strong enough, Gonyea plans to "soft release" them on a friend’s land in Wisconsin Dells. A soft release means …

Mmmmm ammmmmmber.
Mmmmm ammmmmmber. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
From the street.
From the street. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
Mike Brenner, beer baron.
Mike Brenner, beer baron. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
Shiny and new.
Shiny and new. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
Merch. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
Background barrels.
Background barrels. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
Hi, Milwaukee musician Heidi Spencer.
Hi, Milwaukee musician Heidi Spencer. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)
You can never have too much Fred.
You can never have too much Fred. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)

First look: Brenner Brewing Company

Last night, Brenner Brewing Company, 706 S. 5th St., opened its doors to Facebook friends (and real friends) of owner Mike Brenner. 

The Walker's Point-based brewery will open to the public in a couple of weeks (permits pending) and will offer tours, growlers to go and a tasting room. The brewery currently has four beers on tap. 

"We’ll be adding more pretty regularly," says Brenner, who received the title of master brewer after completing an international training program at Siebel Institute in Chicago and the Doemens Akademie in Munich, Germany.

Brenner also opened an art gallery and 20 artists' studio spaces in the adjacent building called The Pitch Project.

Brenner beer is available at many local liquor stores and bars including Sugar Maple, Palm Tavern, Anodyne Coffee Roasting, Blackbird, The Garage, Thief Wine Bar. Wolf Peach and Odd Duck

I sampled an amber last night and had absolutely no complaints. Stay tuned to for more information about Brenner Brewing Company, including the exact opening date.