2015 Fall Arts Preview: Theater

Expert picks on the best fall theater
2015 Fall Arts Preview: Theater

Theatre LILA, October 1-11
Between last year’s production of The Suitcase Dreams and the steampunk collaboration with Children’s Theater of Madison on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we’re ready to watch Theater LILA do just about anything. In October, we’ll see the group stage Trash, a show with the same kind of multi-disciplinary/ensemble/collage vibe that Suitcase Dreams had. This time, the conceit is the things we discard, both physical and otherwise.

Shrek the Musical
Children’s Theater of Madison, October 9-25
So let’s start with a party! CTM hits the big 5-0 in 2015-16, and the company’s bringing it big, kicking off with Shrek the Musical, a production that’s likely to appeal to the booger-eating ogre in all of us.

The Game of Love and Chance
American Players Theatre, October 30-November 22
You may be coming off your fill of summer drama in Spring Green at this point, but by November, you’ll be craving more, and here’s your hookup. Former artistic director David Frank returns to the Touchstone to direct The Game of Love and Chance, a period piece about a husband and wife in an arranged marriage who, unbeknowst to each other, both switch places with their servants. That’s going to end well. A lot of companies are staging romantic farces this season, but this one could be the cream of the crop.

The Light in the Piazza
Four Seasons Theatre, December 4-13|
You’ll be forgiven if you think you’re experiencing a night at the opera rather than a musical at Four Seasons’ production of the Tony-winning The Light in the Piazza, a modern musical awash in classical music and Italian lyrics. Benissimo.

Mr. Burns (A Post-Electric Play)
Forward Theater Company, April 7-24
We’re thinking Forward’s production of the truly bizarre Mr. Burns (A Post-Electric Play) can’t possibly be anything but exxxxcelllent. Apocalypse survivors traveling around and reenacting classic episodes of “The Simpsons?” Cowa-
bunga, dude.

– Aaron R. Conklin

2015 Fall Arts Preview: Theater


The lights of Broadway come to State Street through musicals headlining at Overture Center. Newsies shares the story of delivery boys who became news when they went on strike (September 15-20), while Wicked, the poignant precursor to The Wizard of Oz, returns on broomstick (October 21-November 1). Watch Disney’s fairy tale magic come alive with Beauty and the Beast (January 13-17). Madison will be alive with The Sound of Music (February 2-7) and the grooves of Motown the Musical, the true story of Berry Gordy, who morphed from a boxer to a music mogul (March 1-6). Disney’s The Lion King roars back into town to delight audiences young and old (May 10-June 5). And get ready for Kinky Boots, featuring songs by Cyndi Lauper (July 12-17). – Gabrielle DiBenedetto


2015 Fall Arts Preview: Theater

It’s not an accident that all three of the shows on Forward Theater’s 2015-16 docket are penned by female playwrights, including Silent Sky (November 5-22), Lauren Gunderson’s story of pioneering female astronomer Henrietta Leavitt. But Forward’s not the only local company rocking a distinctly distaff vibe. Madison Theatre Guild continues its love affair with playwright Sarah Ruhl–the company did her Dead Man’s Cell Phone in 2013–by staging The Clean House (November 6-21), a play with three meaty female roles. If you prefer a little more postmodern prickliness, be sure to catch Mercury Players’ production of Gina Gionfriddo’s Rapture, Blister, Burn (September 18-October 3), a taut play in which a single and a married woman swap lifestyles. – Aaron R. Conklin


A love of the arts is alive and well in younger Madisonians–thanks in part to a number of local groups offering training and performance opportunities and cultivating cultural appreciation in emerging generations. Madison Youth Choirs is made up of single-gender choirs that perform in an annual concert tour and collaborate with professional groups such as the Madison Opera. Opera for the Young provides children the opportunity to perform productions adapted for youth onstage alongside their peers and professionals. The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras include orchestra, chamber and ensemble programs and provide outreach, concerts and collaborations. And the Young Shakespeare Players invite children ages seven to eighteen to perform full-length works by Shakespeare, Dickens and others. – Gabrielle DiBenedetto


It was probably inevitable that Steve Noll, Meghan Rose and Lyn Pilch, the creative team that created memorable stagings of musicals Xanadu and Bare these past two years, would find their way to Dr. Frank N. Furter’s camp-tastic castle. We suspect that Mercury Players Theater/OUT!Cast‘s production of the Rocky Horror Show (February 12-27) will a) be much better than Fox’s ill-considered TV remake and b) have more than a few madcap twists. Either way, we’re bringing our popcorn and umbrellas. While Mercury and OUT!Cast are doing the time warp again, StageQ‘s taking a campy axe to flicks like ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ and ‘Rear Window’ in Psycho Beach Party (February 12-27). Now that’s the kind of mashup we can get behind. – Aaron R. Conklin

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