Archive for April 29, 2020

The Great Musicians: Borut Kržišnik


Love Song No2

used in Gigante’s METAMORPHOSIS, adapted/written/choreographed by Isabelle Kralj, inspired by Franz Kafka’s story, with music by Borut Kržišnik.

Love Song No1
an excerpt taken from the album A LIFE IN SUITCASES (Claudio Records, 2012), and Borut’s score for Peter Greenaway’s TULSE LUPER SUITCASES films and projects.

Borut Kržišnik is a Slovenian composer of contemporary music, based in Ljubljana.  He graduated in Psychology from the University of Ljubljana but devoted himself to music. Borut has a diverse, wide-ranging approach to music and he integrates live playing and music software on a computer platform, breaking free from the confines of specific methodologies. Intensity, diversity and exciting changes are the main characteristics of his music. Avant-garde or popular, underground or academic, tonality or atonality, these are the extremes between which he moves easily. Using a polyglot musical language, the composer weaves a thread through all these contrasts and introduces them to us with inspiring optimism.

We are always thrilled to have the honor of working with Borut’s music. It is exciting and inspiring and so often “just perfect” for the work!

Gigante productions:
Metamorphosis (2018)

I Still Don’t Know (2005)  work by Isabelle Kralj performed in Slovenia
I Still Don’t Know (2008)  appeared in Janet Lilly’s “Have A Seat” show in Milwaukee

for more:

The Great Musicians: Aaron Gardner


video links:
Blues Connotation, by Ornette Coleman (from a safe distance)
Aaron Gardner (sax), Jeremy Kuzniar (drums), and Clay Schaub (bass)

Segment, by Charlie Parker
Aaron Gardner (sax) and Clay Schaub (bass)

Aaron Gardner is a graduate of Berklee College of Music. He spent ten years in New York playing, recording and touring with the band Ulu before moving back to his hometown of Milwaukee. He now teaches at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and plays with local bands such as the Willy Porter Band, Milwaukee Hot Club, De la Buena, Strangelander, The Erotic Adventures of the Static Chicken and The Paul Spencer Band.

Aaron works on an ongoing basis with Theatre Gigante and is the “one-man band” in Gigante’s Peter & The Wolf & The One Man Band. Aaron is Gigante’s absolute favorite jazz musician and we are lucky to work with him!!!

Gigante productions:
The Lears (2010)
Peter & the Wolf & the One Man Band (2016-ongoing)
Building Theatre the Gigante Way (2018-ongoing)
Crave (2020)

For more: look for Aaron on Facebook

The Great Musicians: Andy Kirshner


video link:
Museum of Life and Death (excerpt)
written, composed and directed by Andy Kirshner
performed by Mark Anderson & Isabelle Kralj
choreography and movement direction by Isabelle Kralj
vocal performance and video by Andy Kirshner

Andy Kirshner is an American composer, performer, writer, and media artist, and is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, from where he also holds a doctorate in music composition.  Kirshner’s music-theater works include The Museum of Life and Death, a science fiction “interdisciplinary theater work” based on the medieval morality play Everyman, which he created and presented in collaboration with Theatre Gigante in 2006.  Other theatre works include An Evening with Tony Amore for jazz voice and orchestra based on the persona of Frank Sinatra, Who It Is, a one-man musical about race and nationalism; the opera-oratorio The Watchtower inspired by apocalyptic TV newscasts and the Book of Isaiah;  Dr. Nathan Feelgood In Person, an operetta for 10-piece blues band and a singing psychiatrist; and a cold-war musical for children.  Kirshner has also directed multiple films, including his 2016 feature debut, the musical-comedy Liberty’s Secret, which Kirshner describes as “a traditional movie-musical – with a lesbian-political twist.”  Andy lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Theatre Gigante feels fortunate to count Andy as a friend and collaborating artist!  He has presented and performed with Gigante on three different occasions.

Gigante productions:

Between You and Me (2000) performed an excerpt from his full-length work Who It Is
Dead Poet’s Theatre (2002) performed another excerpt from Who It Is

Co-produced by Andy Kirshner, University of Michigan and Theatre Gigante:
Museum of Life and Death (2006)
write, composed, designed media art, directed

For more:

The Great Musicians: Leslie Fitzwater


photo from Theatre Gigante’s PIAF (scenery by Schomer Lichtner)

video link:
La Vie en Rose, sung by Leslie Fitwater
accompanied by Paula Foley Tillen (piano), and Tom Kanack (accordion)

Milwaukee’s sweetheart performer, Leslie Fitzwater, has performed with Theatre Gigante umpteen times.  Leslie’s career spans opera, theater, Music Theater, cabaret, and mime, and her roles have been as diverse as Paddington Bear and Carmen.  While she has played her share of well-known characters, she is best known for her portrayal of the French chanteuse, Edith Piaf, in her one woman show, Edith Piaf Onstage. Leslie is a private voice and acting coach, has given seminars on vocal production for the young singer, has taught Voice and Speech at First Stage Theatre Academy, and has been an adjunct voice faculty member at Pius XI High School since 2007. 
One of Gigante’s favorite partners in crime, here is a list of Gigante shows in which Leslie has performed:

MDT Meets Mozart (1989)
A Soldier’s Tale (1991)
5th Anniversary (1992)
It’s A Wonderful Life (1996-1998)
10th Anniversary (1998)
It’s A Wonderful Life (2002)
PIAF (2003)
Fair & Balanced (2004)
Peter & the Wolf & the One Man Band (2005-ongoing)
The Beggar’s Opera (2009)
The Lears (2010)
Screwball Love (2014)
Woyzeck (2016)
Quorum (2016)
Enemy of the People (2019)
The Beggar’s Opera (2019)






The Great Musicians: Ruben Piirainen

During the pandemic, we will be taking the opportunity to reflect on past productions and the many wonderful composers and musicians we have had the honor of collaborating with and the pleasure of presenting. We will post links to the work of these wonderful artists – one at a time, every 2-3 days – so that we can all watch, listen, and enjoy.


video link:

Sonata in D major, 1st movement by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, performed by Ruben Piirainen

Ruben Piirainen is a Milwaukee-based pianist, music director, vocal coach, composer, and restaurant owner (Bay View’s Sabrosa Cafe & Gallery). He was on the music staff of the Florentine Opera for six seasons, presented a recital of new operatic works at the National Opera Center in New York, and performed solo recitals with opera stars Alyson Cambridge and Noah Stewart. He has worked with numerous companies, including Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Skylight Music Theatre. His original one act children’s opera A Busy Bee was commissioned and premiered by the Florentine; and he has received commissions for compositions from Skylight Music Theatre and UWM.  He is a recording artist with Hal Leonard Corporation and has been on the faculties of Interlochen Arts Camp, Bluffton University, and Bowling Green State University.

We are happy Ruben came on board for Gigante’s The Beggar’s Opera and we hope to continue our relationship with this talented, smart, and generous musician-of-many-trades!

The Beggar’s Opera (2019)

For more:

The Great Musicians: Frank Pahl

During the pandemic, we will be taking the opportunity to reflect on past productions and the many wonderful composers and musicians we have had the honor of collaborating with and the pleasure of presenting. Beginning today, we will post links to the work of these wonderful artists – one at a time, every 2-3 days – so that we can all watch, listen, and enjoy.


Video links:
Warped 17  composed by Frank, played with the group Only a Mother
Lost Cork  composed and recorded by Frank
Lolita Ya-Ya  composed by Frank, all instruments played by Frank – used here by a Singapore agency to sell fruit juice in China

Frank Pahl is a Michigan-based musician/composer, working in several styles including “toy pop”, or music made with toys. He works primarily in Wyandotte and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has exhibited his work in Canada, Europe and Japan, as well as the United States. He has worked in several groups, including Only a Mother, Sublime Wedge, Immigrant Suns, Scavenger Quartet, a freeform musical group, and Little Bang Theory, a “toy” music trio. Frank also builds and exhibits a lot of “automatic instruments.”  He is a frequent collaborator with Isabelle, Mark and Theatre Gigante — definitely part of the Gigante family!

Ten Minutes till Bedtime! (2000 – First Stage/Gigante collaboration)
My Elephant Dream (2001, 2004)
Fair & Balanced
Peter & the Wolf & the One Man Band (2005+)
Woyzeck (2006)

O.O.T. (2012 – recorded music)
Midsummer in Midwinter (2014 – recorded music)
Woyzeck (2016)
The Way Things Go (2017)

Ann Arbor Observer
Avant-garde sometimes equates with in-your-face, but the avant-garde music of Frank Pahl manifests an innocent enthusiasm for pure sound. When I heard Pahl perform, I came away calm and a bit wide eyed. His music was lyrical, rhapsodic — in a word, beautiful.

Detroit MetroTimes
Within the open-eared community of creative music making, Pahl’s name is atop the A-list as an innovator, composer and collaborator.  “He’s one of American’s finest unsung heroes and one of the most creative multi-instrumentalists I’ve ever heard,” testifies Amy Denio of Seattle.
In experiencing the creative output of Frank Pahl, one might argue that what he makes with these machines is ultimately a sound more alive and more spontaneous than a great deal of mainstream pop that is churned out, and his curiosity and joy in creation feels all-too-human.

For more:

The Great Musicians: Guy Klucevsek

During the pandemic, we will be taking the opportunity to reflect on past productions and the many wonderful composers and musicians we have had the honor of collaborating with and the pleasure of presenting. Beginning today, we will post links to the work of these wonderful artists – one at a time, every 2-3 days – so that we can all watch, listen, and enjoy.


Click here for The Swan and the Vulture
composed & performed by Guy Klucevsek


Theatre Gigante is in love with internationally acclaimed Guy Klucevsek, and has had the honor of presenting Guy in quite a few Gigante productions!

Dances with a Button Box (1997)
10th Anniversary (1998)
Man in a Magic Square (2009)
O.O.T. (2012 – recorded music)
Guy Klucevsek Solo at Paddy’s Pub (2013)
Rumore di acque (2015)
Guy Klucevsek in Concert with guest violinist Eric Segnitz (2016)

The Seattle Weekly
Guy Klucevsek is one of the world’s most versatile and highly-respected accordionists.  Forget everything you thought you knew about the accordion.

If you ever get a crack at hearing him live, sell whatever it takes to raise the funds to get there!

A rebel with an accordion…Klucevsek combines poker-faced wit and imagination with command of his instrument, forcing you to re-think the accordion’s limitations.

Philadelphia Inquirer
The music expressed was complex, sly, virtuosic, and deeply felt and imaginative.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Klucevsek is a musical Orient Express whose themes pass from Hungarian gypsy to Slovenian waltz to Middle Eastern wail without stopping at the borders.

For more: