By Mason Braasch, Shelby Rowe Moyer and Jessica Steinhoff | Photo courtesy Overture Center
After a long absence, in-person arts events, concerts, performances and more are back this season! Here’s our hand-picked guide of what we’re excited about this 2021-22 arts season.
Keep in mind that COVID-19 may affect schedules at any time, so check with venues
for the most current information, and any entry requirements.
Please note all performances are not listed for the 2021-22 season; for full schedules, visit each organization’s website.
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BROADWAY AT OVERTURE
Overture’s 2021-2022 Traveling Broadway season features buzz- worthy shows like “The Prom” (March 22-27, 2022) about a quirky group of Broadway thespians who help a small-town high schooler get the prom that she deserves after her school discriminates against her for her sexual orientation. In “Dear Evan Hansen” (May 10-15, 2022) watch the heartwarming musical about a struggling high schooler’s journey to overcome social anxiety and find self-discovery and acceptance following the death of a classmate. The award-winning musical “Hamilton” (Aug. 9-21, 2022) features the world-famous story of Alexander Hamilton, a founding father of the United States, presented in catchy rap songs and impressive choreography. overture.org
In their first season of live theater since 2020, the Bartell has a variety of exciting shows filled with humor, love and camaraderie. These picks intrigue — but go to bartelltheatre.org for their full season listing.
Oct. 15-30, 2021
After two unwilling residents are made to share a room in their nursing home, they make a bet in order to acquire single occupancy, bringing out the extremes of both women. In this comedic play, watch as stories of family, friendship and feud unfold.
“Snow White and the Seven Superheroes”
Dec. 17-28, 2021
This spin on the classic fairy tale combines the beloved characters of childhood stories such as the Evil Queen and Snow White, and comic book heroes such as Batman and Wonder Woman. Filled with slapstick humor and corny jokes, this family-friendly show will bring joy to audiences of all ages.
FORWARD THEATER COMPANY
Forward is celebrating their return with a season theme of “Nevertheless.” The series will tell stories of perseverance as a nod to the hardships faced in 2020, and the hope that comes with 2021. forwardtheater.com
Nov. 4-21, 2021
In this comedic play by Pulitzer Prize finalist Jordan Harrsion, a group of 14th- century actors attempt to outrun the Black Plague. The play explores human creativity, crisis and determination.
“The Mytilenean Debate”
Feb. 24-March 13, 2022
In this world premiere, playwright Quan Barry explores the responsibilities of raising a Black child in today’s world. When a successful heart surgeon receives the news that his wife has become pregnant unexpectedly, he must break the news to his adult daughter.
“Russian Troll Farm”
April 21-May 8, 2022
Playwright Sarah Gancher dives into the daily lives of Internet Research Agency employees, whose only job is to create doubt among Americans approaching the polls. “Russian Troll Farm” imagines the toll that continuous lying has on the lives of professional internet trolls.
CAPITAL CITY THEATRE
Capital City Theatre has announced an exciting and imaginative return to theater with their 2021-22 season. In “The World Goes ’Round” (Oct. 15-24, 2021) characters find themselves navigating the adult world, from coffee to babies and everything in between. The show explores the fighting spirit within us all and is packed with harmonious surprises. Next summer, experience theater like never before at “Natasha Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” (June 3-11, 2022) with a fully immersive production set in a 19th-century Russian tavern. Cast members and musicians will surround you as you watch Natasha and Pierre attempt to pick up the pieces of a shattered reputation. In “Merrily We Roll Along” (Aug. 5-7, 2022) witness the story of Frank Shepard, a successful Broadway composer turned Hollywood producer. capitalcitytheatre.org
CHILDREN’S THEATER OF MADISON
CTM is excited to host live, in-person shows once again. Kicking off their 56th season is the ever-popular “A Christmas Carol” (Dec. 11-23, 2021) at Overture Center about the curmudgeonly Scrooge changing his holiday tune. “Stellaluna” (Jan. 29- Feb. 13, 2022) tells the tale of a baby bat who comes to live with a family of birds, celebrating their differences. Come spring, CTM will perform two mainstage shows at the spectacular, brand-new MYARTS youth arts center (pictured below, madisonyoutharts.org) located at 1055 E. Mifflin St. “Calabasas Street” (March 12-27, 2022), told in English and Spanish,
is about two unlikely friends and the transformative power of art. ctmtheater.org
EDGEWOOD COLLEGE THEATRE
Edgewood College Theatre’s season presents comedies, love stories and classics. “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play” (Nov. 12-13 & 18-20, 2021) brings the famous stamp of Alfred Hitchcock — spies, murder and love — to life. Styled as a 1940s radio broadcast, complete with vintage radio commercials, the exciting story of train crashes, serial killers and explosions comes to life. In the classic musical “Sister Act” (Feb. 25-26 & March 3-5, 2022), experience the joyful noise of a woman hiding in a convent who helps her sisters discover their voices. theatre.edgewood.edu
UW-MADISON THEATRE DEPARTMENT
Hopeful for full, in-person audiences for their upcoming season, The University of Wisconsin-Madison Theatre and Drama Department has created an exciting list of shows. This fall, watch as the notorious Don Juan causes trouble through scandal and blasphemy in “Don Juan” (Nov. 4-21, 2021). “Bonnets (How Ladies of Good Breeding are Induced to Murder)” (Dec. 2-12, 2021) tells the story of a poisoner, a virgin, an indentured servant and a mistress. The dark comedy explores the history of witchcraft, violence, and rock and roll. In “A Piece of My Heart” (March 3-11, 2022) a UW-Madison alumna explores their struggles with the war and their country. And the 1988 cult classic film, “Heathers” (April 14-24, 2022) will take the stage. The musical, based off of the film follows the story of Veronica, a high schooler who is desperate to join the most popular clique. theatre.wisc.edu
Museums & Galleries
There are many exciting and thought- provoking exhibits planned this season. Here are just a few.
CHAZEN MUSEUM OF ART
Oct. 19, 2021-Jan. 9, 2022
Artist Marie Watt uses textiles to illustrate connectedness between humans, animals and the earth.
“Suspended Landscapes: Thread Drawings by Amanda McCavour”
To celebrate Chazen’s 50-year anniversary, artist Amanda McCavour will create an installation with “specimen-sized embroideries based on the prairie flora from the Wisconsin State Herbarium.”
“UW-Madison Public History Project”
This history project began in 2019 as a mandate from UW-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank to uncover and shed light on discrimination, exclusion and resistance at the university. The exhibit will span 150 years, pulling from photographs and oral histories. chazen.wisc.edu
WISCONSIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
“Hmong in Wisconsin”
Open until January 2022
Wisconsin has the third-largest Hmong population in the U.S., with families traveling to America as refugees in the 1970s and ’80s. In conjunction with the Wisconsin Historical Society’s book — which shares the same name — this exhibit takes visitors through their part of the state’s cultural tapestry. wisconsinhistory.org
“We Stand on Their Shoulders: A History of Wisconsin Women and Voting”
Open until January 2022
A chance to experience the exhibit celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the 19th amendment — granting some women the right to vote (women of color were excluded) — is nearing its end. Learn more about Wisconsin women’s role in the movement.
MADISON MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Open until Feb. 13, 2022, “Between,” is an exhibition of photography that dissects the medium’s unique ability to reveal liminal spaces — moments of transition. These frozen realities, though sometimes eerie, also invite curiosity and the potential for growth. From Nov. 20, 2021-March 6, 2022, “Santiago Cucullu: You Still Make Me Tremble,” the mixed-media works of Argentinian-born and Wisconsin-based artist Santiago Cucullu will
be on view in the form of wall-sized murals, concrete poetry drawings and site-responsive elements. mmoca.org
Madison Opera’s return to the stage will take audiences around the world with their 2021-22 season. In “Lucia di Lammermoor” (Nov. 5 & 7, 2021) travel to Scotland to watch a fascinating and heart-wrenching love triangle unfold. Journey to a perfume shop circa 1930 in “She Loves Me” (Feb. 18 & 20, 2022) for a witty and charming story of two pen pals.
“Orpheus in the Underworld” (April 29 & May 1, 2022) takes place among the Gods of Mount Olympus, as it follows the story of Orpheus, Eurydice, Jupiter and Hades. The enjoyable comedy mixes Greek mythology with modern humanity in a tale of love and rebellion. madisonopera.org
MADISON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
For their 2021-22 season, Madison Symphony Orchestra will explore the works of celebrated composers. Here’s a selection. madisonsymphony.org
Nov. 12-14, 2021
Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa dives into the beauty of the Grand Canyon musically with the work of American composer Ferde Grofé, as well as visually with projected imagery.
“A Madison Symphony Christmas”
Dec. 3-5, 2021
In this traditional performance, audiences will enjoy holiday classics with a company of over 300 artists, filled with caroling and beloved tunes.
Jan 21-23, 2022
Award-winning violinist Kelly Hall- Tompkins will make her MSO debut this January, performing Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto. Following Hall-Tompkins, organist Greg Zelek will perform Saint-Saëns’ unforgettable “Organ Symphony.”
“Gil Shaham Plays the Beethoven Violin Concerto”
March 11-13, 2022
Renowned violinist and Grammy Award-winner Gil Shaham will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. The performance is sure to wow audiences with Shaham’s flawless technique and spirit.
WISCONSIN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra has a packed season planned, and these are just a few intriguing performances on the docket. Join them on Dec. 8 for “Handel’s Messiah,” WCO’s holiday performance pulling from Handel’s most well-known work. On Feb. 18 and 20, “Bohemian Blueprint” will feature works from three living women composers. And on March 18 and 20, “Forgotten Gems” will dazzle with romantic and spiritual-inspired compositions. wcoconcerts.org
WISCONSIN UNION THEATER
The Wisconsin Union Theater will return to in-person performances this fall with a season that celebrates the history of the space. On Sept. 30, 2021, Sphinx Virtuosi, a professional 18-member string ensemble of Black and Latinx musicians, will perform an inspiring program with a mission to transform lives through inclusion and social impact. In a performance by Third Coast Percussion + Movement Art Is (Jan, 27, 2022), the worlds of contemporary percussion and movement collide to create “Metamorphosis.” The combination of physical and musical elements explores relevant questions about the world today. On April 30, 2022, Renée Fleming, one of the most adored sopranos of our time, will compel audiences with her captivating stage performance. union.wisc.edu/visit/wisconsin-union-theater
Kanopy Dance’s season has something for everyone, with “Winter Fantasia” (Dec. 2-5, 2021) a holiday celebration; “Reflections and Dreams” (Feb. 18-20, 2022), a rare, modern dance experience; and “Kanopy Redux: No Limits” (April 22-24, 2022), a concert featuring new and old Kanopy works and choreography. kanopydance.org
For its Ruby Anniversary season, Madison Ballet has announced captivating shows that celebrate their return to the stage. The beloved classic “The Nutcracker” (Dec. 17-26, 2021) will hit the stage with all new choreography this year. “Lift Every Voice” (Feb. 2022) will feature contemporary works by choreographers of color. madisonballet.org
From rising stars in the indie music genre to country to blues, area venues have a stellar lineup planned.
Sept. 10, The Sylvee
The singer and lyricist behind Waxahatchee, Katie Crutchfield’s new album was written right after she decided to get sober. Crutchfield takes listeners along on her travels with soul-baring lyrics.
Sept. 12, Breese Stevens Field
The singer-songwriter tackles challenging subjects, like depression and trauma, with heart and insight.
Sept. 19, The Sylvee
A piano whiz, Ben Folds puts on lively shows that are always a blast — filled with witty anecdotes, booming solos and lots of laughs.
Oct. 6, Barrymore Theatre
A blues legend, Marcia Ball puts on a rollicking live show with jaw-dropping piano playing and impassioned vocals. Even if you’re not a hand-clapper or foot stomper, you’ll probably find yourself moving to the beat.
Oct. 15, The Sylvee
Austin-based and Grammy-nominated, the Black Pumas have a psychedelic soul sound and have been given rave reviews by Rolling Stone and Pitchfork.
Oct. 16, Majestic Theatre
Noah Kahan’s song “Young Blood” went viral a couple of years ago, and his sound is described as folk-infused pop.
Oct. 26, High Noon Saloon
An opera singer turned indie-pop singer-songwriter, Adam Melchor often presents tunes that are as beautiful and bittersweet as they are calming.
Oct. 29, Barrymore Theatre
Sierra Hull is a bluegrass sensation who plays mandolin and guitar in addition to singing and writing songs that tend to be energetic toe-tappers.
Nov. 17, Barrymore Theatre
Wynonna Judd’s powerhouse country rock vocals are legendary and bound to rattle the rafters. Attendees might be able to hear hits of yore, like the early ’90s single “No One Else on Earth” or one of her terrific covers, such as “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
Nov. 19, High Noon Saloon
Folk rocker Adrianne Lenker’s vulnerability in her lyrics explore conflicting emotions in exciting and thoughtful ways.
Nov. 27, The Sylvee
Catchy and modern power pop is the calling card of this Chicago-based group, whose 2020 album, “Honeymoon,” landed on several best- of-the-year lists from authorities like The New York Times and Rolling Stone.
Dec. 5, Majestic Theatre
A southern crooner with a gravelly voice and a penchant for blending pop and Americana, Anderson East fans will be among the first to hear songs performed live from his 2021 album, “Maybe We’ll Never Die.”
Feb. 26, 2022, Majestic Theatre
The velvety voice of singer María Zardoya gives off a kind of retro-meets- future lounge vibe, and her lyrics often combine Spanish and English for a culture-blending aesthetic.
Comedy & Spoken Word
Iliza Schlesinger (Sept. 12): The best part of her acts are the physicality and the voices. If you’ve seen any of her five Netflix specials, you know what we mean. madisonorpheum.com
Tom Segura (Sept. 15-16): It sounds impossible to be both raucous and completely grounded, and, yet Segura somehow pulls it off. overture.org
Mark Normand (Sept 30-Oct. 2): Comedy enthusiasts should keep their eyes on Normand — Jerry Seinfeld dubbed him the “best young up- and-coming comic.” madisoncomedy.com
Mike Birbiglia (Nov. 6): The soft, dad-like personality is what makes Birbiglia so loveable and hilarious. madisoncomedy.com
Tape Face (Nov. 21): A comedy show like no other, there is absolutely no dialogue in this show (hence the name), so you know you’re in for an experience. overture.org
Chelsea Handler (Dec. 2): As usual, we can expect sex, drugs and politics during Handler’s Vaccinated and Horny Tour. madisonorpheum.com
Charlie Berens (Dec. 4): Berens rose to comedic fame with his social media-driven specials, like his “Titanic” voiceover, “If Jack Dawson Was Really from Wisconsin.” Tickets are going fast! madisonorpheum.com
An Evening with David Sedaris (Dec. 11): Only a choice few could talk about aging and mortality with the same wit as Sedaris. overture.org
“SmartLess” with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett (Feb 9, 2022): Celebrating the one-year anniversary of this trio’s podcast, we think a mystery guest might be involved (based on the lynchpin twist of their radio show). madisonorpheum.com
An Evening with Neil Gaiman (May 15, 2022): This prolific author will read and tell stories and answer questions during this night of “oddball” entertainment. mmoca.org/activities/art-fair-on-the-square
Don’t Miss Events!
Art Fair on the Square Sept. 25-26, 2021
A Madison staple, Art Fair on the Square has been moved to fall due to COVID-19 caution. Nearly 500 artists will be represented, including painters, photographers, sculptors and more. For the most updated information, visit mmoca.org/activities/art-fair-on-the-square.
Black Arts Matter Festival March 23-26, 2022
Memorial Union Celebrating and uplifting Black art and voices in white-dominated spaces, this event was founded by UW-Madison alum Shasparay Lighteard during her senior year at the university. Now in its third year, the lineup for the festival has yet to be announced, but is sure to be an inspiring one. union.wisc.educ/visit/wisconsin-union-theater