March 2012 Event Highlights

The local entertainment scene is packed this month, with St. Paddy’s festivities, classical concerts, big-name acts and more

Terrence Coffman's

Terrence Coffman's "The Burren 43" at Grace Chosy Gallery

Celtic Celebrations 

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day specifically or a love of Ireland generally with multiple Celtic-inspired events this month.

At Grace Chosy Gallery, Terrence Coffman (March 2–24, gracechosygallery.com) showcases expressive, abstract paintings inspired by his artist in residency at the Burren College of Art in Ireland last year. Says Coffman, “I returned to my Jefferson studio with the Irish landscape flowing through me. The new works being created in my Wisconsin studio continue to be influenced by my recent Irish experience, and for now, the Burren occupies my mind and heart.”

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra offers a Celtic Celebration (March 16, wcoconcerts.org) as its fourth Masterworks concert of the season. The performance stars Madison concert pianist Christopher Taylor, who plays Irish composer John Field’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in E-flat Major. Works by Mendelssohn, Bantock and Mozart are also highlighted.

Bring the entire family out to see the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance (March 17, overturecenter.com) perform at the St. Paddy’s installment of Overture Center’s free Kids in the Rotunda. The accomplished dance troupe has earned a loyal following locally, nationally and internationally. After the show, head to the Capitol Square to watch the fifteenth annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March 17, stpatsmadison.org), complete with bagpipes, leprechauns, contests and plenty o’ green.

For an array of Irish tunes, catch The Pints at Monona Terrace (March 14, mononaterrace.com) or the High Noon Saloon (March 17, high-noon.com). The Madison-based band is sure to offer their mix of “Celtic traditionals, rebel songs and drinkin’ songs.” Also at the High Noon, The Kissers (March 17) perform their unique indie-rock-meets-Irish sound.

Sensational Symphony

It’s a robust month for the Madison Symphony Orchestra! First, it hosts conductor Carl St. Clair and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (March 9–11, madisonsymphony.org) in a concert featuring Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz, Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol. Next, it offers a Free Community Hymn Sing (March 10) with the concert organ in Overture Hall, followed by organist Nathan Laube in Recital (March 13), another concert showcasing the impressive instrument. And finally, French pianist Philippe Bianconi (March 30–April 1) joins maestro John DeMain and the MSO for a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4; “Inspiring Beethoven” by Puts and “Ein Heldenleben” by Strauss round out the concert.

Greatest Hits

Wildly recognizable musicals, plays and composers are taking to stages across the city this month. Overture Center presents Cats (March 16–18, overturecenter.com), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical that has won seven Tony Awards and become one of the longest-running shows on Broadway.

Children’s Theater of Madison tackles mature content with Lord of the Flies (March 24–April 1, ctmtheater.org). Based on William Golding’s acclaimed novel of 1954, the story follows a group of schoolboys after their plane crashes on an uninhabited island. With no adult survivors, the boys must adapt to complete freedom—as well as a lack of safety and limits.

And with Great American Songbook Series: The Music of Irving Berlin (March 2–4, fourseasonstheatre.com), Four Seasons Theatre casts local singers and musicians to celebrate Berlin’s fifty-plus-year career. “Cheek to Cheek,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and other songs come to life in a special concert in Overture Center’s Playhouse.

Through the Lens 

In his work, Tom Jones, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and an assistant professor of photography at UW– Madison, explores photography’s role in shaping perceptions of “Indian-ness.” He photographs modern life within the Ho-Chunk community, as well as subjects beyond, such as Indian imagery at tourist destinations. In Encountering Cultures: Tom Jones (March 9–April 29, wisconsinacademy.org) at the James Watrous Gallery, Jones presents a series documenting the “Rendezvous,” reenactments of the eighteenth-century French fur trade in North America. Reenactors often dress like Native Americans; by photographing them, Jones presents a unique look at the romanticization of Native American culture.

Classical Choices  

The Pro Arte Quartet’s centennial season continues with a third free concert (March 24, uniontheater.wisc.edu) at the Wisconsin Union Theater. The evening features the premiere of William Bolcom’s Piano Quartet No. 2 and guest artist Christopher Taylor on piano. The quartet also performs works by Webern, Milhaud and Mozart, with guest violinist Samuel Rhodes. And over at Morphy Hall, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet (March 2, music.wisc.edu) offers a free concert as part of the UW School of Music’s Faculty Concert Series. 

Star Gazing 

Local marquees are filled with some big-time names this month.

The original Béla Fleck & The Flecktones have come together for a special evening of music at the Wisconsin Union Theater (March 1, uniontheater.wisc.edu). The Grammy Award–winning quartet melds classical, jazz, bluegrass, blues, African, Eastern European folk and more into a forward-thinking style all their own.

At Overture Center, Herbie Hancock and His Band (March 15, overturecenter.com) showcase the musical icon’s talent for mixing jazz with funk, rock and R&B.

While he gained popularity as the lead singer for Aussie band Men at Work, Colin Hay has released eleven solo albums since the group’s heyday in the 1980s. Catch him at the Majestic Theatre (March 7, majesticmadison.com) show featuring his recognizable voice and mellow electric guitar.

And don’t miss Jake Shimabukuro’s visit to the Stoughton Opera House (March 9, stoughtonoperahouse.com). This young Hawaiian musician makes the ukulele cool again, with innovative techniques and concerts that travel from rock to classical to folk and beyond.

Laughing Matters 

Major personalities in the comedy world descend on Madison, too. Brian Regan headlines Overture Center (March 1, overturecenter.com), bringing his self-deprecating humor and wry observations of everyday life that have made him one of the country’s top comedians. And the Barrymore Theatre welcomes the southern-born comic Ralphie May in Ralphie May: Too Big to Ignore (March 10, barrymorelive.com).   

Time-Sensitive 

The year 1927 is the setting for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, presented by University Theatre (March 2–17, utmadison.com). Inside a south-side Chicago recording studio, blues legend Gertrude “Ma Rainey” and her band are about to record her famous tune, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” But tempers flare between members of the African American group and the white recording managers who control the artists’ lives.

In Broom Street Theater’s Iceland (March 23–April 14, bstonline.org), time has moved on for everyone but one household perpetually stuck in the 1950s. As a young man comes of age in this comedy, he raises questions about what happens when families keep members from truly being themselves.

And the hedonistic 1990s sets the scene for a tale of betrayal and revenge in As Bees in Honey Drown (March 16–31, mercuryplayerstheatre.com), presented by Mercury Players Theatre. In this dark comedy, a young writer seeks fame and fortune in New York City—and thinks he’s found it in a socialite who wants him to write her biography.

Stepping In 

One of the country’s premier modern dance companies, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater comes to Overture Center (March 27, overturecenter.com) on its first tour under the leadership of new artistic director Robert Battle. The company began in New York City in 1958, with Alvin Ailey and a group of young African American modern dancers, and Battle is only the second person to take the helm since Ailey himself.

Art in the Open

View the work of local artists in the places where they create their paintings, ceramics, photography, pottery and more through Madison Area Open Art Studios (March 31–April 1, maoas.com). The weekend-long event invites the public into artists’ studios throughout the Madison area. Preview the work to be seen by first stopping by the Madison Area Open Art Studios Preview Exhibition (March 12–April 1, overturecenter.com) at Overture Center. A piece by each participating artist is on display, helping visitors to decide which studios they most want to visit.

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

Find more arts and entertainment coverage in Liberal Arts and Classically Speaking.

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