A&E Guide: What to do in December
Fifty-plus events add spirit to the season
Two gold-digging London men scour the country for rich and beautiful women in The Beaux’ Stratagem. Sexual innuendo, sword fighting and highway robbery are just a few high points of their adventure, presented by UW-Madison’s theater department.
Through December 13, theatre.wisc.edu
At the Edgewood College Gallery, three artists demonstrate the diversity of their preferred medium in Paint. Sally Hutchison explores the texture of paint, Andrew Rubin uses it to create depth on flat surfaces and Barbara Walton experiments with pigment and wax.
Through December 18, finearts.edgewood.edu
In the Diane Endres Ballweg Gallery in Madison’s Central Library, Blue Earth Angels lets visitors get to know Romano Johnson, a local artist with a cognitive disability who creates colorful, large-scale and glitter-enhanced paintings often depicting celebrities or modes of transportation.
Through December 22, madisonpubliclibrary.org
The beloved Frank Capra Christmas film comes to life on the stage of the Fireside Theatre. A Wonderful Life: The Musical is an inspiring take on the Bailey family’s story through uplifting music and dancing.
Through December 27, firesidetheatre.com
The James Watrous Gallery highlights two Wisconsin artists: The Nature of Things presents Sandra Byers’ small-scale, rhythmic, organically textured porcelain sculptures, while Between In and Yeon shines a light on Rina Yoon’s nontraditional printmaking methods.
Through December 27, wisconsinacademy.org
Enjoy highlights of the many creative and boundary-pushing prints made at Madison’s Tandem Press in The Art of Printmaking, a special showcase at Promega, a biotech company in Fitchburg.
Through December 31, promega-artshow.com
Gallery Marzen illuminates winter with Luminous Flux, an exhibition that features lighted sculptures and conceptual art forms in neon, glass and more.
Through January 2, gallerymarzen.com
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art showcases the newest works–more than fifty pieces of various media–in its permanent collection with Taking Their Place: Recent Acquisitions in Context.
Through January 3, mmoca.org
Xu Bing, Background Story: A New Approach to Landscape Painting at the Chazen Museum of Art features an landscape “painting” on eighty feet of rice paper actually created by LED lights and small items casting shadows upon the paper.
Through January 10, chazen.wisc.edu
Spring Green native Richard Haas made a name for himself through his murals. A look into his local works is available for viewing at the Chazen Museum of Art in the exhibition Richard Haas: The Madison Projects.
Through January 10, chazen.wisc.edu
The Wisconsin Historical Museum gives the state the star treatment with Wisconsin Goes Hollywood. This exhibit highlights Wisconsinites who have made it big in Hollywood through displays of photos and costumes, along with examples of how Wisconsin has been portrayed on television and in pop culture. Standouts include the jacket Chris Farley wore in Black Sheep and he Racine Bells baseball uniform from A League of their Own.
Through February 13, historicalmuseum.wisconsinhistory.org
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art marks the re-launch of its new media gallery with Kim Schoen: Have You Never Let Someone Else Be Strong? The centerpiece of this multimedia gallery is an artistic twenty-two-minute looping video installation.
Through May 10, mmoca.org
Catch the acoustic quintet Punch Brothers’ bluegrass jam at Overture Center. Featuring classic folk instruments such as violin, mandolin and banjo, the band gives rootsy Americana new life.
December 1, overturecenter.org
Renowned rapper Kid Cudi takes over the Orpheum Theater with his infectious beats and poetic lyrics to share new tunes for his genre-bending new album, WZRD.
December 2, madisonorpheum.com
Are We Delicious? Xmas ’15 starts with the local theater troupe’s creative premise: Get a group of local writers and performers to conceive, write, rehearse and perform an original one-hour show in a single week. This month the theme is inspired by the holidays and shows take place at Broom Street Theater.
December 3-12, facebook.com/AreWeDelicious
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker brings a grand production of the classic holiday ballet, complete with puppets and elaborate costumes, to the Orpheum Theater.
December 4, madisonorpheum.com
Rolling Stone named prolific songwriter Richard Thompson one of the top twenty guitarists of all time. Backed by bass guitar and drums, The Richard Thompson Trio hits up the Barrymore Theatre with an individual mix of acoustic and electric folk-rock.
December 4, barrymorelive.com
Mixing up a unique and infectious blend of jazz, swing and gypsy musical styles, Madison’s Harmonious Wail brings their signature gypsy swing, plus a heap of “holiday hoo-ha” to their Wail’n Good Cheer concert at the Stoughton Opera House.
December 4, stoughtonoperahouse.com
The Wisconsin Union Theater offers a musical chance to get into the holiday spirit. Finger-style guitarist Tommy Emmanuel makes a stop on his Classics of Christmas tour. First, he plays fan favorites and songs from his new album; It’s Never Too Late; later, he revels in Christmas classics with a few musician friends.
December 4, uniontheater.wisc.edu
For a holiday performance steeped in tradition, hear the holiday spirit at Edgewood College’s Eighty Eighth Annual Christmas Concert, where students of the music school serenade the audience with wintertime picks.
December 4-5, music.edgewood.edu
The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s A Madison Symphony Christmas brings together some of the city’s greatest musical talents for a festive, family-friendly celebration. This year’s production combines guest singers Emily Fons and David Goversten, the Madison Symphony Chorus, Madison Youth Choirs and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir for performances of classic seasonal songs and a popular sing-along.
December 4-6, madisonsymphony.org
Four Seasons Theatre travels to 1950s Italy with The Light in the Piazza, a musical that centers on a wealthy Southern woman and her daughter, who falls in love with a young Italian man against her mother’s wishes.
December 4-13, fourseasonstheatre.com
Bring the kids downtown to listen to the Madison Youth Choir Holiday Carolers. The performance starts in the lobby of the Children’s Museum at noon, and then travels around the Capitol Square and State Street.
December 5, madisonchildrensmuseum.org
The fifth annual UW-Madison/Madison Metropolitan School District Jazz Festival offers workshops and master classes for students and culminates in a big concert at the university’s Music Hall. The concert features performances of classic and contemporary big band jazz, short sets by the top big bands from Madison’s four public high schools and a closing performance by the UW Jazz Orchestra along with a few special guests.
December 5, music.wisc.edu
Get dolled up in your swankiest 1960s duds for the Majestic’s Mad Men Holiday Soiree. The annual event features nostalgic decor and classic Christmas crooning for a blast-from-the-past winter celebration.
December 5, majesticmadison.com
The Friends of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries and UW Cinematheque continue their exploration of the Vietnam era by showing two documentaries made during the war. Looking Back: The Vietnam War in Film screens Far From Vietnam and Winter Soldier at Vilas Hall.
December 5, cinema.wisc.edu
Join in the fun of WORT’s Fortieth Anniversary Party along with local music superstars at the High Noon Saloon. White Mystery, Cowboy Winter, Modern Mod, Mama Digdown’s Brass Band, the Whiskey Farm Acoustic Trio and March of the Meanies all take the stage in honor of the community radio station.
December 5, high-noon.com
The UW-Madison Dance Department shares passionate solo and group performances in the Kloepper Concert, a showcase for dance students in Lathrop Hall.
December 5-6, dance.wisc.edu
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art highlights the work of a celebrated Chicago painter and printmaker with Curious Worlds: The Art of Ellen Lanyon. The exhibition focuses on work created between 1969 and 1984 that blends realism and surrealism.
December 5-April 17, mmoca.org
Olbrich Botanical Gardens’s Holiday Concert Series kicks off with the Capitol Chordsmen acapella chorus.
December 6, olbrich.org
Overture Galleries open their winter exhibition cycle with three new art shows. In (im)material, Kent Williams, Gabe Strader-Brown and Jo Scheder explore the intersection of materiality and immateriality in the contemporary world. The Patterns’ Vicious Influence uses language and design to visualize the trivialization of women’s experiences. And 33 con–ver–sa–tions showcases pieces from ArtWorking, an organization that helps artists with disabilities create work and develop careers.
December 8-March 6, overturecenter.org/programs/overture-galleries
It wouldn’t be the holidays without watching Elf. Amp up your viewing experience by watching the 2003 Will Ferrell hit at a special Christmas Brew N View at the Majestic Theatre.
December 10, majesticmadison.com
Don’t miss the grand finale of Li Chiao-Ping Dance’s twentieth-anniversary season, armature: In Medias Res. As the title implies, the contemporary dance company begins in the middle of the action, presenting works that Madison audiences have loved over the past two decades as well as offering a sneak peek into the future, revealing new original works and new company members.
December 10-12, lichiaopingdance.org
The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra offers its own holiday gift to Madison with the annual Messiah performance, this time highlighting soloists Sarah Lawrence, Jamie Van Eyck, Calland Metts and Peter Van de Graaff, as well as the WCO Chorus.
December 11, wcoconcerts.org
The Dianne Reeves Holiday Concert showcases the talent of the five-time Grammy-winning jazz vocalist at the Wisconsin Union Theater.
December 11, uniontheater.wisc.edu
Madison’s beloved rhythm and soul group The People Brothers Band bring a high-energy show to the High Noon Saloon.
December 11, high-noon.com
In Gadzooks! Cinderalla! (It Ain’t Shakespeare!), presented by Mercury Players Theatre, a Shakespearean troupe performs a British holiday panto–a fairy tale enhanced with songs, jokes, audience participation and more–mixing famous lines, characters and gender roles.
December 11-19, mercuryplayerstheatre.com
Madison Ballet’s magical Nutcracker fills the Overture Hall stage with sugar plum fairies, battling mice and dancers demonstrating artistic director W. Earle Smith’s dynamic, athletic choreography, while the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra brings Tchaikovsky’s score to life.
December 12-27, madisonballet.org
The Madison Bach Musicians presents their fifth annual Baroque Holiday Concert, featuring Arcangelo Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto,” Georg Philip Telemann’s “Tafelmusik Quartet in E minor” and two of Bach’s Christmas-themed cantatas.
December 12, madisonbachmusicians.org
Embrace the season with Wintersong: An Indie Acoustic Holiday Harvest at the Barrymore Theatre. This annual concert features such local talents as PHOX, Anna Vogelzang, Love High, Corey Matthew Hart, Faux Fawn and Crane Your Swan Neck.
December 12, majesticmadison.com
Overture Center’s Kids in the Rotunda series brings traditional Indian dancers from the Kalaanjali School of Dance for a family-friendly free show. Dancers of all ages share their culture through movement and story.
December 12, overturecenter.org
Milwaukee doo-woppers Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets croon acapella favorites in the spirit of the season. The classic four-piece group channels Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons with a modern, fun-loving edge at the Stoughton Opera House.
December 12, stoughtonoperahouse.com
Children’s Theater of Madison’s signature production, A Christmas Carol, takes audiences to Victorian England and on a transformative journey with the curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge, played by John Pribyl of American Players Theatre.
December 12-23, ctmtheater.org
Head to Olbrich Botanical Gardens for its Holiday Concert Series. Today, catch the Suzuki Strings, which showcases youth violins.
December 13, olbrich.org
Eccentric front man Bradford Cox does double duty for alt-rock Deerhunter concert at the Majestic. Opening the show with Cox’s solo project, Atlas Sound, the night is sure to be a high-energy explosion of psychedelic rock’n’roll.
December 15, majesticmadison.com
Mystifying indie harpist Joanna Newsom strums and sings at the Orpheum. Her polyrhythmic fantasy sound is both experimental and hauntingly beautiful.
December 18, madisonorpheum.com
Dance Wisconsin’s Nutcracker Ballet joins students from the pre-professional dance company and guest artists from American Ballet Theater for festive performances at the newly renovated Shannon Hall at the Wisconsin Union Theater.
December 19-20, dancewisconsin.com
The Olbrich Botanical Gardens Holiday Concert Series continues with the Madison Brass Band.
December 20, olbrich.org
The Olbrich Botanical Gardens monthlong Holiday Concert Series concludes with a performance by the always-creative Fresco Opera Theatre.
December 27, olbrich.org
Dance your way into 2016 with Decadance at the Majestic Theatre. DJs Nick Nice and Mike Carlson are back for a fourth New Year’s Eve, celebrating a hundred years of dance music.
December 31, majesticmadison.com
Ring in the New Year at the Ivory Room’s Midnight Masquerade. The piano bar’s big New Year’s Eve party features dueling pianos, fondue and more.
December 31, ivoryroompianobar.com