50 must-do October events in the Madison area

Theater season openers, art gallery tours and more
50 must-do October events in the Madison area
Photo by Flickr user Richard Hurd
Freakfest returns, this time with headliners Misterwives and Tank and the Bangas, for another Halloween weekend in Madison.

Music

Rock band Belly formed in the early ’90s and played their “last” show in 1995. But after a successful 2016 tour, the band is recording a new album and are hitting the road again, stopping for a night at the Majestic. Oct. 4

Comedy

Drew Carey’s hilarious improv TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” becomes “Whose Live Anyway?” with an audience-led, mprovised 90-minute comedy show at the Overture Center. Oct. 4

Comedy

Stand-up comics and Daily Show correspondents Roy Wood Jr. and Michael Kosta touch on social issues with hilarious commentary labeled as “charismatic crankiness,” which they’ll bring to the Wisconsin Union Theater. Oct. 5

Art

Madison will be dotted with galleries during Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Fall Gallery Night. Artwork will be displayed at all kinds of venues, from dentist offices, storefronts to the museum. The night will end with a DJ-led after party. Oct. 5

Art

Madison-raised Gregg Kreutz will return to his roots after years as a full-time painter in New York for a month-long display in the Garver Gallery, which will premiere during Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Gallery Night. Oct. 5

Music

Madison Bach Musicians strive to form a musical bond between composers Bach and Handel, who were born in the same year but never met, by merging their works into one show, featuring a soprano vocal performance. Venues for the concerts include Grace Episcopal and Emmanuel Lutheran churches in Madison and Historic Park Haul in Sauk City. Oct. 5-7

Theater

If you want to see a show that feels like you’re gossiping with your gal pals during wine night, TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater’s “Wit & Wisdom: Monologues of Ruth Draper” is the place to be as the cast of women, aged 20 to 80, put together the infamous actress’ poignant tellings of women’s experiences. Oct. 5-7

Theater

In Mercury Players Theatre’s original play “No One Goes to Hell for the Food” a nun and a serial killer go to heaven and hell, respectively, and become pen pals who chat about their diets. You’ll have to see the play — written by Mustard Museum founder Barry Levenson — to hear the punchline. Oct. 5-6, 11-14 & 18-20

Theater

In Madison Theatre Guild’s “Born Yesterday,” junk dealer Harry Brock’s plans get foiled when he invites his ditzy mistress along for the ride but makes the mistake of hiring a journalist who knows about his shady business to educate her. Oct. 5-20

Theater

Young actors from around Madison bring to life “Charlotte’s Web,” the classic story of a heroic spider who saves a small piglet’s life, in the Overture Center’s Playhouse. Oct. 5-7, 12-14 & 20-21

Theater

Four Seasons Theatre’s inaugural Words & Music Series performances combine jazz performances with a headlining play. The first play in the series, “When the Music Stops: The Anita O’Day Story,” is written by Erica Berman. Oct. 6

Dance

Dane Arts’ new initiative Dane Arts Dance Arts will showcase seven works by local choreographers on one night to raise awareness of the dance talent in Madison and raise funds to support the artists. The event will be held at the Dane Arts Mural Arts Space at 5004 Allis Ave. Oct. 6

Music

Singer-songwriter Kip Moore’s musical influence includes Bruce Springsteen, which is evident in his dusty voiced, compellingly written songs which he’ll showcase at The Sylvee. Oct. 6

Art

The Latino Art Fair at the Overture Center’s Promenade Terrace celebrates and sells works from South Central Wisconsin artists, and this year will feature spoken word and Afro-Peruvian music performances, as well as social justice artwork created by Latinx makers. Oct. 6

Reading

World-renowned, bestselling author James Patterson joins forces with Albert Einstein to entertain young readers, as well a educate them, with the tale of kid genius Max Einstein in his new series. Patterson will discuss in the Capitol Theater at the Overture Center as part of this year’s Wisconsin Book Festival. Oct. 7

Music

The singer behind the uplifting, danceable pop hits “Keep Your Head Up” and “Honey, I’m Good,” Andy Grammer, will come through Madison on his “The Good Parts” tour with new empowering tunes. Oct. 9

Music

Texan alt-country singer-songwriters Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen trade banter and songs from their combined repertoire of 30-some albums at the Orpheum Theater. Oct. 9

Music

Madison-born Youngblood Brass Band fuses New Orleans jazz with funky hip hop, creating a ten-instrument, big sound guaranteed to put on a groovy show at the Majestic Theatre. Oct. 11

Special Event

The Urban League of Greater Madison celebrates 50 years of community impact with their annual Urban Cabaret, a variety show including aerialists, poets, musicians and more at the Monona Terrace Convention Center. Oct. 12

Music

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, fronted by Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson, plays “acid-Americana,” a blend of folk, blues, rock and psychedelia, complete with stream-of-consciousness lyrics you can only see performed to understand. Oct. 12

Music
Silky smooth saxophonist Kenny G brings to the Capitol Theater three decades worth of seasoned jazz with Latin, R&B and pop influences. Oct. 12

Dance

Due to the physical strain dance takes on one’s body, youthful performers are favored. But Li Chiao-Ping Dance’s show, “Dancing on the Ceiling: Performances by Women of a Certain Age,” proves seasoned dancers have just as much to offer. In the UW-Madison Dance Department’s Margaret H’Doubler Performance Space. Oct. 12-13

Special Event

Dane Arts Buy Local connects local business with local artists with two days of unique pop-up shops around the city. The art market is a way for the community to experience art and support artists’ important role in the economy. Oct. 12-13

Theater

A group of fictional characters lose their creator and search for a new author among a troupe of real actors, which results in blurred lines between imagination and reality, in UW-Madison’s Theatre and Drama Department’s staging of “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” Oct. 12-18

Theater

“Unpresidented,” a series of original short plays produced by the Broom Street Theater, follows the goofy lives of White House staffers with little mention of the president at the center of it all. Oct. 12-13, 18-20 & 25-27

Theater
“Beyond the Ingenue” by Music Theatre of Madison breaks down issues facing today’s women and how women should be represented in 2018 by singing through works by famous female musicians such as Sara Bareilles and Dolly Parton. At The Brink Lounge. Oct. 12, 16, 19, 21 & 24

Music

The seven-piece chamber ensemble con vivo! rings in its 17th season with fall concerts at Firts Congregational Church featuring works by Bach, Mozart and Rheinberger. Oct. 13

Art

Famous painter Frida Kahlo’s piece “Pitahayas” is in the permanent collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and, as of Oct. 13, on display in MMoCa’s Imprint Gallery. See the piece and take in the accompanying digital experience that offers explanations of the work’s symbolism and history. Oct. 13-Feb. 3, 2019

Music

Milwaukee Connection, a jazz band, will merge swing with mainstream and classic jazz during a lively, three-hour show at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fitchburg featuring some of the Midwest’s best jazz musicians. Oct. 14

Music

Top 40 tracks from the multi-volume Kidz Bop albums will be performed live at the Orpheum by young singers, making tracks kid friendly and fun. Oct. 14

Music

UW-Madison School of Music graduate students will direct the school’s choirs, including the women’s choir and masters singers, at the free Choral Collage concert. Oct. 14

Music

Plain White T’s found fame with their early 2000s hit “Hey There Delilah.” The band will be joined by sibling trio The Rua to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation at the “Survive Live.” The event will benefit breast cancer research. Oct. 18

Special Event

Ten previous Moth Story Slam winners will tell their best stories in a competition for the title of Grandslam Champion at the second annual storytelling competition. Oct. 19

Dance

Kanopy Dance Company takes on work by renowned contemporary choreography Martha Graham in their season kick-off with a re-staging of Graham’s piece, “Celebrations!” in Overture’s Promenade Hall. Oct. 19-21

Music

Canadian conductor Tania Miller takes the podium to conduct the Madison Symphony Orchestra and guest cellist Zuill Bailey in a Overture Center concert titled “Epic Romance.” Oct. 19-21

Film

Cinematheque will showcase the 1928 film “Laugh, Clown, Laugh,” a remake of “Pagliacci,” a classic story the Madison Opera will perform. The silent film will be accompanied by a live piano soundtrack. Be on time to also see the 1946 animated short “Acrobatty Bunny” starring Bugs Bunny. Oct. 20

Music

Get the Led Out, a Led Zeppelin cover band, plays all your favorite Zeppelin tracks at the Orpheum. Oct. 21

Music

Edgewood College Music Department brings together four of its student singing groups — Women’s Choir, Chamber Singers, Edgewood Chorale and Guitar Ensemble — for a fall concert. Oct. 21

Music

Paul Jacobs, who made history for playing Bach for 18 hours straight, makes his first Madison appearance at the Overture Center. Oct. 23

Comedy

After her hotly debated White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech last spring and hosting the shortlived Netflix show “The Break with Michelle Wolf,” comedian Michelle Wolf continues her whirlwind tour of the U.S. with a stop at comedy on State. Oct. 25-27

Dance

Ten fan favorite dancers, plus special all-star guests from the hit TV competition show “So You Think You Can Dance,” will perform pieces from the show’s 15th season for an Overture Hall audience as part of their U.S. tour. Oct. 26

Special Event

Best-selling author Anne Lamott writes about writing, so she knows what she’s talking about. And talking she’ll do at the Orpheum on topics like single motherhood and faith. Oct. 26

Music

Bring your costumes and desire for spooky covers to the High Noon Saloon for the 13th Annual Freakin’ Halloweekend. Local bands will cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Police, The Pretenders, Modest Mouse, The Cranberries and Black Sabbath. Oct. 26

Theater

StageQ’s production “A Lady and a Woman” focuses on the challenges two African-American women face when they discover their mutual love for each other at the turn of the 19th century — when their intersecting identities make their choices risky. Oct. 26-28 & Oct. 31-Nov. 3

Theater

The mystery in “The Bad Seed,” Sun Prairie Civic Theatre’s upcoming production, involves a mother who suspects her young daughter of having something to do with several sudden deaths of townspeople. Oct. 26-Nov. 4

Music

Freakfest Music Festival will fill State Street with costume-clad Madisonians celebrating Halloween and interested in hearing Misterwives, Tank and the Bangas and dozens of local musicians. Oct. 27

Music

Charlie Parr’s Midwest roots seep into his bluegrass music. His raw guitar and banjo picking and lyrics come out in impactful performances that have charmed Wisconsin audiences for decades. Oct. 27

Theater

Ever tried to set up two friends who are just perfect for each other, but they refuse to admit it? That’s essentially the story of the witty play “Engaging Shaw,” produced by the American Players Theatre. Opens Oct. 27

Music

Lake Street Dive’s jazz pop sound is right from the jukebox of a 1960s ice cream parlor, and they’ve worked to get that way after years of non-stop touring. They”ll hit The Sylvee with tunes from the upcoming album “Free Yourself Up.” Oct. 30

Special Event

Halloween’s best treat will be the Arts + Literature Laboratory’s costume ball, featuring young adult fantasy writer M.K. Wiseman, who will read from her most recent young adult novel “The Kithseeker.” Oct. 31

Sammy Gibbons is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.

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