Thursday, April 21, 2011

Milwaukee Marcus PAC -- Bush league in a big city

Earlier this week my wife and I celebrated her birthday by a trip to "the PAC" -- er, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts or whatever it was renamed -- to see Les Miserables for the umpteenth time. 

What can I say?  We love the show and for the most part we weren't disappointed.  The latest tour has new special effects and sets which gave the performance a bit of a fresher look.  It's worth seeing but not necessarily in Milwaukee.

That's because the PAC just isn't quite up to snuff these days -- inside or outside.  Think of a 1960's era Holiday Inn which was great in its day but even with remodeling may fall a bit short of contemporary standards.

The PAC suffers from bad audio.  Yes, it has a sound system but there aren't good speakers in place where people need to have them -- away from the stage. In today's world people know clean and crisp audio is possible in a theater and for the price you pay at the PAC it should be pristine.  No excused.

Then there's the complaint of myopic Mike Fischer, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel critic, about the disruption caused by latecomers being seated.  Fisher blindly blamed the patrons, a cheap and generally inaccurate shot.

Besides a bush league sound system, the PAC, unlike other venues around the country -- even the Fox Cities PAC in Appleton (a nice facility, by the way) -- offered no traffic control and there was a huge traffic bottleneck in which it literally took almost a half-hour to travel one block and into the parking garage where only one employee was manning the entrance gate.  Adding injury to insult -- almost literally -- was the icy conditions in the ramp making it difficult for patrons to safely (and efficiently) walk from their cars.

This smacks of community indifference and poor management.  If you want people to come to the PAC then you need to make it inviting and efficient to do so.  We patronize theater venues around the country and most today are pretty attentive to this.  Sadly, Milwaukee isn't.  Again, no excuse.

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