What to Do in March

Thirty plays, exhibitions, concerts and performances to make the most of the month

Rebirth Brass Band will play at the Sett at Union South March 13.

Rebirth Brass Band will play at the Sett at Union South March 13.

PHOTO COURTESY OF REBIRTH BRASS BAND

What’s real and what isn’t? What’s happening around you and what’s going on only in your head? The distinctions—and perhaps more interestingly the overlaps—between the two provide the basis of Real/Surreal, a new exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art that explores the interconnections between the real and the imagined in early modern American art. The exhibition, on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art, features paintings, drawings and prints by such artists as Edward Hopper, Man Ray and Charles Sheeler. Through April 27, mmoca.org

A companion show to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Real/Surreal exhibition, The Mystery Beneath examines surrealism and magical realism in Wisconsin from 1940 to 1975, via the works of Aaron Bohrod, James Watrous, John Wilde, Santos Zingale and others. Through April 13, mmoca.org

Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation, 3: Contemporary Native Art from the Northeast and Southeast is the final, third installment of a decade-long exploration of art created by artists of indigenous origin in the United States and Canada. The show, presented at the Chazen Museum of Art, highlights Native American, First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists and designers working in both traditional and new media, both addressing and often confronting aspects of their cultural legacies. Through April 27, chazen.wisc.edu

It’s a modern love story: A couple meets online, but when they decide to meet in real life, they find they can’t speak to one another. Broom Street Theater presents Chat, a play about the many things that dictate how we fall in love. Through March 8, bstonline.org

In the musical comedy Urinetown, Edgewood College Theatre satirizes the legal system, capitalism, bureaucracy, social irresponsibility and more and parodies such musicals as Les Misérables. February 21–March 1, theatre.edgewood.edu

Welder by day and bar dancer by night, Alex Owens dreams of leaving Pittsburgh behind and becoming a professional dancer. But Flashdance is so much more—a story of ambition and love set to a killer ’80s soundtrack. “Flashdance—What a Feeling” and “Maniac” hold their spots in the musical version of the 1983 flick, along with sixteen new songs. February 25–March 2, overturecenter.com

Madison Theatre Guild stages Sarah Ruhl’s quirky comedy Dead Man’s Cell Phone, in which a woman can’t help but pick up a ringing phone—or anticipate the absurd complications that follow. February 28–March 15, madisontheatreguild.org

The geographical qualities on a map are certainly interesting and useful, but have you given much thought to the imagery that often appears in the margins of the documents? These border drawings are the focus of Marginalia in cARTography, an exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art that explores cartography as an art form as well as what these images tell about the historical context of the maps, their content and purpose and their creators and patrons. February 28–May 18, chazen.wisc.edu

Ceramics is the focus of a special exhibition at Hatch Art House. The gallery showcases favorite works by three ceramic artists—Jackie Matelski, Lisa Hepburn and Jenny Blasen—who create art representing a variety of styles and aesthetics. March 1–30, hatcharthouse.com

Madison chamber music ensemble con vivo! … music with life presents a special Sunday afternoon Winter Concert. March 2, convivomusicwithlife.org

A celebration of sensory pleasures, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin’s Sewing Taste and Sound, Bite by Bite combines a movement from a Beethoven string quartet, poetry by artist-in-resident Katrin Talbot and a six-course meal by Pig in a Fur Coat for an extraordinary artistic experience. March 2, sewmusic.org

Watercolor artist Timothy Kobs finds inspiration in the secret places of nature’s beauty, and his imaginative works reveal the magical creatures that inhabit them. Find his work on display this month at Absolutely Art. March 4–30, absolutelyartllc.com

In its latest installment of its Great American Songbook series, Four Seasons Theatre presents Great Dames: Leading Ladies of Stage and Screen, a production highlighting women who have dazzled audiences in Broadway musicals and the golden age of Hollywood. March 7–9, fourseasonstheatre.com

Pianist Yefim Bronfman joins maestro John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra for a concert of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, overture to The Creatures of Prometheus and Piano Concert No. 5 (Emperor). March 7–8, madisonsymphony.org

Fun for both kids and adults, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day tells the story of a little boy whose day is filled with one frustrating experience after another. Children’s Theater of Madison presents the musical adaptation of the beloved book at Overture’s Playhouse. March 8–16, ctmtheater.org

Formed on the streets of the French Quarter, the Rebirth Brass Band mixes traditional New Orleans brass with jazz, funk and hip-hop. These Grammy-winning guys have a ton of fun—and so will you if you catch their concert at The Sett at Union South. March 13, uniontheater.wisc.edu

With movements named after Earth, Fire, Air and Water, Michael McLean’s ethereal Elements resembles a contemporary version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Haydn’s Symphony No. 101 ‘Clock’ round out the concert by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and guest violinist Karina Canellakis. March 14, wcoconcerts.org

In its latest iteration of combining classical performing arts with pop culture—not to mention a major dose of creativity—Fresco Opera Theatre presents Opera Smackdown. The show is a take on a singing competition set in a world wrestling context. Each singer is a wresting persona and the audience picks the winner! March 14–15, frescooperatheatre.com

Groundbreaking photographer Ida Wyman, who found success in a male-dominated field, working for such publications as Life and The New York Times, is known for capturing everyday moments, revealing the dignity in ordinary people and raising questions about social justice. Now eighty-seven, Wyman is delving into her early work in the 1940s and ’50s and showcases new prints, along with vintage prints, ephemera and some recent works, in a retrospective exhibition at the James Watrous Gallery. In a side-by-side solo exhibition, photographer Kevin Miyazaki offers prints from his series Camp Home, which depicts repurposed barracks used as interment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II. His work explores history, family and memory. March 14–May 4, wisconsinacademy.org

From gospel and blues to country, folk and bluegrass, there’s plenty of music that’s indigenously American. The Stoughton Opera House is exploring such traditions with its American Roots music series. While it kicked off in January and runs through May, this month packs a stellar pair of shows: renowned folk-bluesman Charlie Parr along with Stevens Point’s Horseshoes and Hand Grenades progressive string band on March 15, and roots collective Birds of Chicago with Ann Arbor folk-rock band The Ragbirds on March 20. stoughtonoperahouse.com

It’s a puppet show—for adults! Puppet Up!–Uncensored features former Jim Henson Company puppeteers who create an outrageous live comedy show of songs and sketches for grownups only. March 16, overturecenter.com

Organist Janette Fishell offers “Bach and Beyond,” part of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s organ performance series. The concert features Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BWV 535; From Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1001; and Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat Major, BWV 552, plus works by Ethyl Smith, Lionel Rogg and Louis Vierne. March 21, madisonsymphony.org

In the second installment of its Spring Repertory program, Madison Ballet reveals Who Cares, its new piece in the athletic style of George Balanchine, set to music by George Gershwin. And artistic director W. Earle Smith premieres a work of his own inspired by the 1960s, complete with period-style costumes and music. March 21–22, madisonballet.org

Broom Street Theater offers a modern adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a play about two characters who wait in vain. In W8ting 4 G-Dogg, Vincent and Tulipa are in withdrawal and eagerly awaiting the arrival of their dealer. March 21–April 12, bstonline.org

The Oakwood Chamber Players continue their global exploration with Russian Radius, a March 22 and 23 concert highlighting musical traditions and the work of Dmitri Shostakovich, Alexander Tcherepnin, Alexander Glazunov and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. March 22–23, oakwoodchamberplayers.com

Set in England in 1666, Or, centers on spy-turned-playwright Aphra Behn, who must finish her play before morning. But all sorts of overnight complications—an ex-love, a new love interest, a double agent and even the king—make that unlikely to happen in this Forward Theater production. March 27–April 13, forwardtheater.com

Michigan farm girl turned Wisconsin breakout artist Whitney Mann brings her country-tinged tuned to the High Noon Saloon. March 28, high-noon.com

You know you want to see a musical that promises roller skates, a disco ball and a live band! Then don’t miss Mercury Players Theatre and OUT!CastTheatre’s staging of Xanadu. The campy show, which ran on Broadway for two years, spoofs the 1980 movie about a goddess sent to earth to inspire a struggling artist. March 28–April 12, mercuryplayerstheatre.com

It’s 1956 and the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein is about to hold its annual breakfast and award the best quiche. StageQ’s 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is set to a heady backdrop of women being forced out of the post-war workplace and the threat of nuclear devastation. March 28–April 12, stageq.com

The UW School of Music’s faculty ensemble-in-residence, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, offers an exciting and free performance at Mills Hall as part of the school’s faculty concert series. March 29, music.wisc.edu

Katie Vaughn is managing editor of Madison Magazine. Read her visual arts blog and find continuous arts coverage in our classical music blog, popular music blog and theater blog.

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