Arts and Culture

50 things to do in Madison this December

One word: Christmas

Film
Explore the difficult reality of AIDS in America today with the exhibit "Still Beginning: The 30th Annual Day With(out) Art" at the Chazen Museum of Art. The opening reception will introduce the exhibit's seven specially commissioned short videos about the course of HIV/AIDS through history. Dec. 1

Film
When a young Romanian theater director is given an opportunity to create a play about the history of her country she decides to flip the script and make the production about the most shameful moments in Romania's past. Come see "I Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians" at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Dec. 4

Event
Have some adult holiday fun at Henry Vilas Zoo's annual Brew Lights 2019. Enjoy an assortment of beers while surrounded by the zoo's magical winter light spectacle. Not a big drinker? You can enjoy unlimited non-alcoholic drinks by purchasing a reduced price designated driver ticket. Dec. 4

Music
Travel back in time at Wisconsin Union's 86th Annual Tudor Holiday Dinner Concert. You'll feel like royalty being serenaded by the Philharmonic Chorus of Madison led by Dr. Patrick Gorman. Dec. 4-7

Comedy
What's better than one comedian? One comedian with trove of wise-cracking puppets. Come see comedian Jeff Dunham and his hilarious cast of characters, including the newest addition to the team, Larry, the President's personal advisor, on the "Jeff Dunham: SERIOUSLY!?" tour at Alliant Energy Center. Dec. 5

Music
Chicago techno duo Louis the Child comes to The Slyvee on their "Here For Now" tour. They'll be debuting their new EP "Kids at Play," which incorporates a sense of childlike play. Dec. 5

Music
Stop by Majestic Theatre and see contemporary blues artist Samantha Fish perform songs from her new album "Kill or Be Kind." Dec. 5

Comedy
"Trainwreck," "Maron," "Nurse Jackie" and "Inside Amy Schumer" all starred comedian Robert Kelly, who will perform his candid and hysterical stand up set at Comedy on State. Kelly also helped found the RiotCast podcasting Network. Dec. 5-7

Music
The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio made their debut at the White House for President Jimmy Carter's inauguration. Four decades later they have become internationally known and highly praised. See this powerhouse trio perform works by Schumann, Mendelssohn and Beethoven in the Wisconsin Union Theater's Shannon Hall. Dec. 6

Music
Montana bluegrass group Kitchen Dwellers' music is so unusual that fans have coined a new genre for them: Galaxy Grass. Experience it for yourself at Bluegrass Ball at the Majestic. Openers include The Last Revel & Adam Gruel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. Dec. 6

Music
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without an angelic host of voices performing the Hallelujah chorus. Experience just that at Blackhawk Church. Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, joined by the WCO Chorus and the Festivasl Choir of Madison, presents Handel's "Messiah," featuring soloists Sarah Lawrence, Johanna Bronk, Gene Stenger and Chris Burchette. Dec. 6

Art    
Tomiko Jones, an assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Art Department, speaks about her photo exhibit memorializing her father through Hatsubon, a Japanese Buddhist ritual. Dec. 6

Music
Old-school country-folk singer Joan Shelley performs her new eponymously titled LP at Stoughton Opera House. Dec. 6

Dance 
Searching for a festive dance performance that isn't the "Nutcracker"? See Central Midwest Ballet Academy's "The Little Matchstick Girl" at Bartell Theatre. This Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale is a perfect performance for the whole family to enjoy. Dec. 6-8

Theater 
In the midst of World War I, a brave German soldier ventures out into no man's land and starts to sing "Stille Nacht" inspiring a spectacular night of peace during wartime. This true story comes to life in "All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914" at Overture Center for the Arts. Dec. 6-15

Theater 
A father and his three sons reunite for the holidays. On the surface things seem amicable and joyous, but perhaps the men aren't quite as content as they hoped to be. See the story unfold in "Straight White Men" at Bartell Theatre. Dec. 6-7, 12-15, 18-21

Theater 
Scrooge is not feeling the Christmas spirit. Luckily the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future have some tricks up their sleeves. Children's Theater of Madison's "A Christmas Carol" comes to Overture Center for the Arts this December. Dec. 7-22

Fair
Fill all your gift giving needs at the Fair Trade Holiday Festival at Monona Terrace. Purchase gifts your friends will love and created by vendors you can feel good about supporting. Makers from some 35 countries will be at this year's fair. Dec. 7

Music
Warm up this December with a night of dancing at Majestic's "The Motet – Speed of Light Tour." The band's energetic tunes will get you up on your feet. Dec. 7

Music
Put yourself in a "New York State of Mind" this winter at the Billy Joe and the Affordables concert at The Winnebago. The band covers Billy Joel's hits as well as some of his lesser-known songs. Dec. 7

Music
When a group of musicians noticed a lack of female artists in the Irish music scene they decided to take action. Thirty-five years later, Cherish the Ladies arrive in Madison to perform "A Celtic Christmas" at Stoughton Opera House. Dec. 7

Film
Cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth of "2001: A Space Odyssey" fame is back at it again with "Turn the Key Softly," a story of three tenacious women breaking out of prison. The beautiful shots of the rainy London cityscape are reason enough to see the film at the Chazen Museum of Art. Dec. 8

Music
The myriad festivities in Madison on offer this month include something for those celebrating Chanukah. UW–Madison's Jewop A Cappella presents it's winter show. Dec. 8

Comedy
You know him as Frank Rossitano on "30 Rock" — the guy with the giant glasses, trucker hat, shaggy hair and overgrown beard. See the kooky comedian Judah Friedlander do his stand up comedy at Majestic. Dec. 8

Dance
Optima Dance, UW–Madison's biggest student dance organization, takes the stage for its Fall Showcase at Wisconsin Union Theater to perform all dance styles as varied as hip-hop, tap and jazz. Dec. 8

Music
Sing along to all your favorite classical Christmas tunes at the Stoughton Festival Choir & City Band concert at Stoughton Opera House. Dec. 8

Music
Heaviest of heavy metal parody bands Steel Panther brings its guitar-shredding and over-the-top machismo in tight Spandex to The Slyvee this month. Dec. 10

Film
When a Tibetan man named Jinpa encounters a hitchhiker on the Kekexili Plateau, he decides to take him to his destination. The truth soon unfolds that the hitchhiker, also named Jinpa, is on a journey to murder a man. This presents the guide with a moral dilemma. See the Madison premiere of "Jinpa" at Madison Museum of Contemporary Arts. Dec. 11

Music
Andrew McMahon brings his album "Upside Down Flowers" to Majestic this month. McMahon says the album was inspired by his family's "pilgrimage" from rural Ohio to coastal California. Follow that journey through the music at Andrew McMahon's "Winter in the Wild" at Majestic. Dec. 12

Theater 
Youngsters know Ed Asner as the loveable but prickly Carl Fredricksen in the film "Up," college students know him as Santa in "Elf" and adults know him as Lou on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Asner takes on yet another role, this time as God in "God Help Us!" at The Bartell Theatre. This story is about a powerful deity who is fed up with political punditry. Dec. 12-13

Theater 
Creator and host of "The Chicago Stand Up Project," Pat McGann, brings his hysterical set to Comedy on State. Dec. 12-14

Music 
Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound pulls its musical inspiration from the dance bands of western Louisiana, African and Caribbean combos and funk & blues. It's a fusion of sounds you have to hear to believe. See them perform at The Winnebago. Dec. 13

Dance
Kanopy Dance Company brings to the stage the story of a young girl who gets lost in the woods on a winter day and encounters a kingdom of snow fairies and their queen. Seem this lyrical and stunning production, "Winter Fantasia," at Overture Center. Dec. 13-15

Music
Local opera stars Mackenzie Whitney and Michelle Johnson lead the Madison Symphony Orchestra in "A Madison Symphony Christmas" at Overture Center. Dec. 13-15

Music
The Madison Symphony Orchestra will lead a Free Community Carol Sing at Overture Center. People of all ages are invited to come sing their favorite Christmas carols. Dec. 14

Theater
A ragtag team of friends goes on an adventure to uncover hidden treasure in a local cave. This Middle Eastern folk tale gets a Western spin in PlayTime Productions' "Ali Baba & A Few Thieves" at Stoughton Opera House. Dec. 14

Theater
When Charlotte gets pregnant she gives up her career aspirations in order to be the best mother she can be, a choice she comes to regret. When her daughter Elaina gets pregnant, Elaina fears having to make the same decision and contemplates the sacrifices motherhood requires. Krass Women's Theatre presents this brand new play, "Rotted Roots," as a staged reading at The Bartell Theatre. Dec. 15

Music
Experience the silent movies of the 1920s, but not so silently. The Peacherine Ragtime Society, lauded as one of the best ragtime groups in America, will play their own original scores under the films "The Frozen North" and "Big Business" at Stoughton Opera House. See Christmas at the Silent Movies with the Peacherine Ragtime Society OrchestraDec. 15

Music
Popular pianist George Winston, who had recorded 15 solo albums over the past 40 years, comes to Overture Center for "An Evening with George Winston." Dec. 17-18

Comedy
Stand-up comedian and host of The Dork Forest podcast, Jackie Kashian, comes to Comedy on State straight off the success of her album "I AM NOT THE HERO OF THIS STORY." Dec. 19-21

Theater
Have you ever wished you could visit Wonderland or Neverland? Well you can visit both at once at Bartell Theatre's "Alice in Panto-Land." The show combines "Alice in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan" to create a magical, humorous experience for both kids and adults to enjoy. Dec. 20-22, 27-29

Music
Clara and the sugar plum fairies take the stage at Overture Center in Madison Ballet's "The Nutcracker." The lushm and large-scale production includes 150 dancers and a 25-foot tree. Dec. 20-28

Music 
Madison's Darren Streud comes to Majestic to present a jazzier take on the "The Nutcracker." This event, featuring holiday cocktails, will make you feel like your celebrating Christmas in a speakeasy. Come see "Darren Streud's Nutcracker Spectacular" at Majestic. Dec. 20  

Dance                                                                                                                                              Handel's "Messiah" gets a graceful, modern makeover with Madison's newest dance company, Magnum Opus. See "Full Light Ballet Performance" in the Play Circle of the Wisconsin Union Theater. Dec. 20

Music
At Olbrich Botanical Gardens, listen to Gerri DiMaggio's perform jazzy holiday and Brazilian samba music. Dec. 22

Comedy
Comedy Central regular Ian Bagg comes to Comedy on State. A Canadian native, Bagg likes to poke fun at Canadian stereotypes, including hockey fans. Dec. 26-28

Event
The Harlem Globetrotters are not your run of the mill basketball team. These athletes, entertainers and gymnasts will be performing their one-of-a-kind act at Alliant Energy Center. Dec. 30

Music
Chicago cover band Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press are no strangers to Madison having performed at Majestic and Live On King Street. Madisonians can ring in the new year when the band returns with special guest Don't Mess with Cupid at The Slyvee. Dec. 31

Music
Opt for a different kind of musical New Year's Eve at Majestic with Rhythm and Soul group The People Brothers Band. Other acts include Porky's Groove Machine, Frogleg and Feed the Dog. Dec. 31

Event 
For a classier kind of New Year's celebration, visit the Radisson Hotel for the African Association of Madison's New Year's Eve Gala. Dec. 31

Dana Munro is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.


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