Arts and Culture

Celebrate the start of fall with these five must-see September events

Take a look at this month's picks.

September is packed with fun events, here are a couple of our top picks.

"Mary Jane"
Jen Uphoff Gray was so drawn to Amy Herzog's play "Mary Jane" that the Forward Theater artistic director requested rights for the company to perform it before the drama opened off-Broadway in September 2017. "[Herzog] writes these plays that wrestle with really deep human emotions and human situations, but does it with an inherent optimism and generosity of spirit," Uphoff Gray says. The play opens Forward Theater's season and gets its Wisconsin premiere at the 347-seat Playhouse at Overture Center. Actress Clare Arena Haden tackles the title role in the play about an anxious yet warm mother caring for her chronically ill son. It marks the second time in three years that Forward Theater is producing a Herzog play. Sept. 12-29 

Nick Offerman
Actor, humorist and woodworker Nick Offerman brings his "All Rise" tour to the Orpheum Theater for two shows of "deliberative talking and some light dancing," according to a video he posted on Facebook. The Illinois native, who is best known for his role as Ron Swanson on TV's "Parks and Recreation," has visited Madison over the years. Offerman stopped here in 2015 to promote his book "Gumption" and in 2017 was a special guest at the Wisconsin Film Festival. Offerman told the Portland Mercury newspaper that he enjoys doing one-man shows. "I know I'm not as funny as my friends that are stand-up comedians, but I do feel like I have a good knack for lightening the human experience," he said. Sept. 13

"The Book of Mormon"

Madison theatergoers really like "The Book of Mormon." When the nine-time Tony Award-winning musical played here for the first time in 2015, single-event tickets sold out in one day. The show was in such high demand, officials booked it again in 2017 at Overture Center's Overture Hall. The musical comedy is returning to the venue for a third time. Created by composer Robert Lopez and "South Park" co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the show is about a pair of mismatched, tap-dancing missionaries from Salt Lake City who go to Uganda to spread their faith. The show pays homage to a slew of musical theater genres and has many profane, profoundly funny and unforgettable moments. Sept. 17-22

16th Annual Ceramics Invitational

Even though Abel Contemporary Gallery moved to Stoughton in May 2019, Theresa Abel, the gallery's art director, is continuing a tradition started in Paoli, its home for 31 years. "We wanted to use [the new location] as an opportunity to invite some ceramicists from across the country whose work we really admired," says Abel of the 16th Annual Ceramics Invitational the gallery will host. Abel, who has owned the gallery with husband Tim O'Neill since 2004, says the event has become "a highlight on our show schedule every year." The gallery now occupies 8,000 square feet on East Main Street, where an antique mall and tobacco warehouse once stood a few blocks east of the Stoughton Opera House. Sept. 27-Nov. 10

Toto

One thing is fairly certain when Toto performs a concert at the Orpheum Theater: The veteran pop-rock band will unleash a long rendition of its 1982 hit song "Africa." During a January concert in Sydney, Australia, the band "played on for a glorious 12 minutes — the crowd joining in on the fun in full voice," reviewer Hamish Lane wrote. Madison is on the California band's nearly two-year "40 Trips Around the Sun" tour. Toto won six Grammy Awards, including record of the year in 1983 for the song "Rosanna." Sept. 29


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