June 2011 Event Highlights

This is the month arts lovers have been waiting for

American Players Theatre's new season kicks off this month

American Players Theatre's new season kicks off this month

June is a month Madison arts lovers anticipate with bated breath, as it marks the return of some of the city’s most beloved events.

Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s Concerts on the Square (June 29–August 3, wcoconcerts.org) symbolizes summer in Madison. Grab a blanket, a picnic dinner and a spot on the Capitol lawn to take in this Wednesday evening tradition, twenty-six years strong. The free outdoor music series kicks off with Young at Heart, a concert highlighting Amy Hua, winner of the 2011 Young Artist Concerto Competition, and the Madison Ballet through the music of Mendelssohn, Grieg, Ravel and Tchaikovsky.

June also sees the start of a new season of American Players Theatre (June 4–October 2, americanplayers.org), the Spring Green company that presents plays in the open-air Up the Hill amphitheater and the intimate, indoor Touchstone Theatre. Opening this month are the Shakespearean comedy The Taming of the Shrew; Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit involving a writer, a séance and a jealous wife; The Critic, a satire of gossipy, celebrity-obsessed eighteenth-century London; Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie; and a staging of Crime and Punishment.

Time Honored

Celebrating its twentieth season of offering “chamber music with a bang,” the playful and talented Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society presents Bach to the Future (June 10–26, bachdancinganddynamite.org). The three-week series combines Johann Sebastian Bach’s compositional techniques with modern classical music in six creative concerts: Bach Around the Clock; We Will, We Will Bach You; The Empire Strikes Bach; Bach of Ages; School of Bach; and The Cradle Will Bach.

Set at the Memorial Union Terrace, the Isthmus Jazz Festival (June 3–4, isthmusjazzfestival.com) is a delightful mix of sights and sounds. A diverse audience gathers to listen to a lineup of musicians representing the spectrum of jazz styles, from Dixieland and big-band swing to the latest developments in the genre. And if we’re talking good music in a fun locale, we have to mention the Marquette Waterfront Festival (June 11–12, marquette-neighborhood.org). Held at Yahara Place Park, the neighborhood fest celebrates eclectic music and community.

Laugh In

Don’t miss the chance to see Jerry Seinfeld outside of old Seinfeld reruns and live at Overture Hall (June 10, overturecenter.com). Seinfeld’s been hailed a master stand-up comic and called the best comedian of his time, but it’s his knack for pointing out the small idiosyncrasies of daily life that gets audiences howling.

Concerts Everywhere!

It sounds like a Dr. Seuss line, but would you care for a concert on a rooftop? In a garden? On a green? How about all three? You’re in luck thanks to a trio of annual events. Concerts on the Rooftop at Monona Terrace (June 2–July 21, mononaterrace.com) brings together top local musicians, enthusiastic audiences and stellar views of Lake Monona and downtown on Thursday evenings.

On Tuesdays, head to Olbrich Botanical Gardens for Concerts in the Gardens (June 7–July 26, olbrich.org). Bring a blanket or lawn chair and settle in to the sounds of orchestral music, band favorites, folk or world rhythms.

Or enjoy a cocktail party, dinner and concert (and, if you wish, a round of golf) at the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Concert on the Green (June 20, madisonsymphony.org). The concert features maestro John DeMain, MSO musicians and the winner of the 2011 Bolz Young Artist Competition.

Adventures on Stage

If writing, rehearsing and performing a play sounds like a daunting endeavor, witness the process ratcheted up about a hundredfold at Blitz and Blitz Smackdown (June 10 and 11, mercuryplayerstheatre.com). Each year, Mercury Players Theatre gives playwrights twenty-four hours to write a new ten-minute play, rehearse with actors and stage the work at the Bartell in Blitz. The frenzied fun takes a competitive bent in Smackdown, with the audience choosing a winning play.

Over at Broom Street Theater, this month brings former artistic director Callen Harty’s Myth America (June 10–July 17, bstonline.org) to the stage. The play—Harty’s twenty-first for the company—examines American history, picking apart myth from reality and
poking fun at what we were taught in history class.

StageQ collaborates with OUT!Cast Theatre on It’s Murder, Mary (June 17–July 2, stageq.com), a campy satire of murder mysteries in which eight men spend the weekend with a killer. As the companies put it, “Think Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, but with all gay men.”


In The Nature of Pattern at Steenbock Gallery (through July 1, wisconsinacademy.org), Lisa Frank presents an intriguing reinterpretation of nature. The Madison artist manipulates photographs into complex patterns reminiscent of traditional wallpaper. The large-scale works are kaleidoscopic and mesmerizing.

How Sweet

If there’s such a thing as a guaranteed good time, it might just be a Hometown Sweethearts concert. The Madison threesome plays covers of beloved songs—decades of hits as well as tunes you think there’s no way they’d know—and is known for getting everyone out on the dance floor. Party with the band at the group’s tenth anniversary concert at the High Noon Saloon (June 3, high-noon.com).

Finding the Message

A joy found in viewing visual art is unraveling the various messages—the surface, hidden deeper, political, subtle, overlapping, contrasting, satirical, questioning and otherwise—in a work. In its latest exhibition, The Loaded Image: Printmaking as Persuasion (June 18–September 25, chazen.wisc.edu), the Chazen Museum of Art delves into the various and powerful ways art can persuade its viewers. Drawn from the museum’s collection of prints from the nineteenth century, the pieces pack a punch—in both aesthetics and meaning.

At the James Watrous Gallery, the side-by-side solo exhibitions Mark Klassen and Lewis Koch (June 24–August 7, wisconsinacademy.org) explore the politics and uncertainties of life after September 11, 2001. Using his own photography, poetry, maps and materials documenting a World War II bomber crash site in Wyoming, Madison artist Koch crafts a reflection on and response to tragedy, war and environmental destruction. Meanwhile, Milwaukee artist Klassen presents a series of sculptures and serigraphs of commonplace devices—sterile objects that protect against dangers real and imagined.

High Note

Madison rocks this month as the Madison Area Music Association honors the musicians who live, work and literally play in and around the city. Now in its eighth year and held at Overture Center, the Madison Area Music Awards (June 4, themamas.org) celebrates artists in the areas of blues, folk, country, jazz, R&B, rock and more and continues the organization’s mission to preserve, expand and encourage music education.

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine. Find more arts and entertainment coverage in profiles and the Liberal Arts column.



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