2012–2013 Performing Arts Preview
Behind-the-scenes interviews and full schedules introduce the robust new arts season
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Forward Theater presents 44 Plays for 44 Presidents in September.
Broom Street Theater
Comedies, dramas, and works by first-time playwrights and veterans alike make up Broom Street Theater’s 2012 season. A longtime haven for quirky, serious and experimental theater, Broom Street is not afraid to push boundaries.
The Bottom of the Sea is Cruel September 14–October 6
Svengali's Follies October 19–November 10
Tales for Another Millennium November 30–December 22
Check the website later this fall for its 2013 lineup.
Children's Theater of Madison
A multifarious season is in store at Children’s Theater of Madison to delight and educate children and families. It might be the first chance for some youngsters to experience heartwarming stories like Charlotte’s Web and A Christmas Carol, and in live action at that!
A stage adaptation of Sandy Asher’s picture book Too Many Frogs! brings a series of fables to the stage through a whimsical back-and-forth between a frog and a rabbit. On the unexpectedly educational side, a bilingual rendition of Disney’s Aladdin brings intercultural themes of perseverance to the stage. The theme of hope carries into Anne Frank, a multimedia production following three teenagers through a dramatic struggle to survive.
Charlotte's Web October 24–November 4
A Christmas Carol December 14–23
Too Many Frogs! February 16–24
And Then They Came for Me: Remembering The World of Anne Frank March 9–17
Disney's Aladdin May 3–19
Edgewood College Theatre
Theater thrives where education flourishes—a cast’s deep understanding of a performance’s themes connects them to audience members on multiple levels. So where better to experience a vast array of theatrical ingenuity than a college whose motto translates to “heart speaks to heart?”
With The Cor Stories, Edgewood performers team up with other local companies to celebrate art and identity. When you compile that with a ’60s Broadway hit, a series of LGBTQ monologues and a “musical folktale for young audiences,” to name a few, Edgewood delivers with seriously liberal thinking to engage all types.
The Cor Stories: Identity Through the Lens of Theatre September 21–22
Conceal and Carry: Queers Exposed October 25
Bye Bye Birdie Novermber 9–10, 16–17
The Arabian Nights February 22–23, March 1–2
Student-Directed One-Acts May 2–4
ROARrrr May 7–10
Encore! Studio for the Performing Arts
As Encore! Studio for the Performing Arts enters its thirteenth season, the group shows no signs of slowing the pace. As a studio that features actors wtih disabilities, Encore's works deal with real issues presented by actors who know the hardships firsthand.
After opening with Acts to Grind V, an annual series of all-original short plays, autism sets the tone for many of the remaining plays, offering eye-opening performances sure to bring the struggles and triumphs of people with the disorder to light.
Acts to Grind V October 5–20
Going to Temple January 25–February 9
Real LIfe April 12–27
Forward Theater Company
Forward Theater's season is characterized by the search for the American dream. But how does one define this dream? That’s up for audiences to decide.
The answer may lie in the multi-faceted 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, which treks through the lives of our chiefs-of-state and “entertains as it educates.” Or you might find it in Good People, where an impoverished Boston woman struggles to catch a break.
Meanwhile in Soul Food, playwrights from across the nation contribute their stories with one thing in mind, something dear to American hearts: food. So grab a bite and head to Forward’s website to see what else they’re offering to the dreamers out there.
44 Plays for 44 Presidents September 20–October 7
Forward Theater's Monologue Festival: Soul Food November 9–11
Collected Stories January 17–February 3
Good People April 4–21
Four Seasons Theater
A Broadway coming-of-age parable with actors and puppets. A musical cast featuring ten local singers, a jazz trio and the music of George and Ira Gershwin. And a 1930s romance with music and lyrics from the same people that composed The Fiddler on the Roof.
If this doesn't sound impressive, rest assured that the acclaimed musicals will engage and move audiences through lovable characters and captivating storylines
She Loves Me December 7–16
The Gershwin Songbook March 8–10
Avenue Q August 9–18
Madison Theatre Guild
Madison’s oldest community theater promises another aggressive season with award-winning comedies, powerful dramas and farcical hilarity. Any theater-goer will appreciate the array of plays Madison Theatre Guild has to offer.
Lettice and Lovage along with Rumors provide the comedic overtones of the season. The latter farce will leave heads spinning in a whodunit tale set in a New York deputy mayor’s manor.
Later, The Road to Mecca details the factual story of an eccentric South African artist who transformed her home and garden into a self-curated museum that stands today as a national monument. Set in the apartheid era, this work examines the nature of an artist and a taboo friendship during a difficult time.
Lettice and Lovage September 21–October 6
Next to Normal November 30–December 15
The Road to Mecca February 22–March 9
Rumors March 22–April 6
Boom April 19–May 4
Mercury Players Theatre
Since its founding in 1994, Mercury Players Theatre has staged works original, unusual and at times frenetic. This season will continue that tradition, with a full-length comedy based on religion, politics and communist thoughts during the 1950s, padded by a different look at the hauntingly factual Ed Gein story.
In The Arsonists, a pair of small-town couples struggle with unwanted media attention during the infamous Gein trial. The play examines their shifting morals and beliefs amidst a grotesque tragedy and the town’s new celebrity. The season isn’t all dark, however.
An introspective work, Circle Mirror Transformation, promises to leave audiences laughing and searching desperately for the common thread that unites four characters in a low-key drama class that will bring them together and push them violently apart.
Meanwhile, Mercury’s annual Blitz, which features eight original plays in “twenty-four hours of theatrical mayhem,” will have cast members learning lines while audiences eagerly await their on-the-spot performances.
The Opiate of the Missus October 12–27
Circle Mirror Transformation February 1–16
The Arsonists May 10–25
Blitz June 29
Music Theatre of Madison
As one of Madison’s smaller theater organizations, no one would blame Music Theatre of Madison for scheduling a series of “safe” performances—classics that guarantee an audience and enough ticket sales to stay in business. But founder and executive director Meghan Randolph views MTM’s “fringe” status as a grand opportunity to produce thought-provoking musicals that appeal to various niche audiences.
This season’s performances are educational, innovative and “bizarre,” in Randolph’s words. The shows focus on historical figures such as Andrew Jackson and Edgar Allen Poe, while telling their stories through non-traditional avenues. Another show based on the AIDS epidemic features readings of sufferers’ stories and deepens the season’s nod to reality.
It’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, however, that has Randolph especially excited. This show portrays the life and times of our seventh president through a modern emo rock lens, and potentially depicts more similarities than differences between then and now. Admittedly, an emo rock score doesn’t appeal to everyone. But it wasn’t entirely the composition that hooked Randolph. It was the unexpectedly familiar themes emerging from a founding father’s struggles and triumphs that captivate her.
“It’s very funny and very weird, but it’s also very poignant and startling how relevant it is, which helps make it work in a contemporary setting,” Randolph says of Jackson.
Jackson isn’t a Music Theatre original. In fact, it has been performed on Broadway, starring none other than Benjamin Walker of the recent film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Although Walker won’t be reprising his Jackson role for MTM, Randolph hopes to include him in an audience Q&A following the performances. Given Walker’s unique experiences portraying historical roles in hardly traditional settings, his insights could make Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson even more of a must-see event.
As always, Music Theatre of Madison caters to atypical audiences.
“We kind of have the market cornered on weird musicals, and in Madison there’s an audience that comes to see that,” Randolph says. “So you sort of latch onto people who want to learn, the people looking for an experience, not just the types who like theater ... It’s still kind of a fringe company, but I think it’s making an impact.”
Edgar Allan Poe's Nevermore May 30–June 1
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson July 19–27
Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens (dates not available yet)
Stage Q is known for producing LGBTQ-friendly works that may not find a haven elsewhere. Featuring “out” actors and artists, the group seeks to construct bridges between the LGBTQ community and society at large, with original and classic works that touch on serious themes while allowing room for laughter.
The Normal Heart is an award-winning, devastating drama about indifference to the AIDS epidemic and follows one man’s struggle beyond the death of his lover as he tries to “save the world from itself.”
And in the summer, Stage Q’s eighth installment of Queer Shorts provides a lighter night of rapid-fire performances evoking the entire spectrum of emotions.
The Normal Heart October 19–November 3
The Holiday Stops November 29–December 15
Gertrude Stein and a Companion (dates not available yet)
The Story of My Life February 8–March 9
Mystery abounds at Strollers Theatre in Paragon Springs, a classic rework by Steven Dietz that examines small-town self-interest in 1920s America. And that is but one facet of a season loaded with relatable characters and magical drama.
The magic closes the season with Strollers’ unique look at Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Before that, prepare to be treated to an intimate family drama set in the deep south, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Then, the charming Lobby Hero follows a clumsy night doorman in his struggles of morality, loyalty, love and betrayal.
Paragon Springs September 14–October 6
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof January 11–February 2
Lobby Hero March 22–April 13
A Midsummer Night's Dream May 3–25
A pair of controversial satires bookends University Theatre’s season, tempered by a family-friendly look at Japanese folktales and an unfinished war drama that welcomes a fresh adaptation in every occurrence.
Woyzeck, an avant-garde tragedy by Georg Buchner, explores the psyche of a young soldier crushed by military work. Buchner’s exploration halted, however, when he passed away, leaving the play to posthumous collaborators to finish. UW’s own Kristin Hunt directs this iteration, presenting a “radical reappraisal” of a well-known tragedy.
On a lighter note, The Cradle Will Rock and Cloud Nine provide dubious critiques of topics including corruption, commerce, politics, class and sexual mores, in transatlantic settings of 1900s America and London, respectively. Both subversive in their own rights, Cradle follows a prostitute with “a heart of gold,” while Cloud Nine reminds spectators to “be mindful of pleasure and power.”
I Can't Go On. I'll Go On. October 18–November 13
The Cradle Will Rock November 16–December 8
Woyzeck March 1–16
Wondrous Tales of Old Japan II April 5–13
Cloud Nine April 19–May 5
Next up: Dance