November 2012 Event Highlights
A book fest, Bob Dylan, powerful dance and monologues about favorite foods—what a fantastic month for the arts in Madison!
Oh, What a Night
From blue-collar roots to pop music superstardom, Jersey Boys (November 7–25, overturecenter.com) goes behind the music to tell the story of the Four Seasons, the rock ’n’ roll group that made it big in the sixties with hit songs like “Sherry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” The musical, which has garnered both Tony and Grammy awards since it opened on Broadway in 2005, continues Overture Center’s tradition of bringing blockbuster shows to Madison.
The times are always a-changin’, and for fifty years Bob Dylan has been chronicling and commenting on the highs and lows of society in his music, whose roots in folk have since expanded into rock, blues, country, gospel and more. The music icon released his thirty-fifth studio album, Tempest, in September, on the fiftieth anniversary of his first self-titled record back in 1962. Don’t miss his new concert at the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum (November 5, ticketmaster.com) with guest Mark Knopfler.
Food for Thought
Back in 2011, Forward Theater Company devoted its monologue festival to stories of life-changing love. This time around, it’s focusing on another passion: food! In Soul Food (November 9–11, forwardtheater.com), a dozen playwrights from across the country offer funny, heartwarming and cringe-worthy stories about not only their favorite eats, but the memories—first dates, picnics, tailgates, family meals—forever and inextricably tied to them.
With Greg Hettmansberger
November offers a cornucopia of concerts to be thankful for. John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrate the return of two of Madison’s favorite musical daughters: Christina and Michelle Naughton. The twin sisters, now graduates of the Curtis Institute, will shower Overture Hall audiences with Poulenc’s splashy Concerto for Two Pianos, while the orchestra kicks in some Kodály and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 (November 2–4, madisonsymphony.org).
University Opera stages an important work that even lifelong opera fans might have missed in live performance (yours truly confesses gratitude for the opportunity)—Cherubini’s Medea (November 9, 11, 13, music.wisc.edu). With a daunting title role that launched the legendary career of Maria Callas, William Farlow directs a production that finds Andrew Sewell leading the orchestra.
Sewell returns to his customary position leading the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra in a cherished holiday tradition, the Middleton Holiday Pops (November 24–25, wcoconcerts.org). This year some of the treats will be wrapped in the vocalism of Aaron Thompson, with Sewell and the WCO adding selections from The Nutcracker, “Christmas on Broadway,” and those gotta-have-’em numbers—a.k.a. the Christmas Singalong and “Sleighride.”
And since it’s always a hot ticket, we’ll mention that DeMain and the MSO get A Madison Symphony Christmas started on November 30.
Want more classical coverage? Find Greg Hettmansberger’s Classically Speaking blog.
A holiday for local bibliophiles, the Wisconsin Book Festival (November 7–11, wisconsinbookfestival.org) is an annual celebration of literary talent from the state and beyond. Now in its eleventh year, the free, five-day festival hosts author talks, workshops, spoken word performances and other events—all based on this year’s theme of “Lost & Found.”
The environment is both inspiration and metaphor for Helen Klebesadel (work pictured, at right). In Second Nature: New Watercolors by Helen Klebesadel at Grace Chosy Gallery (November 2–24, gracechosygallery.com), the Madison artist explores humans’ place in and relationship with nature, stating, “We are nature. What we do to the world we do to ourselves and we do to ourselves what we do to the world.”
Georgene Pomplun and Lee Kimball also delight in the natural world, as evidenced by a show of new work at Fanny Garver Gallery (November 2–28, fannygarvergallery.com). Pomplun’s oil paintings capture the colors and textures of fields and farms, while Kimball’s pastel drawings reveal his appreciation for the rural landscape.
Kanopy Dance Company delves into dark territory with End Times: Choreography of the Apocalypse (November 2–4, kanopydance.org). This concert of four dances features works by the company’s co-artistic directors: Robert E. Cleary’s End Times is a reading of apocalyptic poetry and music, while Lisa Thurrell’s Cassandra’s Cry charts a soul’s journey.
Broom Street Theater also turns to the supernatural with Tales for Another Millennium (November 30–December 22, bstonline.org). The play—the third and final installment of Brian Wild’s Millennium trilogy—is set a thousand years in the future. A man finds himself in an empty heaven and attempts to find out what’s happened to others in the vast afterlife.
A Madison holiday tradition three years strong, The Knotcracker (November 30–December 2, lichiaopingdance.org) follows Little Miss Steps, a young girl attempting to fit in. Blending dance and theater, physicality and humor, this Li Chiao-Ping Dance production (pictured, at left) packs a poignant message of acceptance. This year, enjoy the performance in Overture’s Playhouse with some new surprises.
While they hail from Georgia, the Zac Brown Band’s appreciation for the simple pleasures of life resonates with fans across the country. The six-piece, Grammy-winning country band returns to the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum (November 9, ticketmaster.com) for a show that’s sure to satisfy like a “cold beer on a Friday night” and “a pair of jeans that fit just right.”
If you’re curious about art being made here in Madison, pop by Absolutely Art for an exhibition featuring the NorthSide Artist Group (November 1–30, absolutelyartllc.com). The seven-year-old, forty-member group melds art with a sense of community, creating works ranging from paintings and photography to metal sculpture and mosaics.
Infusing Latin music traditions with new sounds, global influences and a dance-ready beat, Grupo Fantasma is a thoroughly unique act rocking out of the Latin genre. The ten-piece band is known for its live shows, regularly performing at festivals and venues around the world. This month, it’s at Madison’s revamped Union South (November 2, uniontheatre.wisc.edu).
Everyday life on Willy Street serves as inspiration for Lynn Lee, whose colorful acrylic paintings are highlighted at Hatch Art House (November 1–30, hatcharthouse.com). Says the artist, “There is nothing more personal than how a family lives and what they choose to surround themselves with.”
It’s worth the pretty drive out to Paoli to see Delores Fortuna: New Work in Ceramics at Artisan Gallery (November 9–December 31, artisangal.com). The Illinois artist’s work is characterized by fluid forms embellished with texture and rich, earthy colors. And don’t miss Small Works, a group show highlighting small-scale works in a variety of media, and Madison artist Brandon Norsted’s “sculptures about furniture” that explore the significance of context.
Isn't it Romantic?
Legendary crooner Tony Bennett is the focus of this month’s installment of Tunes at Monona Terrace, the free series celebrating the heyday of musical entertainment, from big band to swing to polka. Chicago singer Peter Oprisko headlines this musical tribute (November 14, mononaterrace.com), with a dance floor provided for those who are moved by the mood.
Q&A: A Return Stop
StageQ artistic director Tara Ayres chats about the group’s latest musical, The Holiday Stops.
Tell me about this show.
The Holiday Stops is a sequel to The Stops, a very popular show we did three years ago. The Stops is the name of a musical group made up of members of the North American Lady Organists Guild, a fictional organization of women church organists. The three original members—and a fourth added for this show—are also all singers who met at a NALOG conference and formed a singing group. The four ladies are on tour doing a show.
Who are these four women?
They’re from different churches from around the country. All four ladies are played by men, but it’s not traditional drag. Even though they’re performing authentically they’re not pretending to be women—it’s not a caricature of women.
What are you doing similarly to when you presented The Stops in 2009?
These characters are just delightful; they really come alive. We had them come out and mingle with the audience—they’ll be out interacting before this show. We also had church potlucks in the lobby before our Sunday matinees, and we’ll be doing that again.
What should audiences expect?
The show is a lot of fun. It’s lighthearted but takes on serious issues. We’ve got a variety of takes on racism and a variety of takes on gay rights. The show is just a romp. It’s all original music and the movement’s going to be a hoot.
The Holiday Stops runs November 30–December 15 at the Bartell Theatre. stageq.com
Katie Vaughn is managing editor of Madison Magazine. Read her arts and entertainment blog Liberal Arts.