April 2011 Event Highlights
Events mix media this month
Cirque du Soleil's "Dralion"
It’s no secret that art inspires art, that influences often pay no mind to the boundaries of genre or medium. This month, a range of performing arts groups offer plays, musicals and dances adapted from or featuring ties to beloved books and movies.
In Forward Theater Company’s Moonlight and Magnolias (April 28–May 15, forwardtheater.com), producer David O. Selznick is distraught over his film version of the eight-hundred-page Gone with the Wind. So he locks himself in his office with screenwriter Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming, refusing to emerge until they fix the script. Stiletto-stepping into Overture Center is Legally Blonde (April 5–10, overturecenter.com), a Broadway musical based on the 2001 movie about lovably ditzy Elle Woods as she heads to Harvard Law School to win back her college flame.
Productions for younger audiences are also in on the adaptation act, with Children’s Theater of Madison staging The Little Prince (April 8–17, ctmtheater.org), a story about a boy who meets a lonely aviator. Additionally, Music Theatre of Madison’s The Secret Garden (April 8–10, mtmadison.com) and Dance Wisconsin’s Peter Rabbit (April 8–10, dancewisconsin.com) bring two classic children’s books to life onstage.
Spring may be on Madisonians’ minds, but theater groups are delving into dark themes. Eurydice (April 1–16, utmadison.com) by playwright Sarah Ruhl (whose work was also featured by Forward Theater earlier in the season) is the latest undertaking for University Theatre. After Eurydice joins her father in the Underworld and Orpheus comes to save her, she must choose between her fiancé and her family. Mercury Players Theatre presents Dead Certain (April 1–16, mercuryplayerstheatre.com), a psychological thriller centering on a reclusive former dancer who hires an out-of-work actor to privately perform a play she’s written. Through cunning moves she manipulates the actor—and possibly reality. And in Strollers Theatre’s The Seafarer (April 7–30, strollerstheatre.org), a group of Irishmen plays a high-stakes game of poker in a picturesque coastal town on Christmas Eve. But it’s a man’s soul, not money, that’s at stake.
A Marvelous Milestone
Congratulations are due to Madison Opera as the company wraps its fiftieth anniversary season with a production of Verdi’s La Traviata (April 29 and May 1, madisonopera.org), the tragic love story of Parisian courtesan Violetta Valéry and nobleman Alfredo Germont. The lavish performance, with sets from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, features Elizabeth Caballero (who last performed with the opera in Carmen in 2009) as Violetta and Italian tenor Giuseppe Varano making his U.S. debut as Alfredo.
April should prove to be a satisfying month for fans of classical music. Pianist Anne Marie McDermott joins the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra for its fifth and final Masterworks concert (April 8, wcoconcerts.org) of the season; the performance features works by Wuorinen, Mozart and Beethoven. In Concertos by Bach and Tartini (April 9–10, madisonbachmusicians.org), the Madison Bach Musicians play at Trinity Lutheran Church. Baroque violinist Marilyn McDonald accompanies for the “Tartini Violin Concerto” and Bach’s “Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins.” And the Madison Symphony Orchestra welcomes renowned Madison pianist and UW School of Music professor Christopher Taylor in a concert highlighting Schumann, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams and Tchaikovsky (April 15–17, madisonsymphony.org).
Things aren’t what they seem at first glance in galleries this month. At Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Natalie Sewell’s love of flowers and trees is evident in her landscapes. But her “paintings” are made from fabric and on display Sundays in an exhibition called Landscapes for All Seasons (April 10–June 26, olbrich.org). In a new show at the James Watrous Gallery, artist Amy Chaloupka (April 26–June 12, wisconsinacademy.org) explores the uses and limitations of maps (pictured at right). She alters existing maps and works with water, paper, metal and organic materials to make objects and site-specific installations that question and re-order senses of space, direction and geography.
At Grace Chosy Gallery, figurative mixed-media paintings by Chris Echtner (April 1–23, gracechosygallery.com) hint at a story: A man stands on a ladder but most of his body is cropped from the canvas, people mingle (or do they?) at a cocktail party. The artist mixes in humor and satire as she holds up a mirror to human behavior.
Sometimes the mood for out-of-the-ordinary art strikes. Why not take in a Sunday afternoon Carillon Concert (April 3–May 1, music.wisc.edu) on the UW campus? Carillonneur Lyle Anderson performs on the fifty-six-bell instrument, a fixture on Observatory Drive; visitors may climb the tower or listen from the ground.
Over on State Street, Fanny Garver Gallery presents new paintings by Gabriela Villarreal (April 1–30, fannygarvergallery.com). The Mexican-born contemporary artist, whose work is collected and displayed throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Germany, is renowned for her ability to capture color and the way in which she combines modern forms with textures that carry a sense of the past.
Lakota Sioux Dance Theatre pays a visit to Overture Center (April 15, overturecenter.com) to present an elaborate theatrical work celebrating the culture of the Lakota people, as well as traditional, sacred and courting songs and dances.
At the Alliant Energy Center, the three-thousand-year-old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts finds a modern application in Dralion (April 26–27, alliantenergycenter.com), a Cirque du Soleil show that draws inspiration from Eastern philosophy.
Rite of Spring
Then there are the springtime events we look forward to each year. And the Wisconsin Film Festival (March 30–April 3, wifilmfest.org) brings nearly two hundred works of cinema—narratives, documentaries, shorts, revivals and more by Wisconsin, American and international filmmakers—and thirty thousand movie buffs together at downtown theaters.
The UW Varsity Band holds its 125th Spring Concert (April 14–16, badgerband.com). The annual Badger extravaganza is more of a blowout than ever this year, with pyrotechnics, Rose Bowl remembrances and other surprises led by energetic conductor Michael Leckrone (pictured at left).