2012–2013 Performing Arts Preview

2012–2013 Performing Arts Preview

Meet president and CEO Ted Dedee

There is a new leader at Overture Center, and despite the facility’s tumultuous last few years, Ted Dedee is ready to take on existing budget challenges while maintaining the reputation of Madison’s largest arts center.

While Dedee is a newcomer to Madison, he is no stranger to managing performing arts facilities similar to Overture. He’s been doing it for more than thirty-five years at venues in New York, Texas and Tennessee. But Overture, he says, presents a “unique challenge” that intrigued him and influenced his decision to make the move north.

“It seemed to me that while I was looking into this opportunity that a lot of things were positively taking place behind the scenes,” he says. “Specifically with the creation of a new nonprofit organization … that interested me a lot, given the challenges required to make that transition possible.”

The shift at Overture from city management to the creation of a new managing nonprofit organization, the Overture Center Foundation, brought many uncertainties earlier this year. According to Dedee, he will be able to apply previous experience to make the new entity function, and he is excited to make it happen.

His positive outlook is guided in part by a genuine love for the arts, which he said have captivated him since he encountered a performance in third grade by the Bill Baird marionettes, a troupe many will recognize from an appearance in The Sound of Music. Local children can find inspiration at events such as the free Kids in the Rotunda series. Early inspiration “is what it’s all about,” says Dedee. “You’re building memories.”

This seaon, Overture’s resident companies and traveling acts from Broadway and elsewhere bring diverse audiences to the center’ four stages. Certain performances thrive in an intimate setting—they play in the 350-seat Playhouse. Meanwhile, larger, often touring acts, occupy Overture Hall with a seating capacity surpassing 2,200.

The season is also carefully planned to offer performances to theater-lovers and first-timers alike.

“We look for opportunities that people in Madison have never seen before, and to see if there is something that can pique interest and give a new experience to people they’ve never had before,” Dedee says. “Part of the whole deal with the arts is trying something new.”

Dedee values bringing in touring artists to fill in the gaps that local companies don’t offer, such as Broadway hits like Wicked and Jersey Boys.

“The whole idea is to let people discover something new that they’ve never experienced before, to captivate them. To entertain them, yes, but to engage them in such a way that they want to do something again.”

It all goes back to Dedee’s philosophy of building memories. While Dedee has plenty of his own, he is eager to forge even more this season—he has already purchased tickets to the majority of the shows this season.

“It’s one of the greatest jobs in the world to be able to make things come together behind the scenes … Sometimes I will be listening to the show, but I will have my head turned and watch faces in the audience because I want to see if they’ve got their mouth open, or how they’re reacting to things going on stage. It’s very rewarding, and it’s just so much fun.”

Overture Center’s 2012–2013 schedule

?The Capitol Steps October 5

Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies October 6

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico October 9

An Evening with Bill Cosby October 19

LEO October 20

Live at Birdland featuring the Birdland Big Band October 23

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet: Moulin Rouge – The Ballet October 30

Jersey Boys November 7–25

Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas November 17–18

3-Legged Tale November 25

Songs of the Season: A Holiday Celebration with 3Girls3 November 29

Rock of Ages December 4–9

A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor January 26

Diavolo Dance Theater February 1

The Little Prince February 3

West Side Story February 12–17

Guess How Much I Love You and I Love My Little Storybook February 16

Golden Dragon Acrobats: Cirque Ziva February 24

Branford Marsalis Quartet February 28

Juan Siddi Flamenco Theatre Company March 1

Live & Let Die: A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney March 2

Mary Poppins March 12–17

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and LINES Ballet Unite March 20

The Intergalactic Nemesis Book 2 March 23

Max Raabe and Palast Orchester April 8

Kindur: The Adventurous Life of Icelandic Sheep April 14

PSY (Les 7 Doigts de la Main) April 20–21

The Belle of Broadway with Susan Egan May 2

Four Bitchin’ Babes: Mid-Life Vices May 11

Wicked May 22–June 9

Mormon Tabernacle Choir June 18

overturecenter.com

Photos courtesy of Overture Center.

 

Read on for interviews and season schedules for Madison-area theater, dance and music organizations.

 

Forward Theater presents 44 Plays for 44 Presidents in September.

 

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.

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’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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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. 

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Next up: Dance

 

Madison Ballet stages The Nutcracker in December.

 

At Dance Wisconsin, the focus is on the up-and-coming dancers, who hone their skills alongside professionals to produce new works and fresh takes on classics in a high-involvement setting.

“[Our dancers] dance from 9:30 to 5 every day,” says artistic director Jo Jean Retrum.

With a rigorous schedule, you can bet that these dancers of all ages are fully prepared for their performances. This season, those include the traditional Nutcracker Fantasy, an original family-friendly take on the classic work. Coppelia is another standout feature this year, in its first Dance Wisconsin iteration since 2004.

Coppelia is an interesting work about an engaged man who falls in love with a doll (named Coppelia), and realizes later on that his love is, in fact, just a doll,” Retrum says. “A lot of the old ballets have a romantic theme to them.”

With Coppelia, however, Dance Wisconsin takes on a unique interpretation of romance.

Such performances require much planning and preparation, so Retrum employs dancers who have since gone on to professional companies as well as established professionals, like Sasha Radetsky, a principal dancer with American Ballet Theater. And she values Dance Wisconsin alumni willing to return and choreograph new works.

“One of the neatest things is the new works concert, seeing all of my performer dancers come back and create work,” she says. ” I think that is one of the most rewarding things … I can give opportunities to my own dancers.”

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Stories and myths about the end of the world have been told as long as cultures have existed. This fall, Kanopy Dance Company brings several cultural traditions and stories together in a chilling physical interpretation of the end, with a concert aptly titled End Times: Choreography of the Apocalypse.

As co-artistic director Robert Cleary began choreographing to music by a local composer, Thomas Powell, it became clear that the fall show would be dark.

“[Powell] did a suite of five short songs, and the music is sung by an opera singer singing poems about the end of the world,” Cleary says. “Then the second half of this piece will be a thirteen-minute symphonic piece that [Powell] composed about the end of the world.”

The stories in Powell’s songs pull from various cultures, including Sanskrit and Norse poetry.

From there, the concert flows into a realm of dark choreography by co-artistic director Lisa Thurrell in “Cassandra’s Cry,” and then on to “Pithos,” a piece by Kanopy choreographer Kerry Parker based on the unleashing of Pandora’s box.

Moving into spring, the tone lightens a bit with Yggdrasil, a romantic rendition of the Norse tree of life. Additionally, Parker’s contribution will be “warm and abstract,” following a mystic named Sofia through a series of gestures and allusions.

And finally, the summer show veers away from darkness and light, with an eclectic presentation of Antigone. With largely Greek influences, the performance is technically a tragedy but is music-centric, featuring a beautiful score. 

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Madison Ballet is gearing up for an ambitious season that reaches far beyond those past with a purely Madison new work and Nutcracker spoof to complement its traditional Nutcracker performance.

The spoof is Nutty Nut, and is a well-known take on the classic Nutcracker to many ballet groups nationwide, according to general manager Gretchen Bourg. Nutty Nut, however, is more of a concept than a script, which allows Madison Ballet to inject local references sure to make the show relevant to the community.

“The performance will loosely follow the storyline of The Nutcracker, and also include lots of fun spoofs … Who knows if there will be Badgers or Packers references,” Bourg says.

Yet The Nutcracker will still grace the stage as a time-honored holiday tradition.

To further expand its creative scope, Madison Ballet has pieced together an entirely original iteration of Dracula, with artistic roots grounded more firmly in Madison than the infamous vampire’s Transylvanian home.

Choreographed by Madison Ballet artistic director Earle Smith to an original rock—yes, rock—score by local musician and composer Mike Nancy, this is truly a homegrown take on an international classic. The local novelty doesn’t end there: Madison’s steam punk community lent its aesthetic to the costume and set design, forging a partnership that meshes a classical art form with an industrial renaissance.

“We’re really hoping to draw in an audience that may have the perception that ballet is not for them,” Bourg says. “So [Dracula] will be very contemporary, and still showcase the ballet aesthetics. I think artistically, all of the ballet world understands that we are grounded in tradition … but like any good art form, it needs to speak to its time.”

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Next up: Music

 

The Wisconsin Union Theater welcomes Imani Winds in September.

 

Edgewood faculty and students flaunt their fine-tuned musical capacity in an aggressive season showcasing choral singers, a jazz ensemble and orchestral works, to name a few high notes.

Faculty members, too, have the opportunity to present their own works in a Faculty Recital Series featuring Douglas Jurs on piano, percussionist and composer Todd Hammes and mezzo-soprano Kathleen Otterson.

In a season rich in all types of music, faculty and students wil present collaborative and unique works, showing just how much mutual learning goes on in the music department at Edgewood.

John Cage 100th Birthday Celebration September 8

Edgewood Chamber Orchestra September 30

Chamber Singers October 14

Concert Band October 21

Faculty Recital Series: Douglas Jurs, piano November 2

Jazz Ensemble November 4

Edgewood Chamber Orchestra November 11

Faculty Recital Series: Todd Hammes, percussionist and composer November 17

Choral Concert November 18

Christmas Concerts December 7 – 8

Edgewood Chamber Orchestra February 24

Concert Band March 22

Chamber Singers Tour Concert March 24

Jazz Ensemble April 7

Student Honors and Faculty Collaboration Concert April 14

Faculty Recital Series: Kathleen Otterson, mezzo-soprano April 21

Edgewood Chamber Orchestra April 28

Instrumental Concert May 3

Choral Concert May 5

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Two company premieres, one classic opera, and the twelfth annual Opera in the Park comprise the new season at Madison Opera, tempting opera connoisseurs and newcomers alike to attend each performance. But that isn’t why general director Kathryn Smith calls this the “Season of Temptation.”

“Every opera involves characters making choices, and when they succumb to temptation, it alters the course of the opera and their own fates,” Smith says.

The premieres of Verdi’s A Masked Ball and Handel’s Acis and Galatea showcase diverse features of the opera that have Smith excited for different reasons.

A Masked Ball, one of Smith’s favorite Italian works, is an intensely dramatic production involving murder, “quasi-adultery,” a fortune-teller and multiple vows of vengeance. All of this, in Smith’s opinion, is set to some of Verdi’s most exciting music and performed by an extremely talented cast.

Acis and Galatea, on the other hand, is a “charming” new production for Madison Opera dealing with themes of love and jealousy among mortals and demigods. Adding to the charm is the venue itself, Overture Center’s Playhouse, which seats just under 350 in a uniquely intimate setting that fosters an up close and personal dynamic between the audience and cast.

As with the spring show, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Acis and Galatea features a post-opera Q&A session.

In its twelfth summer, Opera in the Park shifts the setting from intimate to grandiose. If there is one show not to miss, this is it, and certainly not just for the free admission. This attraction is by far Madison Opera’s most highly attended event every year.

“It is uniquely wonderful. There is nothing like the sight of fourteen thousand members of our community enjoying opera under the summer stars,” Smith says.

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Students and faculty at the UW School of Music are hard at work, seemingly at all hours of every day. This season features dozens of musicians performing almost daily, with practically no instrument left untouched and collaborations galore.

The renowned Pro Arte Quartet will play four dates, one with guest artist Nobuko Imai on viola, which would make them a quintet for a stint. There is more than music, too, with Jeffrey Siegel’s Keyboard Conversations, during which audiences can learn as they listen.

The calendar may seem daunting, but it certainly won’t break the bank as the majority of performances are free and open to the public.

36th Karp Family Opening Concert September 3

Mimmi Fulmer, soprano September 8

Pro Arte Quartet September 15, October 27, February 16

SOMAA concert September 16

Paul Rowe, baritone September 16

Black Music Ensemble September 20, November 8, February 14, April 18

Areon Flutes September 22

Mark Hetzler, trombone September 22

Imani Winds September 28

Edith hines, violin and John Chappell Stowe, harpsichord September 29

Symphony Orchestra September 30, February 15

Wolfgang David, violin and David gompper, piano October 2

Wind Ensemble October 5, February 23, April 21

Chamber Orchestra October 6, December 8, February 17, March 20

An Hawaiian Sound Salon October 8

Choral Collage October 13

Concert Band October 14, December 2, February 24, March 19

University Bands October 14, December 2, March 10

Elias Goldstein, viola and Thomas Kasdorf, piano October 15

Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel October 16, April 30

Gerry Pagano, bass trombone October 16

Wisconsin Brass Quintet October 19

Linda Bartley, clarinet October 20

Stephanie Jutt, flute October 25

Jamie-Rose Guarrine, soprano and Scott Gendel, piano October 25

Wind Ensemble Collage October 26

Contemporary Chamber Ensemble October 28

Wind Ensemble Chamber Winds November 1

Nathan Wysock, guitar November 2

Marc Vallon, bassoon November 3

John Chappell Stowe, harpsichord November 4

Project Trio November 5

Medea November 9, 11, 13

Parry Karp, violincello November 9

Symphony Orchestra with Joshua Roman, cello November 10

Winds of Wisconsin November 11, February 17

Women’s Chorus and University Chorus November 11

David Hyunsu Kim, fortepiano November 12

Tyrone Greive, violin November 14

Guitar Ensemble November 14, April 17

Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas November 15

Concert Choir November 16

Michelle Malafronte, flute and Vincent Fuh, piano November 16

Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble November 17

Chorale November 17, April 26

Wingra Woodwind Quintet November 17, March 2

Trombone Choir November 20

UW Jazz Orchestra November 28

Ninety Miles Project November 29

Wind Ensemble with Sun Prairie High School November 30

All University String Orchestra December 1

Winter Choral Concerts December 2

Masters Singers December 4, April 29

Opera Workshop December 5

Western Percussion Ensemble December 5, February 20                

Choral Union with Symphony Orchestra December 7, 9

World Percussion Ensemble December 8

Dylan Chmura-Moore, trombone January 28

Eli Kalman, piano and Bruce Atwell, horn February 4

Daniel Grabois, horn February 6

Sole Nero February 22

Parry Karp, cello March 1

Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition Winners March 3

Gretzler March 6

Christopher Taylor, piano March 14, 17, 19

L’amico Fritz March 15

Wisconsin Brass Quintet March 15

Symphony Strings March 21

Emily Birsan, Jamie Van Eyck, John Arnold & Kristin Ihde April 5

Pro Arte Quartet with Nobuko Imai, viola April 10

Uri Vardi, cello April 12

Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble April 13

Concert Choir April 13

Mark Fink, oboe, and Friends April 14

Trio Antigo April 14

Brass Ensemble April 16

Varsity Band April 18—20

Madrigal Singers April 19—20

Javanese Gamelan Ensemble April 20

Beethoven Piano Competition Winners April 21

Contemporary Chamber Ensemble April 21

Horn Choir April 23

All University String Orchestra April 27

Choral Union with Chamber Orchestra April 27—28

University Bands April 28

Early Music Ensemble April 30

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Despite ongoing renovations at the Wisconsin Union Theater at the Memorial Union, this season charges on with nearly twenty musical performances on the university’s numerous stages.

Kicking off the season in September is the annual Madison World Music Festival, which showcases artists from Sweden to Venezuela and practically everywhere in between. One event, Delhi 2 Dublin, features musical influences from India, Ireland and Canada, an eclectic testament to the international unifying language of music.

Following the global get-down, an array of musicians offer symphony orchestras, solo pianists, jazz trios, polkas and more.

But music isn’t all Wisconsin Union Theater has to offer. Visit its website to find films, plays and interactive talk-back concerts, many of them free of charge. Not bad for an organization missing its flagship theater.

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Joe Nistler is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.

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