Spring into April with these 6 events
Les Mis, Wisconsin Film Festival and more
This 32-year-old musical is so beloved that patrons simply refer to the blockbuster as “Les Mis.” The national touring production makes three stops in Wisconsin, including shows at Overture Center’s Overture Hall. The national website for the production says it’s been performed in 44 countries in 22 languages and seen by 77 million people. “Les Miserables,” under the auspices of original British producer Cameron Mackintosh, relays the redemption story of convict Jean Valjean and other dreamers during the French rebellion in the early 19th century. Chicago Tribune reviewer Chris Jones wrote in October 2017 that the show’s “vocals are rich and emotionally open-hearted. And the storytelling is sharp.” April 3-8
Wisconsin Film Festival
Don’t be surprised to see a celebrity pop up in Madison during the 20th anniversary of the Wisconsin Film Festival. Actor Nick Offerman, best known for his role as Ron Swanson on TV’s “Parks and Recreation,” participated in a festival panel discussion in 2017. In any case, movie buffs will have a tough task in deciding what to see among the 150 or so films to be screened – making it the biggest university-run film festival in the nation. Three UW-Madison facilities and AMC Dine-In Madison 6 at the Hilldale Shopping Center will show the movies in myriad genres. April 5-12
UW Varsity Band Concert
Madison has its own showman in Michael Leckrone, director of the iconic University of Wisconsin Band. The octogenarian, who has served as the Badgers’ conductor since 1969, hosts his 44th consecutive UW Varsity Band spring concert with shows at the Kohl Center. Barb Douglas, program coordinator for the concert bands, says she is always amazed by Leckrone’s leap into spring. “He’s so in his element at the concert,” Douglas says. On the heels of double bypass heart surgery in January 2017, Leckrone took to the Kohl Center stage with a walker and jokingly threw it aside to open the performance last April. April 19-21
‘An Evening with Bill Maher’
The political commentator and comedian is performing a stand-up routine with a bevy of relevant topics in these politically charged times. Bill Maher’s show at Orpheum Theater will likely feature remarks about President Donald Trump, former president Barack Obama and possibly other presidential candidates. The New York native hosts the HBO television series “Real Time with Bill Maher” and delivers blunt political humor with a no-holds-barred approach honed over his 35-year career. April 22
Capital City Jazz Fest
Marquis Hill, a jazz trumpeter, composer and band leader, is slated to play at three concerts with University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty and student groups in conjunction with the city’s annual Jazz Fest. The Chicago native joins the ensembles throughout the fest as well as the penultimate Saturday show featuring the UW-Madison Jazz Orchestra and UW Honors High School Jazz Band. Hill won the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition, which came with a recording contract and $25,000. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the UW-Madison Jazz Orchestra, which is overseen by director Johannes Wallmann. April 24, 26 and 27
‘Florencia en el Amazonas’
“Florencia en el Amazonas” is a youngster among operas. The piece was performed by a company in Houston, Texas, in 1996 and was the first commissioned in Spanish by a major organization in the United States. It also was the first created by a Mexican composer, the late Daniel Catán. Madison Opera stages the production at Overture Hall with Elizabeth Caballero in the role of Florencia Grimaldi, a heralded opera singer in the early 1900s, who takes a boat trip down the Amazon with a group of passengers, including a man with a “mystical presence.” Kanopy Dance co-director Lisa Thurrell created choreography for the opera. April 27-29
Tamira Madsen is a Fitchburg-based writer.
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