By Damien Jaques Senior Contributing Editor Published Jun 18, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Wisconsin’s contributions to musical theater in the past 20 years includes Madison native Tari Kelly, who regularly performs on Broadway and in lead roles at major theaters around the country. Milwaukeeans know her for her work at the Skylight Music Theatre, where she dazzled audiences in "Chicago" about 10 years ago.

Kelly opens the St. Louis Muny’s 94th season tonight playing the title role in "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Her supporting cast include Leslie Uggams and Tony Award-winner Beth Leavel. 

The Muny is the oldest and largest outdoor musical theater in the country. Its capacity is 11,000.

Kelly’s Broadway credits include "The Boy from Oz" and major revivals of "Show Boat" and "Anything Goes."


Damien Jaques Senior Contributing Editor

Damien has been around so long, he was at Summerfest the night George Carlin was arrested for speaking the seven dirty words you can't say on TV. He was also at the Uptown Theatre the night Bruce Springsteen's first Milwaukee concert was interrupted for three hours by a bomb scare. Damien was reviewing the concert for the Milwaukee Journal. He wrote for the Journal and Journal Sentinel for 37 years, the last 29 as theater critic.

During those years, Damien served two terms on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, a term on the board of the association's foundation, and he studied the Latinization of American culture in a University of Southern California fellowship program. Damien also hosted his own arts radio program, "Milwaukee Presents with Damien Jaques," on WHAD for eight years.

Travel, books and, not surprisingly, theater top the list of Damien's interests. A news junkie, he is particularly plugged into politics and international affairs, but he also closely follows the Brewers, Packers and Marquette baskeball. Damien lives downtown, within easy walking distance of most of the theaters he attends.