October 2011 Event Highlights

The local entertainment scene amps up this month

The Miles Davis Experience at Overture Center

The Miles Davis Experience at Overture Center

Maybe you’re into jazz and theater, or perhaps it’s books, comedy or watercolors. Whatever your artistic forte, you’re sure to find lots of it this month, as the fall arts scene kicks into full gear.

Book It

Bibliophiles rejoice: The Wisconsin Book Festival (October 19–23, wisconsinbookfestival.org) is back! The annual celebration, now in its tenth year, honors the state’s literary heritage with author readings, lectures, workshops, discussions and more. This year, the fest focuses on the theme of voices.

Diverse Directions

The new theater season is going strong, with unique plays opening this month.

The Bricks Theatre presents a gripping drama by Scottish playwright David Harrower. Blackbird (October 20– November 5, thebrickstheatre.com) sets audiences in the middle of a heated meeting between twenty-seven-year-old Una and fifty-five-year-old Ray—fifteen years after an illicit affair.

With Ghost of a Chance (October 21–November 5, stageq.com) StageQ offers a fast-paced comedy about six women and a ghost snowed in at a historic B&B during an unexpected Halloween snowstorm.

The work of Anton Chekhov transforms into laugh-out-loud-funny vignettes in The Good Doctor (October 28–November 19, strollerstheatre.org). The play by Neil Simon, staged by Strollers Theatre, references several stories by the revered Russian writer.

And don’t miss your last chance to catch American Players Theatre’s shows before the season ends. The Glass Menagerie and Crime and Punishment (through October 15 and 16, americanplayers.org) are staged in the indoor theater, while one performance each of Of Mice and Men (October 1) and The Taming of the Shrew (October 2) are offered in the outdoor amphitheater.

A Good Night

If you’d ever want the ability to be in several places at once, it’s Gallery Night (October 14, mmoca.org). Organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, this citywide celebration of art features exhibitions, demonstrations and performances held at more than sixty galleries, museums and other venues. Go online for a full list of participants.

Classical Cues

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra opens its new season with Masterworks I–Concert of Firsts (October 7, wcoconcerts.org) highlighting early works by Elgar, Copland, Prokofiev and Gershwin, as well as the talent of Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev.

Cellist Lynn Harrell joins the Madison Symphony Orchestra (October 14–16, madisonsymphony.org) to play French romantic Edouard Lalo’s Cello Concerto in D Minor, while guest conductor Ward Stare leads the orchestra in Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.

Meanwhile, the Madison Bach Musicians honor the contributions of Johann Sebastian Bach and others with Music of the Bach Family (October 8–9, madisonbachmusicians.org).

And the Pro Arte Quartet kicks off its centennial celebration with a free concert (October 22, music.wisc.edu) featuring the premiere of String Quartet No. 2 by composer Walter Mays.

All that Jazz

The Isthmus Jazz Series brings bright jazz talents to the Wisconsin Union Theater stage. Catch Madeleine Peyroux (October 12, uniontheater.wisc.edu) [pictured at right], whose vocal style has been compared to Billie Holiday’s, and genre-bending opening act Nellie McKay. Later in the month, five-time Grammy winner Terrence Blanchard (October 21) dazzles with his trumpet skills and African-fusion style.

For a completely different type of jazz performance, take in The Miles Davis Experience (October 11, overturecenter.com). The multimedia show combines the music of Miles Davis with vintage photos and film clips.

Girl Power

Fans of Addy, Felicity and Josefina won’t want to miss The American Girls Revue (October 8–23, ctmtheater.org). Children’s Theater of Madison weaves empowering stories of eight young girls with important moments in American history.

Overture Rocks

This month, Overture Center welcomes the Chicago rockers Wilco (October 5, overturecenter.com), Wisconsin’s own BoDeans (October 8), young singer-songwriter Brett Dennen (October 12) and the dynamic Matt Nathanson (October 14).

Also hitting the Overture stage are two comedic rockstars: Lewis Black (October 8) offers his signature rants while popular humorist, author and satirist David Sedaris (October 28) returns after sellout shows in 2008 and 2010.

Sky’s the Limit

Discover the mysteries of the night sky at Moon Over Monona Terrace (October 7, mononaterrace.com). The Madison Astronomical Society sets up powerful telescopes and shares knowledge and insights so budding astronomers can glimpse and learn about the moon and other celestial bodies in the universe.

New Views

When the Chazen Museum of Art debuts its stunning expansion, visitors can take in three new exhibitions. Sean Scully Paintings and Watercolors (October 22–January 15, chazen.wisc.edu) showcases never-exhibited watercolors by the Dublin-born abstract artist. The Leslie and Johanna Garfield Collection: A Passion for Prints (October 22– January 15) reveals prints collected over six decades. And Discerning Taste: Paintings from the Simona and Jerome A. Chazen Collection (October 22–March 11) highlights late twentieth-century American and European paintings.

Meanwhile, the James Watrous Gallery opens Water, Stone, Feather and Bone (October 21–December 23, wisconsinacademy.org). Lee Weiss’ large-scale watercolors and JoAnna Poehlmann’s meticulous drawings and collages offer unique takes on nature.

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

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

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