6 must-see May Madison events

Start off the month with Spring Gallery Night

Spring Gallery Night
More than 50 facilities throughout the city will showcase artwork for Spring Gallery Night, organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. In conjunction with Gallery Night, Spanish artist Irene Grau debuts her first solo museum exhibition in the United States, and discusses plein air (open air) painting at MMoCA’s lecture hall. The artistic endeavors of Grau, a conceptual artist who spent five weeks in residency at MMoCA last summer, reveal lesser-known aspects of the city’s environment and “identify instances of monochromatic abstraction in everyday scenes.” May 4

“The Winter’s Tale”
If theatergoers are looking for political inspiration, Strollers Theatre has them covered. Strollers closes the company’s season with a rarely performed William Shakespeare play directed by Michael Rebekah Fleischman. “The Winter’s Tale” tells the story of a king and group that face much tension. The pastoral romance and tragedy with hints of dark comedy will be staged as if the events were taking place today. “All of our plays this season have an element of reflection for the political climate,” says Benjamin Barlow, Strollers publicity director. “Michael felt the play fit the current political mood.” May 4-6, 10-12, 16-19 6 must-see May Madison events

John Cusack Live
John Cusack drove from Chicago to Milwaukee in February to participate in a screening and discussion of his hit movie “Say Anything.” The actor told OnMilwaukee.com it was the first time he’d ever participated in that type of event. He must have enjoyed the experience because he’ll drop by Orpheum Theatre after a showing of his 2000 romantic comedy “High Fidelity.” Cusack, a native of Evanston, Illinois, plays Rob Gordon in the movie — a record store owner looking for love and answers to why he continuously fails at relationships. After the screening, Cusack will answer audience questions about the movie and his 30-plus-year career. May 56 must-see May Madison events

John O’Conor
Wouldn’t you like to be enveloped in a bit of Beethoven? A pair of sonatas played by Irish pianist John O’Conor will serve as the next program for the Salon Piano Series at Farley’s House of Pianos. O’Conor, a Dublin native, will play one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s most dreamy and elegant compositions, “Moonlight” sonata, also known as Piano Sonata No. 14 in C minor. He’s also slated to perform the spirited Sonata No. 32 in B minor by Joseph Haydn. During a career spanning four decades, O’Conor has presented solo concerts and joined symphonies around the world. May 12

David Byrne
If a note on his website is any indication, rock musician David Byrne’s excitement for a tour – with a stop at Orpheum Theatre – is palpable. “This is the most ambitious show I’ve done since the shows that were filmed for ‘Stop Making Sense,’ so fingers crossed,” he writes. “Stop Making Sense” is the legendary concert film of the Talking Heads performing a trio of Hollywood shows in late 1983 when Byrne was the band’s leader. Byrne is promoting the solo album “American Utopia,” released in March. The American Utopia World Tour is Byrne’s first since 2009. May 166 must-see May Madison events

Queens of the Stone Age
Having performed in Milwaukee a handful of times, Queens of the Stone Age makes its first-ever stop in Madison. Six-foot-4 lead singer and guitarist Josh Homme is the frighteningly feverish front man of this California-born band. The five-person ensemble rocks hard and loud, and is certain to pluck material from its most recent album “Villains.” British band Royal Blood is the opener at this open-air concert kicking off the music season at Breese Stevens Field. May 22

Tamira Madsen is a Fitchburg-based writer.